What Is Multiculturalism and Multi-Cultural Education?

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What is multiculturalism and multi-cultural education and why are these terms at the center of such great controversy? This is a concern to me as a student training to be a future teacher here in the United States. It seems that these two topics are generating a great deal of concern among teachers and creating a “mix” in feelings on how to handle these issues in the classroom. Multiculturalism is “a social and political movement and position that holds differences between individuals as groups to be a potential source of strength and renewal rather than strife” (Carson, 1999). It values diverse perspectives people develop and maintain thorough a variety of experiences and backgrounds stemming from racial, ethical, gender and class differences in our societies. It is a belief that strives to hold the ideals of equality, equity, and freedom that the United States was founded on. One of the most unique aspects of the United States is the diversity of its people. The Statue of Liberty states “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free,” and America has indeed upheld this idea and has become a mixture of people of different races, religions, and creeds. Multi-cultural education is an “education and instruction designed for the cultures of several different races in an educational system” (Wilson, 2007). It is an approach to teaching and learning that is based on conscious building, respect, and fostering cultural pluralism within racial societies. So why is the United States and most importantly the teachers in the classroom at odds with the idea of a multi-cultural nation and classroom?

Some people believe that these vary ideas are at the foundation of our country. We are the “melting pot”of the world. Since some sociologist predict that by the year 2025 half of the public school students will be “people of color” (Santrock, 2004), shouldn’t there be representation for them in our schools? Some believe that...
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