Intercultural maturity was introduced in the learning theory in developing the capacity to understand personal identity and self relation. The concept involves the development of awareness on cultural diversity in a manner that is intercultural and appropriate. The motive of intercultural maturity is to promote an individual sense of relation to other people with different opinions on culture. Awareness and knowledge on intercultural maturity leads to understanding of different personal identities, interaction with different people from different historical backgrounds and social contexts, and a reflection on the differences that motivate action among individual with diverse cultural backgrounds. King and Baxter (2005) identified three levels/models in development of intercultural maturity; the three dimensions include intrapersonal maturity, interpersonal maturity and cognitive maturity. The dimensions involve an integrated understanding of different social identities, ability to build sustainable relationships and ability to use these differences in developing acceptable behavior.
The concept of cultural diversity affects learning in most institutions in US; over the last three decades, cultural diversity has determined performance among many college students and those in higher learning institutions. The expansive set of different cultures in these institutions suggests that cultural diversity touches every aspect of society. The problem is that there lacks a proper model and learning method that complements the needs of every student depending on their cultural backgrounds. This poses a risk in academic success as cultural diversity increases in the country. Interventions in many learning institutions prove that the only solution to solve this crisis is starting from understanding and promotion of cultural interaction, dialogue, communication and mutual learning (King and Magolda, 2005).
Development of knowledge on cultural diversity should be the first stage in promotion of intercultural maturity. In this regard, many learning institutions practice introductory knowledge and awareness on cultural diversity. Increasing awareness and knowledge on cultural diversity not only builds understanding in these settings, but also promotes more understanding, teamwork, leadership and commitment (King and Magolda, 2005). To promote this awareness, higher learning institutions provide stimulating courses on history, culture and community diversity. This allows students to appreciate the reasons behind diverse cultural believes and behavior and develop respect on their peers’ cultures.
This practice enables teachers and students to have a homogeneous thought in every aspect of intercultural diversity. It enables students to have a literature review of different cultural originalities and the history behind cultural development. This boosts behavior development and thinking positively towards culture. It allows the student to have the knowledge on how to behave in respect to cultural diversity and in developing a common set of behavior that complements the diversities. This adds to academic enrichment, development of cultural outreach and a more concentrated intervention. Colleges face multicultural diversities more than in high schools. However, the introduction of multicultural maturity in high schools by the provision of learning material that help the students in understanding different cultures, prepares students for college life, which is full of cultural diversity. This promotes interpersonal relations and also assists students in developing competencies on reaction to diverse environments.
Multicultural maturity is also enhanced in collaborative learning that is implemented in almost every higher learning institution. Collaborative learning involves working in teams or groups where students come together and learn more about each other’s cultural backgrounds. It is an educational approach that involves discussions on problem solving where students work in cooperation. The practice is based on the concept that learning is a social act which involves talking and integrating ideas among the participants. The use of this practice enables students in assimilating new information and differentiating this knowledge to their prior understanding. During this practice, learners are socially and emotionally challenged by diverse perspectives on cultural practices and they articulate this by defending their perceptions (King and Magolda, 2005). This practice enables meaningful interactions of cultural backgrounds and influences the student’s perception as in the interpersonal dimension in multicultural maturity model. Since collaborative learning involves activities such as facilitation and peer learning, students get an opportunity to appreciate cultural diversity and develop tolerance to each other. This implies that the capability of developing sustainable relationships is enhanced. The practice takes a holistic approach through which students construct their cultures. It identifies cognitive and behavior development, interpersonal and intrapersonal maturity that enhance intercultural maturity.
Practicing intercultural maturity in learning institutions not only assists in understanding and appreciating cultural diversity, but also leads to development of sustainable relations. Developing and promoting intercultural maturity, amongst learners, boosts team work and development of sustainable relationships not only at school but also after education. The government approves cultural diversity in schools and uses various means of promoting its awareness among students and also teachers. This has resulted into integration in many learning institutions where students work together despite their diversities. Intercultural maturity models hold in practices that learning institutions use in promotion and understanding of cultural diversity. The practices enable students to understand the historical backgrounds of different culture develop acceptable attitude towards cultural diversity and create sustainable relationship with different cultures.
King, P. M. & Magolda, M. B. (2005). A developmental model of intercultural maturity. Journal of college student development, 46(6).