Building Students Cultural Self-Confidence

Indonesia is one of the best multicultural countries in the world. School is one of the best ‘labs’ to practice live in diverse culture. School is a place where multicultural students, teachers, and staff come together to learn, work, and play together. At school, we interact with teachers, students, staff, parents who are raised in different cultures. They bring unique ‘taste’ in their behavior, attitude, words, action, perspectives and beliefs which are different from one another. Sometimes, these ‘taste’ causes discussions, debates, and duels among school community and it is perfectly fine where the school could facilitate this cultural interaction safely and effectively. In fact, this kind of interaction is needed to prepare school community to face the real multicultural society out there. It should be started from the classroom where teachers and students meet everyday. Therefore, the big question is how teachers build multicultural learning community that would affect student’s self confidence and self esteem of their cultural belief system in class.

There are many ways we could differentiating our teaching to focus on student’s self confidence of their cultural belief. First of all, we could implement simple rule in our class: RESPECT. We should not only tell the students to respect but we need to practice it in our class. Show our respect to people who has different culture with us. RESPECT starts by recognize the differences. We should take time in our class to know each of our students tribes, belief, and cultural practices. For examples, we could design simple activity which each student share their cultural practices in front of classes.  We could share openly our perspectives about their sharing respectively. This would be great opportunities for students to respect people from different cultures by listening their differences.

Then, we could also celebrate our differences by giving each student show their cultural practices in our lessons. After simple introduction of each culture, students should be encouraged to express their cultural belief system in some relevant topics in our class. For example, we could ask our students opinion about updated issues and problems in our countries. We could ask their opinion about discrimination cases in cities in Indonesia. We could ask them how they view those issues and how their belief system said about that issues. Then, we could also bring up relevant theme that could be discussed in classroom such as how do you celebrate our cultural days such as Chinese New Year or Islamic New Year.  We could also ‘celebrate’ our unique perspectives by asking them to sharing their real concrete action to be tolerant with students who are celebrating their cultural days. By exchanging multicultural ideas, problems, and issues, we are building their confidence on their own culture.

Finally, we should do real action to prove a multicultural life. After we recognize, respect, discuss, and share our differences, we should invite our students to start concrete action to campaign a life of multicultural life. We could invite our students to go out in social activities that involve people from different culture that are not from schools. We could do community services to serve people with different culture with the students. Give the students opportunity to discuss the meaning of this activities to apply what they have learned in class. Invite our students to face real discussion with people with different cultural background. Engage them in the real project that make them practice their belief system in the midst of differences. They could be asked to interview, discuss, and express their opinion to people with different cultures.

At the end, I believe cultural background plays significant roles in student’s self confidence  and self esteem. It is impossible to grow their confidence with practicing it in different cultural contexts. Class is perfect place to experience the simulation of cultural self confidence. In Indonesia, this skills is strongly needed since we come from different cultures. The problem of discrimination started from someone who has low self confidence and self esteem of their culture which might happen since they were in class. It’s time to raise up generation who has deep love and loyalty to their cultural background and at the same time, has strong tolerance and open mind to accept others.

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