General Guidelines for a Multicultural Classroom

The table below outlines general steps for a multicultural classroom.  Author's tips includes a few specific ideas for reaching out to students of all cultures.


Steps for integrating multicultural education, adapted from Banks (1993) and Gorski (2012)


Step

Process at this step

Example

1

Content Integration (Banks) or Heroes & Holidays (Gorski): including names and examples of people from multiple cultures

In discussing evolution or DNA mutations, bring in the work of Motoo Kimura (1984) on neutral theory

2

Integration (Gorski): going beyond just mentioning names or a holiday for another culture, this step has teachers bringing in significant information from other cultures and creating units to understand another culture.  The method of teaching is still Euro-centric, but the teacher would highlight different cultures and how they contributed to our understanding.

A biology teacher might describe the first smallpox "vaccine" (innoculation) from China when discussing the immune system and vaccination (Behbehani, 1983 -- free PDF).

 

3

Knowledge Construction (Banks) or Structural Reform (Gorski): adding significant amounts of information from the non-dominant race (in the United States, this would be non-Western-based biology concepts) into the curriculum, and also framing the information from the dominant race in terms of understanding the perspective of the vocabulary used and the viewpoint of the culture providing that knowledge.  This begins to move past Euro-centric teaching, as we frame even Euro-centric ideas not as pure truth but as one cultural perspective.

Herbert(2008) juxtaposed local Trinidadian knowledge with Western knowledge on the development of colds, teens and pimples, and cooling off in order to connect diverse viewpoints.

4

Equity pedagogy (Banks): In this step, teachers expand the methods they use in the classroom.  This benefits all learners and gives students a chance to learn and display their learning in ways that feel comfortable and/or familiar.  This includes using different types of groupings, including cooperative groups, role-playing, inquiry-based work through discovery, and other differentiation.  This moves beyond the competitive style of learning and into a collaborative, more group-oriented effort that can combine the knowledge and perspectives of all students.

 

Techniques such as group jigsaws, letting students share their experiences, and investigation into open-ended problems can be used to reach this step.

5

Multicultural, social action, and awareness (Gorski): This final step involves moving into understanding the social issues that come to light in different biological concepts. 

For example, some Native groups do not want their DNA used to contradict origin histories or determine members of their tribe (American Scientist article).


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