The cultural awareness definition varies by context, but cultural awareness in education refers to teaching the skills necessary to understand, communicate with, and fully engage with people from different cultural backgrounds. As part of this process, we become aware of how the culture we were raised in has shaped our experiences and begin to appreciate the perspective of those who were raised in a differing cultural environment.
As our world becomes more connected and globalized, cultural awareness, and sensitivity have become an important requirement for academic and professional success. Schools and parents share the goal of helping students learn these essential life skills and expanding the perspective of our young people.
Studies suggest that cultural awareness contributes to a positive self-image,1 and it may build a strong foundation for a diverse social network for young people. Some of the benefits that highlight the importance of cultural awareness for teenagers include:
Parents are primary role models for their children and your efforts to expand your teenagers cultural awareness will help them recognize and achieve these benefits for themselves. Some of the ways you can help your child become more culturally sensitive and aware are:
Having parents who are respectful of other cultures and take a stand against prejudice and insensitivity helps children learn these values and recognize the positive characteristics of every culture.
Parents and educators can introduce children to foods, books, music, languages, and activities that celebrate a variety of cultures. Encouraging children to develop friendships and connections that cross the lines of culture will expand their awareness from an early age.
One of the ways to experience the power of cultural awareness is to fully realize that cultures are not right or wrong—they are different and unique ways of engaging with the world as a whole. Talking with your teenager about the cultural biases that might be influencing their thinking can open their eyes to the value of cultural diversity.
Partner with your school or choose one that promotes diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness as part of its mission. Cultural awareness in education and at home will promote the benefits and decision-making abilities that will put your child on the track to academic and career success.
At Lydian Academy, we are committed to maintaining a school culture that embraces diversity and maintains a safe and inclusive environment of mutual respect. We are excited to work with you and your child in our continuing efforts to provide affirming spaces and opportunities for students to develop as members of the expanding global community. Contact us today to find out more.