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Education in a Multicultural Setting

“Significant differences may be found in how cultures teach. People from different cultural backgrounds have different styles of learning. Over time, cultures have adopted approaches to learn that best fit their unique needs. ” Discuss citing the challenges most likely to occur in a multicultural education setting and suggest possible solutions.

To be able to get a fuller insight into what education in a multicultural setting is about and what it entails aspects such as globalization and multiculturalism have to be taken into consideration; Globalization and multiculturalism are strong forces guiding and changing international and national relationships. These changes also impact education and create a need to revise and reform educational practices in order to accommodate new cultural dynamics as they manifest themselves in various educational forms.

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Globalization has the effect of eliminating traditional borders between people; it drives an evolution toward a world linked economically, militarily, environmentally, socially and culturally at multi continental distances. It results in an international flow of both capital and goods and of information and ideas. It promotes free movement of people across borders resulting in an influx of immigrants both adults and children. Immigrant children come from culturally diverse backgrounds which affects the manner in which schools must function.

As Brannon indicates, “dealing with the world means dealing with people from backgrounds and orientations other than our own. A significant aspect that also comes into play is multiculturalism; Multiculturalism is a philosophy that recognizes personal worth and dignity of every individual regardless of culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender or national origin. It affects the educational process because it affects the cultural dynamics of the classroom. Cultural diversity must be incorporated into the educational system.

Education in a multicultural society must give appropriate consideration to ethnic and racial diversity, native languages, physical and emotional disabilities and poverty. Cultural inertia and economic problems are the main barriers to this. Society and educators must work toward the development of schools that meets the needs of every individual. Cultural diversity is a rapidly growing phenomenon in the world today and majorly contributes to changes that are being seen and changes that inevitably have to be made in the fprmal education setting. An ancient Chinese proverb tells us that “by nature all men are alike, but by ducation widely different” This difference is mainly due to the influence of culture on the world’s educational systems. As Paul Goodman observed, “There is only one curriculum, no matter what the method of education: what is basic and universal in human experience and practice,the underlying structure of culture. ” What is taught in a culture is crucial to the perpetuation of that culture and usually is a major responsibility of the formal educational systems within a culture. Therefore, it is important to understand how a culture teaches because; •Provides knowledge about the nature of the culture Helps understand interpersonal relationships among students and between students and teachers •Helps understand the importance a culture places on education With diversity comes change and inevitably challenges that directly correspond with that change; Educators today are faced with an overwhelming challenge to prepare students from diverse cultural backgrounds to live in a rapidly changing society differing in race, ethnicity, gender, class, language, religion, ability and age. These unfamiliar groups, cultures, traditions and languages can produce anxieties, hostilities, prejudices and racism amongst those who do not understand newcomers.

Solutions to these challenges must be found especially considering the children of today are our leaders of tomorrow. An ideal school that meets the challenges of a multi-cultural setting must provide awareness an intellectual awakening and growth. It must accept the dominant culture and co cultures alike. In order to achieve this goal Gollnick and Chinn believe that the practice of multi-cultural education should be based on the following set of beliefs. •Cultural differences have strength and value. •Schools should be models of human rights and respect for cultural differences. Social justice and equality for all people should be of paramount importance in the delivery of curricula. •Attitudes and values important for the continuation of a democratic society should be promoted in schools. •Schooling can provide the knowledge, dispositions and skills for the redistribution of power and income among diverse groups. Educators working with families and communities can create an environment that is supportive of multiculturalism To create a classroom community, Shade and Kelly suggest the following principles must be fulfilled; •A learning community must be inviting. The leader of the learning community must send personally inviting messages. •An inviting classroom has firm, consistent and loving control. •An inviting, learning community provides students with the sense that they can accomplish the tasks being asked of them. In conclusion, in a classroom with a successful sense of community, students should be able to say: “At school, I feel safe enough to… ” •Be myself. •Give my opinion. •Interact and relate to educators and peers alike without experiencing prejudice.

As Malcolm pointed out “We are underestimating teachers when we consider them to be captives to the invisible culture of the classroom and we are underestimating pupils when we consider them to be captives of their own cultural patterns which contradict it. We have to acknowledge that an education system that fails to understand cultural diversity will lose the richness of values, worldviews, lifestyles, and perspectives of diverse co cultures.

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