SDE: Multicultural Education

Multicultural Education

Multicultural Education: Definitions
The many definitions of multicultural education share common principles. Dr. Geneva Gay, Professor of Education at the University of Washington, has written a very concise overview of multicultural education.

Curriculum Guidelines for Multicultural Education prepared by the NCSS Task Force on Ethnic Studies Curriculum Guidelines, rev.1991,

Common Definitions:

Multicultural Education is at least three things: an idea or concept, an educational reform movement, and a process.

  • It incorporates the idea that all students, regardless of their gender, social, ethnic, racial or cultural characteristics, should have an equal opportunity to learn in school.
  • It is a reform movement designed to make some major changes in schools and other educational institutions so that students from all social classes, gender, racial, and cultural groups will have an equal opportunity to learn.
  • It is an ongoing process whose goals, which include educational equality and improving academic achievement, will never be realized because they are ideals toward which human beings work but never attain.
    Banks, James A. and Cherry A. McGee Banks. (1997). Multicultural Education Issues and Perspectives. 3rd ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. pp. 3-4.

Multicultural education in the United States is an approach to teaching and learning that is based upon democratic values and beliefs, and affirms cultural pluralism within culturally diverse societies and an interdependent world. It is based on the assumption that the primary goal of public education is to foster the intellectual, social, and personal development of virtually all students to their highest potential.                                                  

Bennett, Christine I. (1999). Comprehensive Multicultural Education: Theory and Practice. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. pg. 11.

Multicultural education is an inclusive teaching/learning process that that engages all students in developing a strong sense of self-esteem, discovering empathy for persons of diverse cultural backgrounds, and experiencing equitable opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.

Tiedt, Pamela and Iris M. Tiedt. (1999). Multicultural Teaching: A Handbook of Activities, Information and Resources. 5th ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon, pg. 18.

Multicultural education, defined in a sociopolitical context, is a process of comprehensive school reform and basic education for all students. It challenges and rejects racism and other forms of discrimination in schools and society and accepts and affirms the pluralism (ethnic, linguistic, religious, economic, and gender, among others) that students, their communities, and teachers represent. Multicultural education permeates the curriculum and instructional strategies used in schools, as well as the interactions among teachers, students, and parents, and the very way that schools conceptualize the nature of teaching and learning. Because it uses critical pedagogy as its underlying philosophy and focuses on knowledge, reflection, and action (praxis) as the basis for social change, multicultural education promotes the democratic principles of social justice.

The seven basic characteristics of multicultural education in this definition are:

  1. Multicultural education is antiracist education.
  2. Multicultural education is basic education.
  3. Multicultural education is important for all students.
  4. Multicultural education is pervasive.
  5. Multicultural education is education for social justice.
  6. Multicultural education is a process.
  7. Multicultural education is critical pedagogy.
                 Nieto, Sonia. (1996). Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education. 2nd ed. White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers. pp. 307-308.

Teacher Preparation Programs
Teacher preparation programs in the state's institutions of higher education also have been working hard to address the fact that teachers in Connecticut will be working with increasingly diverse students. Connecticut has a statutory requirement that all teacher preparation programs complete an inter-group relations program. This program should highlight the contributions of various groups to American society; counteract biases, discrimination and prejudices; and assure respect for human diversity and human rights. New accreditation standards, taking effect on July 1, 2003, require that Connecticut teacher preparation programs prepare teacher candidates to demonstrate knowledge, skills, dispositions to help all students in a diverse society learn. The new NCATE standard is listed here.

NCATE Unit Standard 4*

The unit designs, implements, and evaluates curriculum and experiences for candidates to acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn. These experiences include working with diverse higher education and school faculty, diverse candidates, and diverse students in P-12 schools.

Extensive and substantive field experiences and clinical practices are designed to encourage candidates to interact with exceptional students and students from different ethnic, racial, gender, socioeconomic, language, and religious groups. The experiences help candidates confront issues of diversity that affect teaching and student learning and develop strategies for improving student learning and candidates' effectiveness as teachers.

* National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Washington, DC 20036



Content Last Modified on 3/13/2017 11:03:08 AM