Belonging to a particular cultural group has a close connection with educational attitudes and even academic merit. Several scholars have explored the relationship between education and cultural groups and investigated how they impact each other. It can be useful to explore the attitudes that representatives of Islam culture and Jehovah’s Witnesses have on education and determine strategies or approaches that could be employed to limit the cross-cultural barriers created in such relationships.
Groups’ Attitudes and Areas that could be Misinterpreted within Schools
In the scholar community, there are ongoing debates on the extent to which Islam motivated or curtailed secular education. The one possible attitude towards education is that people should endeavor to acquire knowledge to comprehend God’s revealed word. Prophet Muhammad deliberately placed the first word in the Quran to be “Iqra!” which implies to read or recite (Ebersole et al., 2015). A website discussing the role of education in Islamic culture reiterates that knowledge takes a significant place in the cultural group (Al-Islam.org, n.d.). One area that could be misinterpreted is their learning approach of Islamic people, whether they prioritize religious learning or scientific education. In that way, critical thinking and natural sciences are undermined by such Islamic ideologies.
On the other hand, students that have a Jehovah witness background may not appreciate festivals of world faiths. For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses will not celebrate Christmas or Easter holidays since for them such days are not scripturally justified, or their background is paganism. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a different perception of sex education topics such as contraception and abortion, which could be misinterpreted by other students holding different views (Aronson et al., 2016). The website of Pew Research Center reveals that Jehovah’s Witnesses have conservative perspectives on social aspects (Lipka, 2016). In the article on this website, Lipka (2016) indicates that 75 percent of Jehovah Witnesses believe that abortion is illegal and this could also be reflected among students. The law allows them to avoid such lessons but recognizes that such issues could be unavoidable in a school set up.
Approaches that Schools/Teachers Can Employ to Reduce Cross-cultural Barriers
First, schools could teach students how to learn and tolerate each other’s culture. Appreciating other people’s belief systems, for instance, the perception of Jehovah’s Witnesses on Sex Education, would make them feel comfortable. Students and teachers must learn and respect various cultural values, customs, food and practices. Secondly, the school must help students to appreciate cultural disparities (Ebersole et al., 15). This means that a cross-cultural barrier could be overcome as students can learn various aspects of each other’s culture and, thus, accept the differences and gain respect for other culture. Third, students should be taught to be open to explore new things. For instance, students can make effort in understanding and accommodating the attitudes of Muslims towards education, which will be appreciated. However, the students should be taught how not to compromise their own values and beliefs.
Fourth strategy implies that an accommodative environment should be encouraged to allow religious holidays for Muslims or Christians to be celebrated. Both cultures can find common ground where each group exercises what they believe in. According to Ebersole et al. (2015), students should recognize that their culture is not absolute and they need to understand others’ belief systems, respect, and be accommodative of cultural disparities. The instructor’s focus could be showing a better perspective on the student’s encounters in life. The instructor could allow the students to do research projects that help them to concentrate on issues in their own culture without boundaries. The first approach implies that the school can teach students multicultural role models to show that people from all cultures and ethnicities can positively impact the world and warrant respect or worth of emulation (Aronson et al., 2016). The students could learn what people from the Muslim or Jehovah’s Witness groups have contributed to various scientific and political domains. As a result, students will respect and cherish diverse cultural backgrounds.
Available Resources to Accomplish the Objectives
The previously mentioned objective of overcoming cross-cultural barriers could easily be achieved without the utilization of any additional resources. The primary thing necessary for accomplishing the five described strategies is open-minded teachers willing to make their students respect other cultures. At the same time, a school should consider hiring specialists investigating Islamic and Jehovah’s Witnesses’ cultures. This step is necessary because such people could answer students questions on cultural peculiarities and explain to them that even though culture significantly affects people’s lives, it should not be a ground for conflicts.
To sum up, school educators and students need to recognize their colleagues’ various cultural identities to create a positive classroom atmosphere. In that way, the Muslim community and Jehovah’s Witnesses would have relevant learning opportunities that accommodate their values equitably. Students must explore how their own culture influences other people to demonstrate a mindset that reinforces human relationships with people from various cultural backgrounds. The idea is to form a supportive classroom environment for all backgrounds. The teachers can be role models in creating authentic, caring relationships that encourage trust and respect for other’s values and perspectives.
Aronson, B., Amatullah, T., & Laughter, J. (2016). Culturally relevant education: Extending the conversation to religious diversity. Multicultural Perspectives, 18(3), 140-149. Web.
Ebersole, M., Kanahele-Mossman, H., & Kawakami, A. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching: Examining teachers’ understandings and perspectives. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 4(2), 97-104. Web.
Education (n.d.) Al-Islam.org. Web.
Lipka, M. (2016). A closer look at Jehovah’s Witnesses living in the US. Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life.