Teaching cultural diversity

Natalie Davison
20th September 2016 at 17:25

Subject Genius, Natalie Davison, Teaching cultural diversity

Today I delivered a lesson on cultural diversity which worked well in my mixed ability class so I thought I'd share it here. We're currently covering year 1 of OCR's A-level course but this would work well in any 'Introduction to sociology' type module.

We started off reading Benjamin Zephaniah's poem The British - just to get students thinking as they arrived to lesson (it's helpful to have them already on the desks). The poem can be found here with a reading taken from the BBC's Poetry Season here. Students were asked to consider what the poem meant to them, what they took from it and what they anticipated today's lesson would be about. This particular class have already impressed me with their positive attitude and so it was encouraging to again hear their thoughts on cultural diversity, what we gain from this 'melting pot' of ethnicities and so on. This activity also worked well as one of my department's development plan points this year looks at embedding literacy in the curriculum and I'm really keen to get them to see how sociology really is everywhere.

From this, we watched a short four minute video about the life of Aqil, a British born Muslim with Pakistani born parents: http://www.mylearning.org/gallery.asp?type=1&journeyid=441. Students were asked to consider aspects of Aqil's identity that seemed important to him, ways in which their own lives differed and how Aqil's life might be different to their experiences in the future. There were some productive conversations about what it means to be British, the role of the family, how Islam is performing a clear socialisation and broader education role for Aqil. A think,pair, share strategy gave all members of the class time to jot their thoughts and ideas down in advance.

I'd managed to secure some computers for the lesson and so we moved on to think about the 'Life in the UK' British citizenship test. After explaining that this forms part of an application for British residency/citizenship, students were asked to create examples of the kinds of questions they would expect to see on the test. Subjects as diverse as taxes, holidays and pets were suggested. Then it was time to take the test! The official practice test is here and whilst 45 minutes is 'allowed' for the multiple choice questions, I'd allow about ten minutes. At the end of the test you're told whether you have passed or failed (you need 75% to pass). We collated our scores and worked out a class average - just 65.3%. Taken from a class of white British students I think that raises questions about the validity of the test and so this formed a nice link to research methods and the notion of 'validity'.

Tomorrow we'll be carrying on with our study of cultural diversity and so I'll share more soon, Happy Autumn term everyone!



Natalie Davison teaches social sciences at a school in the South Lakes.