Culture plays a huge role in any person’s life and heavily affects the way of how he or she perceives other individuals. Similar to any other people, educators may sometimes fail to understand that the norms of their native culture are not universal and applicable to all students. It may give rise to improper conclusions about some students’ behaviors and the degree to which ethnic minority children meet developmental milestones for their age.
The risks of culture-related bias during developmental assessments in young children are a well-recognized issue, and modern childhood psychology research is focused on developing assessment tools that would provide credible results in diverse populations. To reduce the risks of such misconceptions, school psychologists are recommended to rely on the eco-cultural model when conducting assessments. The model involves assessing young learners’ development in their natural and family environments and considering culture-specific expectations when analyzing children’s behaviors.
Intercultural differences may affect educators’ perceptions of students’ development in multiple ways, and an experienced professional should always be open to learning about other cultures to make informed conclusions. One simple example that comes to my mind is the presence of diverse norms regarding eye contact. In many cultures, children are taught that making direct eye contact is inappropriate and disrespectful. An uninformed educator working with such a child may wrongly regard his or her culturally appropriate behaviors as an alarming symptom.
Another possible example refers to the role of unequal opportunities and access to resources. For instance, ethnic minority learners from extremely poor communities may fail to keep pace with peers when completing specific tasks simply due to being unfamiliar with art supplies and how to use them properly. An educator with insufficient intercultural knowledge may, however, regard a child’s puzzlement and confusion as a sign of problems with fine motor skills.