Educational institutions are made up of students from diverse cultural backgrounds. These students are especially from the United States of America, which is a large multicultural nation. For any successful learning to take place in these institutions, cohesion between these different cultures is a necessary factor. This cohesion and understanding will create a suitable learning environment not only to the students but also to the teachers.
Therefore, new teachers have the task of understanding the different cultural diversities in a classroom before embarking on learning activities. This will give the teacher an idea on how to deal with different students seated in one classroom. It is for this purpose that this research paper was written. It aims at exploring the various perspectives of culture and multicultural education and the role of the latter in bridging the gap between different cultures in educational institutions.
Definition And Discussion Of Culture
Culture has been succinctly defined as the people’s way of life. However, there is more to culture than there is in this definition. The culture of a person influences the way such an individual acts and responds to different situations. A person’s culture cannot be separated from the individual as it is part and parcel of that particular individual.
This culture plays a big role in shaping the character and bringing out the personality in the person. The culture of a person is developed from daily experiences in life. The individual learns to do things according to the culture that he or she has grown up in.
There are various types of cultures. For instance, a person who has been brought up in a certain family will automatically adapt to the culture of that family. These cultures include an adaptation to the family’s religion, political and social participation, activity in sports and so on.
The person learns to identify with this culture everywhere he or she goes. Another example of a culture is the business culture. This has to do with the way a business operates. This culture is normally established by business managers and directors who take a particular course of action in order to achieve the objectives of the business. In this case, the business carries on the culture introduced by the managers and directors even if the pioneers of this culture retire from running the business.
The cultural background of students has a direct impact in their school life (Abbey et.al, 1990). The impact could be either positive or negative. The impact of a student’s culture will be positive if it is the dominant culture in the educational institution. In this circumstance, the student will not have to learn anything new and will have an easy time coping and adapting to the learning environment.
On the other hand, a student whose culture is a minority in the educational institution will have a hard time adapting to the new environment. This is because this student will have to learn new things which may take a long time. This will have a negative impact on the school life of this student.
Definition And Discussion Of Multicultural Education
Multicultural education is a type of education that wholly advocates for equality and equity among students and the national population. This is irrespective of their cultural backgrounds. It reiterates the fact that all humans are similar in each and every aspect and that they deserve to be treated in the same manner.
This system of multicultural education offers a curriculum that will be of much benefit to all students without a regard to their culture. The system comprises of a set of strategies that aims at bringing together students in a classroom by attempting to lay bare the fact that culture should not be a disuniting factor between them.
With recent high rates of immigration into the United States of America, multicultural education is the only remedy that can create a favorable learning atmosphere for the foreign students. The main characteristic of multicultural education is the use of a multicultural curriculum.
This curriculum includes a wide variety of topics especially those that discuss the cultures of other races who are living in the USA. The main purpose of this curriculum is to create a sense of belonging or significance to the minority cultures (Bennet 1995). It has been establishment that inclusion of these cultures into the curriculum boosts the morale of the minority students and at the same time teaches the other students the need for shunning cultural bias and appreciating cultural differences.
Role Of Multicultural Education In Addressing Cultural Differences And Bias
Numerous methods have been used in a bid to bring racism in the United States to an end. However, none of these methods has been effective so far in tackling this problem. This leaves multicultural education as the only solution to this issue. There are a number of ways through which multicultural education can help to address the problems of cultural differences and cultural bias in educational institutions and pave a way for the appreciation of racial diversities.
First and foremost, multicultural education empowers young students to look beyond racial cocoons and focus on the personality and potential of their counterparts from other cultures (Abalos 1996). Multicultural education does this by addressing issues that are likely to cause cultural stratifications in the American society.
These issues include racism, religious intolerance, classism, heterosexism, ablism, sexism, linguicism and xenophobia. These are the vices that remain embedded in students who have schooled under the normal educational system and later provoked them to herald cultural bias.
Secondly, multicultural education advocates for the inclusion of teachers from diverse cultural backgrounds among the staff members of educational institutions. These teachers form a team of racially, linguistically and culturally literate people who fosters smooth interaction and correlation between students from varying cultural backgrounds (Adams, 1997). If American educational institutions have any hopes of eradicating cultural bias among their students, then they equally need culturally diverse teachers who will lead them into the transition.
Multicultural education also vividly brings out the difference between equality and equity among students in the educational institutions. While equality is merely based on the outside acceptance of other races, equality refers to an inward acceptance and acknowledgement of the same.
It requires a total reform of the educational system and the release of a multicultural education to dominate in all sectors of the education curricular. It is also based on the readiness of the entire school fraternity including parents and teachers to accept and appreciate the differences that exist between the students from different races in the school (Ablon and Reid 1966). This will create a learning environment that supports racial interaction.
Lastly, multicultural education prohibits all sorts of discrimination in schools on the basis of culture or race. Instead, it promotes principles of democracy that contribute to the eradication of cultural bias and racial discrimination. Multicultural education helps to renew the mind of each and every member of the school community by removing their misconceptions and false facts about some races and exposing them to the truth that eventually fosters the unity of the different cultures.
Comparison Of Preconceptions And Facts
The writer of this paper has learnt a lot from this research paper. The information acquired from the research sources has provided him with an insight on what exactly needs to be done in order to do away with racial discrimination and cultural bias.
As it is seen from the concept map, the author assumed that cultural bias could be removed from American educational institutions and that the respect of cultural differences could easily be fostered using simple strategies such as engaging the students in events that will bring them closer to each other.
However, the author has learnt from the research that more needs to be done to remove the vice. For such a move to be successfully accomplished, it is necessary to educate the students beforehand. The learning and understanding of the different cultures by the students achieves more than just the outside exposure to each other.
From this research, the writer has also realized that efforts to get rid of cultural bias and promote respect for racial differences will be in vain without the use of teachers from diverse cultural backgrounds. The use of teachers from the dominant culture will be ineffective.
Effect Of The Research
The research has given the writer a new meaning of cultural bias and disrespect for racial difference. The author has learnt that this problem is not an external one that can be easily removed by mere interactive measures.
It is actually a problem of the mind and attitude. The cause of the bias and discrimination cannot be removed by any physical means but by a transformation and renewal of the minds of those who are culturally and racially biased. Everyone needs to be deeply educated and exposed to the facts that will portray the earlier misconceptions about the different cultures.
Impact Of The Research On Teaching Practices
Having been equipped with the most efficient strategy of overcoming cultural bias and fostering respect for racial differences, the author is now set to put the tactics to use in his future career as a teacher. The writer intends to empower students with the knowledge that will shed light on the truth behind the different cultures in American educational institutions.
The writer also plans on enlightening fellow members of the teaching staff on the importance of assisting students to overcome their cultural bias and gain respect for racial differences.
From the foregoing discussion, it can be concluded that cultural differences in American educational institutions has led to cultural bias and disrespect for racial differences. It can also be inferred that multicultural education is the only amicable solution to this problem. Multicultural education gets rid of this problem by providing strategies that can go a long way in stopping this problem.
Finally, the research has been of much significance to the writer because it has given him a better perspective of cultural bias and racial discrimination. It has also given him strategies which he will apply in his teaching practice in a bid to stop cultural bias and racial discrimination in American educational institutions.
Abalos, D. T. (1996). Strategies of transformation toward a multicultural society. Fulfilling the story of democracy. New York, NY: Praeger.
Abbey, N. et.al. (1990). Family life education in multicultural classrooms practical guidelines. Santa Cruz, CA: Network Publications.
Ablon, J., and Reid, J. W. (1966). An experimental high school project in cultural diversity. Berkeley: University of California
Adams, M. (1997). Teaching for diversity and social justice a sourcebook. New York: Routledge.
Bennett, C. (1995). Comprehensive multicultural education: Theory and practice. Massachusetts: Allen & Bacon.