America is often described as a melting pot, a place where different cultures come together to merge and mix, but what effects does this have on social life? While this cultural diversity can be advantageous in terms of population and cultural awareness, there might be some cultural clash problems including racism and prejudice and many times children are victims of such problems.
Multicultural education, which was introduced during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, can be described as a process that infiltrates all aspects of school practices, policies and organizations to ensure the highest levels of academic achievement for all students. This leads to the idea of every student being equal and deserving of all resources available. This process stems from the belief that the life histories and experiences of students are very importance and therefore should be included in the learning process. The inclusion of different cultures and their beliefs in the educational system is an outlet for students to share their norms and values and an eye opener for students who are clueless about other cultures. Multicultural education has five dimensions that are necessary for its success.
The first dimension is content integration which deals with the extent to which teachers use examples, data and information from a variety of cultures and groups to illustrate key concepts, principles, generalizations and theories in their subject area or discipline. This allows students to feel like they belong and like they can relate to the subject, resulting in them grasping the concept more easily.
Secondly, the knowledge construction process that deals with how social, behavioral and natural scientists create knowledge in their disciplines. In this process, instructors help students investigate ways in which cultural assumptions, perspectives and biases within a discipline influence the construction of knowledge, so students understand how knowledge is created and how it is influenced by factors of race, ethnicity, gender and social class.
Third comes prejudice reduction dimension. The theory behind this pillar of multicultural education was Gordon Allport. This dimension tends to stir away from prejudice judgments which helps students to develop positive and democratic racial attitudes. This way, everyone is respected.
The fourth dimension is known as an equity pedagogy. In this section, teachers change their methods to enable kids from diverse racial groups and both genders to achieve which suggests that cooperative learning will enhance the achievements of a wide range of students from a wide range of groups. Some of the methods that teachers might use include, cooperative groups, simulations, role-playing and discovery.
Lastly, empowering school culture, which can be described as restructuring the culture and organization of the school so that students from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and language groups experience equality. An empowering school provides teachers with opportunities for collective planning and instruction and creates democratic structures that give teachers, parents and school staff shared responsibility for school governance.
Multicultural education and its five dimensions have been enforced for years, been proven to be effective and are still relevant today. These concepts play key roles in our society as they help us live together at peace, respecting each person as an individual while embracing and accepting their values. Almost half-a-million immigrants enter America per year to become a part of this community and these five dimensions make them feel welcomed and comfortable.