(голосов: 0)
Published: August 10, 2011

Multicultural education

An adaptation of the primary and secondary school curriculum to recognize and teach the contributions of the different cultural, ethnic, racial and social groups that make up American society. A longterm outgrowth of the civil rights movement, multicultural education programs simply eliminate the cultural biases that had traditionally been built into textbooks and classroom presentations of American public schools. In effect, most traditional United States public (and private) school education prior to 1954 taught the history of a nation run by white males of Anglo- Saxon Protestant heritage, identifying blacks only as slaves, depicting American Indians as little more than an obstacle to westward expansion, seldom mentioning women, and classifying as “immigrants” the myriad of other racial, ethnic, religious and national groups that peopled and built the United States.
The 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision ending racial and all other segregation brought together students of different races, genders, religions and national origins in schools and classrooms across the United States for the first time. Students asked for, and their parents demanded (often in court), a more accurate presentation of American history, literature, social studies and science. The result was the multicultural educational thrust, for which textbooks have been rewritten and teachers retrained to reflect American society’s purported ideals about equality. Now the norm in many schools, multicultural education has been standard in Israeli education since the nation’s founding, and it has been standard in Britain for many years, but it has come under sharp criticism in many American communities, in part because of its inclusion of homosexuals among the minority groups receiving recognition and respect.
Unlike specific courses that focus on the history, contributions and literature of a specific group, such as black studies or women’s literature, multicultural education is not a course or a formal curriculum, but usually a mere reformulation of a school’s existing curriculum to make it more objective culturally.
More recently, however, a new form of multicultural education has been introduced in some elementary schools, where children recreate an African, Asian or other cultural environment and spend several hours of each school day pretending to be members of such foreign cultures. Thus, a class might convert their classroom into a Chinese village, building models of Chinese homes or perhaps the Great Wall, and decorating the room with Chinese art and artifacts. They might also dress in local costumes, prepare Chinese food and learn a few words of Chinese by listening to recordings of spoken or sung Chinese. Such multicultural education usually calls for children to spend as much as half of each school day for a half-year or full year learning about such foreign cultures in the context of their academic curriculum. The technique has come under considerable criticism because there is no comparable effort to teach children their own American culture and, in some instances, no emphasizing of academic education.