Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

International Family Studies: Developing Curricula and Teaching Tools

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

International Family Studies: Developing Curricula and Teaching Tools

Article excerpt

Hamon, Raeann R. (Ed.) INTERNATIONAL FAMILY STUDIES: DEVELOPING CURRICULA AND TEACHING TOOLS. Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Press, Inc., 2006.

This edited volume is a comprehensive look at a number of ways to internationalize family science curricula, from models of teaching in a global content to a variety of teaching tools suitable for use in classroom or community education settings. Each of the 13 articles is unique in focus, loosely coupled around the incorporation of international themes in family science curricula. Part of the rationale for this volume of articles is that the intemationalization and incorporation of multiculturalism in family science programs and universities is marginal at best. Building cultural competency in students means helping them become more culturally aware, learn about other cultures, and develop skills to interact with individuals from other cultures. University instructors have found that undergraduate students in the US are typically politically naive about family life and family policies, particularly in non-Western counties.

Several articles reflect on the importance of direct cross-cultural experience for both students and faculty members. One article describes a cultural transformation that American students experienced during international study tours: from cultural smugness to overload and insecurity to personal reflection and finally, adaptation. Another article recommends home stays (even just one week in duration), ethnographic fieldwork, or international service projects as pedagogical strategies. Home stays provide the opportunity to participate in family life in a host culture. For family studies students, cultural immersion provides an opportunity to examine their assumptions about cultural differences, resulting in changes in attitudes and behavior.

Faculty members who participated in international exchanges report that their instruction and curricula are enriched by direct exposure to families in different cultural contexts. One article describes partnering to develop a university family studies program in Latin America.

Teaching methods that are recommended include a circular role-play; small group presentations; and electronic portfolios. The circular role-play is a technique in which a brief family scenario is described verbally, and students react from the perspective of the roje of a parent or an adolescent in a small circle of six to eight students. …

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