NL 51 Multi-Cultural Education
Capt Sivanandan Vivekanadan
Senior Lecturer, Malaysian Maritime Academy
Multicultural Education and Respect
for one Another are Very Important
Multicultural education is a very important element in developing the whole seafarer. Seafarers get to meet people of all different cultures and nationalities; it is impossible not to be influenced by those interactions. Just the same, in order to work more effectively as a team onboard ship, seafarers must be aware of each other’s culture and traditions. They don’t necessarily have to agree with each other’s culture, but they should respect each other’s culture and act accordingly!
The Essence of Developing a Multicultural Seafaring Industry
Culture refers to the cumulative deposits of knowledge, experiences, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations and the list goes on. Culture also encompasses that system of knowledge and experiences of the much larger group and society as well; a sort of global perspective. Multicultural then, refers to a social educational perspective that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than focusing only on a mainstream or particular culture. These points are central in developing a rich long term maritime multicultural seafaring industry, harmony onboard ship and other benefits to the maritime industry too large to enumerate here. Let’s look at empowering seafarers through multicultural education.
Multicultural Education Facilitates Equal Opportunities and Inclusion by All
Multicultural education is a field of study and emerging discipline whose major aims are to create equal educational opportunities for students from many diverse racial, ethnic, social class and cultural groups. A multicultural education also helps all students to acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to function effectively in a multi ethnic environment; democratic society; and to interact, negotiate and communicate with people from diverse groups in order to facilitate a more civil and moral seafaring community that works for a common good of the industry. One might refer these attributes as important competencies in developing multicultural seafaring.
The seafarer and ship are two core elements of shipping. The shipping industry operates worldwide in a multinational, multicultural and multi-functional environment. Additionally, working as seafarers o
Multicultural education also refers to any form of education or teaching that incorporates the histories, texts, values, beliefs and perspectives of people from different cultural backgrounds. The following are some cases where people seem to lack multicultural education; the first case happened in a tea party when a guest said he was a vegetarian. The gentlemen next to him told him that a particular noodle was vegetarian and that there was no beef in it. When the guest out of curiosity checked the food, he saw some meat in the noodles and questioned the gentlemen back. To his surprise the gentlemen in question didn’t actually know what the term vegetarian meant. To him, as long there was no beef – it is vegetarian; however, he thanked this person for correcting him.
The second case occurred when the guests in a lunch party started to use the same utensils used for taking beef to serve chicken without washing the utensils first. Hindus don’t eat beef and Muslims don’t eat pork, so utensils used for serving must not be mixed. A third case happened when a cadet offered a cup of coffee to a Muslim pilot during their fasting month. These cases will definitely cause uneasiness to the respected parties and could have been avoided if the students were taught of multicultural education.
The Goal and Importance of Multicultural Education
Multicultural education is important as it increases productivity and when productivity increases, revenue will increase too. This is due to the fact that a variety of mental resources are available for completing the task assigned and promotes moral and cognitive growth among ship crew. Furthermore multicultural education increases creative problem solving skills through different perspectives applied to same problems to reach a solution with proper respect given to all. Also multicultural education increases positive relationships through appreciation and commitment to equality among maritime personnel.
The goal of this approach to multiculturalism is to promote positive relations among groups in both Maritime Academy’s and industry by eradicating stereotypes and encouraging tolerance and unity. The basic idea is to bring about the realization that all people share the same universal human experience. It is this common bond, combined with a newly acquired appreciation for differences that is thought to lead to social harmony within existing societal structures.
The Goal is not Necessarily how to Create the Perfect Culture
In conclusion, even though we are talking about culture, it is important to remember that people are individuals and cannot be made to fit into any preconceived mold of how they are “supposed” to act. The question is not necessarily how to create the perfect “culturally matched” learning situation for each ethnic group, but rather how to recognize when there is problem for a particular student or seafarer and how to seek its cause in the most broadly conceived fashion. Knowledge about culture is but one tool that both educators and seafarers may make use of when devising solutions.
Personally, I enjoy teaching and facilitating multicultural students as they always spice up my life. Besides, the only thing that is permanent in this world is change itself. Last but not least, in the larger context, if we plan to survive as a species on this planet, we must certainly create multicultural curriculums that will educate our students to the differing perspectives of our diverse population. Thanks for reading!