Multicultural Education

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Unit 1: Multicultural Education

Learning Objectives

We live in a time when the appreciation of learning styles and multiple intelligences on an individual level has deepened our work with our students and our understanding of education.

We also live in a time when we have unprecedented access to technological tools by which we can share our cultures on a global level. Ironically, throughout the world, we are experiencing an alarming decline in cultural richness. Indigenous cultures are being diminished or wiped out, and with them we lose valuable medical traditions, solutions to problems, the richness of art. We lose diversity in points of view.

Just as we seek to preserve the biosphere in order to ensure a sustainable planet, we must seek to preserve the ethnosphere. It is imperative that we consider cultural learning and celebration as a central feature of our teaching.

In Course Four of the International Certificate of Teaching Mastery, we will address the following:

  • The purpose, preparation, and practice of your own multicultural competence in the classroom, including understanding your role, understanding your students, developing a "sensitive eye," and developing a muscle for paradox.
  • We will explore tools for understanding and connection - on the individual level, in classrooms, in communities, and across cultures - through the use of multiple intelligences, cooperative learning, service learning, art and story-making.
  • We will discuss how to create and sustain connections with classrooms around the world through technology.

Multicultural Education

Ideals of Multicultural Education

Some discuss multicultural education as a shift in curriculum, perhaps as simple as adding new and diverse materials and perspectives to be more inclusive of traditionally under-represented groups. Others talk about classroom climate issues, or teaching styles that serve certain groups while presenting barriers for others. Others focus on institutional and systemic issues such as tracking, standardized testing, or funding discrepancies. Some go farther still, insisting on education change as part of a larger societal transformation in which we more closely explore and criticize the oppressive foundations of society and how education serves to maintain the status quo.

Despite a multitude of differing conceptualizations of multicultural education, several shared ideals provide a basis for its understanding. While some focus on individual students or teachers, and others are much more "macro"in scope, these ideals are all, at their root, about transformation:

  • Every student must have an equal opportunity to achieve to her or his full potential.
  • Every student must be prepared to participate competently in an increasingly intercultural society.
  • Education must become more fully student-centered and inclusive of the voices and experiences of the students.
  • Teachers must be prepared to effectively facilitate learning for every individual student, no matter how culturally similar or different from herself or himself.
  • Schools must be active participants in ending oppression of all types; first by ending oppression within their own walls, then by producing socially and critically active and aware students.
  • Educators, activists, community leaders, and others must take a more active role in re-examining all educational practices and how they affect the learning of all students: testing methods, teaching approaches, evaluation and assessment, school psychology and counseling, educational materials and textbooks, etc.

(Adapted from Defining Multicultural Education by Paul Gorski and Bob Covert 1996, 2000,

Goals of Multicultural Education

The following list of goals of Multicultural Education is adapted from the work of Hernandez, Multicultural Education: A teacher's guide to content and process, 1989.

  • To have every student achieve his or her potential.
  • To learn how to learn and think critically.
  • To encourage students to take an active role in their own education by bringing in their stories and experiences into the classroom.
  • To address diverse learning styles.
  • To appreciate the contributions of different groups who have contributed to our knowledge base.
  • To develop positive attitudes about groups of people who are different from ourselves.
  • To become good citizens of the school, the community, the country, and the world.
  • To learn how to evaluate knowledge from different perspectives.
  • To develop an ethnic, national, and global identity.
  • To provide decision-making skills and critical-analysis skills so the students can make better choices in their everyday lives.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource. fred. (2008, June 13). Education for the New Millennium. Retrieved May 04, 2010, from TWB Courseware Web site. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.