Blog: How to incorporate diversity and multiple perspectives into lesson plans
by Carola Deinet-Knittel
Today I‘d like to give some input related to the International School of Stuttgart, where I have been working for about eleven years.
For thirty years, the International School of Stuttgart (ISS) has been the only school in the Stuttgart region to offer a truly international education – authorized and accredited by the Council of International Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the International Baccalaureate Organization.
From Kindergarten through grade 12, ISS is a vibrant, student-centered learning community where both subject rigor and character development are fostered, where tradition is valued and innovation embraced and where partnership with parents is a fundamental part of our philosophy.
Philosophy Statements: (Our beliefs)
We believe in the importance of:
Innovation: Emphasizing creative problem-solving and confident adaptation to change.
Respect: Fostering empathy and integrity to nurture a caring responsibility within a diverse cultural community.
Engagement: Challenging and inspiring understanding through active curiosity and individual involvement in learning.
Relevance: Accessing and discerning real life connections between intellectual experience and the changing world.
The ISS experience inspires its learners to develop a sense of pride and commitment to making a difference. A transparent and reflective partnership between students, teachers and family is fundamental to our mission.
Mission Statement: (Our purpose)
Leading education for internationally minded families
Our school mission is to inspire, challenge and actively support our students and each other to become positive participants in a changing world. I am a member of the International School of Stuttgart and teaching the youngest students (aged 3 to 5 years old) for the past eleven years. What I absolutely love and honor is the fact that, we, as a school community highly value each cultural background. Overall we have about 40 countries represented in our staff and students. The children I work with are mostly from Japan, Germany, the United States, and Great Britain. There is a great diversity and cultural perspective at our school: daily I see people communicating in their home and family language, or dancing on the floor to some Indian music. Each kind of event is highly valued and celebrated related to our mission. It is necessary that everybody feels welcomed, accepted and respected by each and everyone – whatever colour, background or handicap we have. We treat people respectfully, and are open-minded towards our community.
I am convinced that sharing and celebrating events brings people together- this is my personal experience. We celebrate big events, such as the Multicultural evening that takes place every March. People show their cultural diversity through all kinds of performances, such as dancing, singing and sharing food with one another and getting dressed in their national costumes. Also, we ask the parents of our class to tell us about their individual cultural background, and how to share their events or celebrations with us. This diversity is shared during the circle-time in the mornings, where we have had people performing through music, dance, art and special treats from all around the world (including “Diwali”, “Thanksgiving” or “Hinamatsuri”). Living in Germany is a part of sharing our/my own cultural background as well. Sharing the local environment is a great opportunity to tell people about our history, community and events. With the younger students we share the St. Martin festival- a festival full of light, and lanterns with a background that leads to deep understanding: how we take care of other people. Through this event the children have a chance to learn about respect and support for other people, -a message that St. Martin sent hundreds of years ago as he always helped the poor, and became a bishop of Tours in France. Related to this event I created a lesson plan that gives my youngest learners input in learning about this cultural background of a part of Europe.
I realised, that the older I get, the more open-minded towards other cultures and nations. I truly feel that we share the whole planet with one another so therefore also need to care for one another. I get a cultural perspective not only by sharing food or celebrating, but also through feedback related to international diversity from teachers, parents and children. They feel that they are all valued people in a world where each of us is unique. And this we teach our children- respect others however they are dressed, behave or move, and accept their languages. One aspect I also appreciate is one of the standards we teach: all our languages are special- in a way that we communicate whether non-verbally, through performance or conversation, share cultural background and events, laugh and sing and celebrate being together –as a great community.
In my lesson plan about “St. Martin”, I have included several different languages so people can understand one another better, and share ideas and thinking between one another.
I hope that I could contribute in sharing ideas how to include the diversity of Multicultural Perspectives between one another.
Lesson plan related to the topic: “St. Martin Celebration”