By Richa Sharma
In our increasingly diverse and multicultural society, it has become important for schools to incorporate cultural diversity in the school environment.
Diversity does not only refer to race and ethnicity, it can include students and teachers of different religions, economic status, gender, and language. The top schools in Gurgaon understand that they are functioning in a global village and thus have started understanding the importance of promoting cultural diversity right from the early years.
Why is cultural diversity important?
Select Gurgaon Schools also aim to train their students in essential life skills. Their work culture as well as the classroom atmosphere fosters cultural diversity as it aids in developing skills such as:
- Understanding diversity
- Developing confidence
- Collaboration and teamwork
Gurgaon is fast becoming a global village, and there are more opportunities available to people from diverse backgrounds to work and contribute to the school community. Therefore it becomes all the more imperative that schools foster an atmosphere of inclusion and diversity for their workforce, and act as role models for students.
How to promote cultural diversity?
- Allow students and teachers to get to know each other
School leaders and teachers must make an effort to get to know each other’s cultures, ethnicities, families, languages, etc. Mingling activities and icebreakers are great ways to have students start talking to each other and find out how diverse their classroom is. When a teacher knows about their students’ backgrounds, it encourages more open communication and students feel safe to approach teachers when in need.
- Use inclusive resources and language
Lessons in history, geography, and in languages must use resources from all around the world, especially targeting the background of their students. This is true inclusion. If, for example, a reading text is set in ancient India, it would be difficult for students from Africa or USA to understand the context, hindering the learning process. Moreover, the language of instruction too should be used mindfully, considering not all students may understand the local or national language.
- Allow for differentiated learning
In a multicultural school, it is important that all students feel included in the learning process, irrespective of having studied a particular subject previously or not. For instance, a student moving to Gurgaon from Africa will not have studied Hindi before. In such cases, the curriculum must be flexible enough to provide extra support to the learners. This can be achieved by using differentiated teaching strategies and by creating activities that require students to engage in pairs and groups. The top schools in Gurgaon provide such a flexible curriculum for students moving in from other countries or other states.
- Leverage diversity to enhance learning
When a classroom consists of a diverse group of students, it is a great opportunity to leverage the combined global knowledge of students to enhance the teaching content. There could be awareness programs conducted by students to provide information about their state or country, resource people from families of students, learn a new art or dance form together, learn a new language or script together, understand the lifestyles, and many more such authentic learning experiences. During an experiential geography class, learners could pin their places of birth on a huge map display and create a food map or a textile map together.
- Create an environment for safe and open communication
When students move into a culturally new environment, they need to be provided with an atmosphere where they feel safe and can communicate openly about their needs and feelings. A teacher needs to act as a guide and a counselor and must be approachable at all times. One-on-one discussions with students are a great way to understand if someone is facing challenges or needs help. Activities such as group discussions allow students to understand perspectives and respect differences in opinions. Most good schools in Gurgaon have in-house counselors for students who need to talk about their feelings or want resolutions for internal conflicts. An environment of open and positive communication helps get rid of bullying in schools and allows for the creation of a safe space for learning and sharing. Openness and safety are very important to us at Vega Schools.
- Celebrate diversity
One of the best ways to foster cultural diversity is to celebrate diversity. Have students engage in show and tell, talk about and celebrate festivals from around the world, and organize cultural fests and exhibitions. All-in-all, demonstrate through events how a school is truly culturally diverse.