I am fortunate enough to be taking a class called “Multicultural Education” which has not only opened my eyes to the entire subject, but has pushed me to want to educate the idea to all of you. This topic is more important than you may think. Our education system is changing- rapidly. Everything around us, in this whole world is changing. Maybe you don’t see it, but it is. Years from now will be nothing like it was years before today. The world, and the education system is reforming. This is important and it is happening right before our eyes.
There are countless topics under the general concept of multicultural education. First, what is multicultural education?
“An educational movement, and a process whose major goal is to change the structure of educational institutions so that male and female students, exceptional students and students who are member of diverse racial, ethnic, language, and cultural groups will have an equal chance to achieve academically.”
First thing, our schools are dominantly American- European based. This means everything from the curriculum, to the food, and the posters you see in the halls- everything. Think about it: you learned, maybe once a year, about another culture. Everything you have learned in all of your classes have been culturally, American based. Sure, you had lessons on other cultures- but the movement toward a multicultural education system is ridding of those ‘lessons’ that you learned about a single culture, and bringing all cultures into the whole curriculum.
Many schools who define themselves as “multicultural” have “culture days” that highlight a different culture. This is through having special food days or programs that educate students or posters in “other” languages. Multicultural education doesn’t stop at those special days. Multicultural education is what students see everyday in their school. It is equally entwined though the curriculum.
Another thing, schools like this are degrading students with other backgrounds other than American or European. Those students of other cultures than the dominate culture of the school, do not live everyday feeling like they have their home culture because our schools are dominated with the one, American culture. Our classrooms, more and more, are being filled with culturally different students. These students have the right to an education and a right to remain integrated within their own culture. Instead, our culturally dominate schools are stripped these students of their primary culture.
Primary English speaking schools with children who do not speak English are placed in special classrooms and are forced to learn English and the English culture before being taught in the same classroom as the other students-otherwise called English Immersion. This is destroying the practice of the child’s home culture and controlling their integration into the English culture. The schools believe that if the student does not learn English, he or she will not perform as well as the American- European students. English Immersion is based on Submersion, which means the student will either sink or swim until the student fully understands the English language. Need a clarification? Students cannot begin to learn other subjects, subjects that are just as equally important, until he or she fully learns the English language. Schools believe that the student cannot progress forward until fully integrated into the English culture. The student may be a master mathematician, but cannot learn math until he or she learns English.
So this: schools are more concerned on how they will fair in national test scores than it’s students. Where is the problem?
Students who come from culturally diverse backgrounds feel guilty of who they are because our school system strips them of their identity. Students who deal with these feelings of loneliness, shame and isolation will not perform as well as those students who are proud of their identities. A school is not a place to shame a student for his or her culture. A school is not a place to strip the student of their identity before offering the education all students have the right to. A school is a place to welcome students, make students feel proud of their heritage, language and background- of any aspect.
Same goes for economic background. It is known that students from under-privileged socioeconomic backgrounds do not succeed as well as those students of the middle or higher classes. However, the status of a student and their socioeconomic background does not indicate that student deserves a lower quality education. True, those students of the lower class generally do worse than other students- but, those students still deserve the quality education every person in America has the right to.
Another sub-topic of multicultural education: gender identity. There is a problem with the definition of Multicultural Education that is above. Some students may identify as male, female, both, either, some one day, another a next.. more than anything. Here is some clarification:
Biological Sex is what you are born with. Male or Female.
Gender is how a person individually identifies.
Need some more terms?
Androgynous- Identifying as neither a men nor women, presenting as a gender that is either mixed or neutral.
Bigender- Identifying as a combination or male/man and female/women.
Cisgender: Gender identity is congruent with the sex assigned at birth and whole gender is validated by the dominate culture.
There are MANY more identities a student may individually comply to. Our job as schools is to provide a safe, inclusive learning environment for any student.
Fact is: students of the LGBT+ community are still disadvantaged in our schools. There are a lot of difficulties these students face: checking “male or female” on legal paperwork, bathrooms, pronouns, bullying, socially, emotionally, and mentally, these students may struggle in our classrooms- and they should not. Our schools, once again, are not a place for exclusiveness- yet they still are. A 2007 survey include 86 percent of LGBT students reporting verbal harassment; 61 percent saying that they feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; 33 percent indicating that they have skipped a day of school in the last month due to feeling unsafe; and 22 percent reporting that they have been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation.
A HUGE change right now in our schools is the end of Abstinence- based sexual education and moving toward Comprehensive sex education. Comprehensive sex education is “age-appropriate, medically accurate information on a broad set of topics related to sexuality including human development, relationships, decision-making, abstinence, contraception and disease prevention.”
Why is this important? Because it is proven that abstinence only sex education does not effect the numbers of teen pregnancy and STI transmission. Abstinence based sex education is narrowly aimed toward straight, vaginal sex. This type of education does not reach or effect the students of the LGBT community. When students of the LGBT community are learning about sexual intercourse that they do not identify with, they tend to tune out and not listen to the information. “Why listen to it if does not apply to me even if it is for the good of my health” is how those students view abstinence based sexual education. When those students do not listen to the information they need to know to stay healthy during sexual intercourse of any type, those students are in risk of many different diseases. The community needs to be supportive of comprehensive sex education for it to successfully be implemented into the schools. Also, if the community supports it, the students will more than likely be eager to learn and safely practice, as well.
Want more information? Take a multicultural education class. I have learned so much information throughout the semester and I still have more to learn. This topic is huge for me, and I want you all to know the importance it has on our lives. Thank you for making it to the end of this post. I really appreciate it!
Also, please know I am no expert on any of this. I am learning more and more everyday and I am still trying to understand and comprehend the subject. It is a subject that is not set in stone, like math or science. This topic is constantly fluctuating and we, as educators and people of society need to move with it if any change can ever be made.
Thank you guys! Leave me a message thanks!!