The intersection of culture and behavior: Intercultural competence, transnational adoptees, and social studies classrooms


  • Candace Schlein University of Misouri-Kansas City
  • Raol J. Taft
  • Crystal M. Ramsay


intercultural competence, social studies, behavioral disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder, narrative inquiry


Social studies is a school subject that aims to enmesh local and global concerns and ways of understanding the world. It is a complex task to position local concerns and perspectives within an intercultural vantage. In turn, this objective for teaching and learning also presumes that students interact with social studies material from fixed and definable cultures, identities, and family structures, as well as in accordance with normalized behavioral expectations for students in school.

Children who have been adopted from foreign countries, and particularly children who have been placed in transnational families and homes, might have multiple and shifting identities and cultural identities. Within this article, we discuss the findings of an investigation into the experiences of families of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) who are transnational adoptees. We argue for the great need for teachers to gain intercultural competence in order to meet the needs of all students in terms of academics, behaviors, and cultures. Significantly, we consider how the use of intercultural competence might support the practices and perspectives of social studies teachers. We explore the intersection of culture and behavior in deliberating over intercultural competence, transnational adoptees, and social studies classrooms.