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Multiculturalism, the incorporation of diverse cultures, religions, ethnicities, and ideologies into a broader political and academic approach, is best implemented through the educational process during the elementary school years, when children are most impressionable and not yet, in general, conditioned to view different ethnicities, cultures or religions as somehow inferior or alien. It is a bit platitudinous to declare that children have to be taught to hate, but social views are formed early in life, and the earlier children are taught to view each other through the prism of character rather than skin color, religious practices, or any of the other myriad differences that divide mankind, the more prepared they will be for adulthood.
In order for children to be sensitized to the need to be tolerant of benign differences among each other – such as skin color – teachers need to be properly trained in multiculturalism, which remains a shortcoming. As a 2010 academic study noted, “Preparing teachers to use multicultural education principles is a dilemma facing many programs and early childhood programs in particular. While many have well intended behaviors, many lack the knowledge base of multicultural education.” [Quinta Ogletree and Patricia Larke, “Implementing Multicultural Practices in Early Childhood Education,” National Forum of Multicultural Issues Journal, Volume 7, Number 1, 2010]
While early education is important, generations removed from the academic world that have not been introduced to multiculturalism require “adult education” in the workplace, where multiculturalism can be prevalent. This places a burden on management to both set a proper example and to ensure that the corporate manual emphasizes the importance of multicultural sensitivity among employees. Employee training manuals, therefore, need to include discussion of multiculturalism, and those discussions must be reinforced through employee programs or working groups designed to ensure that both moral and legal – in effect, compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity statutes – requirements are fully understood and practiced. Most importantly, policies and laws must be enforced by corporate management.
Instilling multiculturalism in the workplace culture need to appear punitive or excessively “politically correct.” Appreciation for diverse cultures can be manifested through positive company-sponsored events, and employee recognition awards or notices can be used to highlight the positive contributions to the corporate mission on the part of diverse individuals.
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