Cultural Preparedness to Teach in the Middle East
Nadeem Memon, Deb Green, Deb Price, Dylan Chown
Our project entitled: "Cultural Preparedness to Teach in the Middle East” arose out of our collective commitment to culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP). Four of us continue to actively research and teach about what it means to be responsive to the strengths and needs of learners in Australia’s increasingly ‘super diverse’ classrooms. At the time of applying for this grant, we had collectively contributed to pre and in-service professional development for educators about CRP in Australia but had not explored its potential relevance abroad. The lead investigator on our project, Dr. Nadeem Memon, had experience as an educational consultant in Dubai and Doha and was aware of the educational challenges in both contexts around preparing expat educators to foster ‘local culture and heritage.’ Confidence in our collective work on CRP in Australia combined with a working knowledge of national education priorities in Dubai and Doha is what brought this project together.
The DFAT/CAAR grant gave us an incredible opportunity to visit Dubai and Doha in late January 2020. We conducted workshops on CRP in eight international private schools and four universities for current and becoming educators. The 10-day journey was indeed a journey of a lifetime. Engaging with educators – both local and expatriate – we gained an appreciation for the complexities, challenges, contributions, and aspirations in two blossoming educational contexts. Essential takeaways for us were to learn to go with the flow by adapting, listening, and simply taking in the voices and experiences of those whom we met. Five days in each city was far from sufficient but the conversations we had and contacts we made provided fodder for on-going research collaborations and cross-cultural educational dialogue. Among the most rewarding takeaway was strengthening bonds with colleagues and as a result catapulting continued collaborative work.