Multicultural Education can be defined in terms of preparing pupils to exist in a multiracial society by providing them with an understanding of the culture and history of different ethnic groups. Multicultural education should therefore allow both minority and majority pupils to be acquainted with and investigate the multifaceted interconnections and gaps that transpire between their own and other cultural and social identities. This essay will examine the methods schools and teachers can use to develop cultural awareness in the classroom.
It is important to understand exactly how Britain has become imbued with a cosmopolitan multicultural heritage because as Roy Todd argues (1991) "education has developed in response to the ethnic diversity and "multicultural" nature of contemporary British society". Cultural change is a gradual evolution, an on-going process that is not static, monolithic nor homogeneous. Britain has and continues to be shaped by this evolution from the time of the Romans and Anglo-Saxons through to post-war post-colonial times.
As Paul Gardner (2001) observes "We have a history that has provided us with the rich legacy of diversity".
Modern Britain is a vibrant blend of diversity and plurality in search of unity but unfortunately "Prejudice against people who are different from oneself is, regrettably, a common phenomenon" (Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association 1987). Britain has had different and often conflicting methods for educating its masses. First was the "assimilationist" phase of multicultural education which naively looked to assimilate migrants into society by teaching them English. "Integrationist" methods followed which paid brief lip service to the cultural background of immigrants. "Cultural pluralism" (Cohen and Cohen 1986) then followed which recognized the need to integrate the multicultural veracity of Britain into broad curriculum themes and topics. However, anti-racist educationalists argued that multiculturalism "leaves unaltered the racist fabric of the educational system". (Institute of...