Mrs. Faulkner’s Thought for the Week 2nd October 2023
This week our theme is We Appreciate Different Cultures. Obviously this is something which we focus on every day of every week, but this is a time when we can actually look at what it means explicitly and unpack what our students think when we talk about the appreciation of different cultures.
I am a great believer in the fact that, by understanding difference, it brings us closer together. As soon as we are able to empathise and understand the experience of people, who are very different to us, we have a new window on the world and we also have the will to make the world a place where all of us can co-exist.
Over the years through history and in society, there has been deep suspicion of difference and a lack of tolerance, which has caused some horrendous approaches and outcomes for different groups of people. Following that statement we will all probably immediately think about the persecution of the Jews in World War Two, the Rwandan genocide, the current state of our world with the wars around the world and many more well-known events.
However unfortunately there is a lack of appreciation of difference closer to home on a daily basis. Society both locally and nationally finds it hard to work together consistently and much of the reason for this is that difference and different cultures make people suspicious and scared.
We deal with this in school from students, who are struggling to understand themselves and who find it easier to look out and criticise others than to confront their own shortcomings. We have seen it replicated over the years in a variety of ways. Sometimes this lack of tolerance is accepted by the adults in these students’ lives, but this is becoming increasingly rare - thank goodness!
It is really important coming from the lovely area that we do that we remember that not everyone has the same quality of life, which we are lucky to have. I have friends who teach in other schools for example, who have no school fields because they are in the centre of London, they have school classrooms in old office blocks and they are concerned when they travel to and from school about the level of crime in the area they teach in. We do not have any of this, but we need to have a level of understanding of the difference of experience with which people in our nation have to contend.
It is easy to become so used to our environment that we fail to appreciate it. We must also of course be able to look behind the thatched cottages and the chocolate box villages in our local area or the lovely Salisbury Cathedral Close. This does not mean that everyone has the same life experience in our locality. There is poverty, there is inconsistency and there is an inequality of experience wherever you live in this country or in this world.
We must equip our students with the tools to make their corner of the world that little bit better and the greatest skill they can learn, in order to do this, is an appreciation of different cultures.
As the American writer and philosopher Audre Lorde said,” It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept and celebrate those differences.”