Lifelong Learner & Reflective Practitioner

Lifelong Learner & Reflective Practitioner

Let's Transform Our Schools Into TRUE Professional Learning Communities

Let's Transform Our Schools Into TRUE Professional Learning Communities
In Your School- Do all stakeholders subscribe to the belief that EVERYONE has something to learn and EVERYONE has something to teach? This blog can help you gain insight on how to facilitate this transformative mindset with your faculty!

May 2, 2010

What Multicultural Teaching is NOT

Heroes and Holidays- Foods and Festivals

When teachers take this approach, it is common for them to "celebrate" differences by integrating information or resources about famous people and the cultural artifacts of various groups into the mainstream curriculum. Bulletin boards may contain pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks, and teachers may plan special celebrations for Black History Month or Cinco de Maya. Learning about "other cultures" focuses on costumes, foods, music, and other tangible cultural items.

The positive thing about this approach is that at least the teacher is attempting to diversify the curriculum by providing materials and knowledge outside the mainstream culture. This is a pretty common approach taken by teachers because it is fairly easy to implement with little new knowledge. Still, the weaknesses heavily outweigh the strengths:

By focusing celebratory attention on non-dominant groups outside the context of the rest of the curriculum, the teacher is further defining these groups as "the other."

Curricula at this stage fail to address the real experiences of non-dominant groups instead focusing on the accomplishments of a few heroic characters. Students may learn to consider the struggles of non-dominant groups as "extra" information instead of important knowledge in their overall understanding of the world.

The special celebrations at this stage are often used for justification -- not to truly transform the curriculum.

This approach trivializes the overall experiences, contributions, struggles, and voices of non-dominant groups, fitting directly into a euro-centric and male-centric curriculum.