Education is a critical requirement for any society seeking prosperity within the global circles. Globalization is a new hurdle that educators now need to deal with as various cultures meet and interact within the school set up and if unregulated, this situation usually erupts in chaos and disruption of learning.
However, a greater loss is the stunted development of the minority cultures, which occurs because of the structures of the prevailing educational systems put in place with the majority cultures in mind. Consequently, there is need for a paradigm shift if the educational system is to provide equitable service to the entire population.
Multicultural social studies teaching is a merger between social studies as a discipline and multicultural education as a concept. The goal of social studies is to promote civil competence while that of multicultural education is to provide equal education opportunities to the entire population with the intent of producing “first class” citizens who are sensitive to “democratic ideals such as human dignity, equality, and freedom.” (Banks, 1999, p. 65)
Due to their complimentary nature, it is prudent to integrate these two concepts to achieve the intended purpose of each. This kind of teaching involves a shift from the conventional teacher-oriented classroom sessions to student-oriented discussions. It is flexible and allows students to select their own referencing material. It gives parents and the rest of the community a chance to participate in the students’ learning and encourages cooperation between students from diverse backgrounds.
It highlights the advantages of this diversity and reveals the possibility of better learning if the students take advantage of their differences to gain better understanding of various concepts. Finally, it discourages single-minded formulation of stereotypes by teachers, parents, the community and students while inhibiting self-destructive behavior in students from minority cultures acting out the frustration with a mono-cultural system of education. This type of teaching satisfies everybody’s needs.
The advantages of this type of teaching include harmony in the classroom as teachers strive to encourage cooperative learning. As they encourage their students to share cultural experiences, question, and challenge their dogmatic beliefs, students set aside their superficial differences and share in an enriching earning experiences where they use their different cultures as sources of information.
The different perspectives brought in by different students offer a variety of learning options that apply to each student in a classroom set up. The involvement of parents in their children’s learning also greases the educational processes as they know how best their children learn and they can divulge this information to teachers.
Multicultural social study teaching uses culture as the foundation upon which school-based knowledge builds. Consequently, students have a better grasp of a lesson’s content because they can relate to it on a cultural level. This way, learning becomes a natural activity and is not as taxing as the current system portrays it. This teaching involves every student in the classroom because each student has something he / she can allude to (Sleeter, & Grant, 1999, p. 76).
It, therefore, ensures full participation in during lessons and by extension, guarantees emotional and cognitive development of each student. As the teacher engages student in research and selection of their referencing materials, they learn to be proactive and self-driven in achieving academic success. The students are also better place to become better leaders because they can relate with the community respectfully and productively.
This style of teaching is much better than the conventional mode and any disadvantages associated with it seem worth the benefits. These include time consumption as teachers focus on each individual student and his / her background. It may also demand many resources in galvanizing the community’s cooperation and effecting parent-teacher dialogues.
Finally, this process requires diligence and commitment on the teacher’s part, yet this is difficult to guarantee. Some teachers may be more enthusiastic about causing change than others, which waters down the efforts of the cooperative teachers. Moreover, some students may have more difficulty adapting to this style of teaching, especially those with stereotypical perspectives of their colleagues.
To have more culturally relevant teaching strategies, several adjustments are inevitable. For instance, the teacher needs to take the role of the facilitator. This means that an ideal teacher should get out of the way of the student’s learning.
It is enough to expose students to possibilities of following a certain train of thought and then trusting them with the responsibility of actually thinking (Weisman, & Hansen, 2007, p. 99). Consequently, the teacher should encourage the students to conduct extensive research on their respective cultures. He / she should allow the students to make the connection between their cultural perspectives and the school-based learning.
In addition to this, the teacher should invite parents and the community to share in the education of the child. Teachers should use cooperative learning when introducing a new concept in class, and then switch to independent study after every student gets a chance to familiarize with the concept. However, they should also be flexible enough to allow students various options of ways to handle assignments.
Banks, J. . (1999). An Introduction to Multiculural Education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Sleeter, C., & Grant, C. (1999). Five Approaches to Race, Class, and Gender. In Making Choices for Multicultural Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.
Weisman, M., & Hansen, L. (2007). Strategies for Teaching Social Studies to English-Language Learners at the Elementary Level. Heldref Publications , 1-6.