Literature Review - Multicultural Techniques

Even as we can see that the focus of studies would seem to focus on the need of the student the focus of many of the studies however that do address the teachers needs simply refer to cultural competence (Ansley, Ervin and Davenport, 2010)(Leighton, 2010)(Johnson, 2010). The discussions we see are around teacher preparation yet none of these articles discuss the preparation need for the teacher. Self awareness, culture specific awareness, and effective communications (Ansley, Ervin and Davenport, 2010) are the continually highlighted needs associated with the teacher, however bar this need for understanding and self reflection the idea seem to be that any barrier or challenge can be overcome with these elements. Yet if this is the case how is it that there are still such difficulties in the management of multicultural learning scenarios.

Effective communication requires both sending messages and understanding messages that are being received. Teachers often focus on sending messages, but rarely consider understanding messages that are received. There is an extensive literature on the characteristics found to be common among those who are successful in cultural communications (Giles & Franklyn-Stokes, 1989).

Below is one studies guideline for improved cultural communications (Lynch & Hanson, 1992).

  • Respect individuals different from ourselves.
  • Make continued and sincere attempts to understand the situation/issues from others’ point of view.
  • Be open to new learning.
  • Be flexible about how to get things done or resolve issues.
  • Incorporate a sense of humour.
  • Increase your tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Approach others with a desire to learn.

But when we consider these guidelines mentioned above, is there any real difference between these and the standard guidelines for interaction from a teacher. Giles & Franklyn-Stokes introduce an interesting variation in the need to focus on the receipt of information and that even more so in a multicultural setting the need is to focus on communication rather than just the delivery of information. This brings about the concept that in a multicultural setting the class may need to be student-centric as a lecture based format might not be appropriate.

A view put forward by Schenk is that currently educators have not yet been able to develop a framework that synergistically integrates the strengths of multiple educational strategies (Schenk, 2010). Schenk believes that the curriculum is one of the primary factors currently affecting the success of multicultural learners. Traditional curricula are seen to be Anglo-centric, focusing solely on history from the dominant American culture in his study. Schenk believes that this failure is in no small part due to the fact that cultural elements were infused into instruction, rather than comprehensively overhauling the existing curriculum.

On a contrary view to Schenk, a Jones, Jones and Vermette believe that an integration of current frameworks can lead to a best practice approach you engaging all students. They believe that in integrating structures rather than overhauling the educational strategies all together, educators are provided with new strategies to motivate, inspire and achieve academic success for all students (Jones, Jones and Vermette, 2010). The approach seems to be that rather than starting from scratch the ideal scenario is to find the aspects of the strategies that complement each other which will allow for the multiple strategies to reach the diverse selection of individuals in the group. The view is that in the classroom when such instances of theory and practice amalgamate that students come to understand that learning, discovery and inquiry is not the way of school but the way of life (Jones, Jones and Vermette, 2010).

As the classroom in many learning scenarios has become more diverse it has been perceived that educators are currently presented with an entirely new set of challenges and opportunities that have been introduced to the educational system. In an attempt to address these changes and better serve the needs of all the students, it has advocated that every level of education should be substantially reformed and educators must acquire new knowledge and skills (Vescio, Bondy and Poekert, 2009). Vescio, Bondy and Poekert suggest that the call for teachers who are prepared to teach culturally diverse students demands teacher educators who are capable of preparing them. The point is that to actually apply any new changes or frameworks an educator needs to be re-educated as to the needs of a culturally diverse group. Despite the best intentions educators are likely to be restricted by a limited cross-cultural experience, understanding and their own immersion in the dominant culture of their own surroundings.

When we consider the techniques of the trainers there is a stark contrast in the belief that we need to develop an entirely new structure compared to re-education of ourselves to use the best of multiple approaches. The literature available to both shows both positives and negatives to their approaches. However the commonality would appear to be that a re-education to the individuals providing the teaching or training is unavoidable, as there needs to focus on flexibility in approach and tolerance are much more pervalant in a multicultural scenario.