Multicultural Education: Piecing Together the Puzzle
When a child opens his (or her) first puzzle and the pieces fall to the ground, it may seem very confusing. What are they to do with this pile of shapes in front of them? It often takes a parent to explain to them that all the different pieces fit together into one whole picture. Although every piece is different and unique, when they are all put into their place they form one whole picture. In the same way, teachers can teach multiculturalism in the classroom. Although every member of our society is unique, with different cultural backgrounds, we all fit together to form one unit. As stated by Noel (1995), "Understanding our own identity and the culture of our community requires knowledge and recognition of our cultures and communities and how they have shaped us" (p. 267). By adding a multicultural component to their curriculums, teachers can help students see how each individual fits into the big picture.
There are, however, arguments against multicultural education (Banks, 1995). For example, some critics believe that multicultural education is directed toward only minority groups, thus discriminating against middle class, white, heterosexual males. Others believe that multiculturalism is against Western and democratic ideals. A final argument is the claim that multiculturalism will divide our presumably united nation. Although critics of multicultural education may feel they have valid arguments against the issue, I feel that the goals of multicultural education make it an important part of the curriculum that every student should experience.
I agree with Wurzel (1988) and Noel (1995) when they stress awareness as a key component to multiculturalism. Students must become aware of their own culture and how they are similar and different from others. Awareness also involves an understanding of issues involving differences in culture and a knowledge of which of these issues are...
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