Multicultural to obtain the necessary knowledge and

Multicultural education is an educational field that targets at achieving equal educational opportunities for individuals from different races, ethnicities and social classes. The primary goal of this field of study is to ensure that each and every student is in a position to obtain the necessary knowledge and the skills to enable them operate properly in cosmopolitan societies. This kind of education also puts students in a position to relate and communicate effectively with people from other social-cultural groups.

Multicultural education is different from other forms of education in the sense that apart from being based on theoretical concepts also entrenches the use of practical strategies to ensure that students are in a position to put information garnered in class to proper societal use. This is achieved by the usage of references of heroes from the different racial/ethnic/social classes amongst the students or the inclusion of a particular holiday in the curriculum. Students who are in a position to understand why individuals from social groups different from theirs see things from a different perspective are able to meaningfully relate with these peers. For instance in American classes, students who are able to understand that the viewpoints of the native Americans when they clashed with the Europeans is of primary importance to the American structuring story, just like that of the pioneers, are in a position to see that the various challenges encountered in their respective communities cannot be tackled from a particular point of view. If these students are able to see that women respond differently from their male counterparts when faced with a given adversity based on their racial and social-class backgrounds aside from their gender, they can ensure that a balance is achieved in the way they handle the problems they encounter.

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This therefore means that multicultural education calls for the usage of critical thinking strategies in such a way that students are able to make meaning out of abstract situations. Individuals are expected to through a lot of research regarding the different viewpoints of their peers from other social groupings such that they are in a position to grasp the complexities of social relation. Traditionally, multicultural education has been viewed as education for minority students. This has however come to be disapproved as it has been found that in the multicultural societies in which these students live, they have to constantly interact with students from the majority races and social-cultural groups. This therefore means that the students from the so-called majority groups have to be introduced to multicultural education in order to develop desirable relational social skills. In summary, it can be said that multicultural education is a field of study designed to establish change in society.

It employs the usage of critical thinking skills as well as extensive lessons structured to ensure that students are able to adequately appreciate the information they acquire in class as important and applicable in society. This educational field has over time come to be structured in such a way that it not only targets the minority groups in society but also allows for students from particularly the majority races to gain from the classes. Unlike other forms of education whose primary aim is to equip students with skills to earn a livelihood by securing meaningful jobs, multicultural education mainly focuses on shaping the individual characters of the students.

The that encouraged ethnic and minority students

The Debate Over Multicultural Education in AmericaAmerica has long been called “The Melting Pot” due to the factthat it is made up of a varied mix of races, cultures, and ethnicities. As moreand more immigrants come to America searching for a better life, thepopulation naturally becomes more diverse. This has, in turn, spun a greatdebate over multiculturalism.

Some of the issues under fire are who isbenefiting from the education, and how to present the material in a way so asto offend the least amount of people. There are many variations on thesethemes as will be discussed later in this paper.In the 1930’s several educators called for programs of cultural diversitythat encouraged ethnic and minority students to study their respectiveheritages. This is not a simple feat due to the fact that there is much diversitywithin individual cultures. A look at a 1990 census shows that the Americanpopulation has changed more noticeably in the last ten years than in any othertime in the twentieth century, with one out of every four Americansidentifying themselves as black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, orAmerican Indian (Gould 198).

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The number of foreign born residents alsoreached an all time high of twenty million, easily passing the 1980 record offourteen million. Most people, from educators to philosophers, agree that animportant first step in successfully joining multiple cultures is to develop anunderstanding of each others background. However, the similarities stopthere.

One problem is in defining the term “multiculturalism”. When it islooked at simply as meaning the existence of a culturally integrated society,many people have no problems. However, when you go beyond that and tryto suggest a different way of arriving at that culturally integrated society,Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what will work. Sinceeducation is at the root of the problem, it might be appropriate to use anexample in that context. Although the debate at Stanford University ran muchdeeper than I can hope to touch in this paper, the root of the problem was asfollows: In 1980, Stanford University came up with a program – later knownas the “Stanford-style multicultural curriculum” which aimed to familiarizestudents with traditions, philosophy, literature, and history of the West. Theprogram consisted of 15 required books by writers such as Plato, Aristotle,Homer, Aquinas, Marx, and Freud. By 1987, a group called the RainbowCoalition argued the fact that the books were all written by DWEM’s or DeadWhite European Males. They felt that this type of teaching denied studentsthe knowledge of contributions by people of color, women, and otheroppressed groups.

In 1987, the faculty voted 39 to 4 to change thecurriculum and do away with the fifteen book requirement and the term”Western” for the study of at least one non-European culture and properattention to be given to the issues of race and gender (Gould 199). Thisdebate was very important because its publicity provided the grounds for theargument that America is a pluralistic society and to study only one peoplewould not accurately portray what really makes up this country.Proponents of multicultural education argue that it offers students abalanced appreciation and critique of other cultures as well as our own(Stotsky 64). While it is common sense that one could not have a trueunderstanding of a subject by only possessing knowledge of one side of it,this brings up the fact that there would never be enough time in our currentschool year to equally cover the contributions of each individual nationality. This leaves teachers with two options.

The first would be to lengthen theschool year, which is highly unlikely because of the political aspects of thesituation. The other choice is to modify the curriculum to only include whatthe instructor (or school) feels are the most important contributions, whichagain leaves them open to criticism from groups that feel they are not beingequally treated. A national standard is out of the question because of the factthat different parts of the country contain certain concentrations ofnationalities. An example of this is the high concentration of Cubans inFlorida or Latinos in the west.

Nonetheless, teachers are at the top of theagenda when it comes to multiculturalism. They can do the most for childrenduring the early years of learning, when kids are most impressionable. Byengaging students in activities that follow the lines of their multiculturalcurriculum, they can open up young minds while making learning fun. in onefirst grade classroom, an inventive teacher used the minority students to heradvantage by making them her helpers as she taught the rest of the class somesimple Spanish words and customs. This newly acquired vocabulary formeda common bond among the children in their early years, an appropriate timefor learning respect and understanding (Pyszkowski 154). Another exciting idea is to put children in the setting of the culture theyare learning about. By surrounding children in the ideas and customs of othercultures, they can better understand what it is like to be removed from oursociety altogether, if only for a day. Having kids dress up in foreign clothing,sample foods and sing songs from abroad makes educating easier on theteacher by making it fun for the students.

A simple idea that helps teachers isto let students speak for themselves. Ask students how they feel about eachother and why. This will help dispel stereotypes that might be created in thehome.

By asking questions of each other, students can get firsthand answersabout the beliefs and customs of other cultures, along with some insight as towhy people feel the way they do, something that can never be adequatelyStudents are not the only ones who can benefit from this type oflearning. Teachers certainly will pick up on educational aspects from othercountries. If, for instance, a teacher has a minority student from a differentcountry every year, he or she can develop a well rounded teaching style thatwould in turn, benefit all students. Teachers can also keep on top of things byregularly attending workshops and getting parents involved so they canreinforce what is being taught in the classroom at home. The New York State Social Studies Review and DevelopmentCommittee has come up with six guidelines that they think teachers shouldemphasize in order to help break down ethnic barriers. These steps are asFirst, from the very beginning, social studies should be taught from aglobal perspective. We are all equal owners of the earth, none of us are moreentitled than others to share in its many wealths or misfortunes. Theuniqueness of each individual is what adds variety to our everyday life.

Second, social studies will continue to serve nation building purposes. By pointing out the things we share in common, it will be easier to examinethe individual things that make us different.Third, the curriculum must strive to be informed by the most up todate scholarship. The administrators must know that in the past, we havelearned from our mistakes, and we will continue to do so in the future. Bykeeping an open mind, we will take in new knowledge and differentFourth, students need to see themselves as active makers andchangers of culture and society. If given the skills to judge people and theirthoughts fairly, and the knowledge that they can make a difference, studentswill take better control of life in the future.Fifth, the program should be committed to the honoring andcontinuing examination of democratic values as an essential basis for socialorganization and nation building.

Although the democratic system is farfrom perfect, it has proven in the past that it can be effective if we continue toput effort into maintaining it while leaving it open for change.Sixth, social studies should be taught not solely as information, butrather through the critical examination of ideas and events rooted in timeand place and responding to social interests. The subject needs to be taughtwith excitement that sparks kids interest and motivates them to want to takeplace in the shaping of the future of our country (NYSSSRADC 145-47).In order to give a well rounded multicultural discussion, as JamesBanks explains, teachers need to let students know how knowledge reflectsthe social, political, and economic context in which it was created. Knowledge explained by powerful groups in society differs greatly from thatof its less powerful counterparts (Banks 11).

For example, it should bepointed out how early Americans are most often called “pioneers” or”settlers” in social studies texts, while foreigners are called “immigrants”. They should realize that to Native Americans, pioneers were actually theimmigrants, but since the “pioneers” later went on to write the textbooks, it isnot usually described that way. By simply looking at the term “westernculture” it is obvious that this is a viewpoint of people from a certain area. Ifstudents are aware that to Alaskans, the west was actually the south, they canrealize the bearings of how the elite in society determine what is learned.

Bynot falling victim to these same misconceptions, students can better makeunprejudiced decisions about those around them. Another important aspectstudents need to realize is that knowledge alone isn’t enough to shape asociety. The members themselves have to be willing to put forth the time andeffort and show an interest in shaping their society in order for it to benefit allWhile generally opposed to the idea, Francis Ryan points out that “Multicultural education programs indeed may be helpful for all students indeveloping perspective-taking skills and an appreciation for how ethnic andminority traditions have evolved and changed as each came into contact withother groups” (Ryan 137). It would certainly give people a sense of ethnicpride to know how their forefathers contributed to the building of theAmerican society that we live in today. It is also a great feeling to know thatwe can change what we feel is wrong to build a better system for ourchildren. Minorities would benefit from learning the evolution of their cultureand realizing that the ups and downs along the way do not necessarily meanthat their particular lifestyle is in danger of extinction.Some opponents feel that the idea of multiculturalism will, instead ofuniting cultures, actually divide them.

They feel that Americans should tryand think of themselves as a whole rather than people from different placesall living together. They go even further to say that it actually goes againstour democratic tradition, the cornerstone of American society (Stotsky 64). In Paul Gannon’s article Balancing Multicultural and Civic Educationwill Take More Than Social Stew, he brings up an interesting point that”Education in the origins, evolution, advances and defeats of democracymust, by its nature, be heavily Western and also demand great attention topolitical history (Gannon 8). Since both modern democracy and itsalternatives are derived mostly from European past, and since most of theparticipants were white males who are now dead, the choices are certainlylimited. If we try to avoid these truths or sidestep them in any way, wecannot honestly say we are giving an accurate description of our history. Robert Hassinger agrees with Gannon and adds that we cannot ignorethe contributions of DWEM’s for the simple fact that they are just that.

Hethinks that we should study such things as the rise of capitalism or ongoingnationalism in other countries, but should not be swayed in our criticalthinking by the fact that some people will not feel equally treated or evendisrespected (Hassinger 11). There certainly must be reasons why manyinfluential people in our history have been DWEM’s, and we should explorethese reasons without using race and sex alone as reasons for excluding themfrom our curriculum. When conflicts arise with the way we do things, weshould explore why rather than compromise in order to protect a certainFrancis Ryan warns that trying to push the subject of multiculturalismtoo far would actually be a hindrance if it interferes with a studentsparticipation in other groups, or worse yet, holds the child back fromexpressing his or her own individuality. He gives a first-hand example of oneof his African-American students who was afraid to publicly admit his dislikefor rap music because he felt ethnically obligated as part of his black heritage(Ryan 137).

While a teacher can be a great help in providing informationabout other cultures, by the same note, that information can be just as harmfulif it is incomplete. In order for students to be in control of their own identity,they must have some idea of how others look at these same qualities. Children must be taught to resolve inner-conflicts about their identity, so thatthese features that make us unique will be brought out in the open where theycan be enjoyed by all instead of being hidden in fear of facing rejection fromtheir peers. Teachers need to spend an equal amount of time developing eachstudents individuality so they don’t end up feeling obligated to their racialgroup more than they feel necessary to express the diversity that makesAs Harlan Cleveland points out, many countries still feel that thepredominant race must be the one in power.

For instance, try to imagine aTurkish leader in Germany, or anyone but a Japanese in control of Japan(Cleveland 26). Only in America is there such a diverse array of people inpower from county officials all the way up to the make up of people in ourSupreme Court. However, although we have made many advances culturallythat other countries haven’t, we still have yet to see an African-American,Latino, or for that matter, a woman as head of our country. With increasingawareness of other cultures though, these once unheard of suggestions aremaking their way even closer to reality. Another way to look at the issue is that most non-Western cultureshave few achievements equal to Western culture either in the past or present(Duignan 492). The modern achievements that put America ahead of othercountries are unique to America because they were developed here. Manythird-world countries still practice things that we have evolved from manyyears ago, such as slavery, wife beatings, and planned marriages.

We arealso given many freedoms that are unheard of in other countries. Homosexuality is punished severely in other lands, while we have grown torealize that it is part of the genetic makeup of many people and they cannotMost immigrants come to America for a better way of life, willing toleave behind the uncivilized values of their mother countries. Instead oftrying to move the country that they came from into America, immigrantsneed to be willing to accept the fact that America is shared by all who livehere, and it is impossible to give every citizen an equal amount of attention.

If we are not willing to forget some parts of our heritage in favor of a set ofwell rounded values, then a fully integrated America will never be possible. There certainly is no easy answer to the problem of multiculturaleducation. Proponents will continue to argue the benefits that unfortunatelyseem to be too far out of reach for our imperfect society. The hard truth isthat it is impossible for our public school system to fairly cater to thehundreds of nationalities that already exist, let alone the hundreds more thatare projected to arrive during the next century. In order for us to live togetherin the same society, we must sometimes be willing to overlook parts of ourdistant past in exchange for a new hope in the future. Our only chance is tocontinue to debate the topic in order to hope for a “middle of the road”compromise. One particularly interesting solution is that we could study thebasics of how America came about in the most non-biased way possible, notconcentrating on the race and sex of our forefathers as much as what theymade happen, at least during the elementary and high school years.

Thiswould leave the study of individual nationalities, which are not themselvesmajor contributing factors, for people to do at home or further down the linein their education, where they can focus on tradition and beliefs to any extentthey want without fear of anyone feeling segregated.In conclusion, in order for us to function as a whole, we need to startthinking of America in terms of a whole. With just a basic understanding ofother cultures, and most importantly, the tools and background to thinkcritically and make our own decisions not based on color, sex, religion, ornational origin, but on information that we were able to accurately attainthrough the critical thinking skills we were taught in school, we would bebetter equipped to work at achieving harmony in a varied racial country.Banks, James A. “Multicultural Literacy and Curriculum Reform.” TheEducation Digest 13 Dec.

1991: 10-13.Cleveland, Harlan. “The Limits To Cultural Diversity.

” The Futurist March -Duignan, Peter. “The Dangers of Multiculturalism.” Vital Speeches of theGagnon, Paul. “Balancing Multicultural and Civic Education Will Take MoreThan “Social Stew”.

” The Education Digest Dec. 1991 : 7-9.Gould, Ketayun H. “The Misconstruing of Multiculturalism : The StanfordDebate and Social Work” Social Work Mar. 1995 : 198-204. Hassinger, Robert. “True Multiculturalism.” Commonweal 10 April 1992 :New York State Social Studies Review and Development Committee”Multicultural Education Benefits All Students.

” Education in America- Opposing Viewpoints. CA : Greenhaven, 1992. 144-150.

Pyszkowski, Irene S. “Multiculturalism – Education For The Nineties; AnOverview.” Education Vol. 114 No. 1 : 151-157.Ryan, Francis J. “The Perils of Multiculturalism : Schooling for theGroup.”Educational Horizons 7 Spring 1993 : 134-8.

Stotsky, Sandra. “Acedemic vs. Ideological Education in the Classroom.”The Education Digest Mar. 1992 : 64-6.Bibliography:Works CitedBanks, James A.

“Multicultural Literacy and Curriculum Reform.” TheEducation Digest 13 Dec. 1991: 10-13.

Cleveland, Harlan. “The Limits To Cultural Diversity.” The Futurist March -April 1995 : 23-6.Duignan, Peter. “The Dangers of Multiculturalism.

” Vital Speeches of theDay 22 Mar. 1995 : 492-493.Gagnon, Paul. “Balancing Multicultural and Civic Education Will Take MoreThan “Social Stew”.” The Education Digest Dec.

1991 : 7-9.Gould, Ketayun H. “The Misconstruing of Multiculturalism : The StanfordDebate and Social Work” Social Work Mar. 1995 : 198-204. Hassinger, Robert. “True Multiculturalism.

” Commonweal 10 April 1992 :10-11.New York State Social Studies Review and Development Committee”Multicultural Education Benefits All Students.” Education in America- Opposing Viewpoints. CA : Greenhaven, 1992. 144-150.

Pyszkowski, Irene S. “Multiculturalism – Education For The Nineties; AnOverview.” Education Vol. 114 No. 1 : 151-157.Ryan, Francis J.

“The Perils of Multiculturalism : Schooling for theGroup.”Educational Horizons 7 Spring 1993 : 134-8.Stotsky, Sandra. “Acedemic vs. Ideological Education in the Classroom.”The Education Digest Mar. 1992 : 64-6.Works CitedBanks, James A.

“Multicultural Literacy and Curriculum Reform.” TheEducation Digest 13 Dec. 1991: 10-13.Cleveland, Harlan. “The Limits To Cultural Diversity.” The Futurist March -April 1995 : 23-6.

Duignan, Peter. “The Dangers of Multiculturalism.” Vital Speeches of theDay 22 Mar. 1995 : 492-493.Gagnon, Paul. “Balancing Multicultural and Civic Education Will Take MoreThan “Social Stew”.” The Education Digest Dec.

1991 : 7-9.Gould, Ketayun H. “The Misconstruing of Multiculturalism : The StanfordDebate and Social Work” Social Work Mar. 1995 : 198-204. Hassinger, Robert.

“True Multiculturalism.” Commonweal 10 April 1992 :10-11.New York State Social Studies Review and Development Committee”Multicultural Education Benefits All Students.” Education in America- Opposing Viewpoints.

CA : Greenhaven, 1992. 144-150.Pyszkowski, Irene S. “Multiculturalism – Education For The Nineties; AnOverview.” Education Vol. 114 No. 1 : 151-157.Ryan, Francis J.

“The Perils of Multiculturalism : Schooling for theGroup.”Educational Horizons 7 Spring 1993 : 134-8.Stotsky, Sandra. “Acedemic vs. Ideological Education in the Classroom.

“The Education Digest Mar. 1992 : 64-6.Works CitedBanks, James A. “Multicultural Literacy and Curriculum Reform.” TheEducation Digest 13 Dec.

1991: 10-13.Cleveland, Harlan. “The Limits To Cultural Diversity.” The Futurist March -April 1995 : 23-6.Duignan, Peter. “The Dangers of Multiculturalism.” Vital Speeches of theDay 22 Mar. 1995 : 492-493.

Gagnon, Paul. “Balancing Multicultural and Civic Education Will Take MoreThan “Social Stew”.” The Education Digest Dec. 1991 : 7-9.

Gould, Ketayun H. “The Misconstruing of Multiculturalism : The StanfordDebate and Social Work” Social Work Mar. 1995 : 198-204. Hassinger, Robert. “True Multiculturalism.” Commonweal 10 April 1992 :10-11.New York State Social Studies Review and Development Committee”Multicultural Education Benefits All Students.

” Education in America- Opposing Viewpoints. CA : Greenhaven, 1992. 144-150.Pyszkowski, Irene S. “Multiculturalism – Education For The Nineties; AnOverview.

” Education Vol. 114 No. 1 : 151-157.Ryan, Francis J. “The Perils of Multiculturalism : Schooling for theGroup.

“Educational Horizons 7 Spring 1993 : 134-8.Stotsky, Sandra. “Acedemic vs. Ideological Education in the Classroom.”The Education Digest Mar. 1992 : 64-6.

Works CitedBanks, James A. “Multicultural Literacy and Curriculum Reform.” TheEducation Digest 13 Dec.

1991: 10-13.Cleveland, Harlan. “The Limits To Cultural Diversity.” The Futurist March -April 1995 : 23-6.

Duignan, Peter. “The Dangers of Multiculturalism.” Vital Speeches of theDay 22 Mar. 1995 : 492-493.Gagnon, Paul.

“Balancing Multicultural and Civic Education Will Take MoreThan “Social Stew”.” The Education Digest Dec. 1991 : 7-9.

Gould, Ketayun H. “The Misconstruing of Multiculturalism : The StanfordDebate and Social Work” Social Work Mar. 1995 : 198-204. Hassinger, Robert. “True Multiculturalism.” Commonweal 10 April 1992 :10-11.New York State Social Studies Review and Development Committee”Multicultural Education Benefits All Students.

” Education in America- Opposing Viewpoints. CA : Greenhaven, 1992. 144-150.Pyszkowski, Irene S. “Multiculturalism – Education For The Nineties; AnOverview.

” Education Vol. 114 No. 1 : 151-157.Ryan, Francis J. “The Perils of Multiculturalism : Schooling for theGroup.”Educational Horizons 7 Spring 1993 : 134-8.

Stotsky, Sandra. “Acedemic vs. Ideological Education in the Classroom.”The Education Digest Mar. 1992 : 64-6.

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