The American education system seems to be rooted in the competition mindset that impedes equality. Referring to multicultural education, James Banks (2010) indicates that the emphasis on test preparation has driven attention away from the liberal education that students need in order to live in a diverse society. Especially given the demographics in certain areas. CUNY's LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City NY is, for example, one of the most diverse campuses I know and once I enter a classroom, it is evident that diversity of cultures, languages, traditions and different ways of learning coexist in the same learning environment.
I have come to realize about my somewhat limited definition of multicultural education. I only thought of it as being strictly related ethnic background. And in my experience as a college student, it was common to see people very different than me in my classes. As Sonia Nieto and Patty Bode (2012) point out, multicultural education does not only entail language, culture or aspects of identity, but it is inclusive of all other aspects such as access to education resources, and power and privilege in the society.
In a recent New York Times article titled Is Your First Grader College Ready?, the author, Laura Pappano, recounts what Johnsonville Elementary School in Harnett county, N.C. is doing to have their students be more college-ready. Students pick out the college they’d like to go to and are engaged in lessons that include learning about campuses, filling out college applications, and creating to do lists so that they learn what the process is: graduate from high school, pick a college, send in the application, and go to class and study hard. Also, some schools even schedule actual tours on campuses so that students get a real picture of what college is like.
This approach, however, does raise some concerns to parents because some claim that students should be focusing on math, reading, and not precisely in taking a giant step towards college. They claim that students may be missing the “here” and “now.” Finally, this issue relates to students’ motivation and access to resources to educate themselves. It is imperative that if students want to have access to a higher education degree, they understand what the process is like and cultivate a mindset of “I can do it.”
Banks, J. (2010). "Multicultural education: characteristics and goals." Pp. 3-30 in Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Nieto, S. & Bode, P. (2012). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education (6th edition). Boston: Pearson.
Pappano, L. (2015, February 4). Is Your First Grader College Ready? The New York Times, p. ED12.
I am the Academic Resource Center Coordinator at the Center for Teaching and Learning at LaGuardia Community College working primarily in the First Year Seminar initiative. I am also a student in the MA program in educational psychology at Hunter College. I am particularly passionate with the use of technology in learning environments. Read more about me.