Exploring Cultural Diversity through the Lens of the Practice of Gratitude in Education

By Kerry Howells.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 4, 2014 $US5.00

Many thinkers in the fields of philosophy, sociology, positive psychology, theology, and anthropology have discussed the central place of the conscious expression of gratitude to enrich our relationships and sense of community. Most recently, social anthropologist Margaret Visser has provided an important basis upon which to consider cultural differences in the ways in which we express gratitude, and the miscommunication that can occur if we are not sensitive to these differences. This paper brings together such discourse to postulate how the conscious practice of gratitude can assist us to more fully value diversity in the context of education. It argues that the potential of such a notion lies in its requirement that we look beyond our self-interest and come to know the other before we can give back in ways that can be appropriately and meaningfully acknowledged and received. Key hypotheses underlying the theoretical exploration of the paper are illustrated with vignettes from teachers with considerable experience in Australian indigenous and Maori education.

Keywords: Gratitude, Cross-Cultural Understanding, Teacher-Student Relationships, Positive Psychology, Australian Indigenous Education, Maori Education

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 13, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.41-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 451.002KB)).

Dr. Kerry Howells

Lecturer, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Dr. Kerry Howells is an academic and teacher educator in the University of Tasmania, Faculty of Education, teaching in the Masters of Teaching program in the areas of educational philosophy, professional studies, and practitioner research. Kerry’s broad research areas are teacher identity and student engagement. In order to fully realise her passion to teach to the ‘awake’ learner in all their diversity, Dr. Howells has developed a unique approach where traditional teaching and learning practices are enhanced by greater attention to practices of gratitude. Her work demonstrates that students’ gratitude is more fully realised when teachers and school leaders first attend to their practice of gratitude. Dr. Howells has applied this approach in invited presentations at seven different universities and eight schools, many of which have participated in her research. Her recent book publication, Gratitude in Education: A Radical View, has been hailed by reviewers as ground-breaking and an important contribution to the field.