Beyond Ethnicity and Racism: Teaching in Multi-Sectoral Classes

Beyond Ethnicity and Racism: Teaching in Multi-Sectoral Classes

Hilla Haelyon (Bar Ilan University, Israel)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0078-0.ch016


According to Robertson (2000), globalization has changed the human texture in classrooms at universities and colleges. The need to acquire knowledge, and the importance of higher education have contributed to the diversity. The 21st century has made teaching a challenging task, in which the teacher is a major player in the arena. Political struggles about and through education occur in university campuses, different groups of students participate actively or passively in political activity. This complex situation requires new methods of teaching and guidance. Teachers should expand their teaching methods, sharpen their awareness and sensitivity to the socio- cultural forces in class, and often use creative means, in order to ensure a pleasant learning environment that promotes the didactic goals.
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All individuals live in social, political, historical, and economic contexts, and psychologists are increasingly called upon to understand the influence of these contexts on the behavior of the individual Interpersonal interactions are often based on attitudes steeped in preconceived views of the other. However, diversity as a concept can be introduced as early as childhood, where it is possible to demonstrate both the uniqueness and similarities among cultures, promoting their learning of acceptance of difference, and aiding in reduction of prejudice and racism. Cross-cultural and multicultural literature constantly point to the fact that all people are “multicultural beings,” that all interactions are cross-cultural, and that our life experiences are perceived and shaped from within our own cultural perspectives (Arredondo, et al., 1996; Brewer & Brown, 1998; Fiske, et al., 1998; Fouad & Brown, 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Pedersen, 2000; Sue, et al., 1992; Sue, et al., 1982; Sue, Ivey, & Pedersen, 1996).

As humans, we learn early how to differentiate individuals or groups. Race, ethnicity and culture are just some of the many modes of differentiation. Culture refers to traditions, rituals, beliefs, and values shared by a group of people. Each person is a part of at least one culture. Some individuals or groups identify with more than one culture. Multiculturalism advocates equal respect for various societies in a world of greater cultural diversity.

It is important to make the distinction between the concepts of “race” and “ethnicity,” two descriptors which cause significant confusion.


Race is a socially meaningful group of people who share biologically transmitted traits which are observable and considered distinctive.

Race may be described as a “meaningful category of people.” Examples include “Caucasian,” “African American,” “Latino,” and “Asian.” The common denominator here is the geographic distinction.

Another part of the definition is “who share biologically transmitted traits.” The most observable factor here is skin color, often accompanied by additional distinctive traits such as type and color of hair; specific facial features such as eye color, or cheek bone structure; height, and so on.

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