Cultural diversity in education

Essay by XXX1University, Ph.D.A, January 1997

download word file, 7 pages 4.8

About Ohio/Wva schools none

Since early American history, schools, like society, have addressed cultural diversity in

different ways. In the colonial days, some attempts to adjust to cultural differences were made

in the New York colony, but the dominant American culture was the norm in the general

public, as well as most of the schools. As America approached the nineteenth century, the

need for a common culture was the basis for the educational forum. Formal public school

instruction in cultural diversity was rare, and appreciation or celebration of minority or ethnic

culture essentially was nonexistent in most schools. In the 1930's, the educators were in the

progressive education movement, called for programs of cultural diversity that encouraged

ethnic and minority students to study their heritage's. This movement became popular in many

schools until around 1950. Now, these days in education, the term multicultural education

never escapes a teacher's thoughts (Ryan, 26).

What does the term 'multicultural education' mean to you? I means different things to

different people. For instance, to some minority communities, it means to foster pride and self-

esteem among minority students, like the progressive movement in the 1930's. Another

example would be in the white communitites, that multicultural programs are designed to

cultivate an appreciation of various cultural, racial, and ethnic traditions. Cortes defines

multicultural education by the process by which schools help prepare young people to live with

greater understanding, cooperation, effectiveness, and dedication to equality in a multicultural

nation and inerdependent world (Cortes, 16).

When I observed at Madison Elementary in December, I expected the school would

be multicultural in the sense of ethnic or racial backgrounds. Instead, I was very surprised to

discover that the school was predominately white students, with only a handful of African

American students in each classroom. I did find...