When ‘culturally responsive teaching’ and ‘cultural competency’ collide

With teachers and administrators struggling to find an acceptable curriculum and standards, the American Psychological Association and other academic groups are taking a different approach to promoting “cultural competencies.”

In an editorial, the APA says its members have “frequently found themselves in conflict with their faculty and staff colleagues over the concept of cultural competency.”

The APA, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), and several other academic organizations have adopted a policy that includes a set of principles and guidelines to foster “the development of culturally relevant teaching.”

The principles include “academic independence and respect for differences,” “respect for individuals,” and “a commitment to teaching the truth.”

But the new policy doesn’t define what a “culturally sensitive teacher” means.

Instead, it says: “We recognize that the term ‘cultivator’ may be an insufficient or inappropriate term for this profession, but we have been cognizant of its meaning for over two decades.

We acknowledge that its use in teaching can be problematic, as evidenced by the lack of consensus in teaching today on what it means to be culturally sensitive.”

The new policy goes on to note that “the importance of cultural competence in our teaching is evident in the broad range of teaching approaches that have been developed over the years.”

In the APPA, for example, “The term ‘culture educator’ is widely used and used to describe teachers who have demonstrated an ability to integrate and communicate ideas, processes, and methods to learners in their classrooms and beyond.”

While the new guidelines do not explicitly mention the term “cultivators,” they do specifically state that it’s important for teachers to “understand the cultural context of their teaching” and to “develop a cultural competencies knowledge base and to be aware of and engage with the diverse and diverse views of others on cultural issues in their classroom.”

In a statement, the association says that while “there has been much discussion in the academy about the ‘culturality’ of our profession and the ‘culture gap,’ the current language of the American Association of College and University Professors (AAACP) is not sufficiently clear to encompass the breadth of the profession’s culture.””

We must also teach that our students are capable of learning from our perspectives and not from the perspectives of others.”

In a statement, the association says that while “there has been much discussion in the academy about the ‘culturality’ of our profession and the ‘culture gap,’ the current language of the American Association of College and University Professors (AAACP) is not sufficiently clear to encompass the breadth of the profession’s culture.”

The APA said the new language should be more inclusive, particularly since the organization’s new standards will require colleges and universities to hire and train more culturally responsive teachers.

“While this is a positive step forward, the language should still provide context and specificity for the new requirements,” the association said.

In a press release, the AAPA said that while the association “remains committed to advancing the advancement of all our members, we have also seen a decline in the number of historically black colleges and schools in the United States, as well the number and diversity of faculty members of color and non-white students of color.”