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Multiculturalism

According to Professor Jay of University of Wisconsin, "multiculturalism needs to be understood from both an historical and a conceptual perspective. Historically, multiculturalism came into wide public use during the early 1980s in the context of public school curriculum reform. Specifically, the argument was made that the content of classes in history, literature, social studies, and other areas reflected what came to be called a "Eurocentric" bias. (2002)

Geneva Gay believes that education must include multiculturism, because here in the United States exists multiple cultures. "Cultural diversity is a normative description of U.S. society." (1994) She argues that ethnocentricity is actually a dis-service to our children as part of their education. “Deeply ingrained cultural socialization becomes problematic in education when the schooling process operates on one cultural model to the exclusion of all others, or when culturally different children are expected to set aside all their cultural habits as a condition for succeeding in school.” (Gay 1994)

 

Multicultural Education

Banks and Banks define Multicultural education as an emerging discipline and field of study whose primary goal is to encourage equal educational opportunities for everyone. “One of its important goals is to help all students to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to function effectively in a pluralistic democratic society and to interact, negotiate, and communicate with peoples from diverse groups in order to create a civic and moral community that works for the common good." (p. xi) (NCREL website)

Geneva Gay on the other hand, states that “Multicultural education means different things to different people.” (Gay 1994) But recognizes there are common themes. “Regardless of variations, all conceptions of multicultural education share four characteristics:
(1) they are based upon a common set of assumptions
(2) they evolve out of common concerns
(3) they contain common guidelines for action
(4) they share a desire to make cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity integral parts of the educational process.” (Gay 1994)

Gay believes that Multicultural education should be common sense, and should be as integral as the subjects we teach. “Multicultural education is a basic for all students in a culturally, ethnically, and socially pluralistic society such as the United States. (Gay 1994) Of course, she also contends that, "Multicultural education is compatible with U.S. democratic ideals and is complementary to quality education.” (Gay 1994)

 

[References] [Table of Contents] [Philosophy & Target Audience] [Glossary of Related Terms]