What can teachers do or advocate about the misconceptions in multicultural education?
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A article published in Focus on Elementary (2000) states that there are multiple misconceptions regarding multicultural education. These misconceptions and ways teachers can combat the misconceptions will be addressed individually.
1) People who share language also share a common culture. This is not true. Teachers can illustrate this misconception by using the United States as a model. Although the majority of Americans speak English, they do not necessarily share the same culture (think African Americans and WASPS).
2) Children's books are authentic to the culture. This is false. Like all other books, any text can take on the subconscious, or conscious, biases of the author. At the same time, some books offer information which contradicts information presented in other arenas (recall The Poisonous Mushroom). Teachers need to insure that the books they use are truly authentic to the culture they wish to educate about.
3. Multicultural education focuses only upon racial or ethnic issues. This is not correct. Multicultural education focuses on, and embraces, all aspects of differing cultures. This includes language, social customs, religion, and tradition. Teachers should not only focus upon racial and ethnic issues in a multicultural classroom. Instead, they need to focus upon the whole of the culture.
While there are far too many misconceptions to address, teachers must insure that any misconceptions they come across are addressed immediately. They should not allow the misconception to continue to "live and breathe." without censorship.
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