Investing in Cultural Pluralism to Empower Learners

View this material in a Google Doc: Investing in Cultural Pluralism

Objective: To learn about cultural pluralism and how to implement strategies that support student achievement.

The estimated time for this activity is 25–35 minutes.

Watch This Video

Cultural pluralism is the concept that individual ethnic groups have a right to exist on their own terms within the larger society while retaining their unique cultural heritages.

According to NYSED’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework, “culturally responsive education must also be sustaining, that is it must work to encourage cultural pluralism and not cultural assimilation.” Watch this video to learn about cultural pluralism and how you can center the identities of your individual learners in remote and hybrid environments to maintain rigorous instruction and high expectations that will lead to student achievement: 

Stop and Think

(Key: T — Teachers, SL — School Leaders, DL — District Leaders)

  • How do you, or how do you plan to, encourage cultural pluralism in your remote or hybrid learning environment? (T, SL)
  • What might be some barriers to prioritizing cultural pluralism in your learning environment? (T, SL)
  • What examples, or non-examples, of cultural pluralism do you see in society? (T, SL, DL)
  • When have you seen diversity drive innovation in your learning environment, your school, or your district? (T, SL, DL)

Take Action

A critical component of addressing cultural pluralism is to invest in the diversity of learners in your remote or hybrid learning environment. Racial, cultural, linguistic, and gender differences all contribute to a person’s identity. Helping students understand differences better will lead to increased student achievement, in any learning environment. A focus on diversity and cultural pluralism will help students feel represented and welcome, but it will also help all students learn from unique perspectives, increase their understanding, and expand their capacity for empathy and achievement.

Use the tool linked below to reflect on the diversity in your learning environment by listing examples and where they are found for each of the row indicators. Then, consider the strategies from the video above, and listed below, that will leverage the identities of your learners. Which strategies will you try to increase diversity and promote better learning outcomes for your students?

This audit has been modified from Learning for Justice to reflect the nuances of remote learning. Use it to list examples and where they are found.

Cultural Pluralism Audit

Cultural Pluralism audit (Google Doc)

Cultural Pluralism audit (fillable PDF form)

Consider the strategies below. Based on the diverse makeup of your learning environment, which would support your learners the most?

  • Use of online translators
  • Establishing norms and protocols for online and in-person discussions
  • Collaborative and/or high-interest projects based on student experiences and backgrounds
  • Virtual field trips to celebrations and culturally significant events
  • Frequent opportunities for reflection
  • Diverse representation in student materials and activities

Brainstorm next steps to incorporate strategies that will support cultural pluralism and diversity in your learning environment. Set a date to return to your learning environment audit and reflect on whether any of your reflections or wonderings have been affirmed or shifted.