Dear VCE Families,
During the month of December, our teachers and staff will be focusing on the next of our 7 Cs- Cultural Awareness. In today’s ever shrinking world, our ability to understand and embrace cultural diversity is essential. Through the use of technology, our children will more than likely have jobs and careers that necessitate the ability to communicate and collaborate with people of many different cultures. This month, and throughout the year, students will be exposed to the cultural traditions of others and be asked to share some of their own cultural traditions. Teachers will facilitate students’ understanding of common themes across cultures that unite us all, as well as aspects of culture that may be different from their own. During this holiday season many students will be sharing how holidays are celebrated in different cultures.
As with all of our 7 Cs, the best way to teach these skills is to model them and label them. In school we will be providing opportunities for students to learn about the cultural traditions and practices of others as well as to share aspects of their own cultures. We will point out examples of culture and cultural awareness in literature and reward respect for the cultures of others through STAR behavior.
Cultural awareness often develops in stages. The following is an excerpt from an online article by Stephanie Quappe and Giovanna Cantatore from the Curiosity Group LLC:
Degrees of Cultural Awareness
There are several levels of cultural awareness that reflect how people grow to perceive cultural differences.
My way is the only way - At the first level, people are aware of their way of doing things, and their way is the only way. At this stage, they ignore the impact of cultural differences.
I know their way, but my way is better - At the second level, people are aware of other ways of doing things, but still consider their way as the best one. In this stage, cultural differences are perceived as a source of problems and people tend to ignore them or reduce their significance.
My Way and Their Way - At this level people are aware of their own way of doing things and others’ ways of doing things, and they chose the best way according to the situation. At this stage people realize that cultural differences can lead both to problems and benefits and are willing to use cultural diversity to create new solutions and alternatives.
Our Way - This fourth and final stage brings people from different cultural background together for the creation of a culture of shared meanings. People dialogue repeatedly with others, create new meanings, new rules to meet the needs of a particular situation.
Increasing cultural awareness, like all learning, is a work in progress. Diversity increases the level of complexity of human interactions. Cultural diversity becomes an advantage when we can combine it with collaboration, communication and creativity to seek solutions and begins to take different approaches to problem solving. Diversity in this case creates valuable new skills and behaviors.
In becoming culturally aware, people realize that:
- We are not all the same
- Similarities and differences are both important
- There are multiple ways to reach the same goal and to live life
When cultural awareness and respect are modeled and honed at home and school, children gain a deeper understanding of others. They learn acceptance and understand that differences are gifts to be celebrated rather than feared.
On behalf of the entire staff, I wish all of our VCE families a joyful holiday season and all the best in 2017! Thank you for sharing your children with us each day!
Mrs. Gina Cappiello, Principal