Multicultural Education

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Multicultural Education

Multicultural Education

The Evolution of multicultural Education in the United States

One effective way to examine the historical development and evolution of multicultural education is to view it as a chain of linked actions (e.g., movements, court decisions, legislation, publications, constitutional mandates, code of conduct) that embrace principles of social justice to support the elimination of poverty, racism, classism, religious bigotry, and sexism in the United States.

Multicultural education may be viewed as an instrument to help people in the United States learn about and take action against social justice and human right inequities such as class discrimination; gender categorization and subordination; racism in the areas of criminal justice, the administration of social service, education, and public housing; restrictions on freedom of movement and the right to live in a particular area of one's own country; and world-wide discriminatory treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. This non-static, non-neutral, critical, transformative, reconstructive, and evolving chain of linked actions has mooring and contextualizing attributes that extend from the time the territories that would one day become part of the United States were under colonial rule until the present day.

The chain of linked actions though which multicultural education has evolved has a rich history and several biographers (e.g., Banks, 1995, 2004; Gay, 2004; Grant and Ladson-Billings, 1997). These histories - which have been informative in writing this chapter - are similar in reporting the movements, events, and issues that gave rise to multicultural education - including the major actors, journals and publishers willing to publish articles and books about multicultural education, and education associations and organizations that were early advocates for multicultural education. Gay's (2004) observation makes this point well:

All individual and groups [involved in the multicultural movement] are seeking basically the same goals: a more equitable and effective educational system for ethnically and culturally diverse students, and a more democratic society in which there is much greater equality, freedom, and justice in all spheres of life (Gay, p. 39).

Multicultural education

Multicultural Education refers to the ways in which all dimensions and aspects of schooling address the needs and talents of culturally diverse populations to ensure equity and social justice for all. It is both a philosophy and a process. As a philosophical concept, it is rooted in the principles of democracy, social justice, equity, and the affirmation of human diversity. As a process, multicultural education is fluid and continually undergoes modification to meet the needs and demands of an ever-changing society. To this end, it becomes a concerted strategy, and educational project or instrument that employs multiple knowledge(s) of people histories, and demonstrates an awareness of contexts (e.g., social, historical) in an effort to challenge current state policies that discriminate against, or simply ignore people based on their socio-economic status, race, gender, dis/ability, religion and sexual orientation.

Groups under the Multicultural Umbrella

Although, the coming together of the different groups (e.g., race, ethnicity, low socio-economic status, disability, gay and lesbian, religious) and the varied constituencies and interests they represent ...
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