Cultural Complexity in Schools


Modern society is characterized by multiculturalism and the active process of its globalization. This factor determines the presence of representatives of entirely different peoples, traditions, and views in one place. Despite the fact that such vital concepts as diversity and inclusion are strengthened in this way, many problems are formed along with them. One of the main ones is the discrimination and neglect of the dominant culture over the minority. Therefore, this work examines the phenomenon of cultural complexity within the sphere of education, the difficulties associated with it, and the measures that can be taken by a teacher.

Issues Surrounding Cultural Complexity

The first and most crucial problem that surrounds the concept of cultural complexity is racism. This phenomenon has long been ingrained in society, and despite various kinds of movements and initiatives for equality, they have a detrimental effect on people. In particular, “since the 1970s with the end of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, or as it is commonly known, the ‘White Australia Policy,’ Australia has adopted a new strategy of multiculturalism” (Walton et al., 2018, p. 133). At the same time, when a situation arises where students from different cultural backgrounds and nationalities interact, they still face a dismissive attitude.

The consequences of discrimination and racial intolerance in the educational sphere of society can have many severe and unpleasant consequences. Thus, they become an obstacle to the accessibility of education for representatives of certain nationalities and races (Forrest et al., 2016). In addition, a dismissive attitude in a school setting is manifested in such acts as bullying, bullying, and even violence. Especially children from families where English is not their native language can suffer from this. Due to the peculiarities of speech or skin color, children can twitch to ridicule from their peers, which can become a severe problem (Jones-Diaz, 2015). All manifestations of discrimination and the school require immediate discipline and resolution. This becomes a substantial drawback for individuals, and this kind of relationship seriously hinders the development process from achieving an equal developed society.

Another issue that surrounds cultural complexity at school is the deterioration of the learning process. This is because in the presence of negative relationships, conflicts within an educational institution can affect the academic performance of all students. In other words, negative moods within the classroom can significantly reduce the quality of education and the process of communication both between students and between the team and the teacher. Thus, the probability of effective implementation of measures to remedy the situation will decrease, which becomes critical for solving the problem under study.

The emergence of problems with cultural complexity in school can also negatively affect the mental state of students due to the fact that racial or cultural hostility on the part of peers can cause a large number of negative emotions. In addition, the results of harmful actions can cause various kinds of disorders in children, such as anxiety, depression, or other more severe problems with psychological well-being. This is especially true for multi-linguistic children who will already experience stress since they have to communicate in a foreign language for them.

The main concern regarding discrimination in the school environment is the fact that it can occur both directly and indirectly. Thus, the first one manifests itself in the rough treatment of representatives of different cultures. For example, a school may prefer to accept a student of the dominant race rather than a black one. Indirect discrimination refers to the manifestation of prejudice and negative attitude towards an entire group of individuals. Henceforth, it is possible to have a negative attitude towards the indigenous population of the country and a ban on wearing objects of cultural identity at school. It is worth noting that this kind of relationship can occur both among students and in teachers and leadership positions.

How to Address the Issue

Therefore, teachers should take various kinds of measures that will reduce and limit the occurrence of problems related to cultural complexity. One of the central and most effective policies is multiculturalism, which will help, first of all, to develop an awareness of the presence of different cultures, traditions, races, and nationalities. It is noted that “it covers a program which aims to prepare all students for successful participation in a culturally diverse society and to meet the particular needs of students with a language background other than English” (Watkins et al., 2016, p. 46). Thus, teachers should reinforce such a climate in the school environment that will help children interact sensibly and correctly.

To get a positive trend, a constant and sustained effort on the part of educators is necessary. Research emphasizes that “what is required is a far more robust multicultural education that moves from recognition and valorization of difference to one that assists students to acquire the capacities to navigate the complexity” (Watkins, 2015, p. 172). Therefore, it is possible to use trainings on cultural identity and diversity, which will show students the value of each nation and nationality. In addition, to encourage cultural complexity, it is possible to use group activities in the educational process, which will affect “embracing the possibilities of rich, unique cultural and linguistic human and environmental resources” (Carter & Sallis, 2016, p. 80). A feature of these measures will be the compilation of groups from representatives of different cultures, which will help to familiarize children with each other and improve learning outcomes.

Of great importance in this process is the building of trusting relationships and communication between the teacher and students. This becomes a way to balance relations within the class and contributes to a smoother and more sensible resolution of conflicts arising on the basis of cultural complexity. Furthermore, it is necessary to show students that culture does not determine the presence of advantages of one person over another. In addition, it is critical to provide an understanding that an essential thing in a school setting is the knowledge and skills that children show, and not what they look like, what language is their native language, and what culture they belong to.


In conclusion, cultural complexity is becoming a phenomenon that has gained significant importance in modern society. This is especially true in the educational sphere, where schools still face many problems related to multiculturalism. Hence, one of the issues is discrimination, reduced access to education, and mental problems of students. To resolve these negative consequences, teachers need to implement programs that encourage interaction between representatives of different cultures. Moreover, training that promotes awareness of different traditions, races, nations, and cultures and the perniciousness of prejudice becomes critical.


Carter, C., & Sallis, R. (2016). Dialogues of diversity: Examining the role of educational drama techniques in affirming diversity and supporting inclusive educational practices in primary schools. NJ, 40(1), 78-88. Web.

Forrest, J., Lean, G., & Dunn, K. (2016). Challenging racism through schools: teacher attitudes to cultural diversity and multicultural education in Sydney, Australia. Race Ethnicity and Education, 19(3), 618-638. Web.

Jones-Diaz, C. (2015). Silences in growing up bi/multilingual in multicultural globalised societies: educators’, families’ and children’s views of negotiating languages, identity and difference in childhood. Understanding Sociological Theory for Educational Practices, 110-128.

Walton, J., Priest, N., Kowal, E., White, F., Fox, B., & Paradies, Y. (2018). Whiteness and national identity: teacher discourses in Australian primary schools. Race Ethnicity and Education, 21(1), 132-147. Web.

Watkins, M. (2015). Culture, hybridity and globalisation. Understanding Sociological Theory for Educational Practices, 159-175.

Watkins, M., Lean, G., & Noble, G. (2016). Multicultural education: the state of play from an Australian perspective. Race Ethnicity and Education, 19(1), 46-66. Web.

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