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Benefits of the Multicultural Education

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Various authors view this concept differently. According to Squelch, Lemmer & Dekker (1993:35) multicultural education is a multiple education program providing multiple learning environments that match the needs of learners. It is an intervention and an ongoing assessment that helps institutions and individuals become more responsive to the human condition, individual cultural integrity, and cultural pluralism in society. Baptize (1979:15) defines multicultural education as the ‘transference of the recognition of a pluralistic society into a system of education. Multicultural education implies the presence of learners from different cultural heritages learning together in the same classroom, been exposed to the cultures of others while also enjoying the nature of their own cultures. In multicultural classrooms the multiplicity of cultures are accepted as valuable educational resources. Although participants are more or less inevitable assimilated into the ‘mainstream’ culture, the cultural heritages of constituent minorities are consciously valued and secured. Multicultural education, as it is usually described in education literature, essentially implies the presence of children drawn from different racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, learning together in the same classroom. It is stated that mono cultural education stunts the growth of the imagination and critical skills of students and causes them to judge other cultures and societies by the norms and standards of their own and to find them odd even worthless (Bhikhu. Parekh, 2000). He further explains that Education is neither Culturally nor politically neutral. ( Bhikhu Parekh (1986). It is proposed that school climate and hidden curriculum, teaching styles and strategies, language of communicating, elements of participation, formal education and training program, measurement and evaluation methods, instructional materials, attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and behaviors of school staff and school policies, also, should be changed by multicultural education which aims at ensuring equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their gender, sexual opportunities, social classes, ethnic, racial and cultural features. It tends to be characterized by a non racial or anti-racist stance on the part of teaching staff. It encompasses a policy of systematically exposing pupils to a variety of cultural heritages in an endeavor to offer a broad general education while fostering tolerance and empathy (Tidbury, 1992: 12-15).

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Fante (2000:35) argues that multicultural education enhances a teaching and learning approach which is ideal for the aspirations of the present education system, albeit that the advantages of multicultural education remain debatable Squelch (1993) note that scholars criticize multicultural education for its inability to bring about significant structural reform and address deep-seated racism in society. Moreover, Fante (2000:35) and Squelch (1993) argue that multicultural education tends to focus on the weak assumption that cultural understanding will lead to greater tolerance and racial harmony. This implies that multicultural education fails to deal with the real reasons why ethnic and cultural groups are oppressed and victimized. Multicultural education is also taken to task for regarding racism as an outcome of individual ignorance and prejudice rather than focusing on inherent structural factors in society.

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