Saturday, August 3, 2013

Third Culture Kids

     A few weeks ago, I attended a two week pre-field orientation for my job teaching in Venezuela. There were teachers going all around the world! At this orientation we learned about the stages of transition, how to handle conflict, how culture and values are different and important to recognize, and what third culture kids are. I thought I'd share a little about what I learned about third culture kids (TCKs) and cross-culture kids. We also read Third Culture Kids by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken, which was an excellent resource on this topic. It was geared towards parents, but there was a lot of things teachers can learn from it.

     First of all, what is a third culture kid? TCKs are typically children living outside of their passport country. They are exposed to many different cultures. The three cultures that are considered are: (note there may be more than one culture under each of the three)
     1. Their passport culture or parents' cultures
     2. The host culture of any country or region they have lived in
     3. The culture of being an expat (TCKs can relate to each other, even if they don't have the same passport or host country culture)

     Now, you might be saying, what does this have to do with me? I teach in the same town that I grew up in and most of my students have spent their whole life here too. Well, this book also discusses how cross-culture kids and others have a lot of similarities. Do you have students that are constantly moving, leaving the school and maybe even coming back later in the year? I know I did last year. What about students that are biracial? Ones with parents who leave for periods of time? Kids who switch houses between divorced parents and the parents aren't on the same page? Students that speak a different language or have a different culture at home (I'm thinking of some Amish students I had)? Students that were adopted? Well, all of these children live in a little bit different culture, and it does affect them!

Some things that might affect them:
1. High mobility - Constantly going through transition is hard and makes children begin to do things differently down to the way they make friends. They might try to dive very quickly into a friendship because they'll leave soon or withdraw from making friends.
2. Confused which culture they are in - How should they act at school? This is why it is so important to teach these behaviors, especially to new students in the middle of the year. They need to know what's expected so that they can feel comfortable. Don't shame them until you have taught them what is expected.
3. Unresolved grief - This is a big one that can affect all students. Did they have time to grieve things? Whether it's moving, the death of a pet, the loss of their favorite stuffed animal, or even the loss of being the only child when a new sibling comes, children need time to grieve and to know that it's acceptable. Sometimes, they might not feel that they can because they have to be excited for something new, but they need to. Otherwise, it all begins to build up within them.

     Well, I barely skimmed the top of a wave on this ocean of a topic, but I hope it made you think a little bit. What cultures are your students experiencing? How does high mobility, confusion of culture (and rules), and unresolved grief affect their lives? I highly recommend reading more into this subject, whether it be this book or another one.

1 comment:

  1. It's a good reminder to try and understand our kids and where they're coming from.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First