Preserving diverse cultures necessitates the application of a special curriculum that is capable of teaching the ideas and values of the minority groups, rather than values of other groups. Multicultural education involves building equal educational opportunities for students that belong to different races, ethnicities, social classes, and culture. One of the fundamental objectives of multicultural education is to assist students to gain knowledge, skills, and mind-sets necessary to function effectively within a democratic environment. Undertaking multicultural education has its benefits and challenges. This study is a reflection of multicultural education, focusing on insights, possibilities, and challenges of multicultural education.
Benefits and Challenges of Multicultural Education
America is a land of numerous cultures, which include Asians, Europeans, Arabs, Latin Americans, and Africans. This makes it possible to implement multicultural education in schools to enhance interaction of students, despite the existence of racism, social classes, and different origins. Surprisingly, multicultural education is capable of transforming children from minority cultures to compete effectively with children from dominating cultures. Interaction in the classroom has also helped in creating good relationships outside the classrooms. Despite poor interaction between parents, students have formed strong bonds that have changed the face of community, without necessarily consulting their parents.
Studying multicultural education has bought new insights in the understanding of culture. I have been able to learn the dimensions of multicultural education, which include integration of content, construction process, reducing prejudice, equity theory, and empowering social structure. Having teachers from different culture has benefited us since teachers are our role models. Our class has benefited from different speakers who have been invited to motivate us on the advantages of studying in a multicultural environment. Using case studies in discussions has helped in deepening critical reflection concerning issues that seem challenging and sensitive to many students (Guo, Cockburn-Wootten & Munshi, 2014). Students are quite comfortable when discussing characters of individuals in a case, rather than offering their own thoughts concerning a particular issue.
Undertaking multicultural education has its own challenges. Multicultural education enhances the aspects of interaction and communication, but for many students, acceptance of differences is still low. Lack of proper training makes teachers feel unprepared to handle students who are not ready to change, or are slow to change. Although teachers use the same language, differences in terminologies usually create misunderstanding among students. This makes some students trail behind others in performance. Some students may have problems with the vocabulary used in the class since they do not use them at home. The presence of too many spoken languages may become challenging to teachers who are expected to merge all those languages into one language.
Equal representation of students in an institution makes learning exciting. The school curriculum does not teach students according to their culture. Instead, it incorporates individuals’ contribution toward better life. As an educational leader, I will ensure that every student appreciate his/her culture before engaging in knowing the culture of others. Implementing different teaching styles is vital in dealing with cultural differences in society. Apart from culture, teachers should endeavor to learn the differences in religion, ethnicity, as well as the language that students use in their communication. This would help in devising the best approach to such students. Learning about cultural differences does not end after acquiring a degree; instead, it should continue, as new issues emerge each day, and teachers are expected to handle them professionally.
It is my hope as a multicultural educator to see students from different races interacting without minding about their color or class, as this would be a boost to the society and the country at large. Creating equal representation in education will make learning exciting and appealing to many students who avoid interacting with students from other cultures. Adopting relational styles of learning can boost the relationship of students to teachers, as well as student-student relationship. The American school system encourages participatory concepts, which include critical thinking, judgmental questioning, and initiating discussions (Samovar, Porter & McDaniel, 2009). Being dependent is also essential, as it depicts students who need assistance.
My fears of becoming an education leader are that I may not be able to exercise my teaching skills competently while referring to different cultures, as I may end up offending one culture over the other. Parents may also create hindrances, as some would not like their children to learn new culture that contradict their own cultures. It is quite possible for students to misunderstand some words and take them as an attack of their culture. When it comes to punishment, some students in minority cultures may feel that they are punished more than their fellow students from the majority groups. Lack of support from the management may lead to low expectations from the teachers while dealing with parents may become extremely difficult.
After gaining adequate knowledge about multicultural integration, I would ensure that students from minority group do not continue lagging behind in their education due to domination by mainstream cultures. I would come up with programs aimed at encouraging the minority students to enroll in multicultural education through sponsorship and bursaries. I know that most of them feel they do not have the capacity to compete with the majority due to social class. Thus, I would ensure that they do not lack all the resources required to keep them in the system. The program should reduce home and school discordance, thus increasing the compatibility between home environment and school atmosphere.
Multicultural education has been termed as an essential strategy for facilitating home and school compatibility, particularly to students belonging to minority groups. This strategy has increased learning as well as academic success among culturally different students. As a multicultural educational leader, the future seems to be very bright. Multicultural education has become essential in offering support to teachers concerning how individuals in society avoid prejudice by assisting them to change their point of view (Basbay, 2014). Fostering democracy and just society is in the hands of multicultural educators who can transform the minds of students in the classroom.
Multicultural education is a medium that brings all races together, and endeavor to eliminate stereotyping in the society. It is a common thing for students of color to tell other students to refer to them as African Americans. Students have to understand that the world has become one through technological changes. Thus, they should embrace different cultures to succeed in global issues. Teachers are capable of preventing social prejudices before they happen. They have the capacity to transform the minds of children who are still young to feel the effects of cultural changes. Early childhood educators can endeavor to develop positive minds among children by teaching them on different cultures. When teachers are encouraged to think about their cultures in addition to recognizing multiple cultures, they can make multiple education easier. Teachers should review their assumptions concerning life’s issues of individuals who come from different cultural backgrounds to enhance cultural competence.
The future of multicultural education depends on the institutional administration, as administrative support is essential in designing and implementing strategies. Administration enhances commitment to the strategy that the educators aim at achieving from the students. When educators follow directives from the management, they can succeed in transforming students to accept each other as individuals, rather than perceiving each other from cultural perspective. Administration ensures that teachers are equipped with all materials required to handle and discipline without being compromised. Lack of motivation from the administration may compromise the objectives of cultural diversity.
Therefore, it is my wish that education leaders would consider schools as essential institutions in preparing students to face myriads of responsibilities in an ever-changing global society. Multicultural education is fundamental for cross-cultural competence, which is highly demanded in office administration (Szkudlarek, Mcnett, Romani & Lane, 2013). Embracing cultural differences can be a great step towards adopting the global society. Students should be encouraged to observe their own conscious and subconscious biases concerning the people who seem different from them. They should be advised on how to make plans based on the multicultural framework while turning their classrooms into safe and secure places for every student. By doing so, they can develop into peaceful citizens, as well as competent administrators, guided by democratic concepts that embrace pluralism and multiculturalism.
Başbay, A. (2014). Investigation of Multicultural Education Courses: The Case of Georgia State University. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 14(2), 602-608. doi:10.12738/estp.2014.2.2055
Guo, S., Cockburn-Wootten, C., & Munshi, D. (2014). Negotiating Diversity: Fostering Collaborative Interpretations of Case Studies. Business Communication Quarterly, 77(2), 169-182. doi:10.1177/2329490614530464
Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., & McDaniel, E. R. (2009). Communication between cultures. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.
Szkudlarek, B., Mcnett, J., Romani, L., & Lane, H. (2013). The Past, Present, and Future of Cross-Cultural Management Education: The Educators’ Perspective. Academy Of Management Learning & Education, 12(3), 477-493. doi:10.5465/amle.2012.0233