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Developing Cultural Competence in Elementary Physical Education

Edward B. Olsen, Emi Tsuda, Masanobu Sato, and James D. Wyant

joperd cover February 2021

In today’s globalized society, developing critical thinking, communication, socioemotional and language skills among preK–12 students is critical to equip them with the competencies to effectively collaborate with people from different cultural backgrounds, namely cultural competence (Sue, 1998; United States Department of Education [USDoE], 2018). It is within this environment that there are growing expectations for public schools to address cultural competence in directed manners. The USDoE (2018) demonstrated commitment to prepare all U.S. students to succeed globally through international education and engagement and defined cultural competence. The USDoE (2018) defined cultural competence as the ability to understand and appreciate other parts of the world, religions, cultures and points of view.

To provide further guidance, the USDoE (2018) created a framework for developing cultural competencies to advance equity, excellence and economic competitiveness for pre-K–12 learners. In this framework, the USDoE identified four main competencies for elementary students: (a) fostering socioemotional skills (e.g., empathy, conflict resolution and seeing different perspectives); (b) developing rudimentary skills in another language; (c) instilling global awareness through constant exposure to different cultures, histories, languages and perspectives; and (d) engaging learners in developmentally appropriate civics and learning.

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