Respecting Cultural Differences In The Classroom

1224 words - 5 pages

Culture is the beliefs, knowledge, values, religion, symbols, beliefs, relationships, and attitude of a particular group of people that are passed down through generations of evolving. The people of the cultural group continue to perpetuate their social history by participating in the activities which are indicative of their society (Piland, 2000). The people in the subculture will share their knowledge with each other through communication to cultivate the behaviors in future generations that they have accumulated as a society or group. Culture is a way of life - it is symbolic - it is patterned behaviors that repeats generation after generation and is distinctive to one group of people.Multicultural education is an attempt to bring about social change in the classroom through education. It forces staff and students to examine and re-examine their cultural heritage and the cultures found in society around them. The United States was known for years as the melting pot of the world and when all those different cultures came together they often segregated themselves so they lived in neighborhoods with people of their own culture. Due to that self-segregation for many years there was antagonism, aggression and misconception between different subcultures (Smith, 1998). Now as families are moving across those cultural boundaries, they must learn to understand and accept their differences. The United States government has recognized this cultural war that is ongoing in our country and has waged several attempts to educate and end the differences while promoting tolerance and acceptance.Multicultural education can address cultural differences and cultural bias in a classroom by teaching understanding and tolerance instead of dislike, distrust or hate. Most people are afraid of what they don't know or understand, however if you begin educating children at a young age about the people and cultures found in society in their environment then they will have a diverse experience and find it easier to accept unique heritages (Piland, 1996). Multicultural programs have to validate all the children and their families who are invested in that classroom and they need to accept that they are different and that it is okay to be different. Children need to understand that even in a particular culture that there are differences and variability within their own groups (Piland, 1996).The concept that each culture has something to add to society as a whole and enriches our world and lives is an important concept that we can teach children. If the children of today are sent into the world with a strong understanding of culture and tolerance it can only lead to a better world for future generations (Mingle, 1987). If we can teach children tolerance and acceptance, then we will begin to have a culturally enriched society which in turn will lead to stronger personal relationships in our own lives.There are several types of multicultural programs used in schools, among them...

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