Anytime I have said or heard "Use your common sense!" there was a hint of judgment in it. Well, common sense is really cultural sense, common only to those who share a cultural lens, core values and patterns of behavior.
Starting with that fundamental insight, there are endless possibilities in how you can work with young people to help them sort out their own viewpoints and those of others. We can guide young people to developing thinking habits that lean toward openness in getting to know new people, experiences and ideas and to create new connections among them. That is one step toward knowing how to thrive in a global world.
As you think about your role in preparing young people with a global mindset of cultural understanding, here are a few design ideas to consider in your programs:
- Enrich program curriculum with robust educational materials that engage youth in real-world critical incidents and stories of intercultural understandings and misunderstandings so that young people can see cultural contexts and dynamics within them. Here are a few resources to check out: Teaching Tolerance and Media That Matters.
- Create exercises where young people learn to observe others without judgment. By honing this skill youth build habits to study and discuss cultural points of view, get to know peers and their values, and learn how those values influence what they say and do. Here are some more resources to peruse: Self-science and Peace Corps curriculum called Building Bridges.
- Help young people to recognize positive intentions instead of quickly jumping to negative conclusions. With that recognition, they learn to understand other perspectives and manage cultural expectations. Over time youth may build bridges and creatively harness the values and intentions of others in their lives.
- Model how to leverage cultural differences and similarities as assets for more effective solutions. By developing that skill, youth learn to work collaboratively with each other, maximize relationships within a group, and improve their problem solving by involving others and finding solutions that benefit those around them.
What ideas do you have for helping young people to thrive in a global world?
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