Cultural Plunge1 Essay Example

  • Category:
    Other
  • Document type:
    Essay
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    3
  • Words:
    2071

Cultural Plunge: Personal Reflection

Cultural Plunge: Personal Reflection

Introduction

The contemporary society characterises diversity as one of the key factors affecting almost every sectors. Workplaces, teaching and learning activities, and businesses, amongst many others, are majorly impacted by issues that are related to diversity amongst participants. Even though the demand for teachers that can teach and promote equality and interconnectedness amongst learners is increasing rapidly, the production of such professionals have not met the level of demands; diversity is still an effect to teachers’ capabilities and abilities (Merryfield, 2000). Therefore, there is need to have teachers that comprehend the concept and impacts of diversity on their professionalism as well as its results on students.

Biasness, prejudice and stereotyping are some of the elements that are present within the diversity of the current society. Spiegler (2016) identifies that these are some of the factors that constitute social injustice amongst people in society. The author suggests that taking cultural plunge is one of the remedies and positive steps to developing awareness amongst educators to establish interconnection towards others and impact the same onto the children as they teaching and learning go on.

In this essay, I intend to reflect on the accounts of my cultural plunge project. I seek to demonstrate understanding of the concept of social positioning, demonstrate ability to critically analyse my plunge experience, and discuss implications that the experience has on my future career as a teacher in relation to policy, programming and planning, as well as working with staff, families and children, in a diversified context.

My Experience

The plunge

For this project or exercise, my cultural plunge entailed interacting with Muslims in their Mosque since I am a Christian. Being an international student, I have come to meet many others from different parts of the world too, and most of my friends constitute of Muslims, considering that we come from foreign countries. Therefore, for this plunge, I attended a Friday service at a Mosque for the first time. I knew that the afternoon service, jummah, would be one in the afternoon. Based on the information that I gathered form my Muslim friends previously, jummah service that do happen on Fridays in the afternoon entails prayers and a sermon from the imam.

Reason of the plunge in the Mosque

Since I have not been able to interact closely with Muslims before joining the university, and that most of my friends currently are mostly Muslims, I needed to learn more about them as well as their religious practices and ways of living. Honestly, even though they have always been good friends who always have the quest to help or support others, I have not been that free, open or trusting towards them, which have instilled a feeling of pretence or not a good friend to them. I needed to approve or disapprove some of the stories I have heard about them and at least get to know and understand my friends.

Assumptions

Before taking this cultural plunge in the Mosque, I had certain assumptions about Muslims, which had been affecting how I view them and even my attitude when solving issues between us. First, since it is what I have been hearing form Non-Muslims, I had assumed that all Muslims that are accepted in the Mosque to attend services should be Arabs or Middle Easterners only. Based on the stories that all terrorists that even participate in suicide bombings are Muslims, I assumed that they may be very paranoid and violent whenever they encounter a person who is not from their religious community. Therefore, I assumed that I would not be allowed to even step my foot onto the door steps of the Mosque.

My emotional response

Before I went to the Mosque, I was so afraid and overwhelmed with the idea that these are people with their own secrets and I might get hurt or worse in an attempt to coming close to the place where they practice their religion. However, I also had a feeling that they can also be good people based on how I have been interacting with my Muslim friends within the campus. Approaching the gate, I met a man who quickly recognised that I was an outsider; however, to my surprise of feeling to be in trouble already, the man escorted me into the building whilst we talk about everything that I intended to do. Upon reaching to a place where I would refer to as an office in the Mosque, I learned that they are actually open and very friendly friends. They even offered me a job with them to help educate other young people about understanding diversity and social justice in relation to other religions. Even though I could not accept the offer, I felt joy and needed to be interacting with them over and over.

Value and lesson learnt

The encounter and experience taught me certain things about the society and myself as well. About the society, I gathered that it contains judgements and attitudes that are built or based on stereotypes, which as affected the way we view or relate with others. I also learned that my previous attitudes towards my Muslim friends; who have been at their best; are due to prejudice and biasness that I can argue to be some of the cause factors of social injustice in this diversified and globalised society. Therefore, comprehending the differences between people of different backgrounds provides the opportunity to develop and maximise positivism out of intercultural diversities. Equality and social justice should be promoted amongst everybody for development to be realised.

Analysis of the experience

According to Nieto (2006), it is necessary that teachers understand diversity that is one of the main features of the contemporary teaching and learning perspectives. Through the process of understanding, it is imperative to examine prior experiences, views, fears, and effects of intercultural differences (Heptum, 2007). For instance, based on my past experience before the cultural plunge, it does feel uncomfortable to be a minority. It is confusing to be a minority or the ‘other’ amongst people. Based on my experience, the comfort, freedom and openness, which are some of the requirements towards optimum performance in every activity, are supressed by the feeling. I was not comfortable around my Muslim friends that would imply that I may not be free enough to take developmental projects with them. Again, the feeling of being an outsider can be humbling and hurtful. Yelland (2010), whilst addressing issues of diversity and social justice that affect the contemporary perspective of early childhood education, argues that it hurt being a minority, especially any time a person meets with prejudice, racism or biasness. I can confirm the same from my experience; the feeling of being the ‘other’ instilled fear in me whilst amongst my friends. Also, I can be sure that, even though they did not show it, it feels hurtful to be viewed in the perspective that I had towards my Muslim friends.

Concerning the theory of truth in early childhood education, children are aware of differences that exist between people in the society, such as colour, language, gender, and physical abilities (Mac et al., 2005). It is at young stage that children begin developing social identities and attitudes, which McAllister & Irvine (2000) argues to be highly rapid amongst students through just observation for their immediate and extended environment. Biases, privileges, marginalisation, invisibility, and system oppression, amongst others, are some of the factors that impact human experiences (McAllister & Irvine, 2000). It is these factors that constitute the elements of social injustice that can be argued to be inevitable in the cotemporary diversified society. Therefore, cultural stereotyping, cultural diversity, and linguistic diversity, amongst others, should be the basis of understanding amongst people, especially educators who then impact their understanding on children.

Implications for future career as a teacher

Teachers have certain crucial obligations in promoting more equitable educational outcomes for marginalised students from low socio-economic backgrounds. The modern teaching and learning society requires teachers who have the capability and ability to develop understanding amongst learners concerning social justice and diversity, as well as equality amongst people. For my future career as a teacher, I seek to be social just in my beliefs and practices.

Therefore, for my career, cultural competence is one of the diversity and social justice implication that I intend to build. According to Lee et al. (2012), intercultural competency can be described as the ability to communicate and interact effectively with people across different cultural settings. As a teacher, I deem it necessary to be able to interact with diversified staffs, families and children, which I believe commence with comprehending the details of diversity and social justice and how they impact attitude and behaviour amongst people. Just as Lee and the colleagues (2012) suggest, I intend to develop further and enhance my awareness, knowledge and professional and ethical behaviour whilst interacting with others.

The idea and practice of this exercise, cultural plunge, has improved my awareness and knowledge about how greatly a critically reflective teacher can be successful in his career. Through this exercise, I have gathered that self-reflection that examines one’s personal beliefs, assumptions, and judgements can impact teaching since it affects how a teacher would interact with colleagues, families and children. Smith (2011) advices that a critically reflective teacher, which I look forwards to become, should give conscious consideration to the ethical implications in workplaces, classrooms and in the society at large, which I believe that would then allow improved understanding and effective interaction.

Success in classroom on both the teacher and children’s sides depend on how effective the teacher engages learners in teaching and learning practices (Lee et al. 2012; Mac et al. 2005). However, intercultural incompetence, besides suppressing the development of social justice and equality amongst people, promotes biasness and poor learners’ engagement in classroom. I believe it would also affect how staffs and families interact to promote learning. Therefore, for my future career as a teacher, I seek to maximise much on engagement of learners and eliminating biasness towards staffs, families and children to promote productive effect of diversity and social justice concerning teaching and learning.

It also imperative to note that personal influences and background, family and religious of values of social justice, exposure to diversity and social justice amongst people, and awareness of bias and critical thinking are amongst the factors that contribute to effective and productive relations and interaction amongst colleagues, students and families.

Conclusion

The contemporary society characterises diversity as one of the key factors affecting almost every sectors. Workplaces, teaching and learning activities, and businesses, amongst many others, are majorly impacted by issues that are related to diversity amongst participants. Even though the demand for teachers that can teach and promote equality and interconnectedness amongst learners is increasing rapidly, the production of such professionals have not met the level of demands; diversity is still an effect to teachers’ capabilities and abilities. Biasness, prejudice and stereotyping are some of the elements that are present within the diversity of the current society. Therefore, it is personal influences and background, family and religious of values of social justice, exposure to diversity and social justice amongst people, and awareness of bias and critical thinking are amongst the factors that contribute to effective and productive relations and interaction amongst colleagues, students and families.

References

Hepburn, K., (2007). Annual editions: Early childhood education (27th Ed.). Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill Companies

Lee, A., Williams, R. & Kilaberia, R. (2012). Engaging diversity in first-year college classrooms. Innovative Higher Education, 37(3): 199-213.

Mac, Naughton & Glenda. (2005). Doing Foucault in early childhood studies: applying post-structural ideas. Taylor & Francis.

McAllister, G. & Irvine, J. J. (2000). Cross cultural competency and multicultural teacher education. Review of Educational Research, 70(1): 3-24.

Merryfield, M. M. (2000). Why aren’t teachers being prepared to teach for diversity, equity, and global interconnectedness? A study of lived experiences in the making of multicultural and global educators. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16(4): 429-443.

Nieto, J. (2006). The cultural plunge: Cultural immersion as a means of promoting self-awareness and cultural sensitivity among student teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, 33 (1): 75-84.

Spiegier, S. (2016). Teaching young children about bias, diversity, and social justice. George Lucan Educational Foundation, Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-young-children-social-justice-jinnie-spiegler

Smith, E. (2011). Teaching critical reflection. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(2): 211-223.

Yelland, N. (2010). Contemporary perspectives on early childhood education. New York, NY: Open University Press.