Teaching Cultural Skills: Adding Culture in Higher Education
Gannon, Judie, Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education
Blasco, M., & Zølner, M. (Eds.) (2009). Teaching cultural skills: Adding culture in higher education. Frederiksberg, Denmark: Nyt fra Samfundsvidenskaberne. ISBN 978-87-7683-018-2.
The content of what we teach in our programmes of study remains as contentious as ever, it seems. This book sets out to explore the teaching of cultural skills in higher education (HE) across miscellaneous disciplines where culture is not a focus. The premise of the book seems to arise from the suggested rhetoric that developing students "global mindset and skills" is now a core function of HE programmes. The editors provide an engaging introductory chapter which highlights some of the key questions, such as:
How can teachers motivate students from very diverse disciplines to learn about culture?
What kind of culturally competent subjects are universities seeking to create, and what does this tell us about the university's role in today's knowledge societies?
And perhaps most important of all: can cultural skills be taught at all?
In response to these questions, the editors identify three recurring dimensions when the challenges of teaching cultural skills are explored across Danish universities. The first dimension relates to how culture is defined when delivered in non-specialist disciplines. The second (institutional-didactic) dimension refers to the background and circumstances in which cultural teaching and learning occur, and their effect on student and teacher identities and experiences. The final (axiological) dimension relates to the nature of skills and theoretical perspectives that graduates may attain in their university programmes, and the type of culturally competent and responsible global citizens which can be developed. Identifying the dilemmas for teachers of cultural skills in this way provides a new and valuable contribution to the pedagogical challenges faced by many contemporary teachers in HE.
The reader is then taken on a journey through the experiences of 17 Danish teachers in the Danish university and teacher training education system. This journey is broken into 11 chapters and provides a real roller-coaster of the theoretical perspectives and practical interventions teachers in Danish HE have experienced. The chapters are categorised more broadly into themes which allow the reader to dip in and out depending on the aspect of cultural skills teaching they are focusing on. The initial theme explores how a cultural (skills) dimension can be brought into disciplines, and the role of teacher identities and expertise. The second theme highlights the quandaries of teaching culture across territories where international programmes or specific area studies demand the teacher team straddle the cultural-general or cultural-specific divide. I found these chapters very valuable for presenting fresh ways of bridging the generic-specific gap with students through engaging activities and assessments. The third theme explores cultural identities and how learning processes are cultured. It deals with highly topical issues of teaching cultural skills to students with fused cultural identities, international partnerships in programmes, and how university culture itself is taught and the discourse of our institutions. The book then provides significant insights into how (and why if you are not already convinced) cultural skills can contribute to graduates' skills sets and wider society.
The book adopts a perspective which conceives culture in the widest possible terms and therefore is a challenging read to teachers from diverse disciplines. Drawing upon the …
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Publication information: Article title: Teaching Cultural Skills: Adding Culture in Higher Education. Contributors: Gannon, Judie - Author. Journal title: Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education. Volume: 9. Issue: 1 Publication date: April 2010. Page number: 130+. © OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY Apr 2010. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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