Intercultural Understanding

Key ideas

The key ideas for Intercultural Understanding are organised into three interrelated elements in the learning continuum, as shown below.

Organising elements for Intercultural understanding

Organising elements for Intercultural Understanding

Recognising culture and developing respect

This element involves students identifying, observing, describing and analysing increasingly sophisticated characteristics of their own cultural identities and those of others.

Students move from their known worlds to explore new ideas and experiences related to specific cultural groups through opportunities provided in the learning areas. They compare their own knowledge and experiences with those of others, learning to recognise commonalities, acknowledging differences between their lives and recognising the need to engage in critical reflection about such differences, seeking to understand them. Students recognise and appreciate differences between people and respect another person’s point of view and their human rights. In developing and acting with intercultural understanding, students:

  • investigate culture and cultural identity
  • explore and compare cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices
  • develop respect for cultural diversity.

Interacting and empathising with others

This element involves students developing the skills to relate to and move between cultures through engaging with different cultural groups, giving an experiential dimension to intercultural learning in contexts that may be face-to-face, virtual or vicarious.

Students think about familiar concepts in new ways. This encourages flexibility, adaptability and a willingness to try new cultural experiences. Empathy assists students to develop a sense of solidarity with others through imagining the perspectives and experiences of others as if they were their own. Empathy involves imagining what it might be like to ‘walk in another’s shoes’ and identifying with others’ feelings, situations and motivations. In developing and acting with intercultural understanding, students:

  • communicate across cultures
  • consider and develop multiple perspectives
  • empathise with others.

Reflecting on intercultural experiences and taking responsibility

This element involves students developing the capacity to process or reflect on the meaning of experience as an essential element in intercultural learning.

Students use reflection to better understand the actions of individuals and groups in specific situations and how these are shaped by culture. They are encouraged to reflect on their own behaviours and responses to intercultural encounters and to identify cultural influences that may have contributed to these. Students learn to ‘stand between cultures’, reconcile differing cultural values and perspectives and take responsibility for their own behaviours and their interactions with others within and across cultures. In developing and acting with intercultural understanding, students:

  • reflect on intercultural experiences
  • challenge stereotypes and prejudices
  • mediate cultural difference.
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