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Multicultural environments reflect democratic principles.

In order to produce a society of tolerant adults, the focus must be on the child. Youngsters are more apt to understand and accept diverse cultures and peoples when they are older if they are given multicultural experiences at an early age. Children already are aware of negative and positive feelings about race by the age of 3.

A multicultural education environment reflects the democratic principles of equality, fairness and cooperation. Teachers who respect and appreciate all children regardless of race, culture, socioeconomic level, gender or exceptionality model a positive multicultural atmosphere.

Multicultural education involves more than just special activities. Children must be prepared "for the social, political, and economic realities that individuals experience in culturally diverse and complex human encounters" (Banks, 1981).

The following guidelines will help education professionals implement a multicultural perspective:

1. Multiculturalism must be a total school and community commitment.

2. School policies and procedures should foster positive multi-cultural interaction and understanding among students, teachers and the supportive staff.

3. Culturally responsive curriculum and assessment should reflect diverse interpersonal interactions, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

4. The curriculum should help students develop skills necessary for effective interpersonal interactions, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

5. Anti-bias curriculum should help students to view and interpret events, situations and conflicts from diverse perspectives.

(Adapted from Garcia, R. (1982). Teaching in a pluralistic society. New York: Workman Publishing.)

The personalities, values and social backgrounds of teachers are greatly affected by their culture. These cultural influences in turn affect their teaching and the students' learning. Teachers need to understand their own cultural heritage and perspectives. The "hidden" or implicit curriculum is certainly as important as the more formalized or explicit curriculum. How students are grouped, teacher expectations, disciplinary practices and teacher values and attitudes are examples of hidden curricula that must be addressed.

A democratic society needs tolerant citizens prepared to make decisions, be problem-solvers, respect others and function in an interdependent world.

Recommended Multicultural Education Readings

Banks, J. (1981). Multiethnic education: Theory and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Banks, J. (1993). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Baruth, L., & Manning, M. (1992). Multicultural education of children and adolescence. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Bennett, C. (1990). Comprehensive multicultural education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Byrnes, D., & Kiger, G. (Eds.). (1992). Common bonds: Anti-bias teaching in a diverse society. Wheaton, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.

Derman-Sparks, L., & A.B.C. Task Force. (1989). Antibias curriculum: Tools for empowering young children. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Heath, S., & Mangiola, L. (1991). Children of promise: Literacy activity in linguistically and culturally diverse classrooms. Washington, DC: National Education Association.

Nieto, S. (1991). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education. New York: Longman Press.

Ramsey, P. (1987). Teaching and learning in a diverse world: Multieducation for young children. New York: Teachers College Press.

Tiedt, P., & Tiedt, I. (1990). Multicultural teaching: A handbook of activities, information, and resources. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
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Title Annotation:ACEI Exchange
Author:Reiff, Judith C.
Publication:Childhood Education
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Previous Article:Education reform and goals 2000.
Next Article:Empowering children to create a caring culture in a world of differences.

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