As the world becomes more interconnected, it is becoming even more important that young people gain an appreciation for cultural diversity. With this, they begin to understand how a person’s culture influences their belief systems, traditions and values. They begin to see how they are not only different from those who come from a different country or speak a different language but also similar in so many ways. They quickly learn that organisations of all sizes and across all industries benefit when there are more people at the table — not less.
Countries such as Singapore are wonderfully diverse, not just within their own local community, but also by virtue of being open to international talent. Many families from different countries move to Singapore for work for long or short tenures. As a result, cultural diversity is quite easily found in Singapore schools, particularly in a private school like OWIS where we welcome over 60 nationalities.
Children at One World International School learn about cultural diversity from a young age. They start to discover that most people are different from themselves and they can learn how to interact with people from various cultures and backgrounds.
Why Is Cultural Diversity Important in Schools?
The answer to the question, “What is the importance of cultural diversity in schools?” will vary from one school building to the next. However, almost all administrators, teachers and students would agree that there are many benefits to promoting and developing cultural diversity in the school setting.
Cultural diversity is essential in schools because:
It Allows Students to Feel Confident and Included
Young learners are naturally curious — not only about the world around them but also about their classmates and peers. By creating a multicultural environment, students will feel valued and respected in the classroom. They will develop a sense of confidence they can rely on as a foundation for years to come.
It Improves Learning Outcomes for Students
In a classroom that is culturally diverse, students benefit from exposure to a wide range of perspectives and beliefs. They engage in discussions with their peers and discover more about the world around them, allowing them to make connections to the real world that will stick with them for far longer than any worksheet or paragraph in a textbook.
It Prepares Students for a Global Economy
Young people who are immersed in a culturally diverse environment are better prepared for life in a global economy because they have a deeper sense of cultural awareness than those who spend time in a more homogenous setting. They know how to effectively interact and communicate with a wide range of people, ultimately propelling them towards leadership positions and advanced opportunities.
It Develops Compassionate, Open-Minded Individuals
Students who are surrounded by others who are different from them are going to become more empathetic, aware and compassionate. They will be less likely to be duped by stereotypes and more likely to advocate for those who may not have equal representation in society.
Celebrating Diversity and Developing Cultural Awareness at OWIS
At OWIS Singapore, our ideals as an international school blend perfectly with the culture that permeates throughout Singapore. We believe that our entire school community benefits from our commitment to cultural diversity. Our student population comprises children from expatriate families who hail from many cities and countries around the world. Many of our staff and faculty members hail from outside Singapore as well, bringing a different perspective to the classroom that they can share with their students. Together, we work to develop a deep sense of cultural appreciation and respect for our differences — as well as our similarities.
From events such as International Day to activities that allow us to support those in the local community, we are always finding new ways to celebrate cultural diversity at OWIS.
Here are some of the ways in which we promote cultural diversity in the classrooms at OWIS:
Building Relationships in the Classroom
One of the most effective and easiest ways to promote cultural diversity in schools is to prioritise relationship building in the classroom. Teachers should take the time to get to know the students. Rather than spending the vast majority of the instructional time sharing facts and figures with the class, teachers can guide the class as they engage in discussion with one another. During this time, students and teachers will build lasting and meaningful relationships.
Representing All Students in the Curriculum
Students should be able to see themselves and their classmates in all media in the classroom. Teachers can create a culturally diverse classroom by referencing books with main characters from different cultures and by making sure that the curriculum highlights people from a vast range of backgrounds.
Acknowledging and Celebrating Students From Different Cultures
Diversity is to be celebrated, and students should have the chance to share more about their cultures and traditions. Allowing students to present information about a particular holiday or a favourite meal from their culture will allow them to feel proud of their background and welcome in the classroom environment.
For more information about the importance of cultural diversity at OWIS, contact us today and schedule your campus visit.