Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe

Perspectives on Diversity and Culture

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Interviewing individuals about diversity and culture is by itself an exploration of diversity and culture. Curious if the people around me share the same perspectives that I have, I chosen to interview three people with whom I have very close relationships.

Andy is my partner. Also a teacher, we met at a school where we both worked. Although Canadian, he has spent two-thirds of his life outside his home country. He has lived in five continents, lived and worked in 18 countries, and visited 39 countries.continents-975927_1280

On Culture:

“It includes beliefs, values, and mores encompassing religion, and education of a specific group. It reflects they way people grew up, and how they were taught. Culture can change when one picks up different pieces of culture depending on what you come across with and what you are exposed to. We have our own culture as young children, but we add to it as we expand, explore our experience and environment.”

On Diversity:

“It is being able to accept other cultures – race, literature, music, arts, and food. It is being empathetic and accepting. The more you are exposed to different cultures, the more diverse you become. It is also being able to assimilate different cultures, being able to show that you can follow the belief system of another and not just your own. Diversity is about open-mindedness and being a global citizen.”

Maria is my daughter. From age five, she started attending international schools in and outside our home country. She now goes to a university in Canada. She intends to continue traveling and to find work that would allow her to do this. She has lived in three countries and visited seven countries.

On culture:

“It is a system of signals and behaviors that help us understand ourselves and the environment of which we navigate through. Signals are gestures, customs, traditions, as well as how the community functions and communicates. Tradition can be part of a family culture, but it does not mean there is a presence of one culture only. Every individual within a family takes on a different interpretation and aspect of a culture.“

On Diversity:

“It is home – it is where everyone belongs. There is a variety of nationality, ethnicity, history, and culture. Privilege, as manifested in biases and prejudices, destroys the essence of diversity in its attempt to create a monoculture. Where there is a presence of a dominant culture, one assimilates to blend in.”

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Same but also different

As her mother, I was curious to dig into her thoughts so I asked, “Could you keep your culture as you assimilate the culture of others? She replied I keep my culture as I practice in private. Then, I preserve it within myself.”

I raised the question, “Would you say you are not in a diverse community?” Her response was “My school? No. But I compromise so I won’t struggle.”

Beckie is a colleague, neighbor and also a friend. She worked in an international school in her home country her whole life and after retirement, has decided to work outside the country. She has visited more than 30 countries.

On Culture:

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A culture in a sea of cultures

“It is all that pertains to traditions, language and way of life. There is family culture, a school culture, a town culture and a country culture. The people involved in a group; their way of life; and the geographical contexts including the resources where they live form their culture. Thus, even the nutrition and diet of the people depending on the places they live depict their culture.”

On Diversity:

“It is multi-cultural. Language is diverse. Although there are differences in the cultures of different groups, they look at commonalities and assimilate and modify ways if necessary. Where there are differences in religions, languages, and thinking, diversity is when there is an absence of cliques, clans, and instead there is openness, tolerance, and acceptance.”

Gleaning from the lens of these people from different generations, they all present what culture is all about – that it is not restricted to race, language, and food, but all the many ways of life. Beckie made an interesting point on how the physical environment shapes one’s culture while Andy and Maria both mentioned about the diversity of experiences and how they expand one’s culture.

If I were to analyze the identity of each based on the perspectives presented, Andy and Beckie seem to have established who they are already. They have formed a solid definition of what they are and what they choose to practice. Maria, who is quite young is still exploring how to make her culture visible in a context where the dominant culture is different from hers. In an attempt to tolerate the dominant culture while preserving hers, she finds a way to “compromise” – the third way. Maria thinks that diversity is ‘home’ because everybody is comfortable in what they do, say, feel and think. It is the very essence of what Derman-Sparks (2010) among many others claim about diversity.

Reference:

Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Culture and diversity [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Family cultures: Dynamic interactions [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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Author: pamcee70

My name is Pam Castillo. I have been in the field of education for 24 years now. Although I have taught some levels in grade school, I have spent most of my years teaching children aged two to six years old. I am always amazed by the interactions I have every day with children. In an environment where children feel safe, they are confident to explore and make discoveries. These experiences prepare them for the bigger challenges in the future. I feel privileged to be a part of the learning journey of these young children especially if they still come to see me and reminisce the years we worked together.

3 thoughts on “Perspectives on Diversity and Culture

  1. Hi Pam,
    I enjoyed your post, you really put a lot into your layout.
    Your interview subjects are very knowledgeable in their understanding of culture and diversity.
    May I challenge you? I understand that we interview who we can reach, and that it’s our choice, but did you think to choose diverse people to interview? For example, each of your subjects are people of higher education experiences and I would think that choosing people of divers occupation would render interesting results. Do you think so?
    Darlene

    Like

    • Thank you Darlene for the comment. I like it that you asked me about how I chose my interviewees. Actually, these are the people that I can easily have a conversation with. Although I know that they have a sense of respect for diversity and cultures, we never really spoke about it similar to how we discuss in class. I was happy that as they all shared their perspectives, I saw many parallelisms with what we talk about in class.

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  2. Pamela,

    Thanks for the post… It is very inspiring. I also think that it is great that you have a partner that has been, worked, and toured other countries. Your daughter has done one of my many dreams wanting to visit other countries. I feel that if I was to visit other countries this would help me understand the culture. I think that everyone has their own unique pathway of culture and how they feel about diversity.

    Kim

    Like

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