Multicultural Pedagogy in Higher Education

Topics: Education, Multiculturalism, Culture Pages: 10 (3583 words) Published: August 21, 2011

Multicultural Pedagogy in Higher Education

Multicultural Pedagogy in Higher Education
There is a difference between teaching a course in which multiculturalism is the focus and incorporating an underlying multicultural, inclusive perspective into the classroom environment. Given that “there is no universal construction of a multiculturalism course that is perfect for achieving all goals for all students” (Henry, 2003, p. 26), finding a way to build a multicultural foundation for courses across the disciplines may be a better aim for faculty in higher education institutions. Multiculturalism is a concept that cannot be ignored in today’s society. It is real, it is related to the globalization of higher education, and it is going to do nothing but grow in abundance in the future of higher education settings in the United States. Therefore, “it is critical that colleges and universities play a leading role in preparing its constituents to function effectively in a more pluralistic society” (Benns-Suter, 1993, p. 1). In university and college efforts to prepare students for success in a multicultural world, instructors need to recognize that they can play a lead role by exposing students to multicultural awareness in their classrooms. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the importance of multiculturalism in the classroom and then, based on past research and literature, provide a guide on how to put these ideas into practice. It is meant to serve as a starting point for teachers who seek guidance in multicultural pedagogy. The specific areas covered in this paper include faculty responsibilities, environmental factors, and classroom techniques that will lead to a more multicultural experience for college students. Faculty Responsibilities

Teachers hold a central responsibility for creating an environment that nurtures multiculturalism and embraces diversity. Before examining a possible means toward the development of multicultural pedagogy, this paper will describe the challenges that faculty must take on to prepare for this approach to teaching. By reflecting on their own identities and attitudes, taking the initiative to learn about their students and their students’ cultures, and using their knowledge to act as multiculturally-competent models, instructors can make a positive impact on students in the area of multiculturalism. Through self-analysis, self-critique, and self-awareness, one can reach a position of knowing his or her own identity and then begin to examine how it relates to that of others’ cultures. More specifically, educators should critically reflect on their understanding of multicultural education and their position among the diversity of the student community (McIntyre, 1997). Depending on the cultural background of the educator, there may be more or less work to do in regard to this self-critique. Individuals who are of majority status and may lack knowledge about their own racial and cultural identity are especially encouraged to engage in self-reflection. For example, McIntyre suggests the following: By white educators’ questioning and confronting their white identities and challenging the meaning of being “white” teachers, they can more effectively pursue teaching practices that significantly alter the way white students are educated about themselves and about multicultural education. (p. 653) In her study, McIntyre asked student teachers to examine internalized stereotypes that they held about students of color and found that the stereotypes that arose led to great concerns by these teachers. Among these were worries about whether they could effectively teach students of color, how they were perceived by students of color, and also regarding unequal expectations of performance from students of color. These are all strikingly harsh concerns but signify the starting point from which many teachers must begin in their self-critiquing...

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