Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A to Z: Cultural Perspectives in Education

Vaughan M. Blaney
BSc(UNB,Canada), BEd(UNB,Canada), TEFLA(University of Cambridge), MEd(HKU, Hong Kong)

Book: "A to Z: Cultural Perspectives in Education"

The Letter 'U'...

Uniting in the future in many different ways
There will be marriages, weddings, and wonderful things
Arranged, sehra, tea-ceremony, ketubah, pamanhikan
Tsyhanshchyna, zaffa, karamu, and golden rings

Unbelievable are all our differences, still all can agree that we:
  • ultimately want to be good students
  • stand united in class
  • once had an umbilical cord
  • ask the teacher for help when we are uncertain
  • feel adventuresome when searching for the undiscovered
  • sometimes undervalue our personal strengths
  • know we are an important part of the universe
  • often look high for a UFO
  • try to uphold our values
  • know how to print the letter U

Teaching a multicultural or diversity-related course can create a tremendous challenge, and if not carefully approached, can generate and escalate students’ defensiveness and negative dispositions, which can contribute to defeating the whole purpose of multicultural education. Greenman & Kimmel (1995) note, “the road to multicultural education is paved with good intentions, but rutted with potholes of resistance”. My personal odyssey sheds some insights. As I look back on that first experience of teaching multicultural education, I can safely say that the students rejected the ideas I presented because they felt impacted by the issues which they perceived scapegoated the white race of which a vast majority of them claimed membership and because they were determined to protect their cultural hegemony, which resulted in defensive attitudinal behavior …

… those of us in teacher education who teach multicultural education courses will continue to struggle with ways to prepare preservice teachers who are inexperienced and parochial in their worldview and who exhibit high levels of defensiveness when enrolled in multicultural/diversity courses. Yet, in each class, I do believe that the multicultural experience surprisingly touches some and makes a difference in their lives.

Ukpokodu, Nelly

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