Multicultural Directions in the Social Studies
Multicultural education has been a transforming force in social studies since the 1960s, yet even its strongest advocates differ widely about what, exactly, multicultural education should be. Beginning in the 1980s, a body of scholarship has emerged related to multicultural education. From this, agreement has emerged, at least about certain ideals. Gorski (2000) has asserted that these include:
- All students should have equal chances of achieving their full potential.
- Students must be prepared to live and work in an increasingly intercultural society.
- Teachers should be enabled to effectively facilitate learning for every individual student, no matter how culturally similar or different from her- or himself.
- Schools have to be active in ending oppression and prejudice, first within their own walls, then by developing all students to be socially and critically active and aware.
- The role of schools is essential to laying the foundation to change society and eliminate oppression and injustice.
- The goal of multicultural education is to effect social change.
Multicultural education goes beyond teaching tolerance. It means reaching comfort levels with curricular issues that give us discomfort, raising and addressing issues that are difficult, and asking questions that challenge thinking and beliefs. To bring about the changes advocated for multicultural education, these ideals must be embodied in all social studies curricula. Teachers themselves need to become more sensitive and aware of both obvious and subtle incidents of prejudice and bias or intolerance.
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