multicultural education guide

Multicultural Education: A Simple Guide

The renowned educator, Dr. James A. Banks, defines multicultural education as “an idea, an educational reform movement, and a process.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Today, classrooms are infused with a blend of cultures, each one as vibrantly diverse as the next. It’s an educator’s job to ensure every student can access equal learning opportunities despite their orientation.

This is why multicultural education is important now more than ever. It goes beyond simply teaching students about cultures, stereotypes, and prejudice reduction — it’s about showing them.

How so?

We’ve compiled a list of three ways you can imbue progressive, multicultural education teaching methods for your next class.

Choose Your Delivery Method Carefully

It all starts with how you define multicultural education to your students. In truth, it has the power to transform education based on social justice and educational equality.

There are three key components when going about this:

  • Prejudice reduction–refers to lessons and activities educators use to help students create positive attitudes toward different cultural, racial, and ethnic groups.

  • Content integration–refers to how educators use varying approaches to integrate content on cultural, racial, and ethnic groups into the school curriculum. The two main categories are the Additive approach and the Contributions approach.

  • Empowerment of social and school culture–refers to educators teaching students about the impact of their commitments behind all decisions they make on social and civil actions to promote democracy.

They’re all interrelated goals and need to be approached with rapt attention and sensitivity as they reflect the ways conflict resolution is approached in today’s world.

Essentially, what students pick up in classroom environments on how to interact with others different from them, equates to how well they’ll navigate the global marketplace.

When choosing a delivery method, you can interchange the following techniques to keep matters interesting:

  • Student teaching
  • Dialogue
  • Lecture
  • Individual work

Also, take note of the power dynamics in the classroom to avoid perpetuating oppression or privilege on your students. Ask yourself:

  • Which student is best placed to work through a certain problem — and is the answer satisfactory?
  • Is a particular group left out?

Engage your students by asking them what they know or want to learn about a subject. You can also ask them to participate in the teaching of it.

Discover our Multicultural Curriculum

Do You Know Your Students’ Learning Styles?

The same way educators can use varying teaching methods; students also retain information differently.

Whereas cultures may not have distinctive learning style patterns, there’s often a noticeable variation among individuals within groups.

To effectively communicate with your students, you need to understand what method every particular student prefers. You can help students discover their preferred comprehension methods based on their own personalities and backgrounds.

By figuring out and exploring their own learning style, students can discover their unique academic strengths.

An educator can make it a class project for students to uncover their own learning style, which is already an inherent lesson in multiculturalism.

How so?

For many individuals, their early life experiences and cultural values shape their expectations and give you insight into how they were taught growing up. From there, you can help them understand themselves and other cultures better.

Content Is King

Bill Gates said so in 1996, and it still stands true today.

As much as students are learning from you, they are also exposed to online content and eventually formulate their own beliefs or prejudices about different cultures.

This is why the multicultural education content you teach needs to be accurate, relevant, and complete. It needs to be inclusive — expressing the perspectives and contributions of all groups.

This builds on the knowledge construction process - “it describes how teachers help students to understand, investigate, and determine how the biases, frames of reference, and perspectives within a discipline influence the ways in which knowledge is constructed within it.”

One contemporary issue in social society is tokenism.

It's the act of weaving content of under-represented groups (i.e, people with disabilities, people of color) with that of over-represented groups to give a semblance of fairness.

Be mindful of how you address these under-represented groups as you teach. Refrain from referring to these groups as “the other” or only using appropriate terms during special units (i.e, African American Literature or Female Scientists).

Remember to appeal to and celebrate the differences of all these under-represented groups during lessons and their importance in society. We’ll explore this in more detail below.

Ensure your multicultural education teaching practices cover the perspectives of all groups because student populations are just as diverse.

This will help eradicate any kind of racism and foster empathy. This also needs you to do some introspection and ensure you’re not teaching from a point of bias.

Introspection For Educators

When it comes to multicultural education, there’s a limit to what textbook knowledge can do. We all pick up biases from what we watch, people we interact with, what we’ve been taught growing up, and so on.

Don’t substitute genuine discourse and interactions among members of students' cultures with book knowledge alone.

You need to examine your own values, cultural beliefs, and biases to fully grasp the importance of multiculturalism in the classroom. It’ll help you better understand other cultures and familiarize yourself with their:

  • Communication styles
  • Traditions
  • Values
  • Contributions to society
  • Learning preferences

To effectively teach multicultural education, an educator needs to develop and adjust their lesson plans depending on the particular student group.

You can use David Kolb’s four-step method of breaking down the exact needs of a particular student group. The four key steps are concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.

Make Multicultural Education Celebratory

Assignments are an excellent way to understand student cultures, backgrounds, perspectives, and so on. It’s also a great way to attain feedback about students' tendencies and thought patterns.

To keep matters interesting you could have students:

  • Interview family members
  • Write about their family traditions
  • Get stories from elders in other communities about their culture and rites of passage
  • Partner with other students and develop projects that show the culture of the other

All this helps educators emphasize cultural differences in a positive light. It helps students learn how to navigate the world with respect, and appreciation of other people despite their opportunities or backgrounds.

Interactive projects with each other and the community at large are highly advisable. They add to their exposure and can build the moral and cognitive development of students.

There are numerous goals of multicultural education, one important one being — ”opportunities for action help students to develop a sense of personal and civic efficacy, faith in their ability to make changes in the institutions in which they live, and situations to apply the knowledge they have learned.” — Banks, with Clegg, 1990

The National Association for Multicultural Education, NAME, was formed to advocate for equity and social justice through multicultural education. You can find a vast expanse of resources and information for educators from preschool through higher education.

We never stop learning.

Using platforms at your disposal to better yourself will make you more adept at meeting the goals of teaching multicultural education.

Positive Action is Here to Help

Multicultural education is vital to every student in the 21st century. It’s expanding and evolving, with new information coming to light daily.

Educators need to be forward-thinking with their approaches and confident decision-makers of curriculum material.

Here’s where Positive Action comes in.

We have a wide range of programs for educators — ranging from preschoolers to higher education. Our programs are rooted in a broad self-concept theory. It postulates that people’s:

  • Self-concept is determined by their actions, more so than their thoughts or feelings
  • Self-worth is determined by positive behavioral changes

Discover our Multicultural Curriculum

The program is engineered towards a more holistic approach to developing well-rounded students and quality learning environments to promote this.

Make yourself an exceptional educator today by enrolling in our training program, or reach out to us for our whole school reform program.

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