leMulticultural Education: Piecing Together the Puzz EssayleWhen a child opens his (or her) first puzzle and the pieces fall to theground, it may seem very confusing. What are they to do with this pile ofshapes in front of them? It often takes a parent to explain to them that allthe different pieces fit together into one whole picture. Although every pieceis different and unique, when they are all put into their place they form onewhole picture.
In the same way, teachers can teach multiculturalism in theclassroom. Although every member of our society is unique, with differentcultural backgrounds, we all fit together to form one unit. As stated by Noel(1995), Understanding our own identity and the culture of our communityrequires knowledge and recognition of our cultures and communities and how theyhave shaped us (p. 267). By adding a multicultural component to theircurriculums, teachers can help students see how each individual fits into thebig picture.Order now
There are, however, arguments against multicultural education (Banks,1995). For example, some critics believe that multicultural education isdirected toward only minority groups, thus discriminating against middle class,white, heterosexual males. Others believe that multiculturalism is againstWestern and democratic ideals. A final argument is the claim thatmulticulturalism will divide our presumably united nation. Although critics ofmulticultural education may feel they have valid arguments against the issue, Ifeel that the goals of multicultural education make it an important part of thecurriculum that every student should experience. I agree with Wurzel (1988) and Noel (1995) when they stress awareness asa key component to multiculturalism.
Students must become aware of their ownculture and how they are similar and different from others. Awareness alsoinvolves an understanding of issues involving differences in culture and aknowledge of which of these issues are present in their community. Afterbecoming aware of these issues, students often react emotionally. With anawareness of the richness and variety of cultures in their community and apersonal emotional reaction, students can take social action, another goal ofmulticultural education (Noel, 1995). Noel says that students would take action aimed at positive multicultural change(p. 272).
I feel that these goals are proof that the arguments againstmulticultural education are invalid (Banks, 1995). Multiculturalism promotespositive change for persons of all cultures. It involves not only teachingmajority groups about minorities, but also teaching minority groups about themajority groups. It has its base in democratic ideals such as equality,freedom, and justice. Multiculturalism will unite our divided nation into oneunit which will have no mainstream culture, but many diverse subcultures whichwill cooperate for the good of everyone, not just the majority or the minority.
I feel very strongly that multiculturalism should be included in allcurricula. My school experience (until college) didn’t include multiculturalperspectives and I feel as if I missed out on some important things. I oftenfeel a little clueless when confronted with situations involving peopledifferent from me. Without some knowledge of our surroundings, how can we beexpected to survive in society? This question reveals one of the purposes ofeducation, survival.
Learning about the other people who share our community isan essential part of this survival in modern society. Multiculturalism becomesincreasingly important as our society becomes more diverse. In the past (Lynch, 1989), efforts to provide multicultural content tostudents have, as critics feared, created more diversity and tension amonggroups. However, more recent methods are aimed at creating relations based oncommonalities. Lynch (1989) suggests providing a basis of common knowledge,skills, and insights about the things that all human societies should hold incommon (p. 43).
Stressing similarities will unify groups with differences. Davidman (1994) defines the goals of multicultural education as: (1) educational equity; (2) empowerment of students and their parents; (3) cultural pluralism in society; (4) . . . understanding and harmony in the classroom, school, and community; (5) an expanded knowledge of various cultural and ethnic groups; and (6) the development of students, parents, and practitioners.
. . guided by an informed and inquisitive multicultural perspective (p. 2).
Just as the goals stated by other crusaders for multiculturalism, Davidson’s goals follow a specific order and stress knowledge, understanding, and equality. I believe that it is very necessary and completely conceivable for oureducation systems to move toward a multicultural curriculum. By following thegoals I have mentioned, we can finally understand how the many pieces of oursociety fit together into one big picture. ReferencesBanks, J.