What are some experiences found in a multicultural classroom?
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In the truest sense of multiculturalism, I am not sure that there can be "one" experience found in a multicultural classroom. There cannot be "one" classroom that represents multicultural education. There can be common ideas that would be found in a multicultural classroom. One such experience would be the use of culturally relevant content in the instruction process. A multicultural classroom is going to be based in the experience of content being culturally relevant. This will take on different forms as the content would puls from racial/ ethnic notions of the good, cultures of gender and sexual orientation, as well as economic experiences. One of the experiences in a multicultural classroom would be to focus content and curriculum to reach out to different experiences within and outside of the classroom. The content is going to "look different." The content will be the same. English classes will be English classes and History classes will be History classes. Yet, the content in terms of lessons, selection of course literature, and the exploration of the particular class curriculum will look different in a multicultural classroom because its focus is different from other classrooms of its kind. This experience is critical to the multicultural classroom.
Another significant experience found in a multicultural is the validation of voice. It is difficult to envision a multicultural classroom that does not integrate as much voice as possible. Students might be journaling in a multicultural classroom more because the focus is to bring more voices into the discourse, including student voice. The questions in a multicultural might be more open- ended and reflective. For example, instead of asking students to identify the main idea of a reading, the question might be how the main idea connects to the author's experiences. The multicultural classroom is predicated on exploring voice and authenticing human experience and this takes on a more reflective and open- ended tone in the multicultural classroom. These techniques can be done in a classroom that might not be classified as a "multicultural" classroom. However, there would be a greater emphasis of these ideas within the "multicultural" classroom.
Finally, I would suggest that the experience of independent research and access to resources is of vital importance in a multicultural classroom. The multicultural classroom deems it critically important for students to have as much access as possible. The reason for the multicultural classroom to have come into existence was to ensure that voices would not be denied and access to information would be present. It is for this reason that the experience of accessing resources would be a part of the multicultural classroom. It might not be that surprising to see students engaging with primary texts, struggling with challenging resources, and being able to go beyond the standardized text in a multicultural classroom.
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