To understand the concept of multiculturalism, one needs to acknowledge that many societies around the world today are made up of people from a manifold of different cultures. Multiculturalists observe this fact as a good thing for the societies, which needs to be appreciated and not tolerated or opposed. Multiculturalism hence refers to the existence of diverse cultural groups in society. Multiculturalists are of the strong opinion that the different cultures in our societies ought to be given positive recognition and respect on platforms of policy and regulations. Multicultural education is founded on the fact that people from different cultural backgrounds coexist in an interdependent socio-economic system (Habib, 2018). The ideology of the idea of Britishness or British nationalism helps to grasp a better understanding of the subject matter. In times before the conceptualization of multicultural education, educational institutions hardly promoted the philosophies of cultural integration. Cultures that found themselves in areas influenced by the British, especially via colonization or otherwise, were forced to comply and adopt the norms of British nationalism (Habib, 2018). As such, students need to be well prepared in the school environment, with knowledge of approaches and systems of interacting with others (of different cultures) in the society in responsible and productive ways (Race, 2017).
Understanding Multicultural Education
A look into the history of multicultural education shows that it is a consequence of the 1960s ethnic studies of the Civil Rights Movement. The aim of the movement at the time was to fight for the inclusion of African-Americans in the education system of the United States, as people with equal rights to education as the Whites (Race, 2017). The underlying aim of multicultural education is to help students to be better positioned and have the desired capacity of appreciating individuals coming from different cultural groups (Tanner, 2016). It also promotes the creation of awareness by enlightening the students on the importance of cultural integration for the development of robust communities.
Overview of Multicultural Education
Jerome Bruner, a renowned scholar, came up with the Cognitive Growth theory in the 1960s, which describes an overview of multicultural education. Bruner believed that learning with considerations of culture and facilitating education with a cultural approach helps to understand the science of how the human mind works (Illeris, 2018). A review of multicultural education shows that students desire educational systems that associate with the cultural values of their communities (Spring, 2017). Such, in turn, lead to the culmination of poor educational relevance and reduced interest among the students to attend school.
Multicultural education endeavors to ensure that students from diverse backgrounds have a good understanding of the dynamics of society. It aims to promote anti-racist education that offers an exceptional educational experience to individuals from all races and backgrounds (Habib, 2018). Initially, the education systems were aligned with the culture of the Whites. For many years, persons from other cultures around the world have been brought up in ways that made them conform to Britishness at the expense of their own cultures. The outcome was mainly because of the greatness of the British Empire and its many colonies in regions all over the world.
A keen look at the situation of today shows that brutishness still has an influence on the education system despite the measures of multicultural education. It is not surprising, for instance, for persons in the West to associate the subject of ‘the war on terror’ with persons from the Muslim community (Stanley, 2017). Such examples go a long way to show that much more needs to be done to improve the preset mechanisms and approaches to multicultural education all over the world (Joshee et al., 2016). Educators need to develop and use systems that would help students to achieve a strong sense of balance with regards to aspects of national, regional, and global identifications (Acar-Ciftci, 2016). Indeed, the world of today has changed in many ways that promote cosmopolitanism. A look at the major urban centers spread across the world shows that the areas have populations of persons from different backgrounds with different cultural identities.
Many schools have failed to instill and adopt the principles of multiculturalism as desired. A keen analysis of this subject shows that racism plays a key role in making schools shelve the concept of multicultural education (Habib, 2018). There is the general belief in the education system that the way of the Whites in the way to go (Tanner, 2016). A look at the situation in Britain, for instance, shows that the significance and nature of the education system hardly align with perceptions of people from the other diverse cultures (Stanley, 2017).
How educators can create a Multicultural Environment
In as much as brutishness continues to promote the ideology of standardizing curricula, educators or teachers blame the obsession associated with the processes. For purposes of promoting multicultural education, teachers ought to shift the focus of education from measuring output or performance of learners via the traditional approaches. They need to focus on the talents and abilities of their learners even as they value the diverse cultures they come from (Spring, 2017). Put another way, there is a need for doing away with the philosophy of controlling or predetermining what is taught in schools. Traditional mechanisms of education promote the use of predetermined or preset curricula that remains static over time. A review of current trends in the global environment shows that the cosmopolitan population of learners across the world need a learning environment characterized by dynamic forms of curricula.
Many teachers continue to focus on what examinations will test their students. The practice has been ongoing for many years with little considerations of the changing and diverse cultures of learners (Joshee et al., 2016). In the classroom environment, little or no time at all is dedicated to topics unrelated to that which will be tested in examinations. In some way, the education system remains stuck in the old ways. Alternatively, multicultural education promotes an approach of having a dynamic system of curricula, which will meet the cultural needs of learners from diverse cultures. Despite that being the case, the multicultural approach, besides not being adapted as desired, risks to be deferred since the existing national standards that conform to the traditional ways have a strong backing of the law or policies in the education sector (Spring, 2017).
Teachers have a significant role to play concerning the trends that promote the deferral and abandonment of multicultural education. Educators need to realize that they have a strong power to influence policymaking in the education sector in favor of multicultural education (Spring, 2017). In other words, the teachers ought not to be mere implementors of the set-out policies for the sector but need to actively participate in the establishment of those policies. After all, it is the teachers who establish direct and personal contact or interactions with the learners on a day to day basis (Groot, 2018). Such brings about the topic of social justification.
A socially just classroom implies a classroom wherein there is absolute or desirable support for the manifestation of social justice. Persons from all backgrounds are valued and respected in such classrooms. It is the responsibility of teachers to ensure the development and maintenance of social justice are achieved in the learning environment (Race, 2017). One cannot decline to note that social justice in the classroom context goes a long way to promote multicultural education. Then again, an analysis of the situation shows that the promotion of social justice also helps in instilling virtues of promoting democracy in the learners or students (Spring, 2017). The environment also promotes collaboration and group work, which are vital for the achievement of productivity in society.
Working with Learners and Families in Multicultural Contexts
Multicultural education is founded on the belief that schools or educational institutions play a vital role in enhancing not only the values but also the attitudes of students towards each other and the circumstances of life. It also helps a lot in terms of shaping an individual’s identity by offering them a strong sense of self-worth and self-respect (Acar-Ciftci, 2016). It is well understood that an individual’s environment significantly influences his or her identity. A person’s major life decisions are also significantly impacted by the experiences in their environments, which also play a part in shaping up aspects of preferences, values, and problem-solving skills (Desiatniková, 2017). It is also very important to remember that students spend most of their time in school as compared to any other environment. They also spend more time with their teachers that even the members of their families.
For purposes of alleviating divisiveness among students, multicultural education facilitates the establishment of a social organization that focuses on the strengths of different cultures from different regions. Teachers ought to reflect this important aspect not only in the educational information that they disseminate but also in their behavior that they demonstrate as they interact with the students (Race, 2017).it is important to remember that the differences in culture are not only existent in theory but also practical ways. As such, teachers ought to exercise teaching practices that are culturally responsive and do not associate with stereotypes. Teachers also need to be careful when discussing culturally sensitive matters (Joshee et al., 2016). They should exercise responsibility by offering effective responses to aspects of difference in learning as exhibited by learners from different cultures.
Supporting Children’s or Learners’ Language Development in Multilingual and Multicultural Settings
For the sake of children or learners in schools, culturally responsible teaching emphasizes the need for teachers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of learners from different cultures. Such enables them to be well-positioned to deal with situations related to the incongruity brought about by mismatch or differences in culture among students (Acar-Ciftci, 2016). A keen look at this concept also shows that teachers also have the responsibility of ensuring they support the language development of children from different cultures. Culture goes a long way to help us determine who we are. By so doing, the children develop to become responsible adults with a strong sense of identity and purpose in society (Ambroso, 2016). From this perspective, the teachers need to recognize and work on the need for the establishment of course material that is culture-specific even as they strive to promote a sense of international culture in the school setting.
Promoting a sense of multilingual voice in the classroom also offers children from different cultures a sense of belonging and has outcomes of good learning experiences. Such is also promoted by allowing children to interact and play with each other in the school environment. According to Liz Brooker, a scholar of child development, children participate in culture and may well express and enlighten others about its nature- something a teacher may be unable to achieve (Brooker, 2017). As they play with each other, the children will feel free to express and propagate their language de elopement in a multicultural setting of the school environment.
The ecological systems theory by Urie Bronfenbrenner informs that the context and quality of the environment are key elements that influence the development and interactions that children experience as they learn (Perron, 2017). The interactions become complex with time even as the cognitive capacities of children grow and mature. The theory holds that children need to have reliable systems of relationships in their learning environment (Perron, 2017). Barbara Rogoff’s child development theory communicates that such serves to make the children feel valued and have a positive correlation to empowering them in the school environment (Rogoff, Dahl & Callanan, 2018). The outcomes will most likely involve the learners developing a sense of commitment to their duties and tasks in school, which will ultimately lead to good performance.
Citizenship and Multiculturalism
Anti-discriminatory practice in society should not only be encouraged but also mandated by the function of multiculturalism. Discriminating and stereotyping of individuals from certain cultures by citizens would only result in harmful impacts. Such impacts would not only be on the people’s self-esteem with great potential of ruining their future. The impacts would discourage meaningful interactions, collaborations, and coexistence that would otherwise serve to promote development in society. As such, the citizens of a country ought to be open to other people from other cultural backgrounds from different regions of the world (Banks & Banks, 2019). A look at the global environment of today shows that the United States poses as a most successful and productive country most likely since its citizens are open to multiculturalism.
For multicultural education to be successfully implemented, stakeholders need to understand the concept of multiculturalism. Understanding the rather complex concept begins with the acknowledgment that many societies around the world today are made up of people from a manifold of different cultures. Multiculturalists observe this fact as a good thing for the societies, which needs to be appreciated and not tolerated or opposed. Multiculturalists are of the strong opinion that the different cultures in our societies ought to be given positive recognition and respect on platforms of policy and regulations. Multicultural education enables teachers to better prepare students for life in the multicultural society of the world today.
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