Like culture, cultural responsiveness is also a complex concept. In addition to, the vagueness of current models, the lack of definitions surrounding cultural responsiveness, and a clear understanding of why cultural responsiveness is needed and how it is effectively applied, and culture is a complex phenomenon in concept and practice. It is the complex nature of cultural responsiveness that makes for illusive application practices.
Complexity is often used as a barrier to the implementation of cultural responsiveness in a learning environment. Such barriers make it difficult to adopt culturally linked competencies and develop culturally responsive teaching and design practices.
Conceptually, culture is a multifaceted set of values, norms, attributes, languages, and customs with specific meanings for individuals aligned with a particular cultural group. Ideally, culture is a phenomenon we celebrate to highlight the uniqueness and value of individuals around us.
Consider the following:
Theoretically, the emphasis on culture would happen implicitly and explicitly within the educational, social, and psychological experiences because cultural responsiveness and competence would be of high priority. However, researchers have shown that “educators that possess high levels of cultural competence do not translate into confidence with cultural responsiveness.
In practice, a disconnection exists between cultural competency and cultural responsiveness. This disconnect adds to the complexities and often inspires further resistance to cultural responsiveness. This resistance is often motivated by feelings of worry, doubt, guilt, and uncertainty by practitioners who further contribute to the barriers to applying cultural responsiveness in one’s practice. Which also adds to the wider application of culturally responsive practices.
The complexities of cultural responsiveness additionally create barriers for students. The absence of cultural responsiveness increases the potential for discrimination and acculturative stress in learning experiences. The lack of recognition of those barriers leads to Eurocentric values that translate into oppressive perspectives toward non-European American students.
The lack of consideration for cultural responsiveness contributes to high levels of cultural taxation among faculty of color. Cultural taxation is the unique burden placed on faculty of color in carrying out their job responsibility to the service of a higher education institution.
To illustrate the point of uniqueness and to highlight outcomes associated with a vague understanding of cultural responsiveness. The following examples can undo the burden of cultural taxation:
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