Multiculturalism in the Classroom

Cultural differences do not need to be ignored nor eliminated in order for multicultural education to work. Rather, accurate representations of diverse groups and their contributions to society and to history should be evident in the classroom. Teachers can achieve this by making resources such as books, magazines, visuals, and media presentations that depict diverse characters and cultures available to students. In addition, information about other cultures, which encompasses similarities and differences, should be incorporated into lessons.

A major component of multicultural education in the classroom is learned through the classroom environment. If the teacher establishes an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance, students will be more inclined to demonstrate these characteristics in their interactions. Character education involves explicit instruction in aspects of good character, but also requires the teacher and the students to model the desired behaviors. Open, honest discussion is another dimension of character education. Before this can occur, students must be taught the processes and rules they must follow in order to participate. These rules stress demonstrating respect for others, so that students feel safe and accepted within the group.

Cooperative learning assignments seem to be of particular value in multicultural education. According to Biehler and Snowman, "In most studies students exposed to cooperative learning were more likely than students who learned under competitive or individualistic conditions to name a classmate from a different race, ethnic group, or social class as a friend or to label such individuals as "nice" or "smart." In some studies the friendships that were formed were deemed to be quite strong. A similar positive effect was found for students with mental disabilities who were mainstreamed."

Follow this link for strategies of multicultural curriculum implementation within the classroom:

Biehler & Snowman. (1997).  PSYCHOLOGY APPLIED TO TEACHING. 8th ed. Houghton Mifflin Co. (Chapters 4 & 11).