Cultural Competence as Educational-Relational Thinking (Slides from #NAISAC 2015)

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Resources from #NAISAC workshop 


Chris Thinnes


As I wrote in a recent post, I was excited to join Gene Batiste (former NAIS VP for Equity & Justice, current E.D. of Independent Education in Washington, DC) and Rosetta Lee (teacher and professional outreach specialist from Seattle Girls’ School) to foster dialogue about “Cultural Competence as Educational-Relational Thinking: Bridging Learning and Community” at the NAIS Annual Conference. The three of us provided a brief account of the work we’ve been doing with Alison Park and Steven Jones to connect conversations about diversity, inclusion, and social justice in our learning communities to the core commitments of deeper learning in our educational programs, then shared the feedback we harvested from participants at the recent NAIS People of Color Conference on the intersections between cultural competence and “the four Cs” of deeper learning. We then provided further provocations for small group dialogue with a series of scenarios, in order to catalyze further inquiry among NAIS Annual Conference participants in small and highly interactive groups.

The great value of this kind of session — as we have recognized and tried to honor in a series of such sessions in recent years — is to provide the opportunity for participants to co-construct an understanding and to deepen their learning in community. As we have experienced before, I’m sure all of us derived a greater value as facilitators from our learning from participants’ experiences and insights, rather than from the framework or facilitation we tried to share. In that sense, and as predicted, we were very much the beneficiaries of the educational-relational thinking we’ve embraced not only in our conceptual framework, but in our intentional session design.

Slides outlining our frameworks, suggesting what we learned from #POCC14 participants, and prompting the small group dialogue are embedded below (and available at We have also included a wide range of additional resources in a variety of related categories.

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