In recent times, early childhood education is becoming more diverse. Early childhood providers are required to attempt many challenging tasks. One of the most difficult of these is providing our children with diverse, multicultural experiences. (Ogletree & Larke, 2010) Since the beginning of times, young children have been raised by their families, extended families, clans and communities. Even today, most childcare homes and many early childhood programs tend to be fairly consistent and quite similar to the child’s home background. Parents tend to choose childcare and early childhood programs based on whether the programs match their own views of education and discipline. (Tarman & Tarman, 2011)
Programs nowadays are expected to provide the children with experiences outside of their groups, offering opportunities to teach them to be tolerant, respectful and accepting of differences. (Derman-Sparks, 1989) Bennet (1995) described multicultural education “as an approach to teaching and learning that is based upon democratic beliefs and seeks to foster cultural pluralism within culturally diverse societies and an interdependent world.” In Singapore, where we have a culturally diverse population, it is essential to be sensitive towards each other’s cultural practices, beliefs and views. Thus, the reason to include multicultural education into the early childhood education system deems as important. The logical reason being that brain research has proved that the “prime time” for emotional and social development in children is from birth to twelve years of age. (Abdullah, 2009) Issues in Including Multicultural Education in Early Childhood Education There are several issues that do not allow multicultural education to permeate the early childhood programs in Singapore. Curriculum
The curriculum of a center shows the process in which learning outcomes will be achieved. Therefore, including the goals and objectives of multicultural education into the center’s curriculum is essential. It has to be infused throughout the curriculum. Good early childhood pedagogy reflects and empowers the diverse cultural backgrounds of the children and families with whom they work. (Robinson & Jones, 2006) Including children’s identity into the daily programming and planning of the early childhood curriculum is considered necessary for developing their self-esteem as well as cultivating their appreciation for diversity that exists more widely in our society. (Abdullah, 2009)
In Singapore, multicultural education is not a mainstream issue. With Singaporeans being more aware of issues and events through globalization and internet, it is truly essential that multicultural education is included in schools.
Quah (as cited in Berthelsen & Karuppiah, 2011) has discussed the expanded ethnic and religious awareness strain among Singapore in recent years. Recent cases such as the wearing of the Muslim head-dress in government schools drummed up a buzz around the diverse ethnic groups in Singapore and resuscitated ethnic strains. These cases show that government policies need to be re-evaluated painstakingly so as to safeguard cultural harmony and maintain respect for cultural diversity. Thus, gaining support from the Government to deal with this issue indepth is significant. Language Development
Usually the educational system in most countries applies the national language as the medium of instruction. However, multiculturalism and the distinguishment of the important role of language in studying makes it compulsory for differing qualities of dialect, abilities and correspondence styles to be recognized, esteemed and utilized within all early childhood services. The procurement for children to study the majority language whilst maintaining their first language ought to be underpinned and energized. This obviously is to propose bilingualism or in any event underpin for the home dialect as a strategy even at the unanticipated youth level. (Abdullah, 2009) Research has demonstrated that there can just be favourable circumstances to the child other than ensuring and regarding home dialect. (Hakuta, 1986)
This primary issue and challenge for the procurement of bilingual training is one of human assets. Relatively few countries will have the personnel who themselves are bilingual or multilingual. Consequently, children with languages other than the national language to look, maintain and to develop and broaden their language and concept development within early childhood services.(Vuckovic, 2008) All children have the chance to listen to, utilise and study the majority language in a steady environment where assets, materials and individuals are utilized to scaffold their learning in a majority language.
Early Childhood Education Staff
Staff working in childcare centers and early childhood education programs has the ability to create an impact on the children’s developing attitudes towards cultural diversity more than any other person in the child’s life. This is an undeniable fact. It is crucial that staff go through appropriate training or staff advancement programs, which include the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes for such an avocation. Teacher must take the steps necessary to better themselves as teachers in multicultural education settings. With the changing face of today’s classrooms, there is a growing need to address multiculturalism an diversity awareness. (Riskowski & Olbricht, 2010)
Training courses for early childhood educators might as well have components in both content and conveyance that address diversity of cultures. (Verma, 2003) Pre-service preparation in the form of actual scenarios where teachers are set in multicultural or classrooms made up of cultures different from their own are particularly adequate in getting them to re-look at their existing convictions and biases.(Jacobson, 2003) This type of learning emphatically influences teachers’ manners towards teaching in diverse settings. Pre-service learning has the potential of enabling teacher candidates to stand up to challenging issues of social inequities and to start the deconstruction of lifelong attitudes and the development of socially just educators. (Baldwin, Buchanan & Rudisill, 2007) Issues Affecting Child as a Learner
Children need an education, which allows them to take their place in this multicultural society. A child as young as two and three years are familiar with human distinctions and this mindfulness is connected with the improvement of specific disposition. An essential socialization as well as preferences and habit pattern in the early years of life leaves a preserving impact on the individual. .(Jacobson, 2003) These findings feature the importance of bringing social values and attitudes to children’s attention during this critical developmental period. Using this evidence, it becomes clear that early childhood community needs to address the needs of multicultural children and their unique families. These children include biological, multiracial and multi-ethnic children in blended homes, foster homes, adoptive homes and a variety of biological homes.
In the early years, the child’s family assumes the leading role in socialising the child to the conduct, beliefs, convictions and plans held inside their culture. (Garbarino, 1992) With the rise in the amount of working parents and children partaking in group programs from an early age, preschools have likewise turned into compelling socialisation force. (Berthelsen & Karuppiah, 2011)
Young children who live in a multicultural community experience social differences firsthand; it is part of their world. Then again, other children who live in a monocultural group frequently have challenges comprehending and tolerating an environment that is not the same as theirs. Knowing increasingly about the noteworthiness of children’s voyages between home and school and the impacts of these adventures, teachers can help these children unite the universes of home and school and all different worlds that they might experience in theirdaily lives. (Vuckovic, 2008)
Pressures from mass media likewise push an impact on children to fit in with a uniform set of necessitites, dialect, method of articulation inshort, a whole way of life. They are exposed to a ‘counter culture’, which declines and demoralizes articulation from expressing their culture of origin. Regularly, this brings about immense pressures for the children, with parents demanding adherence to the old customs, with traditions practised in the home and frequently in activities outside the home. The consequence is that by and large, parents get estranged from their children who are attempting to comprehend and adapt to their transitory sub-culture, yet endeavouring to make a successful modification into another society, which secretively and frequently unintentionally denies them this right.( Lin & Bates, 2010) Misconceptions in Teachers
The most common issue is misconceptions in multiculturalism. Educators are unsure of their own ability to define what their role is in teaching culture. Teachers need the knowledge, skills and positive attitudes to know what to teach and how to teach. (Berthelsen, & Karuppiah, 2011) Teachers need to teach in a way that will meet the needs of all of their students. It may not be easy and may require more attention, time and effort.
An issue teachers face is that pre-service teachers are leaving their courses unassuming to educate in today’s diverse classrooms. The dominant parts of them are leaving courses after just having one or two essential modules on educating in a multicultural setting. They are not ready for interacting with different cultures than the shielded ones that a large portion of them live in. (Lin & Bates, 2010) They are not ready for the distinctive needs controlled by today’s multicultural student population. They end up being not as qualified in this area as they should be. One reason for this could be that teachers express that students oppose multicultural education. (Atwater, Freeman, Bulter & Morris, 2010) Why is this the case? Everyone holds his or her beliefs about things. The zone of multicultural instruction is no distinctive.
One of the first things that a teacher must do is to analyse herself. She ought to perceive how the conclusions, convictions and viewpoints that she holds influence the curriculum that she is planning to teach. Whether purposeful or not, a teacher’s comtemplations, recognitions, inclinations and sentiments can likely be depicted to her students. (Nichols & Dong, 2011)
A “tourist approch” towards multiculturalism where cultures are only taught through celebrations, food and traditional clothing is a very common sighting in Singapore. (Berthelsen & Karrupiah, 2011) It is both disparaging and trivializing and does not give a genuine comprehension of different societies.(Derman-Sparks, 1989) Teacher need to comprehend their own particular convictions about cultures and differing qualities so as to execute multicultural education programs viably with young children. Teachers should take the steps important to better themselves as instructors in multicultural settings. This is no feat that can be accomplished overnight. Multicultural Education in Singapore
Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-religious society. Our population comprises mainly Chinese, Malays, Indians and others. Multicultural education is not a mainstream issue in Singapore. While the government has been capable to keep up peace and congruity through its political, social and financial strategies and unique days, it does not manage the issue in profundity. As Singaporeans are presently for the most part more mindful of issues and occasions around the world through globalization and the web, it has become progressively critical for Singapore to think about multicultural education in schools. In the meantime as empowering differences through conservation of the social personality of the racial and ethnic aggregations in the nation, the government has likewise attempted to work towards building social union around diverse assemblies, which offered ascent to the trademark ‘unity in diversity’. (Berthelsen & Karuppiah, 2011) For multicultural education to be viable, it must be taught in the early years of education and strengthened in the later stages.
Since children’s attitudes to their and other social assemblies start to structure in the early years, early childhood educators can impact the improvement of uplifting demeanor towards others, as well as consolidating an educational program concentrate on tolerance wand cross-cultural understandings of others. Early childhood educators, however, cannot adopt a “tourist approach” to multiculturalism which generalizes other societies and transforms the multicultural educational module into a “tourist curriculum”. ‘Tourist curriculum” which educates about cultures through festivals and antiquities of society, for example, food and traditional clothing, is both disparaging and trivializing and does not give a genuine comprehension of other cultures.
Teachers need to understand their own beliefs about culture and diversity in order to implement multicultural education programs effectively with young children. (Berthelsen & Karuupiah, 2011) A survey was done by Berthelsen & Karuppiah(2011) to find out their understandings of multicultural education and their perceptions of its importance in early childhood education. This was conducted in Singapore among a variety of teachers workingin private and public kindergartens and childcare centers. The participants came from different ethnic groups in Singapore. Perceptions about multiculturalism and children’s learning
In this case study, they found that most teachers had restricted comprehension of multiculturalism. They saw multiculturalism as just regarding race and in the connection of Singapore. About 60% of the participants expressed that multicultural education implied having information of one;s culture and additionally other cultures. They believed that this learning is sufficient and would immediately carry individuals out of diverse societies together.
Another 40% showed that children learn prejudices, dispositions, convictions and qualities from the adults around them, parents and teachers. They communicated convictions that schools assume a paramount part in educating children about diverse cultures. Beliefs about teaching for multiculturalism
The same group of teachers were asked their beliefs about teaching for multiculturalism. Twenty of them thought directing a multicultural program implied examining distinctive cultures regarding their food, clothing, celebrations, traditions and so forth. This brings it back to the “tourist approach” that Derman-Sparks(1989) implied when educating about multiculturalism. They did not go past a tourist point of view in advancing an ‘anti-bias’ approach to educating and researching the distinctive cultures.
Thirteen others said preschool centers should treat kids of diverse cultures similarly and decently. Sixteen teachers thought individuals might as well put stock in multicultural education and be supportive of it.
The greater part of teachers who had constructive encounters in multicultural situations or with multicultural individuals were likewise more agreeable than others without such encounters in examining multicultural issues. A few teachers had reservations about talking over “delicate” issues, for example race or religion. Professional learning needs about multiculturalism
Based on the survey done by Berthelsen & Karuppiah(2011), the teachers comprehended that they needed to understand more about multicultural education. They agreed that teachers needed knowledge, skills and positive attitudes to know what to teach and how to teach. However, the teachers did not explicitly discuss the vitality of individual reflection to comprehend their own particular prejudices, demeanor, convictions and qualities, and how these could influence their educating and learning. There were no critical or elaborated ideas on the challenges and opportunities to implement multicultural education programs. Recommendations
James A. Banks, a specialist in multicultural education, has developed the five dimensions of multicultural education. He realised that in his work, numerous teachers considered multicultural education as simply content integration, meaning utilizing samples, information and data from diverse cultures. (Ogltree & larke, 2010) The five dimensions are content integration, knowledge constructions, equity pedagogy, prejudice reduction and empowering school culture and social structure. He desired for teachers to have the skills and knowledge and racial attitudes needed to work with people from diverse groups and to use a wide variety of strategies that cater to a wider range of students. (Banks, 2002)
Teachers should use several different approaches to integrate content about racial, ethnic and cultural groups into the curriculum. One of the most popular is the Contributions Approach. When this approach is used, teachers insert isolated facts about ethnic and cultural group heroes and heroines into the curriculum without changing the structure of their lesson plans and units. Knowledge Construction
It helps students to understand how knowledge is constructed and how it reflects the experiences, values, and perspectives of its creators. In this approach, the structure, assumptions, and perspectives of the curriculum are changed so that the concepts, events, and issues taught are viewed from the perspectives and experiences of a range of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. The center of the curriculum no longer focuses on mainstream and dominant groups, but on an event, issue, or concept that is viewed from many different perspectives and points of view. This is done while at the same time helping students to understand the nation’s common heritage and traditions. Teachers should help students to understand that while they live in a diverse nation, all citizens of a nation-state share many cultural traditions, values, and political ideals that cement the nation. Multicultural education seeks to actualize the idea of e pluribus unum, i.e. to create a society that recognizes and respects the cultures of its diverse peoples united within a framework of democratic values that are shared by all. (Banks, 2002) Prejudice Reduction
According to Banks, this dimension is important in creating a “more positive racial and ethnic attitudes.” Basically, this dimension is the aspect of education where the teacher helps to lessen the amount of prejudice within students. Equity Pedagogy
Teachers change their methods to enable kids from diverse racial groups and both genders to achieve.
Empowering School Culture and Social Structure
James Banks talks about looking not just at individual classrooms, but at the total school culture to see how to make it more equitable and using the other four dimensions to create a safe and healthy educational environment for all.
James Banks’ five dimensions support that a child’s racial attitudes can change but education must start early and that early childhood programs are the perfect place to start multicultural education. (Vuckovic, 2008) Teachers
As such, how can we make this a better transition for both teachers and the children? Sheets(as cited in Nichols & Dong, 2011) said, “all teachers can begin and most evolve into culturally competent educators; however, it is important to become conscious that the ardous journey from novice to expert requires hard work, relentless commitment, and a high investment of time and energy”.
Two evident approaches for joining multicultural education with teacher education programs are infusion versus segregation, and culture-specific versus culture-general. (Melnick & Zeichner, 1997) Ladson-Billings (as cited in Berthelsen & Karuppiah,2011), proposed a basic structure for breaking down teacher preparation programs. She argued that, paying little mind to prospective teachers; race, ethnicity or backgrounds; the educational module should include a target on comprehending the way of pre-service teacher relationships and the cultural bases of the educational program, educating and society. The education of teachers should boost self-reflection on values and beliefs about cultural difference and advocate the studying approaches, which allow for teacher inclusion that is dymanic, significant and ethno-linguistically appropriate.
The plans of Melnick and Zeichner (1997) and Ladson-Billings (as cited in Berthelsen & Karuppiah, 2011) could be connected to teacher education programs for early childhood education in Singapore. Such programs might investigate how preschool educators characterize and conceptualize multicultural education; fuse investigations of the history of race relationships; and use careful investigations and field encounters to provide teachers with chances to gain greater knowledge, skills and understandings of their own culture as well as of other cultural and language groups in their society. In particular, they should learn how to advance suitable programs for young children that consolidate encounters to permit children to comprehend cultural differences and encourage relationships between children of distinctive cultural backgrounds. Environment
There is a need for physical environment where children are well versed to reflect the cultures represented by the children working within it. For example, pictures, books, art, music, activities, cooking and recognition of certain significant days important to each culture can reflect this orientation. (Jacobson, 2003) There is a need to advocate in children, knowledge of the similarities and contrasts in cultures, underscoring the likeness while encouraging an inspirational demeanor towards and delight in the differences. This could be attained through celebrating various holidays, enjoying reading material, folklore, music, art, games and introducing foods of various cultures.
There is a need for a social or racial match between some educating staff and children in schools to be accomplished. This shows how the administration and teachers work together to decrease racial stereotypes and prejudices in the school and increase democratic attitudes, values and behaviours. The support from management is definitely essential. (Banks, 2002) Conclusion
Multiculturalism is worthwhile undertaking in early childhood education based on our country’s population. It prepares children for the challenges of the globalized world. To attain the above, early childhood settings need to plan an environment, which puts forth diversity positively through resources, and materials that do not sustain stereotypes.
It is also essential that a multicultural education, from pre-school onwards permeates the whole curriculum. It is inadequate to commit a component regularly reputed to be ‘ethnic studies’ to a corner of the syllabus or to a half hour period for every week. Most desirable is that interpersonal relations ought to be passed on by long-term and rational modeling and that knowledge gained ought to be by first-hand experience. Important implications need to be addressed before infusing it into the early childhood curriculum and equal collaboration between children, teachers, parents, administrators, employers and the wider community is essential. (Vuckovic, 2008)
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