Developing Teacher Expertise in Teaching Cultural Understanding in a Globalised World: The argument for a transcultural approach

Year: 2021

Author: Casinader, Niranjan

Type of paper: Individual Paper

As has been long established in the literature, the process of globalisation has facilitated and encouraged the movement of people around the world at both an increasing rate and intensity.  One consequence of this diffusion of global population has been an increasingly culturally diverse population in regions such as Australia that have been previously characterised as being largely culturally homogenous. The inclusion of Intercultural Understanding as a mandated element of the national curricula of Australia and elsewhere has been a direct outcome of these shifts.  However, a less-considered challenge has been consideration of the ability of teachers to teach cultural understanding with student cohorts that are becoming progressively more culturally diverse. and how to develop this expertise through teacher education and professional learning.  This paper is the latest progression in the presenter’s ongoing conceptual, philosophical and practical research into the nature and style of curriculum, teaching and learning that is appropriate to cultural understanding in the modern globalised age. The key pillars of this research have been the model of Cultural Dispositions of Thinking (CDT), which was outlined initially the outcomes of a mixed methods international research project (Casinader, 2014). This model, which also argued that culture needs to be more accurately described as a cognitive outlook than an ethnographic entity, posits that an acceptance of a diversity as a natural societal state (i.e. the CDT of transculturalism) is required for cultural understanding to be developed as a learning outcome in the modern age; the current paradigms of multiculturalism and interculturalism are no longer sufficient as the primary bases for teaching and learning in cultural understanding. The development of transcultural teacher expertise is therefore a priority if cultural education is to be effective.A recently completed comparative research project into the transcultural capacity of teachers across 7 countries (Casinader, 2020) utilised a qualitative-centred, mixed methods approach, developed over several past research projects that were reported through  a number of peer-reviewed publications.  (see list of reference). Through the project analysis, assessments were made of the patterns in the degree of teacher transcultural capacity, as well as the factors that promoted the development and enhancement of teacher transcultural expertise in this area. One key finding of the research was that transcultural expertise cannot assumed as a natural outcome of current trends in teacher education and professional development. Another was a key catalyst of  that transformation is cultural displacement, the learnings that derive from physically and psychologically being embedded in a culturally unfamiliar environment for a period of time. The presentation will focus on a discussion of the professional and educational benefits of developing transcultural capacity through cultural displacement, as well as the range of effective ways in which such learnings can be built into teacher education and professional learning.