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Culture and the SEC
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Culture and the SEC

Culture and the SEC

By Lucie Tremblay, Orthopédagogue for the complementary educational services AGE-VT


Every student comes with their own story.

Most of the time, whether they come from Abitibi, the Maritimes,or the Central African Republic, in a context of kindness, they want to share that story. 


In a previous section of this newsletter there was a paragraph about the PROCEDE Conference held a few weeks ago. In preparation for this article, I was reminded of the Keynote speaker, Mr. Harnarayan Singh. What a journey he had! I could go on and on telling you how much I enjoyed his presentation, but my goal here is to emphasise how his life experience aligns with my vision regarding the importance of addressing culture in the classroom. Sometimes, simple gestures can make a difference; taking the time to learn and pronounce student’s names correctly, seizing opportunities, asking students if they would like to talk about their traditions, asking questions, being curious and more.


The very essence of the SEC is to support school teams in order to promote the success of all students, taking in consideration their needs, as different as they can be. To accomplish this great mission, it is essential to take into account not only the student’s educational background, but also a multitude of factors that influence their daily life. One of those is the student’s culture.  First, let’s define the term culture: 


Culture is simply the way people of a particular place do things. In a more elaborate way, it is the set of human behaviours which includes, ways of communicating, languages, practices. beliefs, values, customs, marks of courtesy, rituals, way of interacting, roles, relationships and behaviours of a particular group in society. (NCCC, 2004)


This definition becomes interesting because it encompasses a multitude of elements influenced by culture. In a classroom, each student becomes the carrier of their own culture, whether it is visible or not. Each student, in their uniqueness, lives their culture, values, and beliefs, which can vary over time and contexts. When it comes to culture in school, it is primarily about an individual. 


But how do we talk about culture? 

First, before addressing culture in the classroom, it is important to understand ourselves. To know who we are, to understand our cultural evolution and values. Afterwards, it’s important to understand how our own biases can influence our teaching, which is not always obvious.


That being said, as a school professional, how do I position myself in front of a cultural mosaic? Do I dare discuss cultural elements, do I seize opportunities, do I ask questions to students and to the class, do I share my own culture and values? Sometimes, discomfort may arise, and it is entirely possible to feel helpless.


Cultural competence in teaching can be defined as the ability to integrate and utilise meaningful cultural references, and reinvest them in classroom situations. These moments can sometimes be planned, but often, they arise from spontaneous discussions on current events. 


If you wish to know more about ways to address culture in your classrooms or in your centre, please don’t hesitate to contact the SEC.