Multicultural Education: A Framework for Curriculum and Social Justice in Education

Multicultural Education: A Framework for Curriculum and Social Justice in Education

Cyd Nzyoka Yongo
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5268-1.ch010
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Over the last five decades, multicultural education (MCE) has evolved from a national to a global phenomenon. Discussions within this chapter aim at showcasing how utilization of MCE curriculum and strategies by relevant parties such as academicians have improved socio-cultural issues, perspectives, and trends in diversity and social justice in higher education. Moreover, MCE over time has been curated to support and transform diverse populations, whose lives for varying reasons found themselves either displaced, disenfranchised, discriminated, or dehumanized. The chapter explores the various literary perspectives to get an in-depth understanding of MCE fundamentals while acknowledging that even with its benefits, critics exist, leading to discussions on the challenges and problems of MCE as well as providing solutions and recommendations. Insights on MCE trends and future research are presented with the overall conclusion that MCE is designed to transform students of all backgrounds to be equal players in the world market.
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The key to understanding MCE lies in first, deciphering what the term multicultural means. Multicultural is defined as the inclusion of people who possess many different beliefs, customs and cultural elements (Banks, 1999). In addition, it relates to several different cultures, traditions of people of varied races and religions as well as adapting to diverse cultures. That said, MCE denotes a set of educational strategies developed to assist teachers when responding to the many issues created by the rapidly changing diverse and unique demographics of their learners (Hua-Yu & Davis 2017). MCE provides students with knowledge on the beliefs, histories, cultures, and contributions of diverse groups; it assumes that the future society is evolving and pluralistic. It draws on insights from several different arenas, including ethnic as well as women studies, and reinterprets content from related academic disciplines.

It is further viewed as a mode of teaching that promotes the principles of critical thinking, diversity, democracy, inclusion, inquiry, skill acquisition, value of perspectives, self-reflection and self-awareness (Banks & Banks 2002). This style of instruction is reported to be effective in promoting educational achievements among immigrant students, increasing awareness and acceptability among non-immigrants, resulting in its association with the reform movement behind the transformation of schools.

According to Bennett 2003, MCE ascertains that students are equipped with knowledge, values, and skills necessary to evoke and participate in societal changes, resulting in justice for otherwise victimized and excluded ethnic groups in communities, and the world over. Under such a strategy, teachers serve as agents of such change, promoting relevant democratic values and empowering students to act appropriately while enhancing a more cohesive existence. To this end, MCE presents several essential benefits that include; increasing self-esteem of non-mainstream students, advancement of diversified student exposure, social justice and equity as well as fostering children’s autonomy, among others (Banks & Banks 2002).

The objective of this chapter is to showcase how utilization of MCE curriculum and strategies by relevant academicians, universities, school administrators and such can positively advance socio-cultural issues, perspectives, and trends in diversity and social justice in higher education. In so doing, instructors and the instructed stand to be empowered to perform superlatively at any level as well as be more empathetic to the needs of diverse learners, which may otherwise not be the case (Banks, 1999).

The chapter traverses the literature review and discusses perspectives of various authors globally, to include an exploration of the current benefits of MCE that will include; how different races are unified in harmony, how elimination of prejudice, racism, and cultural barriers, creates greater tolerance between groups of people and positively builds interaction between diverse cultures (Daniel, 2010). The chapter will in addition showcase the varied issues, problems and challenges of MCE, such as difficulty teaching students from different races, especially if they speak language/s different from the one used for instruction, namely dual language learners (Park & Katsiaficas, 2019). This synthesis of the discussion will be finalized by relaying MCE competencies and curriculum, solutions, recommendations and pursuits of future research, which can propel MCE to a new paradigm.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multiculturism: Is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture encompass racial, religious, and or cultural groups and is demonstrated in customary assumptions, cultural behaviors, values, patterns of thinking, and communication styles. Under multiculturism all the different cultural or racial groups in a society have equal rights and opportunities, and every member is considered important and valuable. Therefore, it is evident that acceptance, existence, or promotion of multiple cultural traditions within a single jurisdiction, is usually considered in terms of the culture associated with an ethnic group.

Immigrant: Is a person/s that immigrates to another country to take up permanent residence. In other words, an individual who moves to a country where they were not born in order to settle or live there on a permanent basis.

Cultures: Are customary beliefs, social norms, and material traits of a race, religion, or social group. It provides characteristic features of daily existence that encompasses a way of life, that is shared by people in a place or time. People who belong in the same culture have shared attitudes, goals, practices and values that characterizes a community, institution or organization corporate culture focusing on the bottom line.

Diversity: Is the state of having or being composed of differing or a variety of elements. It pertains to the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races, ages, nationalities or religion) in a group or organization programs with the purpose of promoting diversity in schools.

Non-Immigrant: Is the opposite of an immigrant and is considered an alien, such as a tourist, entrepreneur or a student, who enters a country temporarily, with the intention of returning to their country of origin.

Pluralistic: A pluralistic society is a diverse entity, where its people believe in all kinds of different things yet tolerate each other’s beliefs even when they don’t match their own.

Pedagogy: It is the art, science, or profession of teaching. The profession of a teacher. The principles and methods of instruction, including activities of educating or instructing that impart knowledge or skill.

Social Justice: This is a political and philosophical concept which holds that all people should have equal access to health, wealth, justice, well-being, and opportunity. The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all peoples, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, race, possessions, religion, and so forth are to be treated equitably and with no prejudice.

Inclusion: Is the act or practice of including all students with the general student population. This may entail including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded because of their race, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, or religion. Inclusion also refers to a variety of integration approaches, where the goal is to blend for instance, special education students into the traditional classroom.

Curriculum: Are courses/subjects offered by an educational institution for example, universities and high schools have their set curriculum. Alternatively, the curriculum may be a set of courses constituting an area of specialization, for example, the MCE curriculum, the engineering curriculum, the liberal arts curriculum and so forth.

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