Multicultural education: how schools teach it and where it falls short (2023)

As American public schools have become more diverse, educators have instituted multicultural education programs to help children understand and appreciate differences in one another: differences in race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, and more.

Broadly speaking, multicultural education is a variety of strategies that educators use to help students "develop a positive self-concept by providing insight into the history, culture, and contributions of different groups," according to Profit from non profit organization.National Association for Multicultural Education.

These programs, which vary by state and even within individual school districts, "should directly address issues of racism, sexism, classism, languageism, disability, ageism, heterosexism, religious intolerance and xenophobia."explains the clubOn your website. One of the goals of multicultural education is to develop the attitudes, knowledge, and skills students need to function in diverse cultures and join a global workforce.

Below, we provide a selection of scholarly research that examines how multicultural education has changed over the last few decades and examine inconsistencies in the way teachers teach it today. We also include studies that highlight problems in the way American colleges and universities train teachers for the job.

At the bottom of this page, we've included a list of resources to help journalists better understand and put the issue in context, including federal data on how student and faculty demographics have changed over time and links to organizations with educational expertise.

It is important to note that there are significant differences between multicultural education and anti-racist education, two types of education that have been discussed more frequently in recent years. Unlike multicultural education, anti-racism education focuses on racist and race-related issues. Anti-racist teachers "create a curriculum for black students" and "see the success of black students as critical to the success of their own teaching," said Pirette McKamey, San Francisco's first black principal.keep writingthe Atlantic.

Many educators and researchers argue that schools serving predominantly white communities benefit greatly from multicultural education.Sheldon Eakins, former professor and director who founded the Leading Equity Center,write about itFor himcult of pedagogyInternet site:

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"It's not uncommon for white people to say:Oh I'm just white I'm uncultured. We need to teach our white students their cultural background and ethnicity so that they can understand and reflect on their language and religion of their ancestors. Lessons about their culture can help them understand how white supremacy and privilege began.”

At the same time, Eakins and others, including a professor of educationWayne Aufrom the University of Washington Bothell, criticized multicultural education for not preparing young people to face and dismantle racism.

"Yes, multicultural education is important, but given the heinous violence that so many of our students and communities suffer, it is simply not enough."write on a piece of paperPosted inMulticultural Perspectivesem 2017.

A Brief History of Multicultural Education.

Thirty Year Fellowship for Multicultural Education
Thandeka K. Chapman e Carl A. Grant.Genre and class diary, 2010.

This document provides an overview of what multicultural education in the US is all about and how it has changed over three decades. The authors draw on academic research to report on the trend that began in the 1960s, when academics argued that the stories and contributions of people of color should be part of the public school curriculum.

Caro Chapman, Professor of Education at the University of California, San Diego, andKarl Grant, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains how multicultural education has evolved to include discussions of gender, disability, age and sexual identity and orientation.

The authors also describe how critics of the trend really helped it.

"Proponents have used these attacks to create more meaningful and appropriate ways to help teachers and students in classrooms," write Chapman and Grant. “These critiques of MCE [multicultural education] have advanced debates about equity, equality, and social justice in ways that would not have been possible if opponents had remained silent.”

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Challenges in teaching multicultural education

Multicultural education and whiteness protection
Angelina E. Brown.American Journal of Education, November of 2013.

In this year-long study, the author highlights issues in how an urban Utah school district delivers multicultural education. She notes that multicultural education, such as that offered in this school district, protects them rather than dismantling "whiteness" (she defines it as "the structural arrangements and ideologies of racial domination in the United States").

angelina e. brunette, associate professor of leadership and foundations of education at Northern Arizona University, writes that her findings should come as no surprise, given that the teachers she observed and interviewed were "predominantly white, middle-class people who, for the most part, have little motive to upset the status quo and the current balance of power".

"Most educators mean well and want the best for their students, but whiteness is protected despite (and sometimes even) the best intentions," writes Castagno. “Part of the problem is that most educators are unaware of whiteness. But along with this lack of awareness, most educators also feel compromised by the whiteness status quo.

She points out the importance of better understanding how teachers teach the subject.

“All teachers, administrators, multicultural education scholars, and teacher/administrator instructors need a better understanding and awareness of how teachers understand multicultural education in schools across the country,” writes Castagno. "While there is much research highlighting the efforts of some teachers who seem to have engaged in more critical forms of multicultural education, these teachers probably do not represent the majority of teachers in most schools."

Problems in the way universities train teachers

Supporting critical multicultural teacher educators: transformative teaching, social justice education, and perceived institutional support
Paul C. Gorski e Gillian Parekh.intercultural education, 2020.

This study examines how university professors teach multicultural education to undergraduate professors in the United States and Canada. He notes that college professors who teach a more conservative version of multicultural education perceive their work as more faculty-friendly.

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The researchers analyze data from a survey of 186 people who taught future teachers about multicultural education conducted in 2015 and 2016. The researchers recruited participants by contacting the trainers individually and posting invitations on the social media platforms used by the trainers. About 90% of the survey participants taught at US institutions.

Speakers answered questions about their ideological approach to their multicultural teacher education courses, whether they took a conservative, liberal or critical approach.

The authors explain that the conservative form of multicultural teacher education, or MTE, “is assimilationist; prepares teachers to help marginalized students adapt to "the prevailing culture and associated values, customs, and norms." Meanwhile, the liberal MTE “prepares teachers to celebrate diversity but, like the conservative MTE, does not prepare them to understand or respond to the ways in which power and inequality are exercised in schools,” he writes.Paul Gorsky, Founder of the Equity Literacy Institute, andGillian Parek, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of York. "Critical MTE prepares teachers to participate in rebuilding schools by advocating for justice, confronting power and privilege, and disrupting oppressive policies and practices."

Gorski and Parekh note that multicultural teacher education classes "are more likely to be conservative or liberal in orientation and focus on valuing diversity or cultural competence than they are critically oriented and focused on preparing teachers to deal with injustices." This may be because professors believe their institutions are less supportive of courses that take a critical approach, the researchers write.

"Our results show that multicultural teacher educators' perceptions of whether the values ​​they teach in their MTE courses are supported by their institutions correlate with how critically they design and deliver those courses," write Gorski and Parekh.

Instructors who take a conservative approach "pose no real threat to the injustices that the MTE is supposed to stop, they perceive significantly greater institutional support for the values ​​they teach in their MTE courses," according to the authors. "On the other hand, those who take a critical approach perceive significantly less institutional support."

What we teach teachers: an analysis of multicultural teacher training curricula
Paul C. Gorski.teaching and teacher training, 2008.

This study, also authored by Gorski, examines curricula to see how US universities are teaching prospective teachers about multicultural education. While this is an older study, it does offer insight into how universities tackled the problem at the time. The gist of Gorski's findings: "The analysis revealed that most courses were designed to prepare teachers with pragmatic skills and personal awareness, but not to prepare them in key principles of multicultural education, such as critical awareness and commitment with equity".

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Gorski analyzed 45 curricula of university courses for teacher training in multicultural education. Of these, 30 were undergraduate courses and 15 were graduate courses. Gorski notes that "Only twelve programs (26.7%) appeared that were designed to prepare teachers to be true multicultural educators."

Course Requirements for Social Foundations and Multicultural Education in Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States
Ricardo Neumann.Pedagogical fundamentals, Summer-Autumn 2010.

in this studioRicardo Neumann, professor of education at San Diego State University, discusses whether US colleges require students to take multicultural education courses. Important takeaway: At that time, less than half of the 302 colleges surveyed required students who wanted to become teachers to take a course in multicultural education.

Of the programs that train students to act as elementary school teachers, 45% require at least one multicultural education course. For university teacher education programs, 45% required students to complete at least one multicultural education course. Neumann found that a higher percentage of public university programs required a multicultural education course than programs offered at private universities.

Self-efficacy and multicultural teacher education in the United States: factors that influence who feels qualified to be a multicultural teacher-educator
Paul C Gorski, Shannon N Davis e Abigail Reiter.Multicultural Perspectives, 2012.

This document examines which teachers feel most qualified to teach trainee teachers in multicultural education. The analysis, based on a survey of 75 university professors, shows that black educators tend to feel less qualified to teach multicultural teacher education courses than their peers from other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

According to the article, whose lead author is Gorski, heterosexual educators felt more qualified to teach multicultural teacher education courses than their LGBTQ peers. The other two authors areShannon Davis, Director of the Doctoral Program in Sociology at George Mason University, andAbigail Reiter, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

The study also notes that educators' work experience in schools, as elementary, middle, or high school teachers, or their work as educational activists "did not have a significant impact on their feeling of being qualified to deliver educational courses." teacher training].

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main features

  • That's itMay 2020 reportfrom the National Center for Education Statistics shows how student demographics have changed over time and is projected to change through 2029.
  • That's itFebruary 2019The NCES report notes that, in the fall of 2015, the majority of white students in public schools were enrolled in schools where minority students made up 25% or less of the student population.
  • That's itReport September 2020by NCES examines the demographics of public school teachers. More than three-quarters of US public school teachers (79%) were white in 2017-18, the most recent school year for which the federal government has complete data.
  • Here it isA list of the best educational institutions in the country, sorted byUS News and World Report.
  • Kansas State UniversityGrupo Tilfordis a research organization focused on multicultural education.
  • ANDNational Education Association, one of the largest teachers' unions in the country, offers different types of training to educatorsSocial Justice Center.
  • the non-profit organizationNational Association for Multicultural Educationoffers a variety of relevant features. The organization's president isLisa Sagumni, who is also Dean and Director of Doctoral Studies in the College of Education at Tennessee Technological University.


What is multicultural education short note? ›

Multicultural education tries to create equal educational opportunities for all students by changing the total school environment so that it will reflect the diverse cultures and groups within a society and within the nation's classrooms.

What are the challenges in teaching multicultural education? ›

The first challenge is the absence of a common language or lingua franca in such a classroom. Secondly, being representatives of different cultures, the students have their own systems of values and beliefs as well as norms of behaviour. That leads to conflicts among the students and with the teachers.

Why is it important to teach multicultural education in the classroom? ›

Students who learn about different cultures during their education feel more comfortable and safe with these differences later in life. This allows them to interact in a wider range of social groups and feel more confident in themselves as well as in their interactions with others.

How is multicultural education implemented in schools? ›

Assign Multicultural Projects

Teachers can emphasize the importance of different cultural backgrounds represented in their classrooms through lessons and assignments. They can highlight different cultures in their curricula embedding the study of diverse cultures and peoples in their core academic content.

What are the ideas of multicultural education? ›

7 Great Multicultural Classroom Activities To Involve Parents
  • Create a Mini-Heritage Documentary. ...
  • Have a Multicultural Classroom Celebration. ...
  • Take a Virtual Multicultural Classroom Field-trip. ...
  • Host Multicultural Classroom Guest Speakers. ...
  • Encourage Playful Participation. ...
  • Holidays Around the World. ...
  • International Potluck.
Apr 19, 2020

What are the 4 approaches to multicultural education? ›

There are four main approaches to multicultural education. They are the contributions, additive, transformative, and social action approaches. The contributive approach requires the least amount of effort, and the social action requires effort on part of the students and the educator.

What are the 3 challenges in multiculturalism? ›

Common challenges of a multicultural team
  • Styles of communication (this could lead to misunderstanding tone and for example labelling it aggression, etc.)
  • Language barriers.
  • Cultural differences.
  • The decision-making process.
  • Challenge of motivating a culturally diverse team (due to lack of understanding)

What are the pros and cons of multicultural education? ›

The Pros of Multicultural Education: 1. It exposes students to different types of traditions and environments. 2.
The Cons of Multicultural Education:
  • It loses a little of an individual's personal identity.
  • Some cultures have very different values that can influence students.
  • It can create family conflict.
May 2, 2019

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching in a diverse classroom? ›

Students may fail to recognize and respect each other due to their race, culture, or ethnic orientation. Such differences can affect communication and collaboration in a classroom. It may also prevent students from conducting group assignments or collaborating during extra co-curricular activities.

What are the roles of teachers teaching multicultural classes? ›

They try to inculcate cultural values and respects own culture as well as others. In that case teacher should provide a crucial role towards the students. He also get the opportunity to know others culture. He should treat the students equally and also he should free from cultural biases.

What does a truly multicultural education look like? ›

Critical Multicultural Education views a focus on content integration, prejudice reduction, equity pedagogies, the knowledge construction process, and the creation of an empowering school culture as the core of ensuring educational success for all students.

What are the possible benefits of a multicultural curriculum? ›

Here are a few:
  • Exposes students to different cultures. ...
  • Fosters acceptance and tolerance in a learning environment. ...
  • Teaches multiple perspectives. ...
  • Encourages critical thinking. ...
  • Helps build an international network.

What are the 7 key principles of multicultural education? ›

  • Delivery. Delivery must acknowledge and address a diversity of learning styles while challenging dynamics of power and privilege in the classroom. ...
  • Content. ...
  • Teaching and Learning Materials. ...
  • Perspective. ...
  • Critical Inclusivity. ...
  • Social and Civic Responsibility. ...
  • Assessment.

Why is multicultural important? ›

Why is it important? Multiculturalism has many benefits. The main one is that it encourages open-mindedness amongst different groups of people and it dispels negative stereotypes. This is extremely important as the UN reported that 1/3 of the world's major conflicts have a cultural dimension to them.

What are the three goals of multicultural education? ›

To promote the understanding of unique cultural and ethnic heritage. To promote the development of culturally responsible and responsive curricula. To facilitate acquisition of the attitudes, skills, and knowledge to function in various cultures. To eliminate racism and discrimination in society.

What is multicultural education in classroom conclusion? ›

Learning multiple languages aids greater success

In conclusion, I can say that a multicultural educational setting encourages students to assimilate while keeping their culture and values intact. This makes them feel a sense of inclusion. It promotes a students' culture and helps keep a sense of pride and confidence.

What are the three general purposes of multicultural education? ›

What are the three general purposes that Multicultural Education promotes? These purposes are to promote pride in one's own cultural heritage and understanding of subcultures different from one's own, to foster positive attitudes toward cultural diversity, and to ensure equal education opportunities for all students.

What are the 5 F's of multicultural education? ›

But what did this display tell me about Latin American culture? Absolutely nothing. Today in schools, as it has always seemed to be, we celebrate culture through the Five F's: food, fashion, famous people, festivals, and flags. This is perhaps because it's so easy to put such a display together.

What are the six elements of multicultural education? ›

The six multicultural elements include effective practices such as the incorporation of student language and culture, use of students' prior knowledge and experiences, support for a variety of learning styles and multiple intelligences, active student participation and interaction, implementation of cooperative ...

What is an example of a multiculturalism? ›

Examples of Multiculturalism. Normalization of Diverse Cultural Holidays: A key feature of multicultural societies is that the holidays of various cultures are accepted and normalized across the society. For example, one country may mark holidays from major cultures, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Eid.

What are the 5 characteristics of multiculturalism? ›

The main characteristics of multiculturalism are:
  • Presence of people of different cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities living in the same country.
  • Peaceful co-existence and greater tolerance are observed between the different cultures.
Apr 17, 2022

What are three benefits of multiculturalism? ›

Multiculturalism benefits include innovation and creativity, business development and economic growth, community flair, etc. Nowadays, as an outcome of economic internationalization, many people from various countries and ethnic backgrounds live in the same city, either permanently or temporarily, with residents.

What are the key concepts of multiculturalism? ›

Multiculturalism seeks the inclusion of the views and contributions of diverse members of society while maintaining respect for their differences and withholding the demand for their assimilation into the dominant culture.

What is a negative effect of multicultural education? ›

Disadvantages of Multicultural Education

There is a chance that teachers may struggle to figure out how thoroughly the students are understanding the material. Since not all students hail from the same background this builds a language barrier.

What is the impact factor of multicultural education? ›

The 2022-2023 Journal's Impact IF of Journal for Multicultural Education is 0.139, which is just updated in 2023.

What are 2 disadvantages of multiculturalism? ›

The side effects of multiculturalism are limited but still worth to be mentioned. Firstly. There is risk of Social Conflict, due to reasons of culture, discrimination, injustice, inequality and religious beliefs.

What are five of prevalent challenges of teaching in multicultural classrooms? ›

All that happens due to the challenges faced by a teacher and influencing the learners.
  • Language barrier. ...
  • Domination of different learning styles. ...
  • The cultural difference can also be noticed in the poorly formed speaker-listener relationships and diverse patterns of cooperation and competition. ...
  • Non-verbal behavior.
Nov 29, 2017

What are the disadvantages of diverse classrooms? ›

Negative aspects of diversity in classroom:

It may lead to loss of cultural identity and create more confusion in the minds of the students. Segregation: It is the biggest problem that a diverse classroom may face.

How can teachers be more effective in diverse classrooms? ›

Teachers can include a diverse range of perspectives by introducing diverse authors and historical figures into teaching materials. This will help all students understand and appreciate diversity more. Diverse learners will be able to be inspired by learning about people who they can look up to and learn from.

Why are some US educators fearful of multicultural education? ›

Why are some U.S. educators fearful of multicultural education? There is a sense that American traditions and values may be destroyed. What do the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, its amendments, and the No Child Left Behind Act require? ELL students must receive appropriate instruction.

What are the principles of teaching in a multicultural society? ›

Students should learn about stereotyping and other related biases that have negative effects in racial and ethnic relations. students should learn about the values should by virtually all cultural groups (e.g. justice, Equality, freedom, peace, compassion, and charity.

What skills and knowledge do you need to improve in to become multi culturally literate? ›

Listening -- The intention and ability to attend to what others are saying. Conflict Resolution -- The ability to resolve cultural conflicts that occur between individuals and groups. Critical Thinking -- The ability to use inductive and deductive reasoning to understand diverse perspectives.

What are the elements of a multicultural classroom? ›

This includes respecting different languages, religions, customs, values, beliefs, and lifestyles. The second characteristic is an inclusive curriculum that reflects the diversity of cultures in the classroom.

What is the teachers role in teaching culture? ›

One way teachers can honor cultural differences is by letting students from different cultures be the expert. Teaching other students about traditions, explaining the history and geography of countries and regions, and sharing cultural experiences are some ways to let these students know they are valued and welcome.

What are the characteristics of an effective multicultural teacher? ›

One of the seven characteristics of a multicultural teacher is possessing democratic values and attitudes. Teachers who possess democratic values and attitudes believe that all students regardless of their cultural, socioeconomic, and religious background have the right to a good free public-school education.

What does multicultural education look like in a classroom? ›

Multicultural education is a progressive approach for transforming education based on educational equality and social justice. The components required in educating a multicultural education are content integrations, prejudice reduction, empowering school culture and social culture.

What is the example of of multicultural classroom? ›

For example, students with moderate disabilities and students who are not proficient in English are increasingly being moved into regular classes (rather than being taught in separate classes), where they may receive specialized assistance, but where they learn the same material as their peers.

What are the characteristics of a school that embraces multicultural education? ›

Characteristics of a school that embraces multicultural education include valuing diversity, promoting inclusivity, and creating an equitable learning environment. Values such as respect, acceptance, and understanding among all cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives should be emphasized.

Why multiculturalism is good for children? ›

By being exposed to culturally diverse people who speak different languages, your children will learn from a young age what it's like to coexist and thrive with people who have different cultural perspectives.

What are the 5 dimensions of multicultural? ›

The dimensions of multicultural education.

The dimensions are ;(1) content integration, (2) the knowledge construction process, (3) prejudice reduction, and (4) equity pedagogy and (5) an empowering school culture and social structure.

What is a key assumption of multicultural education? ›

A key assumption of multicultural education is that: effective teachers recognize that students learn in different ways. In diverse classrooms, teachers can use generalizations about students from different cultural groups but should avoid stereotypes.

What is culturally responsive teaching and learning? ›

culturally responsive teaching: a pedagogy that uses students' customs, characteristics, experiences, and perspectives as tools for better classroom instruction. Students of color see themselves and their communities as belonging in academic spaces.

What is a multicultural curriculum? ›

multicultural curriculum is interdisciplinary or integrates many subject areas. Multicultural lessons are concept-based and often project based. There is attention given to the affect or feelings and emotions.

What are the benefits of learning other cultures? ›

Developing your understanding of other cultures, or 'cultural awareness', lets you have more meaningful interactions with those around you. You're building your respect and empathy for other people, and celebrating your differences as well as your similarities.

How can we promote multiculturalism? ›

Respect and celebrate the various ethnic, racial, cultural, gender, and other differences in your group. Make the time and create the space for this to occur. Cultivate a multicultural atmosphere. Incorporate language, art, music, rituals, and ways of working together that derive from diverse cultures.

What is the purpose of multicultural? ›

Multiculturalism seeks the inclusion of the views and contributions of diverse members of society while maintaining respect for their differences and withholding the demand for their assimilation into the dominant culture.

Why is Multiculturalism important? ›

Why is it important? Multiculturalism has many benefits. The main one is that it encourages open-mindedness amongst different groups of people and it dispels negative stereotypes. This is extremely important as the UN reported that 1/3 of the world's major conflicts have a cultural dimension to them.

How do you define Multiculturalism? ›

Multiculturalism refers to (1) the state of a society or the world in which there exists numerous distinct ethnic and cultural groups seen to be politically relevant; and (2) a program or policy promoting such a society.

What are the key features of multicultural? ›

This includes respecting different languages, religions, customs, values, beliefs, and lifestyles. The second characteristic is an inclusive curriculum that reflects the diversity of cultures in the classroom.

What is the importance and benefits of multicultural diversity? ›

Working across cultures can be a truly enriching experiencing, allowing others to learn about perspectives and traditions from around the world. Bonding over similarities and differences can help you to become a global citizen, abandoning prejudices or an ethnocentric world view—something that is increasingly valuable.

What are the advantages of multicultural education? ›

Here are a few:
  • Exposes students to different cultures. ...
  • Fosters acceptance and tolerance in a learning environment. ...
  • Teaches multiple perspectives. ...
  • Encourages critical thinking. ...
  • Helps build an international network.

How do you teach in a culturally diverse classroom? ›

The following practices provide five essential strategies for how educators can make their learning environments more culturally responsive.
  1. Know your students. ...
  2. Be aware of your own personal biases. ...
  3. Transform your pedagogy and curriculum. ...
  4. Respect and reinforce student culture. ...
  5. Involve family and community.
Aug 31, 2020

Should schools be required to teach multiculturalism? ›

As an agent of societal and individual growth, schools play an important role in the community, and multiculturalism plays an important role in the schools. Many researchers agree that there is a need to include multicultural values and concepts in the classroom in order to benefit all students.

What is multiculturalism a short paragraph? ›

Multiculturalism is diversity of two or more culture in some region or country. America is an immigrant country; most people in America are immigrants. They come from different countries and different ethnic groups; they have different languages, educational backgrounds, customs, values and religions.

How do you develop multiculturalism? ›

Respect and celebrate the various ethnic, racial, cultural, gender, and other differences in your group. Make the time and create the space for this to occur. Cultivate a multicultural atmosphere. Incorporate language, art, music, rituals, and ways of working together that derive from diverse cultures.


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