Cultural Experiences of Early Childhood Teachers and the Relationship to Self-Reported Multicultural Teaching Competencies

Cultural Experiences of Early Childhood Teachers and the Relationship to Self-Reported Multicultural Teaching Competencies

Grace Onchwari (University of North Dakota, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9348-5.ch004

Abstract

Various studies around multicultural education have looked at ways to identify the multicultural teaching competencies teachers need to teach diverse learners. Many of these studies have closely focused on teacher's perceptions, sensitiveness and behavior. However, there are limited studies regarding how teacher's cultural experiences are associated with multicultural teaching competencies. This chapter looked at the cultural experiences of early childhood teachers and how those relate to the teacher's multicultural teaching competencies. Fifty-seven early childhood teachers were investigated that were recruited from a state early childhood education conference by completing The Wayson's multicultural teaching scale. Positive correlations were identified suggesting a possible link between teacher's cultural experiences and their multicultural teaching competencies.
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Introduction

There is no doubt that the demographic landscape of America has changed tremendously and will continue to do so. The percentage of racial/ethnic minorities continues to increase. According to the 2018 population estimates, about 42% of the American population will be minority. Hispanics will be nearly one-fourth of the U.S. population. Blacks, Asians, and American Indians together will make up close to one-fourth of the population (Population Reference Bureau, 2018). It is projected that out of the 50.7 million students who were enrolled in public schools prekindergarten to 12 grade, 26.6 million of them were non-white. The percentage of students who are Hispanic, Asian, and two or more races are also projected to increase. (National Center for Education Statistics, 2018).

There is continual pressure and emphasis on teachers to understand how to work with these diverse groups of cultures. For example for most teacher education programs to be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Education Preparation, they must demonstrate that they have included an element or course on multicultural education into their education program as one of the standard requirements (Council for Accreditation of Education Preparation, 2018). In this similar tone, other multicultural scholars have continued to argue from the past that teachers need to be knowledgeable and develop skills for working with students from different backgrounds (Banks & Banks, 2004; Brown, 2002; Cochran-Smith, 2004; Dilworth, 1992; Irvine, 2003). The challenge has always been how this can be possible. Various education programs approach this differently. Many colleges have tried to meet these needs by including multicultural education courses in there training programs. We have seen a tremendous increase of such courses across many teacher training colleges in the U.S. However the question still lingers as to whether teachers have the multicultural teaching competency skills to work with the diverse learners. What really impacts teacher’s knowledge of working with children from diverse backgrounds?

Thus promoting the development of multicultural competence continues to be a focus and a critical issue in teacher training programs/teacher education and K-12 schools as U.S. classrooms continue to be more and more diverse (Vracar, 2015). According to the US Department of Education report (2016) white students will represent 46 percent of public school students in 2024. Hispanic public school students will represent 29 percent of total enrollment in 2024 and Asian/ Pacific Islander students are projected to represent 6 percent of total enrollment in 2024. Black students are projected to be 15 percent of all public school students in 2024.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Experiences: Activities or environments where individuals interact with individuals from different cultures in different settings.

Knowledge Construction: The process of causing students to critically think of the information they come across so as to questions it and engage in the process of finding answers rather than be passive receptors.

Prejudice Reduction: The ability for one to be knowledgeable of other cultures so as to guide them in developing positive attitudes towards other’s differences.

Equity Pedagogy: The ability for one to be fair in the use of teaching styles that support different learning styles.

Content Integration: The ability for one to understand different cultures that they can apply it into their teaching or area of discipline.

Culturally/Multicultural Competence: The ability to understand differences that make one unique and using that understanding to inform one’s practice in whichever setting they are in.

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