Cultural Diversity in the Classroom- Fostering Understanding and Inclusive Learning Environments

Take every opportunity to embrace diversity, ethnicity and celebrate our differences!

As instructors of adult learners we have a opportunity to create warm, inclusive and safe classroom environments that supports and celebrates diversity.

Brookfield gives classroom instructors an icebreaker exercise to develop cultural and ethnic understanding and inclusion in the classroom. This exercise gives students the forum to introduce themselves and describe their culture and heritage. He calls it the “circle of objects exercise” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 100). Students are asked to bring a special object to class that represents their culture and family history and talk about its meaning in their life. What a wonderful rapport building strategy!

Imaging the rich discussion when students and instructors participate in this exercise. We all have our heritage we are proud of. I was asked the other day where I was from originally. I said Canada. The person said, “no, no, I mean originally.” I felt myself sit up a little straighter before I said, I am Danish.” Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud to be Canadian. I haven’t been to Denmark, yet! Still I felt proud to share that piece of me.

We have so much to learn and teach each other.

A brief but insightful read:

“Fostering a culturally inclusive learning environment encourages all individuals – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or political beliefs – to develop personal contacts and effective intercultural skills”.


Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom. Hoboken, NJ, United States: John Wiley & Sons.


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