The Importance of Action in Cultural Competence

As we discussed earlier in the quarter, cultural competence is a process, not a product (to tie us back in to my previous post). New challenges continue to find us, and as we work through these, we seek out other ways in which we can improve upon our current worldview. Just as with anything important, there is always room for improving, and in this case, increasing knowledge and views of the world.

While taking the self-analysis on cultural competence from Sue & Sue (2009), I noticed two important things about my own answers. First, that I didn’t mark “often” (or the equivalent) for a single question or topic. I marked myself generally around the middle. The second thing I noticed was that when it came to action, I marked “never” on almost every single one. While I am generally comfortable discussing class, race, and religion with others, I am not usually motivated to take action in order to make things more equal. This is partly from lack of opportunity, from lack of knowledge about what I can do, and also partly from an ingrained belief that there is nothing I can do. What can I, as a young female graduate student, do to help the millions of people who are treated unfairly? Changing this belief, I think, is one of my personal goals in my own journey of cultural competence. For myself, I think what is most important is first learning what I can about problems dealing with race, then follow it up with inquiring about steps I can take as an educator to help students in my own class. Once I am an educator, I will certainly have the power to make changes, even if they are just small ones. I think that it is important for me to start realizing this now, and work toward changing my own attitude toward race, especially with regards to education.

In order to promote some of the values from the self-assessment, I think the most important thing is to educate myself and others on what is happening in the country (and also the world) right now having to deal with race. For example, in Ferguson, Missouri, a young white cop shot a black youth, causing ripples of anger and hatred across the country. As teachers, this is something we need to be aware of, yet remain impartial to, in my opinion. Since all we know is what we hear from the media, and the opinions of those around us, it is hard to really know what happened that night. But children, especially young ones, form opinions based on what they hear from their parents. I’ve heard both sides of the coin on this matter; the officer was profiling the youth, who did nothing wrong, or the youth attacked the cop. Whichever is the case, students will be bringing these opinions to school, though they may not do so expressly. It is up to the teacher to take action within his or her classroom to ensure that these conflicting opinions do not bring about more inequality and anger.

Sue & Sue. (2009). What is cultural competence? Retrieved from


2 thoughts on “The Importance of Action in Cultural Competence

  1. I agree with you that your influence and opportunities for change will increase as you enter the schools. You will need time to absorb the culture of the school, the students, and their families but I appreciate your desire to do even small things. Your classroom will be one of nurture and nudging, I am sure.

  2. I think I am more interested in small changes rather than big ones, but I think it’s important to be aware of all changes and also what we can do to help with change that we think is right.

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