Friday, October 28, 2011

Interculturalism- Engaging Diverse Communities

I  am so excited to know that Innovative Voices in Education- Engaging Diverse Communities will be in print very soon. To be sure, contributing to this book as an author has been one of the most thought provoking projects I have ever collaborated on, and I am exceedingly impressed by the depth and value of its messages. Seventeen authors from all over the place wrote each of the book's seventeen chapters; each from their own unique and insightful perspectives.

Eileen Kugler, our executive editor, is from Washington, DC. Eileen is an internationally recognized advocate of the unique benefits that diversity brings schools, communities and workplaces. Eileen’s award-winning first book, Debunking the Middle-Class Myth: Why diverse schools are good for all kids, inspires honest dialogue and sincere reflection among all who read it.

As a follow-up to Debunking the Middle Class Myth...this book's journey from the beginning is a story unto itself. Eileen searched carefully to find authors that would represent the very diversity that our book symbolizes; the collective intelligence process at its best. I met Eileen via Twitter while chatting with the #ecosys folks one Sunday evening late last summer. She sent me a direct message following the chat inviting me to visit her website, which I did and followed with a return invitation to check out KARE Givers, which Eileen did. A couple of days later she gave me a call and the next thing I knew I was writing a chapter for her new book! Wow... as I think about it again I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity.

The final chapter of the book, Multicultural to Intercultural: Developing Interdependent Learners, is my contribution. Here's a snapshot from the book's new website...
Kids from every corner of the globe attend Canadian schools; simply acknowledging this multiculturalism isn't good enough anymore. This educator asserts the need to move beyond a reciprocal appreciation of our differences toward an intercultural perspective that maximizes the social, emotional and academic potential of every student. We do this by fostering and teaching intercultural competence... the ability to effectively communicate with and learn from people of other cultures. This author introduces the Hope Wheel; an action oriented learning tool designed to support the development of respect, understanding, relationships and responsibility as students become interdependent travellers on the journey toward socio-cultural and academic competence. To help prepare our children for the realities of their future, and to function more productively within the realities of the present, educators must embrace the diversity of our world and do everything they can to help kids connect with and learn from each other.
Within my chapter I share personal stories, and stories from those I have been so blessed to work with and learn from in education... my colleagues, students, their parents, elders and members of the communities I served; every one of these people with their own unique and valuable cultural perspective. We wear our culture on our sleeves; it is what defines who we are as individuals, and as members of a group. As I state in the book,
The circumstances that surround every single conversation about culture are a sum total of the perceptions of those participating. If we are to peacefully and hopefully engage each other, we have to try to understand and empathize with each other’s cultural perceptions. Twisting our cultural lens a bit focuses awareness of how self-identity is influenced by our perception of others, the world and everything within it. Culture is what we believe.
Indeed, culture is what we believe. Our perceptions about culture are so important to consider if we are to peacefully exist within an intercultural world. I truly believe that this book is a beacon for any who is challenged by the complexity of culture, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. This review is from Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education, New York University,
For educators and parents who seek to find ways to create safe and supportive educational environments where all children can be successful, Innovative Voices in Education is a must read. Eileen Kugler provides her readers with insights that will be helpful in addressing some of the complex and controversial issues that confront schools today as they respond to an increasingly diverse student body. The advice and lessons skillfully shared by the contributors are based on solid research and practical experience, and go well beyond the type of superficial do's and don'ts that characterize too many of the sensitivity trainings offered in schools today. Clear and compelling, this book is an invaluable resource.
Culture is more than who we are, our skin colour, where we come from or our ethnic or religious values; it’s the summation of all the elements of our lives that influence our thoughts, ideas, values and passions. The kind of school I want all kids to attend is one where thoughts, ideas, values and passions are nurtured and shared toward increased understanding of others. When we are exposed to the thoughts, ideas, values and passions of others, our eyes are opened to learning possibilities we may never had considered otherwise.

The thoughts, ideas, values and passions expressed within this book are open doorways to learning possibilities for anyone who has considered the realm of culture. Helping write this book was like hovering closer to a campfire on a cool evening, and my fellow contributors were the companions sharing that fire. I am honored and humbled to have been included in the process. I have been pulled deeper into the circles of culture and diversity, and I believe Innovative Voices in Education: Engaging Diverse Communities will be a valuable reference for anyone seeking to learn more about cultural diversity in schools; our largest asset moving forward toward continued positive education reform.  Click here to pre-order your copy today.



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