The Call to Teach: Multicultural Education

The Call to Teach: Multicultural Education

America’s “melting pot” status is one that most citizens are proud to claim. The fact that people here often refer to themselves as one ethnicity or another, and rarely as simply an American, is proof that being from somewhere else – however far removed – is a source of familial pride. Even African Americans, who do not always have an Ellis Island story in the family tree, find collective strength in the stories of their ancestors and what it means for their lives today.

This blending of cultures is both a blessing and curse of the K-12 classroom. With more diversity than ever, teachers have to adjust methods from one student to the next, and from one year to the next. Multiculturalism is about more than a classroom with varied skin color – it includes careful examination of the neighborhoods, parenting styles and general experiences that shape each and every K-12 student.

In my new book The Call to Teach: An Introduction to Teaching, I examine multicultural education and what impact the diverse students of today will have on the next generation of educators. Today I want to touch on the term “multiculturalism” and examine its meaning in K-12 classrooms.

Defining Multiculturalism

In its most basic sense, multicultural education is a progressive approach for transforming education based on educational equality and social justice. The components required in educating a multicultural education are content integrations, prejudice reduction, empowering school culture and social culture. These all relate and all require attention as they relate to the efforts of conflict resolution in today’s world. What kids learn in their classroom environments when it comes to interactions with those who are different from them translates into how well they will manage life in the global marketplace.

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In the last century, there has been an increase in global mutual acceptance of opposing views and different cultures – though arguably, there is still a long way to go. Specifically when it comes to America, it is crucial that multicultural education exist with the increasing number of students who speak a second language and come from somewhere else. Diversity exists even within mainstream society and students need to have the communication life skills that multicultural education promotes.

Teaching in a Multicultural Society

So what does all this talk about multiculturalism really mean in the contemporary classroom? What can teachers do to make sure they practice pedagogical individualism and promote the diversity that exists in society as a whole? Since each classroom is different, each approach will be varied as well. Some important common ground when it comes to multicultural teaching should include:

Careful observation. David Kolb created a four-step model for really understanding the needs of a particular student group. He starts with concrete experience, adds reflective observation and then moves to abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. In other words, multicultural education cannot be taught in a textbook. It must be developed by each educator based on a particular student group.

Learning style guidance. Teachers can help students discover their academic strengths by helping them discover their own learning style. In this way, students discover what method of comprehension works best for them based on their own backgrounds and personalities. If educators make this learning style quest a class project, an inherent lesson in multiculturalism is taught.

Pride in heritage. Educators should look for ways to emphasize the differences between students in a positive light. This might mean writing essays on family background or partnering with other students to help each other develop projects that accent the culture of the other. This can include prompts that look back on family history for generations, or could ask students to look at their current family setup.

There are scores of ways that educators can approach multiculturalism in K-12 classrooms but the first step is recognizing its importance. For today’s students to experience lifelong success on the global scale, educators must recognize the need for multiculturalism in pedagogy.

How do you adjust to and promote multiculturalism in your classrooms?

Link to the online article. 

Helping children over the double language barrier

Monday, January 6, 2014, 16:25 by
Claudia Calleja

Helping children over the double language barrier

Just over 272 children who attend State schools cannot communicate with their teachers or peers since they do not understand Maltese or English, according to Ray Facciol, assistant director of the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education. In November, an induction centre was opened to help children who arrived in Malta facing the double language barrier. However, the government is now trying to draw up a plan to address the children who landed in Malta before November.

Consultation meetings are being held.

Maltese is like a bubble that cannot be burst or a house you are locked out of, according to two of the 272 immigrant children who attend school in Malta but have communication problems.

These children, most of them in primary school, cannot understand Maltese or English, which makes learning a struggle for them and their teachers.

A 12-year-old immigrant girl, who illustrated her perception of Maltese with a drawing, drew a large wave with a ship on its crest and explained that people who knew Maltese were in that ship.

She then pointed to the bottom of the wave where there was a wrecked ship – she was in that ship since she could not communicate, explained teacher Sharon Micallef Cann, who spoke to these children as part of her Masters’ thesis in Applied Language Studies.

When teachers have a positive feeling about students, the students feel it and they move forward.

In her research she looked at immigrant students in Malta and the language barrier they face – a subject that was discussed during a consultation workshop organised by the Education Ministry on Friday.

At the moment, 272 of the children who attend State schools cannot communicate with their teachers or peers since they do not understand either language, explains Ray Facciol, assistant director of the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education.

With the influx of immigrants, their numbers have increased over the years and the government is now drawing up a plan to tackle the issue.

In November the Pembroke induction centre was opened to take in new students who arrive in Malta facing the double language barrier.

However, the government is now trying to draw up a plan to address the children who landed in Malta before November, and who are struggling in the mainstream system.

Consultation meetings are being held in preparation for drawing up the plan. On Friday the ministry organised a meeting for educators and invited US researcher and author Cristina Igoa to share her experience working with immigrant children and language.

An immigrant child originating from the Philippines, Dr Igoa is an expert in multicultural education and the author of the book The Inner World of the Immigrant Child in which she talks about her experience helping immigrant children learn English in California, where she lives.

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We need to teach them the basics such as why the bell rings – that it’s not because there is an emergency

“I focused on the aspect of reading English and on getting them on grade level (to have the reading skills required in the grade they were in) and then they’re going to be successful… When the teachers have a positive feeling about students, the students feel it and they move forward,” she said.

Over the years she has met some of the children she taught, and who are now working adults.

Some time ago she got a friend request on Facebook from a young man and she did not accept it.

He then sent her an e-mail identifying himself as a student from the class of 1993. He told her he had become the sales manager of the biggest tequila company in Mexico and spoke perfect English during his travels.

Such success stories are encouraging to Elizabeth Pisani, a coordinator within the Education Ministry.

The ministry had to ensure that the plan being drawn up would offer a holistic approach to the realities faced by the immigrant children who were in Malta, she said.

Some, from war-torn countries like Libya and Syria, were “shell-shocked” and had seen atrocities no one their age should experience. Apart from facing the language barrier, some children did not have any experience of schooling.

“We need to teach them the basics such as why the bell rings – that it’s not because there is an emergency,” she said. …

Online source.

Teach Oregon looks to increase diversity in Springfield’s educators


SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — A new initiative in the Springfield School District hopes to increase diversity in the district’s teaching staff.

Student ethnic demographics are changing nationwide, and Springfield is no different. The district is taking part in a program to hire teachers that reflect these trends.

District officials said that a third of its students are minorities, while the racial makeup of educators is overwhelmingly white.

The district is taking part in Teach Oregon, a program to attract more diverse teachers.

Assistant superintendent Matt Coleman said he hopes diversity in the classroom will benefit the community and students.

“We talk a lot in education about how do we personalize.  Part of personalization is having the students’ culture and background reflected not only in the curriculum but in who is delivering it,” said Coleman.

Springfield schools will partner with area universities, allowing college education students the chance to get hands-on experience.

The district plans to pay for costs associated with obtaining a degree and license. The total price tag for the first five years of the program is estimated to be one point three million dollars.

“As we look to employ these teachers in the first several years of their teaching, part of their salary goes to pay back the tuition that was paid forward,” said Coleman

Yareli Montano grew up in Oregon, never having a minority role model. She often felt out of place in school.

“You feel disconnected at times.  I know I did, and I felt like ‘oh you don’t know where I come from, you don’t know what I’m going through, you don’t know my struggles’,” Montano said.

Since working at Hamlin Middle School, her aspirations have changed. Now, she wants to be a teacher, and hopes Teach Oregon can help her realize her dream.

“I feel like it’s a huge opportunity for both teachers and students. Even if you’re not a student of color you get to have interaction with a teacher who is different than you,” said Yareli.

The Springfield District hopes to have fifty candidates within the first three years of the Teach Oregon program, half of whom would be minorities.

Full on-line article with video.

Speaking the language of change in Asia-Pacific

Asia-Pacific is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse regions in the world. However, rather than benefiting from this cultural richness, a lack of mother-tongue based education all too often means that those who speak minority languages are trapped in a vicious cycle of marginalization and discrimination.

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Breaking that cycle and recognizing the integral role of mother-tongue based multilingual education (MTB MLE) in the Education for All (EFA) process will be the primary focus of a major international conference being held by UNESCO Bangkok from 6-8 November, 2013.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana will deliver the welcoming speech at the 4th International Conference on Language And Education: Multilingual Education for all in Asia and the Pacific – Policies, Practices, and Processes, which will be held at Bangkok’s Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel.

Other top policy-makers and non-governmental organization representatives from around the region and beyond will discuss successes and challenges in implementing MLE programmes in their countries. Experts in the field from international universities and think-tanks will also share their research and insights.

The event is the fourth in a series of international conferences organized by the Asia Multilingual Education Working Group (Asia MLE WG) that aims to build national and local capacity in designing, implementing and monitoring MLE programmes in the region.

Four thematic tracks will be featured at the conference: Multilingual education: What and Why: Towards Sound MLE Policy: Language and Language-in-Education Policy and Planning in Asia and the Pacific; Delivering Quality and Inclusive MLE: Teachers, Pedagogy and Innovations; and Measuring Impact.

The conference aims to strengthen momentum for MLE in the region and serve as a platform for a forward-looking debate that can help shape inclusive and progressive education policies for the post-2015 agenda.

The Event:4th International Conference on Language and Education: Multiple Education for All in Asia and the Pacific – Policies, Practices and Processes.
When: 6-8 November 2013.


Online source.  

Teaching Diversity

Teaching diversity

Online source.