EDU 6120- Multicultural Education in Historical Light

Horace Mann chose the path of teaching over a successful career as a lawyer because he believed in universal education, equal access to knowledge for all citizens regardless of social position. As Director of the Massachusetts Board of Education he wrote the “Annual Reports” that had a great influence on American Education. This work was revolutionary considering that during early to mid 1800’s universal education was not state law. In fact, most children growing up in politically and socially marginalized ethnic or cultural groups did not have the privilege of an education. Mann believed in the power of education to transform consumers into producers and raise the level of productivity by raising intelligence. According to Scheuerman (2014), Mann read his entire hometown, Franklin, Massachusetts, library as a youth. I think this says a great deal about Mann’s commitment to having a depth and breadth of knowledge to share with his future students. Perhaps he was seeking to know the perspectives of all the cultures that compose a learning community.
Ellis and Stuen (1998), address the history of multicultural education in America in terms of past mistakes educational reformers have imposed. Historically, the myriad cultures that compose America have been referred to as a “melting pot” and students have been asked to conform to a shared American identity. The problem with this model is the only shared American identity that exists is one of a complex collage of the myriad cultural identities that define American culture. Therefore, modern recommendations made by Gilliom and Remy are to involve multicultural education in all areas of curriculum, capitalize on local economies to show students micro-models- i.e. banks, stores, post offices, and work to understand all people to eliminate social problems. Rather than a “melting pot”, I prefer to think of American multicultural society as a “mixed salad”. As a teacher, it is our responsibility to ensure that all the precious ingredients in the salad have equal stage to be understood and appreciated. The cultural factors that Ellis and Stuen recommend a teacher consider when designing curriculum are gender, religious affiliation, geographical location, economics, race, and ethnicity. I would add to this that family structure and ability are essential considerations.
As a teacher, it is a great responsibility that young people are depending on us more than anyone in their lives to offer an education that empowers them with the tools they will need to be socially and occupationally successful on a global scale. I think utilizing as many resources as possible to bring engaging and current multicultural knowledge to my students is going to be the key to success. On a micro-level, I can facilitate opportunities for students to engage with local community members and associations. For example, Professor Scheuerman brought a local Nez Perce storyteller to his class to share the mythos of his indigenous tribe with students. On a micro-level, I can connect students with engaging lessons that illuminate global cultures. For example, I would like to design a fun unit that gives students the opportunity to Skype, and ask informative questions of a same-age class in another country. In conclusion, I believe the key to offering a responsible and dynamic multicultural education is never thinking that I know it all, and being willing to have conversations to promote understanding and celebration of all cultures. While taking a diversity in education course at Seattle Pacific University, I was turned on to a wonderful website written by the professor and a collaborator that offers advice and resources for educators who wish to be culturally responsible in their teaching. I would like to share a link to Dr. Caprice Hollins website Cultures Connecting: Addressing Race Relations in the 21st Century- http://culturesconnecting.com/. I have found this resource to be rich and wise in advice for how to be an effective multicultural educator.
References:
Ellis, A.K. and Stuen, C.J. (1998). The interdisciplinary curriculum. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.
Scheuerman, R. (Producer). (2014a, August 7) Session 7 A: Horace Mann-Life & Philosophy [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://dl.dropbox.com/u/79839793/session%207%20podcast%20a.mp3
Scheuerman, R. (Producer). (2014b, August 7) Session 7 A: Horace Mann-“Annual Reports” [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://dl.dropbox.com/u/79839793/session%207%20podcast%20b.mp3
Scheuerman, R. (n.d.). Session 7: Practical and Universal Education. Retrieved fromhttp://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-2-ellis-schooling-and-education.pdf

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