Multicultural education describes a system of instruction that attempts to foster cultural pluralism and acknowledges the differences between races and cultures. It addresses the educational needs of a society that contains more than one set of traditions, which is a mixture of many cultures.
For further details and current multicultural education news visit the
National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)
In 2010, the National Census reported that the U.S. had reached new levels of racial and ethnic diversity. According to the census the United States has developed a twenty-eight percent diversity statistic, meaning that seventy-two percent of the U.S. population is categorized as of Caucasian decent. This statistic is questionable however, as the 2010 census officially removed those of Hispanic descent as a racial category, classifying them under Caucasian as well. Of those measured later, 16 percent claimed Hispanic decent and so the numbers more accurately represent a fifty-eight percent Caucasian population. That being said, the US diversity rate is as high as ever and nowhere is this more evident than in the education system. With the diversity rate in schools so high, coupled with the increasingly globalized world, student must be prepared for an international and interconnected society.
Ethnic Studies Era: Multicultural education was birthed during the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s as an attempt by oppressed minorities to include themselves within school curriculum. Originally conceptualized as an ethnic studies movement, early multicultural education sought to challenge the mainstream history of minorities by replacing them with more accurate retelling. At the time, public sentiment demanded assimilation from multicultural groups, a sentiment strongly opposed by those who wished to augment the Eurocentric education already established. The result was a core curriculum composed primarily of the original education system with supplemental information and courses provided for those who wished to partake in them.
Inclusion Era: By the 1980’s scholars began to realize that the inclusion of ethnic studies courses were not satisfactory to the proper inclusion of multicultural students in school curriculums. It was here the multicultural education movement shifted from an inclusion perspective towards an integration perspective. Educators and scholars strove to restructure fundamental elements of the education system by reworking and integrating the two curriculums. It was during this periods in education history in which multicultural education expanded to include socioeconomic status, gender, religion and sexuality as elements of multicultural existence.
Modern Era: The current multicultural education system is the result of the reworking of the curriculum suggested during the Inclusion Era. The modern curriculum has seen dramatic transformation concerning the inclusion of diversity into its core. Higher education has made diverse studies fundamental elements of their required coursework while primary and secondary schools have seen tremendous revision done to textbooks and lesson planning. There are currently two schools of thought concerning the practical implementation of multicultural education, deemed the celebratory approach and the viewpoint approach.
For more on the history and development of Multicultural Education in America see the following links.
"A general overview of Multicultural curriculum and its development and implementation" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-lynch-edd/the-call-to-teach-multic... "A Huffington Post article discussing an author and educator's approach to multicultural education"
Methods of Implementation:
The Celebratory Approach:
Often seen as the most controversial method of multicultural education, the Celebratory Approach is also the most commonly seen method in classrooms. During this application process an educator might be seen occasionally supplementing curriculum with celebrations of other cultures commonly through holidays or important historical dates. This method typically does not embrace full inclusion of multiculturalism but rather touches upon or briefly visits cultural differences. While this method does embrace and expose student to a variety of cultures, opponents argue that it still creates a divide between the original curriculum and newly developed multicultural perspectives.
The Viewpoint Approach:
Also referred to as the Perspectives approach, this method of multicultural education strives to teach students the curriculum through analysis from multiple perspectives. This process is considered to be more aligned to the initial intent of multicultural education but is often not seen in classrooms, particularly those below the university level. Proponents of this method consider it to be the most effective tool in fostering an international and multicultural perspective. Some opponent believe that this methods often confuses historical facts or hinders the teacher from covering all the material due to the extra time necessitated by the analysis of multiple perspectives.
For resources on how to implement multicultural education in your classrooms see the following links.
"Broads ideas of implementation"
"7 ways to introduce multiculturalism into your classroom"
The Five Dimensions of Multicultural Education:
Developed by James Banks, the five dimensions of multicultural education are interrelated approaches, each necessary in the creation of a multicultural education community. For a more detailed explanation of the five dimensions see the video below.
Rural Schools: The Next Frontier
Multicultural education is gaining ground in the United States, though not as quickly as some may hope. White, rural schools are some of the last educational strata to fully embrace the multicultural educating movement. While only one in every four rural students are white, schools and towns often consist of a rather homogenous population. While this homogenous population might lead some to believe that multicultural education might appear superfluous, it is this lack of diversity that makes multicultural education in rural schools all the more important. Each rural school district offers a new perspective on American rural life, these perspectives should be supplemented and intermingled with the multiple perspectives that also share our world. As of the early 2000's studies showed that most administrations of rural districts felt a multicultural education was unimportant and unnecessary. This perspective must change if rural American students are to coexist in the intercultural world we now inhabit.