Please join us at the 6th Annual Cultural Proficiency Institute, August 1-2, 2012, at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. I will be presenting Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity. This will be a hands-on, interactive session that provides insights into how to reframe learning community conversations that are stuck or shut down, when the team wants to ignore the elephant in the room. Learn to craft Breakthrough Questions that open the conversation for new possibilities! Below are some of my thoughts/insights about What is Cultural Proficiency, and the Four Tools that support individuals and organizations to ground their work with (1) Guiding Principals, the values that support culturally proficient organizations; (2) the Essential Elements, standards for behaviors, policies, and practices; (3) the Continuum, a tool for describing harmful and positive behaviors within organizations; and (4) Barriers to be aware of when moving a culture and an organization forward in their Cultural Proficiency journey.

• It is an inside-out approach
• It is about being aware of how we think and work with others
• It is about being aware of how we react to those different from us
• It is a mind set; a way of being; a paradigm shift for some

• It is the use of specific tools for effectively describing, responding to, and planning for issues that emerge in diverse environments
• It is the policies and practices at the organizational level, and values and behaviors of the leader that enable effective cross cultural interactions among staff, community, and those we serve


Cultural Proficiency—Guiding Principles
The Guiding Principles are the core values–the foundation upon which cultural proficiency is built.
• Culture is a predominant force; you cannot NOT be influenced by culture.
• People are served in varying degrees by the dominant culture.
• People have group and individual identities.
• There is diversity within and between cultures.
• The unique cultural needs may not be met, but must be respected.

Cultural Proficiency—The Essential Elements
The Essential Elements set the standards that guide our work.
• Name the differences: Assess your own culture.
• Claim the differences: Value diversity.
• Reframe the differences: Manage the dynamics of difference.
• Train about differences: Adapt to diversity.
• Change for differences: Institutionalize cultural knowledge.

Cultural Proficiency—Continuum
Six points along the Cultural Proficiency Continuum indicate unique ways of perceiving and responding to differences and to assess the current state of one’s culture.


Some questions I might ask myself for each point along the Continuum include:

Cultural Destructiveness – In what ways am I and/or the organization seeking to eliminate the cultures of “others” in all aspects of the school and in relationship with their communities?

Cultural Incapacity – In what ways am I and/or the organization trivializing other cultures and seeking to make the culture of others appear to be wrong?

Cultural Blindness – In what ways am I and/or the organization not seeing or pretending not to see or acknowledge the culture of others, choosing to ignore the experiences of cultural groups within the school and community?

Cultural Precompetence – In what ways am I and/or the organization increasingly aware of what is known about working in diverse settings and identifying the needs of those whom we serve? It is at this key level of development that we and the school as an organization can move in a positive, constructive direction or we can vacillate, stop and possibly regress.

Cultural Competence – In what ways am I and/or the organization manifesting personal values and behaviors and the school’s policies and practices in a manner that is inclusive with cultures that are new or different from us and the school?

Cultural Proficiency – In what ways am I and/or the organization advocating for life-long learning for the purpose of being increasingly effective in serving the educational needs of cultural groups? In what ways are we and the school serving as instruments for holding the vision for creating a socially just democracy?

Cultural Proficiency—The Barriers
• The presumption of entitlement and unearned privilege
• Systems of oppression and privilege, perpetuating the domination/victimization of individuals and groups
• Unawareness of the need to adapt
• Resistance to change, not recognizing need to change/adapt, believing only others need to adapt to you

Source: Culturally Proficient Learning Communities: Confronting Inequities Through Collaborative Curiosity, by Delores Lindsey, Linda Jungwirth, Jarvis Pahl, and Randall Lindsey (A Corwin Press Best Seller)
To begin or sustain your work in Cultural Proficiency, please feel free to email me at ljungwirth@ConveningConversations.com