Реферат: Multicultural Education Essay Research Paper America has

Multicultural Education Essay, Research Paper

America has long been called «The Melting Pot» due to the fact that

it is made up of a varied mix of races, cultures,

and ethnicity’s. As more and more immigrants come to America searching for a

better life, the population naturally

becomes more diverse. This has, in turn, spun a great debate over

multiculturalism. Some of the issues at stake are: who

is benefiting from education, and how to present material in a way so not to

offend a large number of people.

In the 1930’s several educators called for programs of cultural diversity

that encouraged ethnic and minority

students to study their own heritages. This is not a simple feat due to the

fact that there is a lot of diversity within individual

cultures. A look at a 1990 census shows that the American population has

changed noticeably in the last ten years, with

one out of every four Americans identifying themselves as black, Hispanic,

Asian, Pacific Islander, or American Indian

(Gould 198). The number of foreign born residents also reached an all time

high of twenty million, easily passing the 1980

record of fourteen million. Most people, from educators to philosophers,

agree that an important first step in successfully

joining multiple cultures is to develop an understanding of each others


In 1980, Stanford University came up with a program – later known as the

«Stanford-style multicultural curriculum»

which aimed to familiarize students with traditions, philosophy, literature,

and history of the West. The program consisted

of 15 required books by writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Aquinas,

Marx, and Freud. By 1987, a group called the

Rainbow Coalition argued the fact that the books were all written by DWEM’s

(Dead White European Males). They felt

that this type of teaching denied students the knowledge of contributions by

people of color, women and other oppressed

groups. In 1987, the faculty voted 39 to 4 to change the curriculum and do

away with the fifteen book requirement and the

term «Western» for the study of at least one non-European culture

and proper attention to be given to the issues of race and

gender (Gould 199). This debate was very important because its publicity

provided the grounds for the argument that

America is a racist society and to study only one culture would not

accurately portray what really makes up this country.

Defenders of multicultural education argue that it offers students a balanced

appreciation and critique of other

cultures as well as our own (Stotsky 64). While it is common sense that one

could not have a true understanding of a

subject by only possessing knowledge of one side of it, this brings up the

fact that there would never be enough time in the

current school year to equally cover the contributions of each individual

nationality. This leaves teachers with two options.

The first would be to lengthen the school year, which is highly unlikely

because of the political aspects of the situation. The

other choice is to modify the curriculum to only include what the instructor

(or school) feels are the most important

contributions, which again leaves them open to criticism from groups that

feel they are not being equally treated. A national

standard is out of the question because of the fact that different parts of

the country contain certain concentrations of

nationalities. An example of this is the high concentration of Cubans in

Florida or Latinos in the west. Neverless, teachers

are at the top of the agenda when it comes to multiculturalism. They can do

the most for children during the early years of

learning, when kids are most impressionable. By engaging students in

activities that follow the lines of their multicultural

curriculum, they can open up young minds while making learning fun (Pyszkowski


Students are not the only ones who can benefit from this type of learning.

Teachers certainly will pick up on

educational aspects from other countries. If, for instance, a teacher has a

minority student from a different country in their

classroom every year, the teacher can develop a well rounded teaching style

that would in turn benefit all of the class.

Teachers can also keep on top of things by regularly attending workshops and

getting parents involved so they can

reinforce what is being taught in the classroom at the child’s home.

While generally opposed to the idea, Francis Ryan points out that

«Multicultural education programs indeed may be

helpful for all students in developing perspective-taking skills and an

appreciation for how ethnic and minority traditions

have evolved and changed as each came into contact with other groups»

(Ryan 137). It would certainly give people a

sense of ethnic pride to know how their forefathers contributed to the

building of the American society that we live in today.

It is also a great feeling to know that the nation can change what is felt to

be wrong, in order to build a better system for our

children. Minorities would benefit from learning the evolution of their

culture and realizing that the ups and downs along the

way do not necessarily mean that their particular lifestyle is in danger of


Some opponents feels that the idea of multiculturalism will, instead of

uniting cultures, actually divide them. They

feel that Americans should try and think of themselves as a whole rather than

people from different places all living together.

They go even further to say that is actually goes against our democratic

tradition, the cornerstone of American society

(Stotsky 64).

In Paul Gannon’s article «Balancing Multicultural and Civic Education

Will Take More Than Social Stew», he brings

up an interesting point that «Education in the origins, evolution,

advances and defeats of democracy must, by its nature, be

heavily Western and also demand great attention to political history (Gannon

8). Since both modern democracy and its

alternatives are derived mostly from European past, and since most of

participants were white males who are now dead,

the choices are naturally limited. If we try to avoid these truths or

sidestep them in any way, we cannot honestly say we are

giving an accurate description of our history. Robert Hassinger agrees with

Gannon and adds that we cannot ignore the

contributions of DWEM’s for the simple fact that they are just that. He

thinks that we should study such things as the rise

of capitalism or ongoing nationalism in other countries, but should not be

swayed in our critical thinking by the fact the some

people will not feel equally treated or even disrespected (Hassinger 11).

There certainly must be reasons why many

influential people in our history have been DWEM’s, and we should explore

these reasons without using race and sex alone

as reasons for excluding them from our curriculum. When conflicts arise with

the way we do things, we should explore why

rather than compromise in order to protect a certain group’s feelings.

Francis Ryan warns that trying to push the subject of multiculturalism too

far would actually be a hindrance it

interferes with a student’s participation in other groups, or worse yet,

holds the child back from expressing his or her own

individuality. He gives a first hand example of one of his African-American

students who was afraid to publicly admit his

dislike for rap music because he felt ethnically obligated as part of his

black heritage (Ryan 137). While a teacher can be a

great help in providing information about other cultures, by the same note,

that information can be just has harmful if it is

incomplete. In order for students to be in control of their own identity,

they must have some idea of how other look at

these same qualities. Children must be taught to resolve inner-conflicts

about their identity, so that these features that make

us unique will be brought out in the open where they can be enjoyed by all

instead of being hidden in fear of facing rejection

from their peers (Ryan 136). Teachers need to spend an equal amount of time

developing each students individuality so

that they don’t end up feeling obligated to their racial group more than they

feel necessary to express the diversity that

makes America unique.

Most immigrant come to America for a better way of life, willing to leave

behind the values of their mother

countries. Instead of trying to move the country that they came from into

America, immigrants need to be willing to accept

the fact that America is shared by all who live here, and it is impossible to

give every citizen an equal amount of attention. If

we are not willing to forget some parts of our heritage in favor of a set of

well rounded values, then a fully integrated

America will never be possible.

There certainly is no easy answer to the problem of multicultural education.

Proponents will continue to argue the

benefits that unfortunately seem to be too far out of reach for our imperfect

society. The hard truth is that it is impossible

for our public school system to fairly cater to the hundreds of nationalities

that already exist, let alone the hundreds more

that are projected to arrive during the next century. In order for us to live

together in the same society, ewe must sometime

be willing to overlook parts of our distant past in exchange for a new hope

in the future. Our only chance is to continue to

debate the issue in order to hope for a „middle of the road“

compromise. One particularly interesting solution is that we

could study the basics of how America came about in the most non-biased way

possible, not concentrating on the race and

sex of our forefathers as much as what they made happen, at least during the

elementary and high school years. This would

leave the study of individual nationalities, which are themselves major

contributing factors, for people to do at home or

further down the line in their education, where they can focus on tradition

and beliefs to any extent the want without fear of

anyone feeling segregated.

In order for us to function as a whole, we need to start thinking of America

in terms of a whole. With just a basic

understanding of other cultures, and most importantly, the tools and

background to think critically and make our own

decisions not based on color, sex, religion, or national origin, but on

information that we were able to accurately attain

through the critical thinking skills we were taught in school, we would be

better equipped to work at achieving harmony in a

racially varied country.

Gannon, Paul. „Balancing Multicultural and Civic Education Will Take

More Than “Social Stew»." The Education Digest Dec. 1991:


Gould, Ketayun H. «The Misconstruing of Multiculturalism: The

Stanford Debate and Social Work» Social Work Mar. 1995: 198-204.

Hassinger, Robert. «True Multiculturalism.» Commonwealth 10 April



Pyszkowski, Irene S. «Multiculturalism – Education For The Nineties;

An Overview.» Education Vol. 114 No. 1: 151-157.

Ryan, Francis J. «The Perils of Multiculturalism: Schooling for the

Group.» Educational Horizons 7 Spring 1993: 134-8.

Stotsky, Sandra. «Academic vs. Ideological Education in the

Classroom.» The Education Digest Mar. 1992: 64-6.

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