In week 11 of the DFLP course we are encouraged to consider cultural diversity in relation to flexible course delivery.
In New Zealand the government recognises the Treaty of Waitangi as our founding document which acknowledges the partnership between Maori and ‘The Crown’. Otago Polytechnic and Ngia Maia (national organisation representing Maori birthing) in New Zealand and is affiliated with the New Zealand College of Midwives. Through this memorandum it is hoped that more Maori women will be encouraged and supported to engage in midwifery study and be supported to succeed and graduate. It is important therefore that any changes to midwifery education consider the implications for Maori and ensure that importance is attached to the needs of Maori students.
Kate Timms presented on this topic of cultural diversity in educational institutions. She highlighted the stereotypical attitudes many hold about students which are often at odds with the reality of students reality and experience. Stereo typing limits our ability to see people as individuals with individual needs. Papps discussed this issue in relation to nursing and midwifery education in New Zealand. When we acknowledge our own biases we are more able to look past these and to see people as individuals with individual needs.
One point of difference that Kate highlighted, which was a new consideration for me, was the different faces that those of us from western cultures have, which is at odds with Maori and Pacific Island peoples. We often have one face for our friends, one face for our professional selves and another perhaps for our teachers or fellow students. There may be other faces which we adopt in different situations. She pointed out that many Maori and Pacific Island people do not understand this concept. They are themselves and have only one face which they present to the world in all situations. Those of us who are more familiar with presenting different faces to the world can find this difficult to understand. Leigh pointed out an Australian mockumentary ‘Summer Heights High’ which featured a Pacific Island boy who struggled through schooling for this very reason. Kate pointed out that the Brotown cartoon series highlighted a similar issue for Maori. I had not considered this particular way of looking at how people present themselves and this does make complete sense to me now. I can see how this can create barriers in communication when we do not understand each others way of presenting ourselves. Instead of valuing the honesty of people we might feel they are being inappropriate. Something I will try to keep in mind in the future.
I know that I do have stereotypical attitudes to people in some situations and I do try to acknowledge these and by doing this try to see these for what they are and look beyond them. I try to treat people as individuals and consider their individual needs. As Kate pointed out, to do this, one has to try to get to know students as individuals, which is much more difficult in large classes than it is in smaller groups. It may also be more challenging when we have less face to face contact with students as we will not have the non verbal cues which help to give meaning to our words. Maintaining lines of communication will be important, giving opportunities for one on one communication, as well as group and class communication.
Image; Many Faces. From Mayron Goetse’s photo on Flickr.com