Friday, November 26, 2010

Multicultural Competence


I am a physical education teacher at the local public school and I am looking to promote the health and well being of young students.  To do that I must be culturally competent and have a program that is inclusive and empowering.  In this case study I will look at various ways to make my agency more culturally competent and create an atmosphere of inclusion and empowerment.


To develop my own multicultural competencies I would first have to understand what multicultural competencies are.  According to Mio, Barker-Hacket and Tumambing, multicultural psychology is the “systematic study of behavior, cognition and affect in many cultures.”  (Mio, Barker-Hacket & Tumambing, 2006, pg.3).  But culture is a difficult thing to assess sometimes and difficult to pinpoint what should be included as culture.  Is it just gender, race and religion, or do values, beliefs and life experiences contribute to one’s culture as well?  I believe it is all of the above and many others as well.  Culture is ultimately what defines us and therefore studying culture should take a look at all aspects of our lives.  And to be multicultural competent, I must be open to all people and really attempt to understand the many differences that people have.  I must also use my education and professionalism to make people from all different cultures feel safe and welcome in my class.  In doing this it should help foster an atmosphere of unity and cohesion.

Since multicultural competencies include three general areas: awareness of one’s own cultural values and biases, understanding of the client’s worldviews, and the development of culturally appropriate intervention strategies; some resources that I would attempt to utilize in order to move up the cultural competence continuum would include: talking to other staff members that may have expertise in different cultures, library resources, the internet and possibly parents to get a better understanding of what the kids might be like and their personal beliefs. (Mio, Barker-Hacket, & Tumambing, 2006).  To move up the cultural competence continuum I would first have to assess where on the continuum my agency lies.  Most agencies I would assume lie in the cultural destructive or incapacity stages.  The reason this is true is because outside of major cities there is not a whole lot of diversity or people educated on different cultures.  A personal example would be my hometown that was 99% white, this didn’t allow for much cultural diversity and therefore college was a bit of an adjustment.  But to move out of these lower stages and into the higher stages, I believe the most important thing is to educate.  I would need to become more educated on different cultures, but I would help educate my students as well.  Because after all, they are the ones participating and the ones that need to function well together.  After being fully educated on different cultures, the next step would be programming.  As the physical education teacher, it s my responsibility to provide inclusive programming for all of my students; regardless of their cultural backgrounds.  This means taking into account religious and spiritual beliefs/guidelines and gender roles.  With the understanding that everyone is different, it is important to understand that differences exist and as a professional I need to be willing to use agile programming, which is the programming style that welcomes change at any moment to help accommodate everyone involved.  If everyone feels welcomed, and part of the group regardless of cultural identity, then I believe you have reached the highest rung on the multicultural competence continuum, cultural proficiency.

To ensure that my agency and my program maintain its inclusion and empowering feeling, I would work with other professions to keep improving and evolving my programs.  I would make sure that all of my employees understand and really believe in what we’re trying to accomplish with understanding and utilizing multicultural competence.  I would also talk with other professions outside of my agency to see what they’re doing to create an inclusive atmosphere.  After all, in the service industry our main goal is to provide a quality service to all who which to participate.


Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychology dynamics of sport and exercise. Pg. 267-290.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Mio, J.S., Barker-Hacket, L., & Tumambing, J. (2006). Multicultural psychology:
Understanding our diverse communities. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

1 comment:

  1. Dylan - I agree that personal beliefs and values also shape one's culture and that there needs to be an understanding and respect for others values and beliefs. Education is a great beginning point for cultural competency because most individuals who are judgmental simply fear what they do not understand or what they are not accustomed to. With a PE class like you describe, I think gender often plays a key role, especially at the high school level. Both high school girls and boys need to equally involved and the potential for gender bias or harassment must be controlled in the physical education environment.