I could not imagine having started my Master’s program with a better course. The context and the different perspectives gained throughout this class created a reminder, in all of my times of stress, as to why I was choosing this course of study. Learning different ways to create a more equitable learning experience for students is a step in the direction toward my future priorities for creating Educational Policy.
Nieto & Bode mention briefly the importance of involving a child in planning their own education (p. 125). The idea seems so simple, and yet I have never first-handedly seen it in practice. Sometimes given the freedom of having choices can be overwhelming, but if given a few options, students may be able to create their own plan of study and enjoy their learning experience. Instead, students are exposed to rigorous schedules without options, which can lead to defiance for many students, as well as a hatred for school. I have always been an active learner; passionate about the topics I choose to learn. I think every student should get the opportunity to choose their own destiny and use their time to explore their own interests, rather than being thrown into an institution that does not praise freedom. Of course there are basic concepts that everyone should be required to learn (i.e., math, reading, writing), and yet most things beyond my basic elementary knowledge have been the result of independent research into topics of my own choosing.
Banks’ approach to multicultural education was another topic that informed me about many of the different ways teachers, schools, and administration approaches topics of diversity, particularly when looking at their curriculum. The mainstream centric views that were mentioned in Banks’ article suggests that a lot of curriculum continues to reinforce views of white superiority as well as deny children from seeing various perspectives (p. 247-48). However, rather than reiterating the current state of ignorance within curriculum diversity, Banks’ seeks to create reform within the classroom to further provide students with multicultural topics.
If reform is to be made, much of the political resistance must first be made visible to society, rather than the false knowledge many people have that racism is a thing of the past. One belief is that multicultural perspectives will “challenge the existing power structure” (Banks & Banks, p. 250). Aside from this, it is essential that current administrators forgo the assimilationist ideology that views the U.S. and Whites as having supreme historical contributions. As a student who acquired all historical knowledge from Pennsylvania public schools, I feel both cheated and ignorant as to the larger picture of our Earth’s history. I can name a fraction of the countries and recite less than 1% as to the origin of any other culture besides my own. Looking at the Levels of Integration identified by Banks and Banks (2007) allowed me to further grasp the types of multicultural education that currently exist, and which methods would be more effective to advance towards in the future.
If progress were to be made in society, a social action approach, along with the transformation approach, would be most ideal. By restructuring the way students learn and integrating multicultural information into all lessons, this notion of what is “normal” or “acceptable” can hopefully become a thing of the past. As children begin to learn about each other using interactive methodology, involving both history and social action, a deeper understanding can be achieved. Unfortunately, I do realize this idea may be far too idealistic. However, is that the realist in me or just the influence I have received from my own educational background thus far?
Multicultural education needs to go beyond celebrating a holiday one day a year that honors Martin Luther King, Jr. It needs to go beyond bringing in Spanakopita as a way of educating a child’s peers on their Greek background. Most importantly, I believe that students deserve to know that there is something and someone out there that is different from what they know. One thing I have witnessed too often is the complete inability to relate to a person based on skin color, language, culture, food, etc., all of which can be avoided by educating students on the differences that exist in this world.
Banks, J.A., & Banks, C.A.M. (2007). Approaches to Multicultural Curriculum Reform. (6th Ed.) Multicultural Education (247-269). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Nieto, S., & Bode, P. (2012). Affirming Diversity. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.