~ B. Sujitha
Multicultural Education is a method of education that includes beliefs and point of views of every individual from different backgrounds and social settings. It highlights diversity. Multicultural education emphasises a social variety of thoughts. It encourages youngsters to think with a broad mind. It benefits students by familiarising them with new thoughts and critical thinking.
Some of the key aspects of multicultural education are the inclusion of the concepts like race, ethnicity, language, religion etc. Into everyday education of children. Under Multicultural education, children are taught the importance of diversity and tolerance. This strategy of teaching is successful in advancing the ideals of democracy, sense of belongingness, togetherness, the importance of perspectives etc.
Role of teachers in promoting Multicultural Education:
Teachers play a crucial role in making multicultural education a success. Teachers need to come up with different tools and techniques for better implementation. Teachers should help students in understanding the knowledge and practices of various cultures. Teachers should modify their teaching techniques so that they promote an education that can be understood by everyone. Teachers play an important role in shaping an inclusive attitude of students.
A study by the University of Washington has come up with five important techniques that teachers need to follow. They are Content integration; Knowledge construction and transformation; prejudice reduction mechanisms; a pedagogy that promotes equity; developing an empowering school culture. Each of these five principles requires careful attention.
Advantages of multicultural education:
a) Increase in exposure:
Multicultural education widens the horizons of students. Multicultural education provides an opportunity for interaction. Interactions help in better understanding. Better understanding leads to acceptance of people with differences.
b)Promotes critical thinking:
Students are exposed to a diversity of opinions. This is crucial in making them think critically before jumping to conclusions. Critical thinking also prevents absurd categorisation based on differences. Multicultural education in this way acts as a strong promoter of anti-bias classrooms.
Multicultural education gives due recognition to diversity within the classroom. It doesn’t promote bias. The central theme of multicultural education is to make students participate in the classroom without losing their identity and values. This will help in students feeling inclusionary.
d) Develops tolerance and acceptance:
The highly important offshoot of multicultural education is to promote tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance and acceptance are two important life skills. Inculcating them from the school level is very useful. These values can be taken forward in later stages of life too. Through this, we can achieve a great level of social harmony.
Multicultural education is an important method of infusing education. But the implementation and practice of it are not easy. There are some serious roadblocks in the flourishing of multicultural education.
- a) Language barrier is a formidable bottleneck. This impacts the level of communication that can happen between students. And this further impacts the levels of acceptance and tolerance.
- b)A multicultural classroom is replete with students from different diversities. This diversity can also be linguistic diversity. students may speak different languages, with no one common language. In such cases, it is difficult to decide on the language medium of instruction. Even when a medium of instruction is decided, not every student can understand it.
- c) In India, we are facing the problem of vacancies for a lot of teacher positions. In some states, it is to the extent of 60 to 70%. This is a serious impediment in the road to reap the benefits of multicultural education.
India is a multiethnic and multicultural country. We need multicultural education. It can promote more inclusivity and belongingness. We are seriously lagging in our teacher-student ratio; teachers recruitment; teacher education training. A better focus on all these is the need of the hour. By doing this, we can move towards more oneness with diversity.