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Multicultural Education Issues and Perspectives

The main factors and dimensions in the multicultural education ideology and their theoretical basis

One of the most important issues of a modern educational system is multicultural education. Our contemporary world tends to multicultural. Thus, from a global perspective, this question should be in the spotlight when educating children in racially diverse classrooms.

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The book Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspective, by James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks is a collection of articles written by leading specialists in the field of multicultural education. The book presents their explorations of the issue and helps understand the main concepts and paradigms required to understand the most effective ways of educating culturally diverse classrooms. Each chapter is devoted to a certain question in the field and presents the main factors and dimensions in the multicultural education ideology.

In each chapter, various meanings of culture are discussed and different definitions are presented. According to Banks (2007), “culture is conceptualized as a dynamic and complex process of construction; its invisible and implicit characteristics are emphasized.” There are many factors that can influence students’ behavior, these factors are language diversity, race, gender class, etc.

The articles explore these options and suggest decisions that should allow building the system of education in school in school so that students with different cultural backgrounds had equal rights and were able to achieve academic success. Moreover, it is very important to create a friendly and comfortable multicultural atmosphere in a diverse class in order to create favorable educational conditions. It is the main task for the school staff that works with multicultural student contingent.

The authors explore multicultural education as a unity based on three things, such as an idea, process, and reform movement. However, all three concepts are aimed at “changing school and other educational institutions so that students from different cultural backgrounds had equal opportunity to learn” (Banks, 2007). The main principles of multicultural education ideology are education equality, justice, and liberty. Multicultural education cannot be attained completely, it is an “ongoing process”, thus teaches should work constantly to elevate educational equality.

According to the author, “to implement multicultural education successfully, we must think of the school as a social system in which all of its major variables are interrelated” (Banks, 2007). The variables include content integration, knowledge construction, prejudice reduction, empowering school culture, and equity pedagogy (Banks, 2007). Thus, following the multicultural ideology, the teacher should organize his/her activity and facilitate the academic activity so that take into account racial, cultural, and social differences in the given group. Furthermore, the content of the course should also be adapted to this diversity.

Great work should be done to reduce the racial prejudices and form appropriate racial attitude within a group of students. Finally, empowering the school culture should be achieved through various practices and interactions of the staff with students across ethnic lines. These are the dimensions of multicultural education. Taking into consideration the dimensions of multicultural education, the principles should be implemented within a hidden curriculum and course materials.

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Another important component of multicultural education is a culture that is involved in the process of education. The authors put forward the idea that,

“culture shapes and is shaped by the learning and teaching that happen during the practical conduct of daily life within all the educational settings we encounter as learning environment through the human life span”. (Banks, 2007).

It means that all human actions and beliefs were formed through its historical development and personal experience. The task of the teacher is to overcome certain prejudices. The main point that should guide the teacher’s actions is that each person is cultural and multicultural at the same time.

The main subjects of the study (research) in the book Starting school by Liz Brooker

The book by Liz Brooker provides an insight into the early education of children from ethnic minority communities and suggests the principles of the progressive pedagogy aimed at meeting the primary needs of children with different cultural and racial backgrounds. The main point of the book is to explore the ways young children acquire knowledge of their culture and transmit them to the class. The author focuses on the differences in family life and parents’ participation in the process of education and adaptation of their children to a new environment at school. The author also suggests several methods of working with small children born in multicultural families that will help them and their families understand better the UK school education process.

The main subject of the study is how the school treats these children and maintains contacts with parents in order to define the key methods of working with them. The author emphasizes that “none of the children’s school careers was ‘determined’ by their early experiences in the home, any more than the early experiences of their parents had ‘determined’ the ways they raised their children. But certain structural and cultural factors limited the options open to them – the range within which their individual agency could be exercised.” (Brooker, 2002).

One of the main tasks of the teacher working with a group consisting of children with different cultural backgrounds is to organize work in class so that different types of knowledge were interrelated and not confront one another. Home and local knowledge of a child that he gains from his/her family experience should not interfere with his/her gaining of the official and school knowledge (“without this knowledge the child will not make good progress in the school system” (Brooker, 2002)).

According to the author, “each child experiences the classroom in the light of their particular structural position, learning stance, interests, strategies, identity and cultural background” (Brooker, 2002). These issues influence greatly the child’s behavior, its perception of the class environment, and the way he/she learns the material. The teacher should take into account these options while constructing lessons.

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A very important subject of the book deals with children-adult relations. Obviously, the school cannot be aware of the misunderstandings between a child’s culture at home and the one at school. However, teachers should involve parents in the process of education and support their children. Moreover, they should interact with each other and maintain social contacts. One more important issue that is mentioned in the book concerns curriculum. Thus, there should be special attention to the structure of the course curriculum, it should have a multicultural basis.

We support the idea that it plays a great role in the children’s adaptation to the schooling environment and educating skilled and confident individuals. According to Korn and Bursztyn (2002), “while infusion of multicultural component furthers the representation of diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial groups in the curriculum, it too serves the instrumental aim of delivering the extant curriculum and lending support to the pedagogical principles that undergird school practice.”

In general, the research based on the “new sociology of childhood” is focused on the child-adult relation which is of great importance, especially in the education of young children from the cultural minority.

The influence f cultural and religious diversity (of students and staff) in schools on children´s schooling, teaching, and leadership

The processes of immigration and movement between majority cultures and cultural minorities are extremely intensive in modern society. It is always hard to adapt to a new cultural environment, especially, for children whose mentality is not established yet and can be exposed to stress related to a new environment. As Carol Korn and Alberto Bursztyn mention in their book Rethinking Multicultural Education: Case Studies in Cultural Transition (2002), “school is acknowledged as one of the places where different cultures meet and where cultural differences may be negotiated or ignore and/or rejected.” At the same time, school is the first place where a child learns to be a member of society and acquires social norms of behavior. Thus, going to school, the child enters into the multicultural environment.

Certainly, it influences his/her schooling and leadership activities. However, cultural diversity among pupils is not the only obstacle that can affect children. As Banks mentions (2007), “some schools systematically deny some groups of students equal educational opportunities.” For example, some schools favor males and girls’ grades in some disciplines are lower.

One should remember that children differ greatly from one another. These differences are not only in their appearance and gender, these differences are in their perception of the better world. Children from different races have the different cultural background and their attitudes and habits are formed by their parents. Thus, they can “respond differently to the curriculum and instructions provided by teacher.” (Banks, 2007).

Moreover, children may have different attitudes to the course materials. For example, some subjects can contradict their religious beliefs which can lead to negative consequences. Taking into consideration the facts mentioned before, we can assume that teachers should pay special attention to the multicultural diversity of the class. This fact will influence the teacher’s behavior, curriculum, and course materials which should be selected with special attention. According to Byram and Morgan (1994),

“the structure of Cultural Studies in a pedagogical manner takes account of ways of structuring our knowledge of the world and cultures, which is influences by knowledge of cognitive and affective learning processes and which can be expected to lead to specific psychological outcomes”.

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One of the main tasks of the teacher is to educate individuals that will be ready to live and work in a multicultural society. Thus, not only curriculum and study materials can influence the pupils’ academic success. The overall atmosphere in the class plays a great role. A teacher should encourage interaction between children from different cultural minorities providing practices and activities that promote communication, mutual aid, and support.

One more important factor that can influence pupils’ social lives is the parents’ involvement in the process of education. It is well known that children who have support from their parents are more socialized and have better academic achievements. It is extremely important for pupils with cultural minorities. Children should not feel that they are different from others. It can cause a psychological barrier in communication with others.

Leadership activities are also greatly affected by cultural diversity in the class. Pupils from a cultural minority can feel uncertain and become outsiders. It is one more important reason for creating an appropriate multicultural environment in the class. Thus, “ the school need to teach about social justice issues in addition to basic skills… We should educate students to be reflective, moral, caring, and active citizens in a trouble world” (Banks, 2007).

References List

Banks, J.A., and Banks, C.A.M. (2007). Multicultural Education. Issues and Perspectives. (6. ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Ltd.

Brooker, L. (2002). Starting school. Young Children Learning Cultures. Buckingham & Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Byram, M. and Morgan, C. (1994). Teaching-and-Learning Language-and-Culture. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, Ltd.

Korn, C. and Bursztyn, A. (2002). Rethinking Multicultural Education: Case Studies in Cultural Transition. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

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