CULTURAL AWARENESS & CULTURAL COMPETENCE

Many educators gets confused with the term cultural awareness and cultural competence, they may seem to be similar however they bring very different meanings. Cultural awareness is being able to observe the difference between cultures, whereas cultural competence refers “the ability to identify and challenge one’s own cultural assumptions, one’s values and beliefs. It is about developing empathy and connected knowledge, the ability to see the world through another’s eyes.” (Child Australia, n.d, p. 6).’ Activities such as having multicultural day in schools can become very superficial and enforce stereotypes if it is not done correctly (Hardy, 2016). By getting children to wear the clothes and bring the food from their cultures is exposing other children to each other culture but it is not necessarily allowing them to connect and discuss the cultures. For example, a child might be from a Chinese heritage but her parent could have been remarried to an Italian. Therefore her culture would be a blend between Italian and Chinese culture. Therefore assigning this child to bring in fried rice just because of her ethnicity does not embrace her full culture. Culture is not a solid, black and white matter, it is ever changing. Many children does not only identify with one cultural. It is important that teachers do more than just teaching children to identify and observe culture. Teachers should aim to teach cultural competence in the levels identified in Educator’s Guide EYLF (2010, p. 26). A personal level aims to provide children with the skills and knowledge need to interact with people from a different culture, it allows them to develop the ability to see the world through other perspective teaching them to have empathy.

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(EYLF, 2014)