Cultural Proficiency in education is the level of knowledge-based skills and understanding that are required to successfully teach and interact with students and to work effectively with colleagues from a variety of cultures by holding all forms of cultural difference in high esteem; a continuing self-assessment of one’s values, beliefs and biases grounded in cultural humility; an ongoing vigilance toward the dynamics of diversity, difference and power; and the expansion of knowledge of cultural practices that recognize cultural bridges as going both ways. Culturally proficient services require that the individual and the institution both be culturally proficient.
Five essential elements contribute to an institution’s ability to become more culturally proficient which include:
- Valuing diversity and practicing cultural intelligence.
- Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment.
- Managing the dynamics of difference
- Having institutionalized cultural knowledge.
- Having developed adaptations to service/curriculum delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity.
These five elements should be manifested at every level of an organization including policy making, administration, and practice.
In practice, a cultural proficient school has developed a “community” that functions as an overarching tool for building trust. Here are outcomes a successful school building a trusting community may aspire to:
- Greatly improved connection and rapport between students and educators.
- More respect being displayed across the board – leaders, teachers and youth.
- Students being more accountable for their performance and their attitudes.
- Students having a greater interest in becoming leaders and being responsible.
- The most vulnerable students feeling they are supported and can achieve.
- A reduction in the need for punitive measures and disciplinary practices.
- A noticeable decrease in racial, cultural and gender-based violence.