The rich and colorful diversity of today’s society is very evident to many classrooms in most parts of the world.
It is indeed that mere educating of the children is no longer enough nowadays as such the educational setting is even more revolutionized. Since the students of this generation are exemplified with different learning styles and habits, level of intelligence, cultural orientation and socio-economic background, there must be high observance on the implementation of multicultural education in every classroom of the world.
The schools and learning environments must work for all the aspects and must consider the diverse cultures of the communities they serve. Nevertheless, the observance of multicultural education to some countries remains a dilemma for many administrators and teachers as well as on the part of the students. The administrators and teachers encounter problems on the integration of the curriculum and other activities in order to suffice the various needs of the different orientation of the students.
The students, on the other hand, suffer dilemma on the equal treatment of the teacher and other students in terms of the curriculum and relationship among them which commonly leads to great prejudice and discrimination inside the classroom.
One of the great challenges of today’s classroom in terms of this multicultural education approach is the inclusive education for the special students in the community.
Many educators find difficulties on the inclusion of the special students together with the normal students since it is presumed that they have a significant difference in terms of learning styles and habits, level of intelligence and skills, and many others.
Hence, it is very essential for the different educational institutions to have an in-depth understanding on the importance of multicultural approach in education as well as the inclusive education for the special students.
This paper tries to provide a thorough discussion of the paradigm of multicultural education, the inclusive education for special students and the strategies for the administrators and teacher to successfully observe and maintain multicultural education for the special students. Pros and Cons of Multicultural Education Over the past three decades, multicultural education has been recognized as one of the avenues for educational reform (Ramsey, et. al. 2003).
Multicultural education is defined as an educational reform movement which incorporates the idea that all students, regardless of gender, social class, and ethnic, racial, or cultural characteristics, should have an equal opportunity to acquire education in school (Banks & Banks 2009). It is through the concept of equal opportunities that learners find social democracy and fairness inside the classroom. Multicultural education is considered to be very advantageous since it provides various opportunities not only for the teachers and administrators but also for the learners (Mitchell & Salsbury 1996).
One of the advantages of observing multicultural education in the classroom is the elimination of racism and sexism among the students. Through teaching the culturally different approach, there will be an attempt to raise the academic achievement of the students of color through culturally relevant instruction (Sleeter 1996). It should be noted always that eventhough students have differences, there should be equal opportunities inside the classroom as such education is a right of everyone.
The aim of the schools should be to encourage the full development of the students regardless of the diverse racial, ethnic and gender groups of the students (Banks 1997). Educators, hence, must eliminate all structures of education that impede learning of the ethnic minorities and women. There should be equal opportunities between the man and woman or between the rich and poor so that there would be a sense of multi-culturally responsive classroom approach in the schools.
This is thus the reason why all countries must observe equal opportunities to all students regardless of gender and cultural orientation. For instance, the students whether boys or girls are given the opportunity to participate in all the activities of the classroom such as recitation, discussion, project making and the like. Multicultural education approach, moreover, promotes the idea of democracy in a pluralistic society. It is through this approach of education, students learn to value cultural knowledge and differences (Sleeter 1996).
This is a good value that the students might learn with the multicultural approach. As they understand the diversity of the educational setting, they are implicitly learning also the sense of democracy and fairness within themselves which will be very helpful to the students when they are ready to face the realities of the society. The teacher should encourage multicultural approach in the school since it does not only teach the students to respect each other but it also allows them to have better understanding on the concept of democracy and fairness which are considered to be good virtues.
Nevertheless, the practice of multicultural education is not that easy because there are a lot of considerations which need to be taken. In the multicultural classroom, there must be a culturally responsive curriculum to suffice the needs of the different students. The teacher should prepare a lesson which will consider the subject matter as well as the diverse culture of the students. For instance, the teacher may present a view of mathematical thinking that incorporates the ways in which culture and mathematics are related and intertwined (Nielson 1991).
In sciences, the study of environments can be done from the perspectives of the diversity of cultural understanding. Eventhough this would mean additional and laborious tasks on the part of the teachers, it is better as compared to mono-cultural approach as such there will be a high manifestation of learning not only in the subject matter but also in the culture of their respective orientations. While the students are learning the subject matter that they need to accomplish, they are likewise acquiring a sense of the understanding the different cultures that the different students posses in their classroom.
In this sense, the teacher avoids discrimination with respect to the cultural orientation of the students. In the teaching and learning process of the multicultural approach, likewise, there is a need for various teaching strategies to cater the various learning needs of the different learners inside the classroom. In this case, the teachers must consider that students are confined with the multiple intelligences and each type needs different teaching maxims (Armstrong 2000).
When teaching a particular subject, the teacher must not only use devices which are intended for the visual learners but also to the other types of learners such as auditory, tactile, and the like. For instance, the teacher may provide visual aid for the visual learners, recordings and sounds for the auditory and practical application for the tactile type of learners. Through this, there would be less discrimination in the different types of learners. The students find no discrimination as such all of them are being addressed with their different learning needs.
Along with the diversity of the curriculum and the teaching strategies to suffice the needs of the diverse culturally responsive learners are the diverse culturally oriented stakeholders of the education. The change in the school setting from mono-cultural to multicultural approach should be a hand in hand effort of all the stakeholders of the education which include, aside from the students, teachers, administrators, parents, community leaders and government.
The teachers should be the ones to observe multicultural approach of education inside the school through observance of the anti-discrimination acts not only in the school but as well as in the whole community. However, the teacher cannot alone do all the tasks to maintain fairness and justice inside the school. The other stakeholders of education should also take their parts in maintaining an education with an environment free from prejudice, racism and discrimination. Education of today’s generation should incorporate multitude of voices in multicultural society so that there would be effective observance of multiculturalism (Banks 1997).
This means that education should be treated as a thing tantamount to equality and fairness. And the country successfully achieved this goal through the collaborative efforts of the teachers, administrators and the other stakeholders of education in the community. Multicultural education is considered to be very advantageous to the educational system of the country since it provides and promotes an educational reform which is beneficial to every stakeholder of education.
But nonetheless, observance to this educational reform is not an easy task. The main problem, perhaps, that a teacher may encounter in observing and maintaining multicultural approach to education is the curriculum as well as the teaching strategies for this kind of classroom set up. To maintain multicultural education requires different curriculum to suffice the needs of both normal and special students. The same holds true with the teaching strategies that will be sued in order to execute the lesson everyday.
Careful planning of the teaching methodologies and strategies for each lesson is a prerequisite for the successful observance of multicultural education. Likewise, it is very difficult for the teacher to carry out multicultural education approach inside the classroom especially if the students are unresponsive. In order to successfully incorporate multicultural approach in the classroom, the students should have also participation during the class or session. And also, not only the students but the administrators are also needed to take their part in the reformation of the educational set up.
This entails that the success of the multicultural education lies on the collaborative effort of the students, teacher, administrators and the community. However, though it requires too much persistence and hard work not only on the part of the teachers but as well as on the part of the students, administrators, community leaders and government, multicultural education is a great revolution in the country as such it will not only develop and enhance the educational setting itself but it will also enlighten the perception of the world to justice, fairness and equality.
The Need for An Inclusive Multicultural Classroom for the Disabled Students Aside from a classroom with diverse gender, socio-economic standing, socio-cultural orientation and religion, multicultural approach in education is very much needed specifically in the classrooms with special and disabled students. It has been found out that special students like the disabled ones find a great dilemma inside a classroom that does not observe multicultural approach over years.
The problem is believed to be a result of the lack of equality and fairness among the disabled students. In most universities and colleges, special students find “academic fatigue” due to their inability to adapt to the academic requirements that the educational institutions are requiring them as well as the pressure that the environment brings them as disabled ones (Barnes 2007). In this case, the disabled students find dilemma in their respective educational institution because they are not given equal opportunities inside the classroom.
The teachers and administrators do not consider the various aspects of the students such as their socio-cultural orientations, social classes, levels of cognition, and many others. In order to resolve this problem, there must be a total reformation in every classroom of the country. Teachers and administrators should practice multicultural approach in an inclusive education for the disabled students. Hence, an inclusive education that observes multicultural education must be strictly observed in order to solve the said problem and revolutionize the old concept of education for the betterment of the disabled students.
Inclusive education is built on the premise that all students should be valued for their unique abilities and included as essential members of a school community (Causton-Theoharis & Theoharis 2008). Inclusion, in addition, is considered to be an active process which entails an unabashed announcement that leads to a public and political declaration and celebration of difference. Inclusion requires continuous proactive response in order to maintain inclusive educational culture.
This educational idea is typically found in multicultural urban schools where cultural and linguistics barriers serves as a daily challenge inside the classroom (Corbett 2001). Through the inclusive education that permits multicultural education for the disabled ones, students will not suffer from the burden of “academic fatigue” brought about by the negligence to the different and unique abilities of the disabled students compared to the normal students. To be able to successfully carry out inclusive multicultural education inside the classroom, power and voice are particularly important aspects in this educational reformation (Slee 2008).
The relationships between the disabled, the typical students and the professionals in the educational institution are considered to be central considerations to the development of multicultural education. There should be a hand on hand cooperation between these elements so that the educational reformation will become smooth-sailing. Hence, it is very difficult to observe and maintain multicultural education approach in the classroom since there are a lot of considerations that need proper and careful attention. Nonetheless, multicultural education would be very beneficial to all stakeholders of education when successfully carried out.
Among the advantages that an inclusive multicultural education brings to a classroom is the sense of belongingness of the disabled students which is considered to be a basic need for each person. Disabled children begin with the commonalities they have with the other children and typically show the urge that they can and they want to belong in different ways. One of which is their desire to become part and to belong in the school context. They really want to have the same opportunities and experiences just like the non-disabled peers.
In this context, it would very be helpful if the students with disabilities are mingled and mixed with other pupils whom they feel they have more in common since through them they find comfort and belongingness. Through the interaction of the disabled students with the normal ones, they will definitely experience the sense of belongingness and peer support which are very essential for developing social skills and self-esteem. It is indeed beneficial on the part of the students since the sense of belongingness is one of the important aspects under Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Pride, et.
al. 2009). If this need is satisfied properly, there would be greater chance for the students to learn and explore more about their talents and skills. Sociological researches and surveys, however, have shown that education nowadays is much more likely to confirm existing inequality and discrimination than to help in eliminating and eradicating them (Larskaia-Smirnova & Loshakova 2004). It is found out that the ability of the handicapped children to obtain a good and quality education is intervened by various structural limitations linked to social inequality.
Teachers in most schools pay more attention to the best and most capable students while the handicapped ones are placed on the bottom of the school hierarchy. Disabled students are frequently ignored and the focus of attention is given to the more capable students. This results to unintentional discrimination within the context of the school system. And this practice is indeed very disadvantageous to the part of the disabled students. Limitations of the Multicultural Education for Special Students
Some criticized that the success of the multicultural education among the disabled students does not materialize because of the limitations from the teachers. Some teachers do not perceive special education as a means in order to help the students with disabilities. In some cases, the teachers are the ones who serve as the source of prejudice and discrimination inside the classroom. If a teacher, for instance, responds to a disabled student in a manner that the said student will be perceived as different from the typical ones, the other students would also perceive them as different among the others.
In this manner, the disabled students are unintentionally discriminated by the teacher and the students inside the classroom. Because of the modeling seen by the students from the teacher, the typical students might used to discriminate the disabled ones and think that the disabled students are really different from them. This would lead the students to the sense of inequality, discrimination and prejudice among themselves. In this case, the teacher serves as a model to the students. The typical students learn their behavior through observation and imitation of peers as well as through reference to authority figures.
This is called social referencing theory which suggests that an individual gains information about social setting from a familiar or trusted person (De Schauwer 2009). The teachers, nevertheless, should be the ones to promote equality inside the classroom in order to make multicultural education successful. Since they are the most authoritative figures inside the classroom, the teachers should serve as an example to the students so that the latter will develop sense of equality among themselves.
To be able to contribute to the success of the multicultural education, the teacher should have the in-depth understanding of the paradigm of multicultural education. This would eliminate the chance of unintentional discrimination inside the classroom. Studies revealed that teachers with special education coursework and teachers who had received training in special education had more positive attitudes towards inclusive multicultural education as compared to the teachers who lacked in-service training in special education (Drowning, et. al. 2007).
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