Cultural interconnectivity is pivotal in the formation of cumulative intercultural maturation. In education, King and Baxter Magolda (2005) believe cultural maturation to be three-tier, “achieving consciousness implies an understanding of self and identity (intrapersonal) while interacting with others in a historical and socio-cultural-political context (interpersonal), leading to reflection (cognitive) that motivates action.” These three aspects are said to be interrelated in the development of one’s cultural maturity. King and Baxter Magolda (2005) claim the simple understanding of facts and information about different cultures is not enough to create cultural maturity. There must be a cognitive and perceptual transformation in order to reach the levels of cultural maturity that are necessary for an educational setting.
There are a number of viable solutions to cultural immaturity that may be a beneficial implementation in an educational setting as a means of promoting multiculturalism. Lanik (2002) has provided a variety of ways to promote multiculturalism within an educational setting. For example, “an atlas of prejudices” is suggested to educate students on the inconsistencies of the various stereotypes which they may have grown to learn through interaction with others. “Those Girls with a Headscarf” is female-participant activity where female students wear scarves over their heads, then walk around the street and gauge the reactions of pedestrians and interactions with pedestrians. This game is to educate students through a first-person perspective the degree of stigmatization of disparate, often minority, cultural groups. Lanik’s (2002) proposal of education through, essentially, hands-on interaction parallels King and Baxter Magolda’s (2005) intended meaning of transformation. The knowledge and understanding of cultural diversity in the form of facts and information does not equate to the knowledge and understanding one can attain through the personal experience of the cultural stigmatization. It is this personal experience that creates this transformation necessary for the development of cultural maturation.
Social and cultural stereotypes are predicated on perceptual illogicalities and the lack of information pertinent to the topic at hand. Stickler and Emke (2011) adhere to King and Baxter Magolda’s (2005) in their believing “adult learners are in a better position to achieve this developmental complexity” which allows for the “positive acceptance of others.” This idea is rather interesting in that King and Baxter Magolda (2005) and Lanik (2002) both believed social and cultural stereotypes are conjured through interaction with others; more specifically, a child does not develop these notions independently and is heavily reliant upon extrinsic motivators in their acquisition of ill-perceived notions of cultural diversity. It becomes paradoxical in consideration of Stickler and Emke’s (2011) claim that adults are more capable of showing acceptance toward others, yet, simultaneously are the perpetrators of these stereotypes and social stigmatizations of others in their teaching them to younger generations.
The perpetuation of stereotypes and stigmas in society has been viewed to transcend institutions throughout a lifespan. In Braddock and McPartland’s (1989) study it was identified that “racial segregation tends to be perpetuated over stages of the life cycle and across institutional settings.” This shows the complete circle of perpetuation from familial influence to its continuation into education and later, occupation. The importance of education of multiculturalism within an educational setting is to promote interconnectedness while eliminating the various illogicalities of stereotypes and stigmas. By conducting such programs as illustrated by Lanik (2002) educators can, hopefully, halt the continuation of racism through cultural stereotypes from continuing on into adulthood. If students learn the illogicality of stereotypes prior to reproduction, future generations will be less likely to learn and, thus, continue this negativity in their lives.
Braddock, J. H., & McPartland, J. M. (1989). Social-psychological processes that perpetuate racial segregation: The relationship between school and employment desegregation. Journal of Black Studies, 19(3), 267-289.
King, P. M., & Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2005). A developmental model of intercultural maturity. Journal of College Student Development, 46(6), 571-592.
Lanik, J. (2001). Goal of education: Cultural maturity. European Education, 33(3), 85.
Stickler, U., & Emke, M. (2011). Literalia: Towards developing intercultural maturity online. Language and Learning Technology, 15(1), 147-168.