Know How Your Own Background Influences Your Teaching
“We teach who we are.” – Parker Palmer
Cultural competence is an ongoing process of examining one’s own attitude and values, and the acquisition of the values, knowledge, skills and attributes that will allow an individual to work appropriately in cross cultural situations. (Adapted from Denboba, MCHB, 1993) Cultural competence mandates that organizations, programs and individuals must have the ability to:
value diversity and similarities among all peoples;
understand and effectively respond to cultural differences;
engage in cultural self-assessment at the individual and organizational levels;
make adaptations to the delivery of services and enabling supports; and
“Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.
The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. In addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming are often-cited origins of implicit associations.” From the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University: Understanding Implicit Bias
In 1988, Peggy McIntosh wrote an article that became the launching pad for thinking about how privilege works.
“Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do. Access to privilege doesn’t determine one’s outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability, and aspirations a person with privilege has will result in something positive for them.” ~Peggy McIntosh, 1988
This list of questions from the Safe Zone Project will help you explore identity and privilege from your personal experience, and help you consider how they might impact you and your teaching.
The concept of intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not in others. Intersectionality refers to how a diverse set of identities intersect and affect the lived experience and well-being of each student as a whole person. Intersecting identities include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability or disability, socioeconomic status, first-generation status, and more. The salience of one identity over another changes with time and with context.
Watch this TED Talk: “Now more than ever, it’s important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias — and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.”