WHAT IS "MULTICULTURAL COMPETENCE?"
Multicultural competence is the creation and continuous growth of a community that respects every member’s cultural history and in which each individual has the opportunity to share her/his cultural history. Community members express and debate differences of opinion and belief while maintaining respect for each other. Members of our community learn to speak about, listen to, question, and bridge individual differences—from gender to religion, ethnicity to class, race to sexual orientation—in order to foster understanding and strengthen the interconnectedness of our school.
IN THE CLASSROOM
In the classroom, attention to diversity affects how you teach as much as what you teach. It changes the way that students and teachers think at the deepest, most personal level. This kind of reflection—who am I? what is my history? how does my history inform the way I walk through life and the Field hallways? what are my biases?—changes the way that we interact with and learn from each other.
As a result of our work, curriculum has evolved and teachers have become more reflective practitioners. For example, our biology curriculum is sequenced to better accommodate students in their discussion of genetics, which brings up polygenic traits, such as skin color, and includes an activity about the social construct of race. And History 10, which used to be a European history class, is now a world history class that examines western-focused events and figures through the cultural identifiers of race, gender, sexuality, religion, socioeconomic status, age, ability, and ethnicity.
Just as important as promoting on-campus multicultural education is engaging in off-campus discussions with other students and adults—listening to varying perspectives and learning from each other. For the past 10 years, The Field School has sent a contingent of students and faculty to the National Association of Independent Schools’ annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) and People of Color Conference (PoCC). Each time, students and faculty return with a critical eye for how Field addresses multicultural issues.