Friday, August 7, 2015

Cultural Intelligence - how are we doing?

  1. Image from AHA world campus : passport to Culture


  2. Cultural Intelligencecultural quotient or CQ, is a term used in business, education, government and academic research. Cultural intelligence can be understood as the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures.
  3. At the recent ALA conference I attended Marla J Ehlers very early morning teaser session on Understanding Cultural Intelligence. I was interested in this as part of my current MYP and International Baccalaureate focus and wanted to see how this connected with the IB's concept of international mindedness. 
  4. Exploring the concept of labels and judgement, Marla opened the session with everyone placing a post it on themselves having written assumptions people make about you before they know you, and another label of a fun fact I want people to know about me. This was in a room full of strangers. We then had to introduce ourselves to another 3 people with these labels and discuss them. This required some reflection and thought as we considered other peoples perceptions of us.
  5. We then explored stereotypes about librarians as a whole, and then Americans. Addressing the concept of stereotypes and if they were true as a whole group or true as they applied to us. (This was interesting in itself as the assumptions was that everyone in the room would be American). Stereotypes generally apply to the group labels, but not to individuals - "I know a few ...... and they are not like that at all" yet the stereotype continues to exist. Where are these stereotypes created, maintained and manifested through our lives? It reminded me of the TED talk - The danger of the Single story.
  6. She introduced David Livermore as the guru of Cultural Intelligence and we watched this short video which outlines 4 capabilities of the CQ person and advertises his book at the end. There is a longer version of the presentation.  This stimulated discussion on the four capabilities.


    Video Summary :
Cultural Intelligence has been proven through Livermore's research that it is a predictor of one's success or failure in todays global marketplace.

The four capabilities of a Culturally intelligent person : - 

  1. High CQ Drive - an interest and motivation to learn about cross cultural issues
  2. High CQ Knowledge - having a good grasp of similarities and differences across cultures
  3. High CQ Strategy - Be aware of and plan for cross cultural scenarios
  4. High CQ Action - Appropriately adapt their behaviour for cross cultural scenarios.
Culture is more than racial and ethnic geographic boundaries - it could be friendship, workplace, institutional and organisational culture. Every group we belong to, or want to work with, has its own culture.

We then explored language as an integral part of CQ. Marla shared this beautiful and poignant poem written by a friend of hers who wished to remain anonymous. The discussion led to how stereotypes of appearances leads to assumptions and expectations which can cause conflict and embarrassment. (Click the image to make it bigger).



Values were then explored and as individuals we needed to rate 10 specified values that according to our personal system were important or not. We discovered that values change between individuals, families, communities and ethnic cultures.  We cannot assume what is one of our higher values is someone else's high values. The concept of time as a value was used as an example - across ages, cultures, professions this value changes.

Marla asked us to examine our own organisations cultural intelligence - do we allow all users and participants to be comfortable in our organisation? 

A quote that was  "You might be uncomfortable part of your time here at the library, and that is OK. If you are comfortable here, help someone else be comfortable by taking the initiative to help them, be a friend."


Marla then posed a question : - Why care about CQ? What benefits can it bring to ourselves, our organisations, our communities and our nations?

The video below goes a little way to answer the question.


Cultural intelligence -- a new way to think about global effectiveness | Jeff Thomas | TEDxSpokane


So how does this link to international mindedness in the IB framework? After being inspired to find out more on Cultural Intelligence, I think they are the same thing, and, with the business world getting behind the Cultural Intelligence trend, it means there are resources and new thinking being developed that we can adopt in our schools.

There are a number of books available on this topic, also courses that can be taken to expand your understanding and videos to watch. Livermore has a free pdf download called - What is your CQ and why should you care? He has also developed a number of CQ assessment tools which could be used to measure how effective your school programme has been or even how effective the Education out of the classroom (ie international field trips) has been. 

The concepts of international mindedness and cultural intelligence both work toward creating a world where understanding, empathy, and open mindedness are the main components of how we live. How are we doing to help the young people in our care become culturally intelligent?

Have a look at the American Hospitality Academy Global Campus Passport to Culture page - is this enough? can more be done?

  1. Marla's full presentation with transcript can be found here on Prezi

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