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A Teacher’s Guide to Intercultural Understanding By Cara and Liv

Overview statement of the general capabilities The general capabilities are a fundamental part of the ACARA Australian Curriculum. Every one, of the seven, capabilities are explained in the content of each learning area. The capabilities are based on the MCEETYA 2008 (Melbourne Declaration on Educating Goals for young Australians). The Declaration itself classifies skills needed for twenty-first century learners. It covers topics such as: -



Information and communication technology (ICT)




Teamwork and communication


Critical thinking



“It describes individuals who can manage their own wellbeing, relate well to others, make informed decisions about their lives, become citizens who behave with ethical integrity, relate to and communicate across cultures, work for the common good and act with responsibility at local, regional and global levels.� (ACARA, 2011) The general capabilities cover basic life skills that will assist children in becoming successful students and people. Along with the MCEETYA 2008, the general capabilities also co-exist with the COAG 2009 (Early Years Learning Framework). The COAG insures students have a sense of wellbeing; identity and that they can communicate and contribute with peers, elders, educators and the world. The seven general capabilities within the Australian Curriculum are as follows: -





Information and communication technology (ICT)


Critical and creative thinking


Personal and social capability


Ethical understanding


Intercultural understanding

Definition and Description of the Chosen Capability

Learning of the general capability, intercultural understanding, is defined in the Australian Curriculum as the way in which, “students develop intercultural understanding as they learn to value their own cultures, languages and beliefs, and those of others. They come to understand how personal, group and national identities are shaped, and the variable and changing nature of culture…learning about and engaging with diverse cultures in ways that recognise commonalities and differences, create connections with others and cultivate mutual respect.” (ACARA, 2011) Intercultural understanding teaches students essential skills and behaviours on how to be active global citizens and respect the world around them. The teaching of this capability intertwines with student’s own developing understanding and awareness of other cultures and practices taken from other learning area content. Intercultural understanding is of greater focus in some learning areas more than it is in others, “Being most evident in those aspects of learning concerned with people and their societies, relationships and interactions, and in conjunction with the cross-curriculum priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, and Sustainability.” (ACARA, 2011)

Rationale for the Inclusion of this Capability in Christian/Public Schools Education can affect someone’s whole life, for the best or for the worst. Sadly educators today have to teach students about societies past cultural issues that from many people’s perspectives should not have occurred. Schools and educators alike have a significant impact on the development of societal issues. The ACARA Australian Curriculum, in particular the intercultural understanding capability allows for the exploration of these troubled areas. It is important that educators inform students of the correct values, behaviors and knowledge about the world’s diverse cultures, races and traditions. This is why intercultural understanding should be included within all schooling systems. ACARA states, “Students develop intercultural understanding as they learn to value their own cultures, languages and beliefs, and those of others.”

(ACARA, 2011). This has never been so important with Australia becoming an ever-growing multicultural hub. The students that are being educated now may one day be our future doctors, builders, teachers, nurses and politicians. These learners need to be fully aware and accepting of the different cultures and have empathy and compassion towards them. We need to teach them responsibilities of their actions and we need to look at the ramifications of the past, to fully grasp the affect of intercultural understanding. It is important to include this in every schooling system within Australia. This capability doesn’t just teach students how to be understanding and caring, but it contributes to the spiritual and moral development of them as a being. Relationship of this Capability to Learners at Different Stages of Development Early Childhood Children at this developmental stage do not really comprehend the difference between other cultures other than on a purely physical level. At this age a child can see the differences between skin colours, but this does not usually affect them. Middle Childhood Children at this age are quite impressionable. The influences of their home and school life play an important role in the development of intercultural understanding in their learning. At this age it is crucial to educate and demonstrate the values of a diverse school system and the differences in cultures around the world to allow children to fully grasp how they should behave and respect other people no matter where they are from. Pre adolescence As different aspects can influence a students view on other cultures, one of the main reasons being the way parents have communicated their own ideas on multiculturalism in schools Adolescence This stage is where learners start to develop their own views about the world. They formulate their own judgments and are able to act in a way that represents how they feel. There can be some concerns when it comes to intercultural understanding in high schools with adolescent children though. Bullying is a significant issue in today’s society. Through education many of these problems can be targeted and prevented.

Diagram of Organizing Elements, Referenced to the ACARA Website, and Including a Brief Explanation There are three interrelated organizing elements within the ‘intercultural understanding’ learning continuum. They are: -

“Recognizing culture and developing respect Interacting and empathizing with others Reflecting on intercultural experiences and taking responsibility” (ACARA , 2011)

This diagram (inspired by ACARA) shows the organizing elements for intercultural understanding.

Brief Explanations of the Organizing Elements Recognizing Culture and Developing Respect Recognizing culture and developing respect encourages students to observe, analyse, describe and their own and others cultural identities. Such things as customs, traditions, roles and religious beliefs are all observed within this element. Students compare their own cultures and beliefs with others through various opportunities within the learning areas. By doing this, students have a fuller understanding of different cultures and often seek to know more. Interacting and Empathizing With Others This particular organizing element gives students the opportunity to develop skills in order for them to relate various cultures to their own. This element is very much about interactions. It is interactions between cultures, as well as between the educator and student. The empathy part of this element allows

students to empathize about past and present cultures, by using relatable comparisons. Imagining others situations, feelings and motivations are covered in order to address the empathy component. When working with this element students have the opportunity to: -

Develop and consider multiple perspectives


Empathize with others


Communicate across cultures

Reflecting on Intercultural Experiences and Taking Responsibility This element is one of the most, if not the most important element in intercultural understanding. Within ‘reflecting on intercultural experiences and taking responsibility’ students are exposed to critical reflection in order to look back at certain actions in the past that have been shaped by culture. Within this element students learn to look reflect and differentiate between cultural differences today, and the past as well as take responsibility for their actions and interactions with others. During this element students are encouraged to: -

Challenge prejudices and stereotypes


Mediate cultural differences


Reflect on intercultural experiences

With the combination of all three of these organization elements students will be able to reach the general capability of intercultural understanding.

A Table Demonstrating How This Capability Links Into the Key Learning Areas Key Learning Areas English

How it Links Students develop intercultural understanding by studying English as a language and how other cultural backgrounds and languages have

How it is Taught By analysing and interpreting multiple texts by different authors and through the creation of their own texts they are able to question and present their own

influenced it.

cultural beliefs and understandings from what they have been taught.


Intercultural understanding is expressed in mathematics when students are exposed to a range of traditions and how each culture expresses mathematical problem solving.


Students learn through science, how those of different cultures have made an impact on the scientific development and discoveries. They are taught to appreciate the contribution that cultural perspectives have made on the diversity of science knowledge and practices.

Through understanding how mathematical expressions use universal symbols, and knowledge students realise that developed skills such as “understanding, fluency, reasoning and problem solving” (ACARA, 2011) are not culture or language specific. Students are shown how to be culturally sensitive when scientific questioning is debated amongst different cultures. Through experimenting and research they come to understand that it is crucial to work in a culturally diverse team to address internationally important scientific issues.


Education about the, “perspectives, beliefs and values of people, past and present, and the importance of understanding their own and others' histories.” (ACARA, 2011) This also includes teaching students about Australian history and how our own cultural

Teaching students to respect the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ histories and cultures. They are also shown through historic resources how migration into Australia has played an important role in the development of

heritage was established.

the diverse culture in Australia, and the “benefits and challenges of interacting with other countries and cultural groups.” (ACARA, 2011)


In Geography, intercultural understanding is developed as students learn about the diversity of the world and the interconnectedness of today’s society.

Through investigation of cultures and how people and places are connected students form their own ideas of intercultural understanding. Research opportunities allow students to study their own cultures and traditions to develop respect and empathy for others and challenge prejudice.

Economics and Business

Development of understanding and respect of the different ways other countries see and respond to business and economics further develops how they see other culturally different people and places.

By studying multiple scenarios and texts students are able to consider how different cultures, as well as their own deal with the, “effects of decisions made by consumers, producers, businesses and governments in Australia on other countries, and the way decisions in other countries affect the Australian economy.” (ACARA, 2011)

Civics and Citizenship

“Civics and Citizenship, students investigate diverse cultural contexts and develop skills in being able to see common

Exploration of the meaning of citizenship and the contribution of cultures and traditions to the values of

issues through diverse cultural lenses.” (ACARA, 2011)

Health and Physical Education

Through PDHPE it can be seen how tensions have arisen between those of different cultures and how to respect the rights of those of diverse backgrounds in sports.

The Arts

The Arts encourage intercultural understanding by asking students to progress beyond what they know about art and performance, and learn how other cultures express their own traditions in individual ways.

Australia as an evolving nation, allows students to recognize similarities and differences, “within and across cultural groups, and the importance of practising empathy and facilitating dialogue to understand different perspectives.” (ACARA, 2011) Research of stereotypes and judgement of those from different cultures and how community health issues impact the success or failure of physical activity. This allows students to gain an understanding of how ones culture can shape their own personal and social perspectives on sporting. By analysing a variety of artist and their audiences students can explore the impact, “forms and structures, use of materials, technologies, techniques and processes, or treatment of concepts, ideas, themes and characters” have on different cultures. Interpretation of art, drama, music etc. from their own and others cultures demonstrates the

development of empathy and openmindedness to appreciate the difference in practices and contexts. Technologies

The use of technologies educates how diverse communities interact with modern resources at local, national, regional and global levels, including their impact and potential to change and progress their lives.

Explorations of how both past and present technologies allow people to communicate with each other across cultural boundaries. They investigate how, “cultural identities and traditions influence the function and form of solutions, products, services and environments designed to meet the needs of daily life.� (ACARA, 2011)

Useful Websites pdf l-understanding/introduction/introduction

Artwork By Liv Cremor • • • • •

Yellow represents Indigenous Australian Culture. Green represents African culture. Blue represents Italian and Greek European cultures. Purple represents Indian culture. Red represents Asian cultures.

As each colour and pattern begins to merge together it symbolizes the coming together of cultures in Australia and intercultural understanding.

Reference List ACARA . (2011). Organising Elements. Retrieved 5 20, 2014, from Australian Curriculum: ACARA. (2011). General Capabilities. Retrieved 5 18, 2014, from Australian Curriculum: ACARA. (2011). Interacting and empathising with others. Retrieved 5 20, 2014, from Australian Curriculum: ACARA. (2011). Intercultural understanding across the curriculum. Retrieved 5 14, 2014, from Auctralian Curriculum: ACARA. (2011). Organising elements. Retrieved 5 20, 2014, from Australian Curriculum: ACARA. (2011). Recognising culture and developing respect. Retrieved 5 20, 2014, from Australian Curriculum. ACARA. (2011). Reflecting on intercultural experiences and taking responsibility. Retrieved 5 20, 2014, from Australian Curriculum: ACARA. (2011). Scope of Intercultural Understanding. Retrieved 5 20, 2014, from Hoffnung, M., Hoffnung, R. J., Seifert, K. L., Smith, R. B., Hine, A., Ward, L., & Pause, C. (2013). Lifespan Development: A Chronological Approach (2nd ed.). Milton, Queensland: John Wiley and Sons Australia, Ltd. ACARA. (2011). Intercultural Understanding. Retrieved 20th May, 2014, from Hoffnung, M., Hoffnung, R. J., Seifert, K. L., Smith, R. B., Hine, A., Ward, L., & Pause, C. (2013). Lifespan Development: A Chronological Approach (2nd ed.). Milton, Queen sland: John Wiley and Sons Australia, Ltd.

A Teacher's Guide to Intercultural Understanding