Cultural Learning

The MIXER scenario depicts a peer conflict occurring when two groups of school children play a game together. As the game unfolds, it becomes evident that the groups adhere to different rules which reflect the fact that their cultural backgrounds differ. This becomes the source of conflict. The aim of MIXER is that the player learns that while the other group might seem strange, or even unfriendly, they are in fact nice people, but just different. This is of utmost importance for the children’s scenario. In the current scenario design, disagreements arise between children from a mismatch of how the groups with different cultural profiles expect a common play situation to unravel, and this in turn contributes to distortions in how they perceive each other and how they react emotionally to the intercultural interaction (Ting- Toomey, 2009). Even though conflict competence is particularly related to dealing with emotional frustrations (Ting-Toomey, 2009), there are two criteria that seem to be relevant to the cognitive processing of the conflict.

Appropriateness (Ting-Toomey, 2009) concerns behaviors adjusted to both the ongoing situation and the expectations of the parties involved. At this point of the game, children could generate behavioral options for themselves and for the children from the other group.
Effectiveness (Ting-Toomey, 2009) refers to a shared meaning of the intercultural conflict. This can be constructed out of the knowledge about one’s own group interacting with a different group with the focus on cultural influences.Introduction of the concept of a moral circle. The fact of accepting out-group members into one’s own circle was said to be the most fundamental goal of the eCUTE’s training approach. However, it appears that in order to achieve this, previous experience with the out-group is necessary. Singer (1981) traces the idea of a moral circle back to various forms of altruism (kin, reciprocal, and group) which evolved into a form of between-group morality and justice. A sign of allowing children who belong to a different group into one’s moral circle could perhaps be the comprehension that the game rules according to which they play are exactly as good as our own rules, and that our expectations as to the game are just as important as their expectations.Starting as a Beginner, it is important to become aware of the specific practices and values of the other group.

Children should see that the other group has different rules from their own. So far, these differences still don’t have much meaning, but they increase curiosity to learn more about them. The conflict situation makes it necessary to consciously reflect on personal values and worldviews and ways in which they influence one’s line of thinking. Although these reflections may not always be objective, but rather colored by one’s own beliefs they challenge existing and held assumptions.

The Journeyman integrates the knowledge acquired in the beginner learning goal, and tries to integrate it within their mental model of the world.

By trying to shift perspectives, children begin to understand on a basic level the differences and similarities between their own group and another group. They should be able now to describe the game from the point of view of people from the other group. The aforementioned general skills are necessary to enable the children to meet the prerequisites to increased conflict competence, that is, to gather sufficient knowledge about the intercultural setting and to be mindful in focusing on one’s own cognitions as well as trying to attend to those of other children. Subsequently, children may concentrate on the conflict itself.