“Other Perspectives and Cultures” in the California Common Core Standards
The Common Core Standards are explicit in emphasizing the importance of a student’s ability to work with and understand other cultures both in the classroom as well as in the workplace. This is something that is really important to focus on at an early age because multiculturalism is a wonderful part of today’s world.
A student who is open-minded and inquisitive about other cultures, and who can empathize with others’ ideas and viewpoints, is much more likely to become a well-rounded learner. Additionally, it’s imperative that students be able to collaborate with colleagues from other cultures and who have grown up with different experiences. The United States is a melting pot of people with varying beliefs and ideas and has a multitude of sub cultures for each primary culture. Let’s talk about exactly what your child will need to accomplish prior to leaving high school. Remember, this is from my perspective, an Irvine academic tutor, and is based on my own experiences with California’s common core standards.
Appreciate Different Perspectives
The Standards state that a student must “appreciate” working with people from other cultures and perspectives. Appreciation is often a refined skill and so I recommend that younger children start working with peers who are different from them in many different ways. For example, one of my favorite school experiences as a child was ‘international day’ where a country was randomly selected and each student got to choose a new name for the day from that culture, parents brought in food traditional to that particular country and we participated in an art and music project.
Making this a fun day with lots of socializing helped us learn empathy at an early age. More recently, many schools participate in ‘heritage day’ where children bring in food or other goodies from their culture or heritage. Making it fun is really the key here because children are often more open to new ideas if there is a celebration involved.
Learning Through Literature
I also recommend learning about cultures through literature. When a young reader comes to adore a character, they often feel as if they are experiencing the situations in the book themselves. This is a tremendously helpful way to gain empathy and understanding of other perspectives. This brings us to an important issue. How do you know if a particular book truly represents the culture that you want to explore and learn about? The only true way is to get the opinion of several people from that specific culture, which is easier said than done. However, it is generally a good thing if the author is actually from, or grew up in, that culture. There is also some really good information online, including reviews from multi-cultural scholars, that can help parents choose appropriate literature.
Actively Seek Information
The Standards also want students to “actively seek” information about other cultures. This means that students are highly encouraged to be proactive in learning about and understanding other cultures and perspectives. They suggest that this is done through “reading and listening”. We have already talked about reading but what about listening? Listening is one of the most important skills that a child can develop. Children are often excited to share their own ideas (which is good), but they sometimes forget to actively listen to the ideas of other excited children.
Encouraging your child to listen and appreciate others’ opinions in everyday life will help meet this particular aspect of the Standards. For young children, preschool to first grade, I recommend using a symbol to help each kid know when it is their turn to talk and listen. Some teachers and parents use a ‘talking stick” or something similar. For older students, having conversations with lots of different types of people in everyday life can be an advantage.
Diversity in Orange County, CA
Communication is also listed as one of the most important aspects of understanding other perspectives. In order for students to be able to communicate well, they must first understand their audience (in this case people from other cultures). The ideal way to achieve this skill is to travel to and immerse ones self in such cultures, however that is timely and expensive for families with children in school. Luckily, Orange County boasts a multitude of cultures and backgrounds. I recommend just going out and about to places that represent diverse cultures. For instance, investing in a summer study abroad program.
In the end, most things come back to reading. The ability to wholly understand a character, setting and situation is so important to a child’s learning, both in general and for developing empathy. I highly recommend limiting any time spent with video games and electronic media as these are solitary activities. The more time spent with books, and in the real world, the better. Of course, reading is also a solitary activity but the characters kids read about can come alive and teach children the most amazing things and transport them to other times and places while staying right at home in their imagination.
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