EDU604: Multicultural Education

Week II: Multicultural Education: Love It or Leave It?

This week in EDU604, we discuss and define what Multi-cultural education means to us.

I feel that Multicultural Education refers to the various forms of teaching, facilitation and instruction which embraces a variety of peoples values, histories, educational technologies, collaboration, studies and the personal views from others in different cultures that collectively learn and share throughout the learning domain.

Our class material describes Multicultural Education as: “Multicultural education is a progressive approach for transforming education that holistically critiques and responds to discriminatory policies and practices in education. It is grounded in ideals of social justice, education equity, critical pedagogy, and a dedication to providing educational experiences in which all students reach their full potentials as learners and as socially aware and active beings, locally, nationally, and globally. Multicultural education acknowledges that schools are essential to laying the foundation for the transformation of society and the elimination of injustice.” Gorski, P. (April 14, 2010). The Challenge of Defining “Multicultural Education.

I was reviewing ‘edglossary.org’ and wanted to see what they had to say about Multicultural education. I wanted to share their definition with the class.

Generally speaking, multicultural education is predicated on the principle of educational equity for all students, regardless of culture, and it strives to remove barriers to educational opportunities and success for students from different cultural backgrounds. In practice, educators may modify or eliminate educational policies, programs, materials, lessons, and instructional practices that are either discriminatory toward or insufficiently inclusive of diverse cultural perspectives. Multicultural education also assumes that the ways in which students learn and think are deeply influenced by their cultural identity and heritage, and that to teach culturally diverse students effectively requires educational approaches that value and recognize their cultural backgrounds. In this way, multicultural education aims to improve the learning and success of all students, particularly students from cultural groups that have been historically underrepresented or that suffer from lower educational achievement and attainment.

Instructionally, multicultural education may entail the use of texts, materials, references, and historical examples that are understandable to students from different cultural backgrounds or that reflect their particular cultural experience such as teaching students about historical figures who were female, disabled, or gay (a less common practice in past decades). Since schools in the United States have traditionally used texts, learning materials, and cultural examples that commonly or even exclusively reflect an American or Eurocentric point of view, other cultural perspectives are often absent. Consequently, some students such as recently arrived immigrants or students of color, for example may be placed at an educational disadvantage due to cultural or linguistic obstacles that have been overlooked or ignored.” S. Abbott (2013, August 29). Multicultural Education Definition. Retrieved September 05, 2016, from http://edglossary.org/multicultural-education/

In your own words what does multicultural education mean?

What examples of multicultural education are currently being incorporated into the curriculum in which you teach?  In what way could the implementation be improved?  (If it is not currently incorporated into your curriculum, please share how you would implement multicultural education and what obstacles you would face.)

 

Definition of Multi-Cultural Education:

Multicultural education relates to education and instruction designed for the cultures of several different races in an educational system. This approach to teaching and learning is based upon consensus building, respect, and fostering cultural pluralism within racial societies. Multicultural education acknowledges and incorporates positive racial idiosyncrasies into classroom atmospheres. Keith Wilson (1997).

What are some pros and cons of Multi-cultural education:

Pros – A significant demographic transformation is on the horizon for the United States of America. Bennett (1995) estimates that “by the year 2000, over 30 percent of our school age population will be children of color” (p.18). Additionally, research has indicated that ethnic minority students are disproportionately poor, dropping out of school, being suspended or expelled, and achieving far below their potential relative to the ethnic majority (Bennett, 1995). Consequently, teachers must prepare themselves and their children for the ever changing challenge of interacting and communicating with diverse races. Reduction of fear, ignorance, and personal detachment are possible benefits to a Multicultural education.

Cons – According to some views, if one wants to alienate and further fragment the communication and rapport between ethnic groups, implement multicultural education. As stated by Bennett (1995), “to dwell on cultural differences is to foster negative prejudices and stereotypes, and that is human nature to view those who are different as inferior” (p. 29). Thus, multicultural education will enhance feelings of being atypical. Schools in America may see multicultural education as a way to “color blind” their students to differences. Administrators may view the “color blind” approach as a gate keeper that assures equal treatment and justice for all students and as a way to facilitate compatibility and sameness of all cultures. A common statement from this line of thinking is, ‘we are more alike than different’. We should focus on the similarities and not the differences to achieve greater equanimity among the races.

Ethnicity is breaking up many nations. If one looks at the former Soviet Union, India, Yugoslavia, and Ethiopia, all countries are in some type of crisis. Closer to home, one observes the divisiveness of the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson trials in our country, we can see how focusing on race and multiculturalism may lead to a further divisiveness between the races in America. Over time, multicultural education may have unplanned for and undesired consequences. For example, multicultural education rejects the historic American goals of assimilation and integration of ethnic cultures into the majority culture. Hence, the perception may result that America is a country of distinct ethnic groups, as opposed to a more traditional view of the country that involves individuals making decisions for the good of the order (Schlesinger, 1991).

References:

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