Multicultural education has become a trend in education. The government, through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, has made it a requirement for every teacher to possess adequate background of multicultural education. However, more than being a trend and a requirement, multicultural education has been conceptualized to cater to the need of the growing population, and the demands of globalization. This paper shall deal with concepts and insights the author has regarding multicultural education, and a clear definition of culture and multicultural education based on existing literatures.
MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION: CONCEPTS AND INSIGHTS
Concept Map of Multicultural Education
In this concept map, multicultural education is the central idea important to all sectors such as the government, school administrators, teachers, students, and communities. The two-way arrow indicates the implementation of multicultural education program, and how it affects the stakeholders. Basically, the government shares in its implementation through supporting schools. Then, school administrators and teachers work hand in hand to ensure its implementation and integration in the curriculum. Students and communities partake by developing multicultural awareness, being sensitive to others, and accepting others’ culture by way of coexistence. The arrows that point back to multicultural education suggest the share of each stakeholder in the further development of multicultural education.
In my view, culture is people’s sharing of a common attitude, belief, values, and behaviors in relation to their socio-political, economic, and racial situation. This means that people share the same culture if they share similar situations in life. For instance, a Buddhist shares the beliefs and concepts of another Buddhist, in the same way that a gay shares culture with other gays. People of the same race have somewhat similar values and traditions based on their origin. At the same time, people of the same gender share a culture characterized by their origin. For example, Asians may share the same quality of being conservative while Westerns are often expressive of what they think. In terms of beliefs, if people have the same religion, they share common faith and practices. Christians ban killings while some religions allow it for a cause.
Based on this definition, we can view multicultural education as the school’s integration of knowledge about different cultures. By integrating it in the lessons, students will be aware of other cultures, which could lead them to accept or respect cultures other than their own, and coexist with people of different cultures. If the school will do its part in inculcating cultural values, there will be a harmonious coexistence of different cultures in the society.
According to Rosado (1997), culture is not limited to bases of origin. Although the ethnic origin of people is one basis of the similarity in their culture, other factors such as gender, age, beliefs/values, socio-economic situation also count. This means that culture can be shared by those with the same gender, age, religion, or socio-economic status. For example, the gays and lesbians have their own concepts and values which make up their culture, the elderly or the youth have their own concepts and situations, while those belonging to the same religion or socio-economic status likewise share similar perceptions and ways of living.
According to Banks and Banks (1995), multicultural education is a field of study and an emerging discipline with an aim to create equal educational opportunities. Its goal is to help students from diverse racial, ethnic, social and cultural groups to learn knowledge, skills, attitudes, etc. to exist well in the society. It allows a venue for them to express themselves and learn about other cultures in order to have a better understanding of the world.
Rosado (1997) believes that multicultural education should recognize diversity in culture among different ethnic, gender, economic, socio-political, and religious backgrounds. Burnett (1994) suggests that multicultural education should have three typologies such as content-oriented programs, student-oriented programs, and socially-oriented programs. Content-oriented programs, according to Banks (as cited in Burnett) should have three goals. These goals are centered on developing awareness and viewpoints through establishing multicultural content, and incorporating different viewpoints in the curriculum. Student-oriented programs are those that focus on helping individual learners to achieve their goals. These include bilingual and bicultural programs that fit the learners’ situation. Socially-oriented programs are those programs designed to reform the school system or policies in order to get rid of cultural biases.
Hanley (1999) contends that multicultural education is often mistaken to be limited to students of color. Many think that integrating this into the school curriculum would promote the welfare of the colored people and neglect the White race. On the contrary, although multicultural education promotes the awareness of minority cultures and dynamics of social class, it does not ignore the culture of the majority, but promotes the unity of the cultures. In addition, multicultural programs are adopted in schools in order to encourage cooperative learning, and maximize students’ potentials. In their design, implementers should ensure integration of purpose, content, concepts, principles, theories, and paradigms in order to ensure students will fully imbibe the concepts of multicultural education.
Culture is the most important element in multicultural education. As such, its promoters such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education specify the need of educators for multicultural experiences. One aspect that could ensure this is to have educators who come from varied cultures, themselves. Those who come from the minority cultures may tend to possess understanding of cultures and the goal of unity among different cultures. Likewise, those who do not originate or at least recognize the value of racial and cultural differences often dislike individuals who are culturally and physically different. Such teachers might fail to uphold multicultural education, and hamper the growth of the learners. To ensure the success of multicultural education, the attitude of educators towards its implementation should be carefully looked into.
Moreover, learners should also originate from different cultures. In this case, heterogeneous grouping may help a lot in promoting multicultural education. Through this, students will be exposed to different cultures, and learn to communicate well with others.
A. My original view of multicultural education as a program being upheld by the government, schools, students and communities is still incomplete. It does not contain specific factors or standards that make up the whole program. Other factors such as materials for instruction are likewise involved in the implementation of multicultural education. Textbooks, visual aids, and other learning tools should all uphold the goal of the program by reflecting a general recognition of different cultures. Furthermore, school activities such as field trips, camps, etc. should be designed accordingly.
B. This research has helped me a lot in understanding multicultural education. First, it informed me that cultural differences may stem up not only from ethnic origin but also from gender, religion, economic, and socio-political status. Second, it made me rethink about the purpose of multicultural education, that it is needed to gain understanding of other cultures, and recognize that globalization is possible only through acceptance of different cultures.
C. As a future teacher, this assignment has helped me recognize different cultures. From the readings I had, I learned that many people, among them, the transgender individuals, have been struggling to find their place in the world. Also, I realized that although progress has been made to dissuade discrimination in our times, more efforts should be underway to hit the target of unity among cultures. When there is unity, there will be better economic success. Aside from the learning I gained, I also realized my own role in the implementation of multicultural education. As a student, I ought to be conscious of its proliferation. I should serve as an advocate of the program by always incorporating the theme of multiculturalism in all the projects that I do in school. For instance, when asked to do a research, I would always consider dealing on a topic that would promote multiculturalism. I would also join forums/conferences regarding this topic in order to gain a more in-depth understanding.
Finally and most importantly, as a future teacher, this task has helped me discover my own biases relating to culture. As I read about the requirements of multicultural education on teachers, I realized that I should find more ways to widen my understanding of multiculturalism, and overcome the biases I have against other cultures.
Banks, J.A., & Banks, C.A.M. (Eds). (1995). Handbook of research on multicultural education. New York: Macmillan.
Burnett, Gary. (1994). Varieties of multicultural education: An introduction. Retrieved March 28, from http://www.ericdigests.org/1995-1/multicultural.htm
Hanley, Mary S. (1999). The scope of multicultural education. Retrieved March 27, 2008, from http://www.newhorizons.org/strategies/multicultural/hanley.htm
Lee Guang-Lee. (2002). Realities and challenges facing multicultural education. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3935/is_200207/ai_n9128272
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2008, from http://www.getthetoolkit.com/publications/transgender%20students.pdf
Rosado, Caleb. (1997). Toward a definition of multiculturalism. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from http://www.rosado.net/pdf/Def_of_Multiculturalism.pdf
Rosado, Caleb. (n.d.). What makes a school multicultural? March 31, 2008, from http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/caleb/multicultural.html