WhyTry Training Consultant Gina Purcell answers the question: How can WhyTry be used in a Multi-Cultural Setting?
One of the best things about WhyTry is that it is incredibly adaptable. Not only can you adapt the lessons to different age groups, you can also adapt it to different settings. This adaptation makes it easier for the kids to understand and connect with what is being taught.
When WhyTry is understood, the kids love it. They grasp onto it. When we adapt things to meet their specific needs (in this case cultural needs) they appreciate that someone is trying to reach them. The adaptability of the program helps students with different backgrounds interact better together. WhyTry teaches the students how to have relationships, it teaches you how to feel good about yourself. That’s what helps when you have someone who thinks or believes differently than you. It helps you to be yourself and let others be their self.
When it comes to working with students who come from a variety of multi-cultural and religious backgrounds, it is important to remember to have open mind. We need to be sensitive to other races and other cultures. We need to recognize that there WILL be differences and we need to be aware of what those differences are. As issues and confusion present themselves we need to realize quickly what it isn’t working and search for a way to put things into terms that THEY will understand. When we feel a bit lost on how to adapt the program in a particular way, we can always ask someone who knows they culture well. They can provide us with lots of insight and advice. If we find that we don’t entirely understand the problem, we should ask the student to explain to us how they are feeling or what isn’t connecting for them. It may be a cultural thing and it may not. Most students will be more than willing to open up to us. Kids in general love teaching people who are excited to learn more about them.
I want to share with you an example of one of the ways I have seen WhyTry be adapted to a multi-cultural setting.
In Hawaii there are obviously lots of different races, cultures, and beliefs, Asian, Polynesian, Hispanic, etc. When you walk through a school you will hear a different mix of languages being spoken. That’s just how it is. However, despite all of these different backgrounds, the people of Hawaii, no matter what their culture of origin, unite together in a “Hawaiian” culture. The Hawaiian culture, whether you are Hawaiian by race or not, is prevalent. Everywhere you go people are using the Hawaiian language and customs. This makes it easy for WhyTry facilitators to find a common and solid foundation to build off of. One of the things that has been done is the facilitators will try and find Hawaiian words to use in place of the English words. This puts WhyTry in a perspective that is relatable and more personally relevant to the students. Another thing that they did is they took the Reality Ride and made it their own. They made the rollercoaster a wave and explained it in terms of surfing or bodysurfing. The kids understand they waves more than a roller coaster. This adaptation made it easier for the kids to grasp the ideas and apply it to themselves. Even if they themselves don’t surf, they know someone who does or have seen people do it at the beach. It’s the culture of Hawaii…. people go to the beach.
The good thing about WhyTry is that it is flexible enough to make minor changes. If you want to make the reality ride into a wave you can! You can change things without losing the integrity of the program. You can infuse your culture into the curriculum without it losing its impact. A lot of the changes you would make to the curriculum are things that just happen. You can make the changes as you go along.
So, to close things off I just want to outline 4 keys to using WhyTry in a Multi-Cultural setting:
- Be Aware of cultural differences in the classroom
- Make reasonable accommodations when necessary (like the wave or Hawaiian words). Be careful not to make too many, the kids need to learn how to adapt.
- Always ask the student. Don’t assume that it’s always a cultural thing. Have the kids explain what is happening or talk to them about their cultural beliefs
- Seek help from someone who understands