A Review of the Necessity
September 22, 2001
Millions of people make the United States their new home annually, and that number is increasing each year. These people come to our country with the same hope for freedom and opportunity as some of our own ancestors did. If we are to continue to be a united nation, we must try to reform our education system so that we can reach out to and educate as many students as possible. We must establish a better understanding of people and their cultures. We must include all students into the curriculum so that each student will feel self-worth. By doing these things, we can decrease the dropout rate and increase the ever important test scores. I believe that multicultural education is needed in public school so that all students of today's highly diverse society have the same opportunity to receive a high-quality education.
Multicultural education is defined in the American Educators' Encyclopedia (1991) as "curricula designed to recognize the integrity, contributions, strengths, and viability of different cultural, language, and social groups in society" (537).
Educators should work to create understanding of culture. In a recent report, Samovar and Porter (1994) defined culture as "the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, spiritual relations, concept of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving" (p.1) By creating an understanding of culture, we can produce a culturally enriched society for the future; much needed for a diverse society. If people understand each other better, people tend to establish better relationships. Armstrong, Henson, and Savage stated in Teaching Today (2001) that there is a problem "becoming critical in this country; while the vast majority of teachers continue to be drawn from the white middle class, the learners in the nations classrooms reflect more racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity with each passing year" (p.100).
In order to include every student in our classes, we must be familiar with our students and their view of the world around them. We should strive to help empower the many different cultures of our society. To achieve this, teachers should communicate regularly with parents, understand what is important in our students' lives, and be involved in the communities in which we serve. We must be open-minded and willing to modify our strategies as different needs arise. In our state, teachers are required to follow standards modeled by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC). (Table 1) The ten principles of the INTASC standards include such concepts as: the teacher creates learning experiences that make subject matter...