On The Importance of a Multicultural Perspective

Internationalism is commonly considered to be the consideration and appreciation for diverse cultural backgrounds. Multiculturalism is a word that initially seems to be very optimistic, and most certainly very similar. Yet, a quick google search on multiculturalism will return the shocking veracity of the situation: multiculturalism has been given a negative connotation in today’s society. There is an appalling nescience prevalent amongst many people today. Multiculturalism is not, in and of itself, “anti” anything. To appreciate and consider other cultures and beliefs are not to diminish your own.

If that concept sounds familiar- there’s a reason. Recently, many people have stated “All lives matter” in response to current protests around the issues of systemic racism in the United States. Their stream of logic is similar to what I noted above- they believe that appreciation of something else can in some way diminish their own values, cultures and beliefs. Besides being ideologically misplaced, these sentiments of ignorance are surprisingly common. Why is this often the case? Ignorance perpetuates a cycle of more ignorance as any comment section on Facebook will tell you.

I postulate that education, believe by many to be somewhat of an equalizer, should integrate more multiculturalism into their early education. When I was in elementary school, we originally had a German class – this was subsequently cancelled in favor of purchasing more art supplies. While art is and can be very intellectually stimulating, language courses are hardly as emphasized in the K-12 curriculum in the US. Despite this, we have hope- free resources on the internet. Yet, many families are reluctant to encourage utilizing such resources and instead prefer to succumb to the Cult of Ignorance.

What is the Cult of Ignorance? In a few words- a pandemic of ignorance. In many more words, it pertains to the attitudes of many people in today’s society to ignore evidence, facts and scientific advice in favor of solidifying their own personal beliefs and theories.

“Never have so many people had so much access to so much knowledge and yet have been so resistant to learning anything. In the United States and other developed nations, otherwise intelligent people denigrate intellectual achievement and reject the advice of experts. Not only do increasing numbers of lay people lack basic knowledge, they reject fundamental rules of evidence and refuse to learn how to make a logical argument.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/americas-cult-of-ignorance

In the United States, many do not even have a grasp on relatively simple “general knowledge” about their own country let alone considering countries outside of their own. In a 2017 poll, “37 percent could not name a single right protected by the Bill of Rights, only 26 percent could name all three branches of government and 33 percent could not name a single branch of government.” If that isn’t shocking, 1 in 4 Americans believe that the sun revolves around the Earth. In a 2015 poll. the PEW Research Center survey found nearly 2 in 10 Americans think that vaccines are unsafe or don’t know. Funnily enough, more Americans could attribute Michael Jackson as the singer of Billie Jean and Beat it than could identify what the Bill of Rights was.

Clearly, the cult of ignorance is a growing issue. So, what does multiculturalism have to do with this discourse? A lot. Multiculturalism, as a premise, is all about expanding your understanding of the world and it’s variety of different beliefs and perspectives. Most importantly, this knowledge allows for more informed social interactions and consideration for others.

How can we adapt our current education system to incorporate more multiculturalism early-on? Consider the following:
1. “A multicultural education system requires an effective consideration in order for diverse students to get an equivalent opportunity to achieve their academic success (Banks & Banks 2009).”


2. “This means that the number of immigrants has grown from 4.7 percent in 1970 to 13.1 percent in 2013 (Zong & Batalova, 2015). These figures prove that the US is a multicultural country and, therefore, dictates that schools have diverse populations.” Accordingly, the education system should reflect this.


3. “Implementing a multicultural education system has several advantages for future generations. First, it creates an engaging classroom climate, so it is important for teachers when delivering educational instructions to address students’ cultural diversity. Second, it develops confidence and friendship between students and their teacher, which may increase students’ performance. Therefore, teachers should show care and respect to their students’ ethnic and racial backgrounds to achieve such goals (Gay, 2004).”


4.”Miretzky and Stevens (2012) mentioned that millions of black male and female students go to low-performing schools around the country that have teachers who lack training in dealing with multicultural education. Therefore, such issues have contributed to increase the achievement gap between students who go to public schools in American major cities compared to students in other schools that are comprised of only Whites (Noguera, 2003)”


5. “Teachers should implement differentiated and effective instructional strategies that address multiple intelligences to meet diverse learners needs and increase their motivation (Danzi, Reul, & Smith, 2008).”


6.”In addition, it is suggested to implement a multicultural curriculum that includes lessons of students’ history, experiences, and cultural traditions so that all students in the classroom are able to know and understand diverse groups in their country (Gollnick & Chinn, 2013)”


7.”It’s an important issue because of the incredible academic failure that we see among minoritized groups. I think the last figures I looked at, there were more — or as many — Black young men ending up in prison rather than college. It’s a major problem because of the lack of academic success of many Latino kids, many African American kids, and especially Black males.” – James A. Banks

It should not be controversial to encourage people to learn a bit more about their neighbors and to accept that people come from different backgrounds and with beliefs that may fundamentally be different from theirs.

For further reading: http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/download/8418/6243

Published by Magda Wojtara

Magda Wojtara is Junior at the LSA Honors College at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on a pre-med track with a major in Neuroscience. In her free time, she write articles, volunteers at a chronic pain outpatient facility with UM Medicine, does research, competes in HOSA, and, of course, enjoys photography and singing. In her spare time she manages her own travel and lifestyle blog: @journeythedestiantion on instagram and journeythedestination.weebly.com

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