ACSA Webinars
Intercultural Education

Melanie Baak, Senior Lecturer, UniSA Education Futures, SA, Australia

We can't teach who we don't know: teaching "other people's children" in superdiverse schools

Wednesday 3 August 2022 7-8pm AEST

Melanie Baak

The title of this paper brings together two seminal texts on education for students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds: 'We can't teach what we don't know: white teachers, multiracial schools' (Howard, 1999) and 'Other people's children: cultural conflict in the classroom' (Delpit, 1995).  Both of these texts were written at a particular geographical and temporal point- the US in the 1990s. Much has changed globally in the intervening 25 years.  However, the key ideas, particularly the foundations for culturally responsive practices in education, are perhaps even more relevant in today's world in which increasing global mobility has resulted in what have been referred to as superdiverse schools and classrooms (Spotti and Kroon, 2015).  Culturally responsive practices (CRP) are seen as those 'that value, and mobilise as resources, the cultural repertoires and intelligences that students bring' (Morrison, Hattam, Rigney and Diplock, 2019).  In order for these cultural repertoires and intelligences to be valued and mobilized, educators must first be aware of their own cultural attitudes and assumptions, be enabled and open to learning about the cultural repertoires of their students and facilitate opportunities to learn about these.

This webinar draws on a range of research projects undertaken with schools and various refugee and migrant communities over the past 15 years.  Much of the research undertaken illustrated that these students and their families as well as their cultural and linguistic repertoires were largely 'unknown' to their teachers, or known only through particular lenses.  This resulted in communication barriers, deficit assumptions about students and their families and students experiencing a 'whitewashed' curriculum (Dowling and Flintoff, 2018).  This webinar will present a range of possibilities for 'getting to know' these students, which starts from a centring and acknowledgement of the cultural location of the teacher and curriculum.

AITSL Standards Addressed:
1.1 Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students
1.3 Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds

Session complete. Recording available via ACSA Webinars on Demand.