Designing Culturally-Sensitive Career and Technical Career Curriculum

Designing Culturally-Sensitive Career and Technical Career Curriculum

Lesley Farmer (California State University: Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-747-3.ch004
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Abstract

The workplace has become more cross-cultural due to labor costs, outsourcing, and international production. Cultural sensitivity accepts cultural similarities and differences without assigning relative values to them. Culture-sensitive curriculum can optimize organization effectiveness with different populations. In order to design effective culture-sensitive curriculum for CTE, basic information about cultures, curricula, learners, and organizations needs to be understood. The curriculum itself should enhance content meaning through cultural context and provide culture-sensitive learning skills in order to help students learn, and to enable them to address cultural factors when dealing with their potential clientele. Culture-sensitive trainer competencies, resources, instructional strategies, assessment issues, and technological trends are detailed. A focus on healthcare training exemplifies culture-sensitive curriculum that results in more effective service.
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4.2 Background

In order to design effective culture-sensitive curriculum for CTE, basic information about cultures, curricula, learners, and organizations need to be understood. Adult education is the broader context, and CTE education focuses on the specific applications in the relevant fields.

4.2.1 Culture

Regardless of the scale, when people form together into stable groups with sustained shared value and belief systems and act according to normative expectations, they comprise a culture. UNESCO (2002) defines culture as: “the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs” (p. 1). An individual may belong to several cultures: family, worksite, neighborhood, race, profession, social club, political party, country. Likewise, a group may belong to several cultures; technicians may be members of a site staff, a union, a system, a state organization, a national organization, and an international organization. Some of these cultures may overlap or even contradict, in which case, the individual or group must either live with the disequilibrium or resolve the conflict (i.e., reject one or the other, reject both, or incorporate parts of each). A culture may also be measured in terms of how cohesive it is in terms of inside and outside pressures; if conflict arises from outside its borders, do members stay within the culture or switch allegiance to the other culture?

Groups and individuals perceive and respond to cultures at various levels, both intellectually and emotionally. Ideally, cultural competency consists of a congruent set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions about one’s own culture and others’ that enable people to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (Isaacs & Benjamin, 1991). Cross et al. (1989) lists the following criteria for cultural competency: (1) cultural self-assessment, (2) cultural knowledge, (3) valuing diversity, (4) management of the dynamics of different, (5) adaptation to cultural contexts. Other terms convey a growing capacity towards such competency:

  • Cultural knowledge is intellectual familiarization with selected cultural characteristics, history, values, and behaviors (Adams, 1995).

  • Cultural awareness implies a sensitivity and understanding of another ethnic group, and usually involves opening to personal change (Adams, 1995).

  • Cultural sensitivity accepts cultural similarities and differences without assigning relative values to them (National Maternal and Child Health Center on Cultural Competency, 1997).

Several self-assessment instruments are listed by the National Center for Cultural Competence lists (http://cstl.syr.edu/assessment/index.html).

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