Folium: How Cross-Cultural Dialogue Builds Critical Thinking and Empathy via KQED

Folium: How Cross-Cultural Dialogue Builds Critical Thinking and Empathy via KQED

Folium: How Cross-Cultural Dialogue Builds Critical Thinking and Empathy via KQED

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Cross-cultural implies comparison of two or more cultural groups including international, interfaith, interethnic, or interracial. Cross-cultural dialogue is the study of how members of different cultural groups perceive and/or engage in dialogue. Something that concerns author Katrina Schwartz is that students and teachers need to learn how to adapt to the new technology in order to keep in touch with other students, who may live in a remote area where they don’t have the same resources we do. Katrina emphasizes that although the internet is able to connect people worldwide, there are still communities who are ingrained with a certain idea without any particular world view. Katrina claims that a challenge that many teachers face today in schools is how to foster productive dialogue skills in students. They want to connect students to peers in other countries so that they can be adept in communicating in ever growing, complex global problems.

Are your students connecting with the world or just each other?

Are your students connecting with the world or just each other?

Students are now able to connect in activities with peers in other countries. These activities have become more common in classrooms because it’s so easily accessible. You may have wanted to have this same technology decades ago, now students have more than the option of having an international pen-pal. It is possible now to have digital pen pals or video conferences between students and peers all over the world. Teachers are using this new ability to connect to offer students of all ages authentic audiences to practice writing and language skills. Much of these teacher’s efforts are being focused on younger children.

Working with children in a program called Generation Global, which is part of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, this program offers a similar focus around the skills of dialogue for adolescents. Often adolescents hold strong opinions. Most of the time they don’t know where their beliefs came from. But when a teacher pushes the students to think deeply about why they have those beliefs, it’s easy for students to ignore them. But, when the students are put in a situation conferencing with a teenager from another country, the students often respond better.

This new technology has opened new doors for teachers and students all over the world in order to connect on a deeper level. “The great thing about dialogue is it enables you to get inside someone else’s perspective,” said Ian Jamison, head of education for Generation Global. You become to know the beliefs, culture and personal experiences of those from different lands. Jamison also stated “One of the things we often take for granted is we often think of ourselves as ordinary and the other as exotic,” Jamison said. It is arguable though, that every person can be exotic. If you are familiar with someone living in a different culture there are global dialogues that can have a huge impact on the many biases and stereotypes that many may have.

“What I noticed and appreciated is the students really start reflecting on themselves and their perspectives on the world.” – KQED

This program asks students to do something that many adults aren’t comfortable with. We need to teach the children how to be respectful of someone with a different life experience. The dialogue skills are particularly important when people disagree strongly. With the growing angst of the global problems is why Katrina ends her article with quoting Jamison once more where he says “What we want to end up with are young people who are able to take part confidently in dialogue.”

Julie Martin
LEAF Editor & Contributor

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