The role of the teacher is not only in the simple transfer of knowledge. In a progressively developing society, these specialists are engaged in educating the younger generation and forming their views and opinions. These new members of the society will continue what was started by the elders but at a higher level of development of the society. Of particular importance is the dissemination of knowledge about the history of peoples, including indigenous people, in order to avoid the occurrence of situations related to racism and intolerance.
Professional Standpoint and Cultural Competence
Currently, at a time of rapid development of science and the transition of society to a new stage of development, it is necessary to emphasize that the requirements for modern teachers are growing. This includes not only their educational skills but also their cultural competence. Singh (2018) defines cultural competence as “the ability to effectively respond to students from different cultures while valuing and preserving the dignity of cultural differences and similarities between individuals, families, and communities” (p. 617). From my professional standpoint, I believe that the development of this characteristic is critical when working in the field of education.
There are students from different cultures in the schools, and everyone should feel comfortable. Problems such as racism on the part of teachers, students, and other representatives of organizations should not hinder the acquisition of knowledge of the younger generation.
The educational process takes place in the cultural space. Therefore, it is not limited to the framework of educational institutions. They, in turn, as translators of cultural values and norms, accompany students throughout their socialization process. This fact suggests that the teacher must have certain qualities and combine the necessary professionalism and a high level of general culture. Increasing the level of cultural competence of the teacher provides a diverse perception of the material studied by students, makes the teaching process more accessible and understandable, and contributes to the assimilation of students’ interest in the disciplines taught. The developed cultural competence serves as one of the main conditions for the effective solution of the problem of students’ transition to the culture of modern society.
Working in a multinational classroom requires certain skills from the teacher. Thus, professionals in the field of education should have certain general professional training. Teachers should see the educational setting as “a microcosm of the world” and students as an inimitable display of various experiences, values, and attitudes (Lewis Chiu et al., 2017). In addition, they must acquire knowledge and understanding of cultural diversity. Such a teacher should be ready to act, taking into account the peculiarities of multinational classes. In addition, it should be taken into account that students are representatives of various ethnocultural groups, having specific characteristics that affect their upbringing and training. Young people, due to ethnocultural characteristics, perceive the style of behavior and the manner of presenting information to the teacher in different ways.
Social, Institutional, and Historical Factors
As already mentioned, as social conditions and political events change in the modern world, special emphasis should be placed on creating conditions for the development of cultural competence of both students and teachers. The main goal is to foster social cohesion and tolerance for other nationalities, cultures, and views. The need to educate this aspect of the individual is determined by social, institutional, and historical factors of the development of society.
In the history of the United States of America, there are many examples of neglect of the indigenous people, which still have their imprint. It is worth recalling the introduction of specialized boarding schools for indigenous children. At the end of the nineteenth century, Richard Henry Pratt opened the first boarding school for Native Americans in the country’s history. An officer of the US Army had the idea that the only hope for the American Indians was to reject their home culture and traditions and equate them with white, Christian culture (Hudson & Benvenuto, 2021). Thus, an attempt was made to save the American Indians from extinction through their radical integration.
Children were forcibly brought from reservations; they wore only European clothes, and they were allowed to speak only in English. In the dormitory, children were settled in such a way that representatives of different tribes lived in one room, for whom English was and should have become the only common language. There is evidence of mental, physical, and sexual violence used in schools, as well as forced labor, neglect, starvation, and the death of children. Examples of such educational institutions confirm that in history, despite the seemingly positive intentions of the Government, indigenous peoples were suppressed and subjected to racist attitudes. This also emphasizes the need for education of children on this topic to create a tolerant society.
The institutional factor of the development of cultural competence includes its development both in students and in other participants of the educational process, who are called upon to be guides of culture to the masses in their daily practical activities and to form a system of moral orientations. This process includes understanding the values of the culture as a way of value generalization of the experience of human relations with the outside world developed in society, dialogical comprehension of culture based on the correlation of one’s experience and views with the values of the world, the ability, and readiness to apply the acquired knowledge in individual activities.
The main didactic intentions of the US educational program should include cultural achievements of various representatives of peoples, cultures, and traditions in the programs of all disciplines and, consequently, abandon Eurocentric characteristics as the main principles of multicultural pedagogy.
The social factor is determined by the fact that tolerance is a condition for a harmonious life in society. That is why it became necessary to educate the younger generation according to the rules of tolerance. The school class has a multinational composition, so there are conditions and the need for the formation of respect for any national culture, language, and traditions. The teacher plays the role of a navigator of relations between students, and passing on knowledge about different cultures to them contributes to the formation of the correct views of the younger generation in relation to other representatives of society.
Principles and Benefits of Local Community Engagement
Indigenous peoples and local communities are characterized by a historical attachment to their lands, and, most often, their representatives are descendants of the original inhabitants of such lands. The culture of indigenous peoples has an immeasurable pedagogical potential, which is not sufficiently realized in the educational process and in the formation of the personality of students. One of the main tasks of educational institutions is the formation of a person as a carrier of values and traditions of native culture. As a solution to this problem, it is possible to introduce a comprehensive program for the use and development of the values of national culture in the educational process. The expected result should be the development of the enrichment of the learning process with national cultures as the main factor in preserving the interethnic balance in society.
Community engagement represents a crucial part of the formation of children’s personalities and views. However, there is still a need for community engagement strategies that are to be promoted (Lin et al., 2019; De Weger et al., 2018). Phillips and Luke (2017) write that “community engagement is a mean for substantive Indigenous planning and consultation, and local involvement in decision-making in relation to school practices and policies” (p. 964).
Schools are considered a tool for correcting gross shortcomings and raising national consciousness. The inclusion of the cultural aspect in various fields of knowledge is considered a manifestation of public consciousness. Moreover, it is a stable, historically formed sign of a social group. The culture of indigenous peoples includes customs, traditions, norms of behavior, and values. The importance of tradition in the educational process lies in the assimilation of the values of various peoples of society by a person and in establishing a cultural connection of students with their own culture.
The principle of participation of the local population in the process of education of the younger generation means the opportunity to become direct participants in it. Communities can have the opportunity to be able to make changes, make decisions and give useful recommendations that can directly affect the entire system of knowledge transfer. This also implies that the local community itself, in each specific case, decides whether to participate in the development of the educational system or not. The introduction of a local community is designed to represent the well-established interests of indigenous peoples and, within its powers, provide an opportunity to solve social problems in the most effective way using huge, not yet fully utilized resources.
For educational institutions that involve local communities in their activities, the most important task should be to find pedagogical ways to involve ethnic culture in the learning process of the younger generation while preserving identity. Smith et al. emphasize that “community engagement finds itself expressed through bottom-up approaches, community ownership, “relevance” to the community, and collaborative approaches” (p. 32). Such a school is able to create an educational environment in which the cultural identity of the student’s personality is formed. As a result, the likelihood of problems related to racism or intolerance of representatives of other cultures decreases.
Unfortunately, the problem of racism, especially in educational institutions among young people where representatives of indigenous peoples are present, is quite acute and severe. In solving the problem under study, I would take a completely different approach. When faced with such a problem, in no case should it be left without attention and any reaction? It is necessary to make students understand that such an attitude towards other nationalities is fundamentally wrong and should be abandoned.
In some cases, discrimination takes on such a character that it is almost impossible to notice it and immediately prevent it. To prevent the emergence of this problem, it is important to foster tolerance, condescension, and understanding towards representatives of different cultures, traditions, and views. It is important to teach the younger generation using examples from the history of various countries about how the suppression of certain nationalities has a detrimental effect on society. It is necessary to make students understand that tolerance is an active life position and recognition of the right to individuality. It consists of the desire to help people and make the world a better place. A tolerant person has such personality characteristics as mutual respect, goodwill, compliance, and sociability.
Addressing the problem of racism is required to develop and implement policies at the level of the educational institution.
Development of personal and equality cultures, shared ownership, connectedness, and improvement processes that implement “data thoughtfully and deliberately” and assist in “diagnosis of patterns, generate solutions,” and then perform them are the tools that can be utilized in the educational process (Teitel et al., 2021). Many studies emphasize the importance of forming a cohesive and friendly team of students to combat this problem. First of all, the responsibility for the correct attitude of the younger generation to each other without discriminatory attitudes lies not only with parents but also with the state and institutions as a whole. To solve the problem, it may also be effective to attract qualified specialists and conduct training and educational conversations that will help to unite the collective and form a friendly atmosphere among students.
Taking into account cultural peculiarities in education is intended to be considered anti-racist. It does not allow situations in which some students may find themselves in less favorable conditions compared to others. Lowe et al. (2019) noted that “some of the effects of racism were students’ liability to self-sabotage and reinforcement of students’ sense of social ‘shame’ which evidenced by deliberate acts of student resistance and low student engagement” (p.258). The problem of racism is still relevant today since it affects all the most important aspects of public life.
The problem of racist attitudes should be covered more often in the mass media, and in the cinema, and conversations should be held with schoolchildren on this topic. The media are now an integral part of the life of the younger generation and their involvement in the educational process to work on the problem of prejudice is also of particular importance. All actions of educational institutions and their participants should be aimed at forming a tolerant attitude and moral qualities towards representatives of different nationalities.
Summing up all that had been stated above, it can be concluded that multicultural education has passed a century-long path of its development and arose due to ethnic discrimination of certain groups of the population. Despite the fact that at this stage of society’s development, there are already a large number of legislative acts that contain standards on the inadmissibility of racial discrimination and nationality, in real life, their application is very difficult, and sometimes it is actually impossible to prove discriminatory actions.
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Hudson, E., & Benvenuto, J. (2021). The cultural genocide of the indigenous people of North America. Academia. Web.
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Teitel, L., Antón, M., Etienne, S., Loyola, E., & Steele, A. (2021). Practical tools for improving equity and dismantling racism in schools. The Learning Professional, 42(3), 33-39.