Dealing with Difference: Building Culturally Responsive Classrooms

UTS Cosmopolitan Civil Societies
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Jo..., 2009, 1 (3), pp. 68 - 83
Issue Date:
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Australia continues to develop as a multicultural society with levels of immigration increasing significantly in recent years. The current financial turmoil, continuing threats from terrorism and environmental concerns, have all intensified the challenges of dealing with difference in our society. In response, schools continue to face the challenges of the impact of a range of different cultures, languages and religions among their student and school communities. How effectively schools deal with difference and how well they are supported in their endeavours to build culturally responsive classrooms is a perennial issue for policy makers, teachers and teacher educators. A major challenge for teachers in particular, is to at a minimum, understand cultural differences as they manifest in their particular school settings. Also to draw on approaches that support student learning in culturally appropriate ways so to assist them to better realise their full potential. In this paper we will consider cultural diversity in the context of current school policies, and highlight a number of frameworks for addressing cultural diversity in the classroom. We draw on the findings from a recent qualitative study of representations of cultural diversity in a number of Sydney schools to discuss the need for greater resource and policy support for progressive and innovative teaching approaches that will support the development of inclusive communities.
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