teacher cultural proficiency

3 Questions to Spark Courageous Conversations

Here are three “Questions & Topics for Courageous Conversations for all Educators Supporting South Asian American Students,” taken from our updated 2018 Toolkit.

The first question: HOW MUCH CULTURE-SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE DO WE HAVE?

  • While knowing some culture-specific facts doesn’t make us experts, what do we know? 
  • And, do we recognize the diversity of South Asian Americans?
    (There’s no single, monolithic “South Asian” culture; South Asian Americans are extremely diverse).
  • Do we recognize the diversity of each individual student from SAA backgrounds?

The second question: DO WE BELIEVE THE MODEL MINORITY MYTH?

  • Be honest with yourself and consider whether you buy into the “Model Minority Myth” — and if so, consider what that belief might do to teaching/interacting with students.
  • Do we assume South Asian American students (or any other students) don’t need help?
  • Do we hold any beliefs that impact the support we give them?
  • Are we offering the same socioemotional and academic support to all of students?

The third question: HAVE WE SET THE RIGHT TONE?

  • Let’s consider what kind of language we use amongst ourselves as colleagues.
  • Let’s also consider what kind of classroom climate we cultivate…
  • Are we tolerant of subtle racism?
  • Do we allow “light-hearted” mocking of students’ backgrounds and cultures?
  • Do we occasionally let intolerant — or even abusive — language slip by, seemingly unnoticed?
  • Do we hold our students to a standard of respect?
  • …Do we hold our colleagues to that standard?
  • …Ourselves?

And finally, some MORE IDEAS / TOPICS to explore:

Do we take name pronunciation seriously (see the ISAASE name guide).

Do we read diverse literature or engage with diverse stories?

You can download the 2018 ISAASE toolkit, from which these conversation starters were taken, here.