The goal of multicultural education is to enable students to develop understanding and respect for multiple cultures and perspectives. It is all about studying and incorporating culture in learning beyond the surface level – unlike simply celebrating annual cultural festivals or dressing up in the cultural dress of other nations. Multicultural aims to create a safe, accepting learning environment that would cater to all students regardless of their cultural background. It also envisions students to become more aware of removing prejudice and stereotypes, learn more about world issues, and become more critical thinkers. Not to mention, multicultural education also seeks to provide students with multiple perspectives so that they could develop cultural and intercultural awareness.
Advantages and Roadblocks to Multicultural Education
The main challenge when implementing multicultural education is the school’s need to reform the traditional curriculum of the school. The history, knowledge, and perspective of under-represented peoples – that is, people who are not American or European must be included in the content and implementation of the curriculum in respective subject areas. The school, such as the teachers and the administration, should work hand-in-hand with the immediate community of the students to adequately address social and cultural issues.
Successfully implementing multicultural education in schools could lead students to develop multiples perspectives, especially from people hailing from the underprivileged sectors of society. It will help fight against existent cultural stereotypes and prejudices within the school and its surrounding community. This is important as students who hail from the under-represented sectors could be more confident and safe within the school in addition to developing a stronger and more positive self-image. Lastly, a multicultural approach to education can also aid the school in providing a more equitable education which paves the way for social justice.
Classroom Methods and Techniques for Multicultural Education
One of the best ways to educate children on multiculturalism is through literature. English and History teachers could incorporate readings from various perspectives – not only from the perspective of Americans and Europeans but also multicultural literature written by authors born and raised from the context of their own peoples and cultures. Another strategy that could be used is for teachers to go beyond the textbook and take children on more out of the classroom learning experiences. Field trips to museums and galleries are an example of this as students get to study and view the artifacts of the culture or the people they are currently studying. However, teachers should also consider taking students on immersions where they could interact with the community in a more authentic setting like visiting Native American communities or getting to know people in the Little Mexico part of town.
Involving the immediate community of the school could also be one of the best ways of implementing multicultural education, especially when the cultural population of the school and the vicinity is very diverse. The teachers and administrative personnel of the school can coordinate with the community members to identify critical cultural issues that need to be addressed. The school could also benefit from the multicultural members of the community by tapping into them as resource speakers. They could be asked to hold a seminar on making a cultural delicacy or handicrafts, or they could even be tapped as instructors or volunteers for the students’ language studies.