ESSAY: Multiculturalism

Just like mega phenomenon’s of the industrial revolution, globalization, and privatization or even in liberalization, multiculturalism has taken over the world and is seen in every part of the world. What is more important is to imbibe the multicultural value in our daily lives starting basic with education.
Multiculturalism is the phenomenon of multiple groups of cultures existing within one society, largely due to the arrival of immigrant communities, or the acceptance and advocacy of this phenomenon. Multiculturalism occurs naturally when a society is willing to accept the culture of immigrants (with, ideally, immigrants also willing to accept the culture of the land to which they have come). A distinction should be drawn between multiculturalism that occurs simply due to the absence of a single enforced culture and multiculturalism which is endorsed and actively encouraged by the government; this is often referred to as state multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a term with a range of meanings in the contexts of sociology, political philosophy, and in colloquial use. In sociology and everyday usage, it is a synonym for "ethnic pluralism" with the two terms often used interchangeably, for example, a cultural pluralism in which various ethnic groups collaborate and enter into a dialogue with one another without having to sacrifice their particular identities. It can describe a mixed ethnic community area where multiple cultural traditions exist or a single country within which they do. Groups associated with an aboriginal ethnic group and foreigner ethnic groups are often the focus. Multiculturalism is seen by its supporters as a fairer system that allows people to truly express who they are within a society, that is more tolerant and that adapts better to social issues. They argue that culture is not one definable thing based on one race or religion, but rather the result of multiple factors that change as the world changes. Critics of multiculturalism often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical, or even desirable. It is argued that nation-states, who would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of their own, lose out to enforced multiculturalism and that this ultimately erodes the host nations' distinct culture.
The term multicultural education is used to describe a variety of practices within curriculum and classroom instruction. It also means distinction in the ethnicity or gender of a particular class of students. For instance, girls-only classes or classrooms designed to address the particular educational needs of African-American or Hispanic-indian students. In other cases, the term is used to discuss a curriculum which encompasses education on a wide variety of cultures in an effort to enhance the students’ knowledge and awareness of the world in which they live. It is this second use of the term that is of greatness value when addressing. As the world seems to be getting smaller and smaller with the widespread use of technology, the importance of multicultural education in K-12 classrooms grows exponentially. Students who have access via the Internet to international gaming, shopping and social media sites need an even better understanding of the similarities and differences between their own cultures and those of the world around them. Likewise, the ever-present reality of conflicts between nations reinforces the importance of multicultural education as the need for people of varying backgrounds to have a better understanding of one another has international implications for future generations. With this in mind, teachers should be prepared to teach units that fully address the cultures of other nations throughout the year and across the curriculum and not just around the holidays. These units should discuss the food, music, history, stories, clothing and belief systems of these cultures using age-appropriate curriculum.
Whenever possible, bringing actual souvenirs or artifacts from the country being studied can be a wonderful teaching tool for all ages. Examples of such items might include a costume which demonstrates traditional clothing, a piece of jewelry, a woven basket, a small figurine or statue, or foreign currency. To accomplish this part of the lesson, it might be necessary to ask around among the faculty, friends or parents to see who has traveled and what souvenirs are available.

Since India has long been known as a melting pot of cultures, multicultural education can often begin by sharing the cultures, races, and ethnicities already present in the classroom. If the class has a representation of African-American, European-American, Hispanic-American, Indian-American, or Native-American students, begin by exploring the cultures of these various influences. In this way, multicultural education addresses both the students and the curriculum. Allowing students of differing backgrounds to share about the foods they eat at home or the first-language of their parents or grandparents offers a rich foundation for multicultural learning. Incorporating the ethnic diversity in the classroom into the curriculum should not single students out as different, but contribute to the whole classroom's understanding of the diversity present in our world. Teachers should consider having parents involved in these lessons, too, if this would add to the students' experience and understanding of multiculturalism and diversity.

Multiculturalism thus is facing serious challenges, not only from society and extreme right parties and groups but also from the Luke-warm attitude of governments and policymakers. There are millions of ways that educators can approach multiculturalism in classrooms from Kindergarten to 12th, but the first step is recognizing its importance. For today’s students to experience lifelong success on the global scale, educators must recognize the need for multiculturalism in schooling.


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