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THEORIES

All these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our times to come."
Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene 5

Developmental and Educational Theories


Socrates
Plato
Jean Piaget
Multicultural Theories
Horace Kallen
James Banks
Bill Martin
Martin J. Beck Matustk
Judith M. Green

Socrates
Socrates (470-399 BC) Self-knowledge is the epitome of the educated person,
according to Socrates. He believed that this development was not attainable in
childhood, but was achievable in adulthood. At which age it becomes possible is now
believed to be an individual development in that some can learn self-knowledge before
adulthood, and others may never reach this point.
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Plato
Plato (427-347 BC) Socrates' most famous pupil was Plato. Plato's curriculum design
included liberal arts as well as economic and political arrangements. His papers
provided an academic and political instigation for leaders of the ideal state. It became a
guide to the ongoing debate on the pedagogy of the oppressed. He was looking for a
more liberal design to education to release people from the darkness of ignorance. He
felt that the goal should be to continue to reach for idealism.
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Jean Piaget
Any theorizing on the developmental construction of human knowledge should include
some reference to Piaget. Piaget was interested in how knowledge grows. His answer
was that knowledge is constructive and changing - progressing. As knowledge develops

information includes and/or reconstructs old logic into new constructs of higher
meaning. Thus, adults' modes of thinking and logic are very different from those they
possessed as children (Craig, 1999). According to Piaget, there is a relationship
between the knower and knowing which results in the development of self-knowledge.
This development happens bit-by-bit, gaining new depths as the development of
meaning and knowledge begins to show relationships. Some examples are:
1. As a child, if something happens he may feel anger. Anger may make the
child feel hyper and reactive to things outside of the event that originally
caused the anger. As the child matures, he may understand that some
"event" (the feeling of anger and the reactions that follow) is a cover up for
what caused the event in the first place. Understanding first that
the event is not the reaction and, second, that he plays a role in the
situation both lead to "gaining self-knowledge." It is by synthesizing all
aspects of knowledge that self-knowledge develops.
2. As a child develops he begins to understand that he is unique (and a
sense of uniqueness is important), yet part of the whole (a member of
society).
3. Piaget also believed that as a person developed, he gained the ability to
discern between things, making comparisons and contrasts. A person may
be able to distinguish things that are common in their culture yet not
common in another culture. This ability to distinguish is part of developing.
4. Piaget believed empathy to be a developing process also. Robert Craig
in Philosophical and Educational Foundations in a Multicultural
Society said that empathy "is the perception of the similarities between
self and others." Empathy, then, is an understanding so intimate that the
feelings, thoughts and motives of one is readily comprehended by
another. It is more than the recognition of someone else's feelings, but
rather a deeper understanding. Thus, empathetic reactions allow people to
recognize that something is different from what is already familiar or
acceptable to them, yet not be prejudiced by its unfamiliarity (Piaget,
1970).
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Horace Kallen
If the culture of the nation has multifacets, values, etc., it may be termed cultural
pluralism. This theory, cultural pluralism, was developed by Horace Kallen. He
describes it as to "allow for some degree of cultural diversity within the confines of a
unified national experience" (Craig, 1999). Kallen attempts to express, with this theory,
that each ethnic and cultural group in the United States is important and that their
unique contributions add to the variety and richness of the American culture. His theory
also recognizes that the dominant culture must be also recognized in the
society (Kallen). The recognition of the dominant culture is not part of all multicultural

theories, as you will see described in Banks' Afrocentrist group.


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James A. Banks
Banks believes that a part of the education of students is teaching them how to think
rather than what to think. He explains that students should be taught to understand all
types of knowledge and become active in debates about knowledge construction and
conflicting interpretations. Students should be instructed in the creation of their own
interpretations of the history of the past and history in the making. They must learn to
identify their own positions, interests, philosophies of ideals and assumptions. In short,
they must become critical thinkers with the knowledge and skills, plus the commitment,
needed to participate in democratic action. With this foundation, they can help the
nation close the gap between its ideals and its realities (Banks, 1993).
In The Canon Debate, Knowledge Construction, and Multicultural Education, Banks
identifies three scholarly groups participating in the canon debate. (For more information
on the Canon Debate,
see http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/hyperwriting/arguments/moskal/thesolu.html)
The first is Western traditionalists. Western traditionalist, like Kallen's cultural pluralism
group, also believe that the dominant culture of Western civilization needs to be
prominently presented in schools. Western traditionalist, though, believe that the history,
culture, literature, etc. of this group are in danger of being pushed aside by the efforts of
feminists, minorities and other multicultural reform groups. Unlike Kallen's group,
Western traditionalist show little interest in teaching diverse or multicultures.
But, if Western civilization were the only history and culture taught, would this minimize
the importance of other cultural groups in the making of America? Afrocentrists believe
this to be true. They feel that African history and culture should be the center of
curriculum so that all students can learn of Africa's role in the development of Western
civilization. Afrocentrists also believe that theirs should be central in the curriculum in
order to motivate African American students to learn. Yet I contend that if the theory of
Afrocentrists is that a particular culture should be central to the education of all children,
would it not follow that the Spanish would believe that the history and culture of Spain
should be central? Certainly their role in the introduction of horses to America, the
discovery of the Americas, and reign over Texas played important parts in the
development of the West. And the French, who have added to much to the language of
America and especially to the culture of Louisiana, would they not feel that their history
is just as important as that played by the Africans in the South?
A third group, whom James Banks calls the Multiculturalist believe that education
should be reformed to give more attention to the experiences of people of color and of
women. With support from at least two national organizations, this multicultural group
gains support (Banks, 1993).

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Bill Martin
In Multiculturalism: Consumerist or Transformational?, Bill Martin wrote, that the whole
issue of multiculturalism raises the question of "difference" in a way that seems to run
against many philosophical or social theories. He argues,
If multiculturalism, as a social and political agenda, is to be more than a banner under
which diverse groups pursue their piece of the pie, then it must indeed be a matter of a
'gathering,' one that aims to, through the enactment of a radical diversity, bring together
a radical confluence of possibilities for all humankind. (Martin, 1998, pg 128)
Martin fights, like Banks, against the push of Afrocentrist and Western traditionalist.
This piece of the pie Martin calls "consumerist multiculturalism". Instead, Martin
proposed something new. A multiculturalism that is not "consumerist" but
"transformational", and this, he says, requires a framework. Martin says that while
issues of class, race, ethnicity and other views diverge, most agree, in there concern for
overcoming oppression through social, cultural, and political conflict and the need to
communicate about the many facets of the different views. Society must have a
collective vision of social change to work toward a new type of multiculturalism, one that
emerges through transformation.
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Martin J. Beck Matustk


Matustk verbalizes the obvious when he says "All sides in the current debates on
rethinking the western canon concede that the multicultural world is here to stay"
(Matustk, 1998). Matustk, in his article, "Ludic, Corporate and Imperial Multiculturalism:
Impostors of Democracy and Cartographers of the New World Order," wrote, "The
culture, political and economic wars turn on how and through whom to tell the
multicultural story." Matustk says that theorizing multiculturalism includes some points
that go all the way back to Plato's liberation of education and politics.
Plato's Republic not only provided a classical academic and political canon for the
leaders of the ideal state, it became a guide to the ongoing debate on the pedagogy of
the oppressed (Matustk, 1998). He believes that we must create a new multicultural
enlightenment "a corporate, globally local multiculturalism, as opposed to a national
monoculture" (Matustk, 1998).
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Judith M. Green
Green points out that multiculturalism is not unique to the U.S. Other countries have
accommodated small groups of other cultures. These contained groups were usually

tolerated for the benefit they brought the dominant culture. The uniquely American twist
is the semi-willingness to accept refugees and allowing them to affect the existing
culture. By teaming, groups have gained strength and power, bringing on changes like
wage increases and employment security. Women and minorities (Hispanics, Africans
and Native Americans) have advanced due to increased economic opportunities, more
effective political participation, more favorable media representation, and others. But the
end of the 20th century has brought Americans to a place of "embattled impasse that
calls for a new and deeper rethinking of the purposes and contents of education in a
society that continues to claim and to aspire to be guided by the ideal of democracy"
(Green, 1998). This nation has always regarded education as an effective mode of
change, personally and socially. So, it is through education that America would have it's
greatest success in transformation. Some groups, she contents, fail to see that we are
now what we have always been. That is, America, from it's birth, has always been a
multicultural society whose many cultures have hybridized through struggles,
interaction, cooperation (Green, 1998).
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Last updated: December 06, 2000.

LESSONS

"What you have said I will consider. What you have to say I will with patience hear, and find a
time both meet to hear and answer such high things."
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2
These three lessons are presented as examples of curriculum integration of
multiculturalism in the classroom. Curriculum Integration is a curriculum design focus on
enhancing possibilities for personal and social integration by basing the curriculum
around important problems and/or issues, rather than by subject area boundaries. The
assessments are based on the idea of authentic assessment, which is an form of
assessing students that overcomes the problems of standardized assessment. Some
types of authentic assessment include oral presentations, performances, teacher
observations, student inventories, student observations, debates, inquiries, portfolios,
and more. In essence, it assesses progress in "real world" arrangements.
I suggest that anyone new to these ideas read: Curriculum Integration by Beane
and Authentic Assessment in Action by Darling-Hammond, Ancess and Falk. As an
educator, you will find them stimulating and information filled.

Lesson 1:
Read David M. Soderquist's article on Monoculture versus Multiculture. Explain to the
students, if necessary, the difference between monoculture and multiculture. Have
students list examples of monoculture in a positive view and in a negative view. Have
students then list multicultural examples from both positive and negative viewpoints.
Discuss in small groups or as a class, the reasons for each of the four views. Assist
students in sharing their viewpoints in a non-threatening manner. Have students then
focus on collectively listing positive issues for multiculturalism.
Lastly, have each student write on any one positive issue on multiculturalism from
someone else's list and not their own.
For example, pure bred animals might be viewed as a positive monoculture. A student
may point out the gentle but possessive side of German Shepherds. The pure breeding
of these animals keeps the culture pure and the personality of the breed, in general,
stable and predictable. (This is a positive point for monoculture.) But shepherds bred
with other breed, for instance, a pit bull, could create a gentle looking but possibly nongentle animal. (This is a negative point for multiculture.) On the other hand, plants are
often displayed with a variety of textures, color, species, etc. Collectively they add
height and beauty. This is a positive view of combining culture. (This is a positive point
for multiculture.) A negative point for monoculture could be the clearing of pasture and
farm land for housing. NOTE: There can be varied views as to whether something is
negative or positive on the same point. This is acceptable.
Assessment: Students would be assessed on: uniqueness of ideas and examples,
ability to point out examples from their world, manner of discussion and persuasion,
manner of attentiveness to classmates (including listening, rather than just hearing),
participation, and on their written paper.
Lesson 2:
Have teacher read through the four stages of implementing multicultural education in
your school and classroom by Enid Lee.
Stage 1. Surface - signs in several languages, ethnic foods, and festivals.
Stage 2. Transitional - creating a unit of study about a group of people, that is separate
from the main curriculum.
Stage 3. Integration - including elements of that unit in existing curriculum.
Stage 4. Social change - a curriculum that leads to changes outside of the school.
Introduce your class to the four stages. Then have students create some sort of project
around the four stages.

For example,
Write a paper how culture affects their family, town, or school.
Create a table of examples of each stage.
Write a short example of how race, ethnicity, and gender affected your life?
List, as a class, what cultures the students have been exposed to and at least one
thing added to them, as an individual, from each culture.
Draw a collage that display symbols of cultures with which they come into contact.
Discuss how multicultural education could improve in their school giving specific
examples of "do-able" things.
Then, have students share insights, ideas and ideals with others. Reflect and
reevaluate. Then write a short paper on some aspect they learned from the exercise.
This could include information from history, the present, literature, personal interviews,
personal experiences, etc.
Assessment: Students would be assessed on: uniqueness of ideas and examples,
ability to point out examples from their world, manner of discussion and persuasion,
manner of attentiveness to classmates, (including listening, rather than just hearing),
participation, and on their written paper or artwork.
Lesson 3:
Have students begin by writing an autobiography with the focus on their cultural
heritage. Have students prepare by talking to family members about what cultures are
included in their family (and family can be as broad as they desire) and some of the
traditions of each of the cultures. They should not limit their discussion of who they are
to just the traditions that are unique to their culture. Then students can, in small groups
discuss these traditions and see how they overlap from one cultural group to another.
Collectively, they should find similarities between cultures and discuss how locale,
language, and interaction blend monocultures in a new multiculture. It might be
interesting to also discuss how the multiculture changes, evolves with time.
For example, if a child is both Cajun and American, he may celebrate pagan (Mardi
Gras) and Christian (Christmas, Lent) traditions. He may also notice, in discussion that
the traditional French beignet is the same as the Mexican sopipillas (with a different
sweet topping.) He should look at how his own traditions are intertwined and accepted
as conflicting or non-conflicting. And how his traditions are intertwined with those of
other cultures not in his own family.
Assessment: Students would be assessed on depth of information, connections and
relationships developed, evaluation of information, reliability and sources of information,
participation in discussion, and on the written paper.

Note:
The idea of each of these lessons is to provide students a project that includes basic
communication skills (necessary for participating in our society) combined with
opportunities that require them to think, carefully choose their words and manner of
communicating, practice listening skills (necessary in all facets of life), and write for
practice with word choice, grammar, punctuation, etc., all with a multicultural theme.
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GIVING IT MEANING
"American society is a global experiment in combining individual representatives of the world's
vast array of human cultures - some of them privileged, some of them oppressed, some of them
arriving hopefully and voluntarily, some of them 'imported' under duress - in self-consciously
new and rapidly changing circumstances loosely guided by the political and moral ideal of
democracy."
- Judith M. Green

What is Multicultural Education?


If the idea of multicultural education is to be stressed, what exactly is "multiculturalism?"
It is identified by one group as education stressing "the promotion of understanding,
respect, and acceptance of cultural diversity" within the society. (British Columbia, 1998)
This type of education couples with anti-racism education. Anti-racism education
promotes the elimination of racism through identifying and changing institutional policies
and practices as well as identifying individual attitudes and behaviors that contribute to
racism.
So, how can we educate children, and ourselves to be part of a multicultural
society?
Just as our founding fathers' set out to unite the diversity of Americans in the original
colonies with the words, "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal." So must present and future Americans accept and recognize our
cultural diversity. As Judith Green stated, America has always been a multicultural
society. She goes on to say that American tradition has commonalities that cover

masses geographically and culturally, and where education was regarded, from the very
beginning, as the
most desirable and effective mode of personal foundation and social transformation,
preparing individuals to use their particular gifts and capacities at a high level of
development on behalf of a preferable future for themselves, their family, their nation
and human civilization in general. (Green, 1998, pg 424)
First, we must educate about cultures as part of the whole curriculum, not just part
of a school event, like Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo Day or Thanksgiving. These ideas
must be threaded into the curriculum, rather than treated as separate from the
curriculum. The possibility of teaching cultural ideals as part of the whole curriculum fits
in well with the idea of teaching subjects as they relate to each other, rather than
teaching subjects as separate, unrelated entities.
Interest in "separate subjects" had sparked several alternatives. One idea, according to
James Beane in Curriculum Integration: Designing the Core of Democratic Education is
"organizing centers" or a thematic approach. One way to use this approach is to identify
a theme and relating everything to the theme, thus providing a meaningful integration of
the knowledge and experience (Beane, 1997, pg 5). Beane gives these as some
examples of themes: colonial living, myths and legends, the Middle Ages,
transportation.
Consider any of theselet's use the Middle Ages. Literature and art examples would
be easy to find on this period of time. As part of a history lesson, a discussion of what
led to this period, and what changes led to the rebirth (the Renaissance Period).
Transportation, health, and science were all very important during this period. Math
could be integrated in understanding taxation and the abuse of political position.
How about social problems as themes? For instance: "conflict," "the environment,"
"living in a multicultural world," "health and disease, "and "education of the few or the
masses." All of these ideas when learned in the thematic approach give the student an
opportunity to connect concepts and associate them with a "whole way of life."
While many people consider education to be a collection of distinct subjects taught by
experts (or at least advanced studiers) of the subject, others believe a truly educated
student would come for a different type of environment. Dewey said:
All studies grow out of relations in the one great common world. When the child lives in
varied but concrete and active relationships to this common world, his studies are
naturally unified. It will no longer be a problem to correlate studies. The teacher will not
have to resort to all sorts of devices to weave a little arithmetic into the history lesson,
and the like. Relate the school to life and all studies are of necessity correlated. (Dewey
1910/1915, pg 32 as cited in Beane, 1997, pg 13)
This follows Piaget's idea of development where education helps children relate an

unknown to their own world and allows for the recognition of similarities and
construction of meaning.
Thus, teaching subjects as an abstract event, unrelated by anything other than a
calendar date is likely to be fun, creative and somewhat educational, but it will not likely
create a "unifying event from which the child leaves having been changed by the
experience." If we want our children to learn about other cultures, we must find a way to
give that experience meaning.
For example, if math and England's history/literature are taught as separate subjects,
unrelated and unaffected by each other, students may never understand that much of
the history of England revolved around numbers. Marriages (lineage, status, moral
codes, royal titles, the line of rulers) were closely tied to dowry and ability to financially
support a new family branch (definitely number games.) Painters, playwrights, and
those who copied books before the printing press (examples of the arts, plus the
copying down of history) were all funded, usually by royalty and the wealthy. Without
"numbers" England's history would be much different.
The same connection of ideas must be used to educate the democratic student.
Education must include an increase in creative intercultural communication in a
pluralistic society. It must provide equal opportunities for educational achievement by all
learners, regardless of culture, national origin, religion, or social class. Thus instead of
eliminating or restricting cultural diversity within schools, education should promote and
celebrate diversity, and experiences of all students in school curricula. In this way,
students have more opportunity to develop respect for self, respect for others and social
responsibility; and society can begin eliminating stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination
and other forms of racism.
Students must be taught that at the heart and soul of democracy is the idea that all men
are created equal. That common experiences allow integration, not just between subject
matter, but between people (and peoples). More importantly, cultural diversity should be
freely integrated as a common thread throughout education, rather than as an out-ofcontext event. It would be best to provide students with situations where they can
participate in cultural events, experience cultural differences, experience cultural
traditions (in context) and learn of cultural values as they pertain to human interaction
and to history; and the students will learn from these experiences.
Secondly, multicultural education must involve:
recognition that everyone belongs to a cultural group or multiple cultural groups
acceptance of cultural diversity and appreciation of it as a positive aspect of society
affirmation that all cultures are equal within the society
promotion of multicultural education for all students
recognition that there are more similarities than differences between cultural groups
recognition that cultural pluralism is a positive aspect of society
affirmation and encouragement of self-esteem and pride in history, heritage, and

culture by providing opportunities to share in the cultural heritage of others


promotion of citizenship
promotion of racial harmony
promotion of understanding (British Columbia,1998)
Thirdly, we must assess our progress
Barry McLaughlin and Beverly McLeod, in their paper, "Educating All Our Students:
Improving Education for Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
Backgrounds" began with a discussion of diversity. They said that there is more
diversity (linguistically and culturally) among American students today than any time
since the early 20th century. Approximately one-third of the children in classes are from
ethnically or racially minority groups, and about 20 percent are from families where
English is not the primary language spoken at home. With more than 100 languages
spoken in America, isn't it important to recognize this cultural pluralism?
I believe it is. That is why I think that multiculturalism must be taught, including respect
for self and others. I also think that progress should be assessed.
Within the classroom, lessons of importance are tested by written tests, projects,
speeches, etc. If the lesson is important, the teacher always assesses the amount of
knowledge gleamed from the class or seminar. If something is of little importance, it is
rarely assessed. Why then, if multiculturalism in our society is such a hot issue, is it
rarely assessed? To learn more about this, follow the link: Assessment. Or, see some
descriptions of authentic assessment in real lessons on the Lessons page.
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Copyright All Rights Reserved, Beth D. Ardoin, Start-at-Zero.com


For problems or questions regarding this web contact Beth Ardoin.
Last updated: December 06, 2000.

Discussions

"I shall the effect of this good lesson keep."


Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3

1. How can multiculturalism be integrated into your classroom? Think of


specific examples and how they could be implemented.
2. How does multiculturalism enrich your world?
3. In what ways is your personal culture monocultural and/or multicultural?

References
"Learn to make a body of a limb."
Richard III, Act III, Scene 2

1. Banks, J. A. (1993 [June-July]). The Canon Debate, Knowledge Construction,


and Multicultural Education. Educational Researcher.
2. Beane, J.A. (1997). Curriculum Integration: Designing the Core of Democratic
Education. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
3. British Columbia, Ministry of Education (1998). Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism.
Retrieved September 22, 2000, from the World Wide
Web:http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/te11_12/apcmul.htm
4. Craig, R. (1999). Philosophical and Educational Foundations in a Multicultural
Society. Waterbury, CT: Emancipation Press.
5. Darling-Hammond, L., Ancess, J. & Falk, B. (1995). Authentic Assessment in
Action. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
6. Green, J. M. (1998) Educational Multiculturalism, Critical Pluralism, and Deep
Democracy. In Cynthia Willett (Ed.), Theorizing Multiculturalism: A Guide to the
Current Debate (pp 422-448). Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers, Inc.
7. An Inventory of the Horace M. Kallen Papers. Retrieved September 21, 2000,
from the World Wide Web: http://www.huc.edu/aja/Kallen.htm
8. Martin, B (1998). Multiculturalism: Consumerist or Transformational? In Cynthia
Willett (Ed.), Theorizing Multiculturalism: A Guide to the Current Debate (pp 121150). Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers, Inc.
9. Matustk, M.J.B. (1998). Ludic, Corporate, and Imperial Multiculturalism:
Impostors of Democracy and Cartographers of the New World Order. In Cynthia
Willett (Ed.), Theorizing Multiculturalism: A Guide to the Current Debate (pp 100117). Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers, Inc.
10. McLaughlin, B. & McLeod, B. (1996, June). Educating All Our Students:
Improving Education for Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
Backgrounds. Retrieved September 22, 2000, from the World Wide
Web: http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/miscpubs/ncrcdsll/edall.htm
11. Mortimer, E. (1999). People, Nation & State. New York: I.B. Tauris& Co Ltd.
12. Piaget, J. (1970). Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child. New
York: Grossman.
13. Project Eight: Multicultural Education (1998). Retrieved November 22, 2000, from
the World Wide Web: http://www.prenhall.com/divisions/esm/app/phelem/multicult/html/chap8.html
14. Soderquist, D. M. (1995). Monoculture vs. Multiculture. Retrieved November 22,
2000, from the World Wide
Web:http://kids.osd.wednet.edu/Marshall/homepage/monoculture.html
15. Smith, M. (1927). Education and the Integration of Behavior. Education (No.
261). New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

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Copyright All Rights Reserved, Beth D. Ardoin, Start-at-Zero.com


For problems or questions regarding this web contact Beth Ardoin.
Last updated: December 06, 2000.

Author
Beth Ardoin
Beth Ardoin has a BA in Speech Education (public speaking, debate and
theater) from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is employed by the Office of
Academic Computing at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTH) where she leads a team to create courseware for medical students. She also creates
learning ware for state projects, and teaches Internet courses to faculty, staff and
students at UT-H. She is actively involved in home schooling, works part-time on web
development projects at Start-at-Zero and is currently seeking a masters in Instructional
Technology at the University of Houston. She can be reached electronically
at beth@start-at-zero.com.
Author Comments
I was surprised at how exciting this project turned out to be. More than just a collection
of research, I've found educators, students and colleagues were all very interested in
communicating about multiculturalism. Every person that I spoke to in connection with
the research and those who took the time for general conversation, all felt a need to
encourage acceptance of cultures without bias. The most important thing that I feel I
learned was the need for direction. It seems that the norm WANTS to accept the
multiculturalism in America, but as individuals, we feel we do not know how to accept
the culture of others without losing our own. It is a place for growth, for all, as
individuals, as groups, as a nation, as part of this world. It is my sincere hope that this
site is used to help people learn to be more accepting. And, that people will offer
suggestions that lead from bias to uniting us.

Future plans include:


Providing a place for feedback in the form of a listserv where members of the WWW
community can provide constructive feedback for one another.
Including lessons plans from other educators. As yet, there is no criteria for these
lesson plans, so none are being accepted.
Including additional discussion questions.
Providing more information on rubrics, authentic assessment and curriculum
integration.

ASSESSMENT
"If we can learn from our shared history of interactive experience, restore a part of what has been
lost, and transform our present and future cross-cultural relations accordingly, both America's
differing microcultures and our experimental multicultural society as a whole have the potential
to develop in ways that contribute to our effectiveness in pursuing semi-autonomous cultural
trajectories while further realizing our shared democratic ideals, thus offering a positive model
for international processes of mutually respectful and beneficial cross-cultural interaction and
cooperative development." -- Judith M. Green

One of the purposes of education in our society is to provide opportunities for the
sharing of social and educational experiences. These experiences, if truly integrated
into the curriculum, provide participants (teacher, students, administrator and, in some
cases, parents) with common experiences, a common sense of values (Beane, 1997,
pg 5). Thus, these shared experiences can promote the common good. Social
integration allows for cultures to grow from each other, blend, in creating a new
construct of meaning and reorganization of ideas that include all, and exclude none.
This would blur the lines of groups presented by Banks, creating a new integrated
group, as described by Kallen. Mortimer (1999) states,
Every political community tends to, and needs to, form some general conception of the
kind of community it is and would like to be, what it stands for, how it differs from others;
in short some view of its identity.
It does not, though, mean losing all uniqueness, but rather creating a new tolerance of
differences and a deeper understanding of cultures, customs, constructs and
participants. (participants is used rather than people, because each individual has the
right to move from one set of customs to another, thus participating in customs as they
choose.)
As all educators know, concepts that are worth teaching, are worth assessing. With
each lesson plan, teachers decide what will be presented, how the presentation will lead
students to gain the insight/knowledge desired, and the type of assessment (the test,
paper or other grading tool that will be used).
How can you use information on multiculturalism?
My findings on the subject of multiculturalism have led to the development of the term
as a fluid rather than a static idea. It is like defining our "language"; it is always
changing. The concept of multiculturalism changes as we, as individuals or as a nation,
change. Some psychologist and philosophers have tried to put some parameters
around this concept, all somehow still too limiting. And, while I have found theories, I've
found no evaluation of the effectiveness of using any of the theories.

Although values and beliefs of a culture are often learned through interaction or
observation of role models and the arts (drama, literature, visual arts, music, etc.),
ultimately what we perceive as our culture comes from within. The values are
constructed from experiences. Learning about oneself and ones' world from reflecting
on these past experiences provides individuals and groups, in some instances, with a
foundation for handling problems. One obstacle overcome gives the student tools to
overcome a similar obstacle. Learning becomes internal, constructive, and reflective. It
allows the individual to broaden his understanding of himself and his world, AND it
allows the new learned behavior to broaden the spectrum from which to receive the next
opportunity. In integrating learning about cultures with life experiences, students and
adults find common moments that can build to create more moments. If, on the other
hand, cultures are taught as separate entities that neither reflect life for the student body
as a whole nor integrate into the whole learning experience, students are likely to miss
transferring the lessons of multiculturalism into everyday life.
Thus, here lies a starting point to assessing multiculturalism Student can identify their
own values, biases and prejudices. Later, evaluate again where each student is and
analyze why and how they have changed. Even better, give the students guidance or
tools to let them evaluate themselves and/or their groups.
Multicultural Assessment Researched
Though I searched for four months for assessments for multicultural projects in schools
or companies, I found no assessment plans at all. Also, I received only one response to
my request for information. I think this is because, in general, people think that
assessing multiculturalism is somehow different from assessing other material. Part of
the problem may be the lack of a concrete definition for what multiculturalism is. Yet, I
think the idea of assessment is very important and therefore submit this information for
consideration.
So, how can we assess how well we are doing?
1. Create lessons that can work in multiple classes or across multiple classes.
Make certain that the lesson has some meaning for the students. Assess the
lesson on the diversity of their information, the diversity of their group, group
interaction, and group communication.
2. Speak to students. Ask them about racism, prejudices, bias, and monoculture.
Guide them toward open communication, but following the guidelines in "Giving it
Meaning".
3. Assess lessons authentically. Expect students to do critical thinking rather than
reword the information presented. Lessons should expand their knowledge and
present opportunities for them to grow and change. One teacher asked if
students could be graded on how their views about multiculturalism changed. I
responded by saying that students could be assessed on how they verbalized
about their feelings, acted in situations, and how they applied the new
knowledge. In a sense, this is how students are graded on new lessons of

Algebra or punctuation. Teachers grade them on how well they've applied the
lessons. In this case, how they are developing as democratic citizens in this
already multicultural society.
4. Begin lessons by providing students with information on assessment. Let them
know how they will be assessed and on what knowledge/behavior. Provide them
with a rubric or other measurement tool if possible. Let the tool clearly define
growth expected and behavior that is unacceptable. If students are made aware
of what path we expect them to take, they are more prepared with the
consequences of following or diverting from that path.
5. Look at the assessment for the lessons provided for further guidance.
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Copyright All Rights Reserved, Beth D. Ardoin, Start-at-Zero.com


For problems or questions regarding this web contact Beth Ardoin.
Last updated: December 01, 2000.

Understanding Multicultural Curriculum Transformation:


A Q & A with Paul C. Gorski
The following is a continuously expanding compendium of questions and answers regarding curriculum
transformation from a multicultural perspective. If you have a question about the practical or theoretical
side of multicultural curriculum transformation, send it to me, Paul Gorski, at gorski@edchange.org.
Quick Index:
What is the first step toward multicultural curriculum transformation?
What are some of the shortcomings of traditional curricular frameworks that make transformation
necessary?
What are the fundamental values of a multicultural curriculum?
What are some of the critiques of multicultural curriculum transformation?
These sound like important critiques. How do you respond?
Is a multicultural curriculum the same as an Afrocentric curriculum?
Can you suggest any resources that might offer me professional development and support through this
process?
Question: What is the first step toward multicultural curriculum transformation?
Answer: The first step in any multicultural transformative process is to examine the issues, biases,
prejudices, and assumptions that I carry into the classroom and how these inform my curriculum. In fact, I
must constantly engage in a process of examining and critiquing my own perspective because this also
will affect the way I approach transformation.
TOP
Question: What are some of the shortcomings of traditional curricular frameworks that make
transformation necessary?
Answer: For many people, it is relatively easy and convenient to forget that the public school system in
the United States has an overtly racist, sexist, and classist history. But as we look at current shortcomings

in education within this historical context, it is important to remember, for example, that most widespread
challenges to overtly discriminatory educational practices have occurred amazingly recently. Legislationbacked desegregation efforts were in full-swing around forty years ago, and racial-, gender-, and
socioeconomic-based tracking were common practice even more recently--and still are, although less
explicitly so. The curriculum was Eurocentric and male-centric, both in content and perspective, virtually
ignoring the history, stories, perspectives, literature, and accomplishments of women and people of color.
Few can argue that, historically, the public school system in the United States was largely created and
maintained for the professional and economic gain of upper-middle class and wealthy white males and for
the tracking into menial work of the poor, people of color, and women. While conditions have improved
and practices like tracking have changed to make education more accessible to all students, many
remnants of this discriminatory history remain.
In the case of the curriculum, thanks to the struggles and protests of those people who were traditionally
excluded from the curriculum, conditions have improved to an extent. Students now learn about the
accomplishments of certain famous women and people of color, and even celebrate them during Black
History Month, Women's History Month, Hispanic History Month, and other special occasions. Still, what
has yet to happen is for these histories to be woven into World History or American History as part of the
total mosaic. Many argue that monthly celebrations only serve to further define certain groups as "the
other" while the "mainstream" curriculum is taught for the rest of the year. Others argue that these
celebrations help justify the failure of educators to teach "Black History" in the U.S. as what it really is -U.S. History.
Likewise, despite the addition of some diverse content into the curriculum, most information is still
presented from a Eurocentric perspective. The most repeated example of this is the case of Christopher
Columbus. Ask any group of people the first fact they remember learning in history class, and most of
them will say, "Columbus discovered America." This "fact" remains the foundation from which U.S. History
is built and conceptualized. But did Columbus discover America? Through whose eyes is such a
statement true? "Manifest Destiny" or "genocide"? Similar questions can be asked of teaching practices in
Literature. From whose perspective was the "canon" chosen? Who decided that the only "classic"
literature was written in England and the United States? Has no equally great literature been written in
Asia or Africa?
Current curricular frameworks, though they include more and more diverse content, fail to make any real
strides toward full inclusion. Likewise, they fail to break free from Eurocentric perspectives. As a result,
they continue to cheat all students out of a deep, multicultural understanding of the world around them.
Curriculum transformation efforts are necessary to replace practices that simply further identify some as
"the norm" and everyone else as "the other" with practices that provide all students with a more complete
and accurate understanding of society, the world, and themselves.
TOP
Question: What are the fundamental values of a multicultural curriculum?
Answer: The fundamental values of any good curriculum are accuracy, completeness, and inclusion.
Accuracy and completeness are closely related and refer to the extent to which information presented
represents a full picture of a given topic through various sources and perspectives. A history textbook
provides a certain picture from a certain perspetive--that of the author(s). If my history textbook indicates
that Columbus discovered America, do I present sources written by Native Americans that likely offer a
different perspective on the same set of events? If not, I must reassess both the accuracy and
completeness of my curriculum. I, as a teacher, have a certain perspective, knowledge base and
understanding of my subject. Do I challenge myself by reading alternative sources and expanding your
understanding beyond traditional or Eurocentric sources about my subject?
Inclusion refers to the extent to which different voices and perspectives are heard in my classroom. There
are two levels of inclusion. When most teachers talk about inclusion, they are referring to representational
inclusion, or the inclusion of sources or information that closely match or represent the diversity within a

particular classroom. (For example, if I happen to have a Mexican student in my class, I must be sure to
include sources by Mexican authors in my classroom.) The second level of inclusion is student-centered
or criticalinclusion, the inclusion of the voices and perspectives of the students themselves in the
educational experience. Students are the most under-utilized educational resource in most classrooms. A
multicultural curriculum encourages them to provide context and perspectives on all subjects covered in
school.
TOP
Question: What are some of the critiques of multicultural curriculum transformation?
Answer: Some critiques include:
1. Multicultural curricula water down the skills and knowledge students really need to succeed.
2. Multicultural curricula are anti-white and anti-male.
3. Teachers do not have time to teach prepare students for standardized tests and do the
multicultural stuff.
4. Multicultural education and curriculum transformation focus on differences instead of what we
have in common, and thus just add to issues of race, gender, and class.
TOP
Question: Those sound like important critiques. How do you respond?
Answer: My responses:
1. Multicultural curricula water down the skills and knowledge students really need to succeed. I
would argue that traditional curricula, presenting knowledge from a single perspective and failing
to engage students more actively in their own learning processes, represents the watered-down
version of learning. Multicultural curriculum transformation would result in greater creative and
critical thinking skills while equipping all students with a more complete and accurate
understanding of society and the world around them rather than a uni-dimensional understanding.
2. Multicultural curricula are anti-white and anti-male. Contrary to this argument, the goal of
multicultural education and multicultural curriculum transformation is to improve education for all
students. Multicultural educators recognize that even white male students are being cheated out
of completeness, accuracy, and student-centered inclusion in the classroom. Multicultural
curricula will challenge all students, including white males, to expand their realms of
understanding.
3. Teachers do not have time to prepare students for standardized tests and do the multicultural
stuff. Multicultural curriculum transformation does not result in an over-abundance of new material
to teach students. Teachers can still work from their state's standards by reexamining the way in
which they teach. The transformation does not call for teachers to cover five other people instead
of Columbus. It calls for teachers to cover Columbus in a more complete and accurate way and
from a broader, non-Eurocentric perspective.
4. Multicultural education and curriculum transformation focus on differences instead of what we
have in common, and ultimately contribute to, instead of eliminating, racism, sexism,
heterosexism, classism, and other forms of oppression. An examination of current educational
and curricular practices indicates that ageism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and other forms
of oppression were issues in education long before multicultural education was conceptualized. In
fact, multicultural education was developed in response to a lack of curricular inclusiveness in
public school curricula. The fact that multicultural education focuses, in part, on addressing these
issues does not mean that multicultural education created the issues. Multicultural curriculum
transformation simply happens to be one of the few movements that directly addresses how
racism, sexism, heterosexims, classism and other forms of oppression have informed educational
and curricular practices.

TOP
Question: Is a multicultural curriculum the same as an Afrocentric curriculum?
Answer: No. While multicultural education recognizes the need for some forms of ethnocentric curriculum
for students from social identity groups that are under- or misrepresented in public school curriculum,
multicultural education ultimately aims at dismantling the need for any -centric curriculum, as it is
inconsistent with the ideals of completeness and accuracy.
TOP
Question: My own education did not prepare to me to expand on more traditional curriculum
frameworks, and the administrators in my school are not supportive of my efforts to make my
curriculum more inclusive. Can you suggest any resources that will offer me professional
development and support through this process?
Answer: Please refer to the Multicultural Pavilion's page on Curriculum Transformation Resources.

Stages of Multicultural Curriculum Transformation


Just as there are several conceptualizations for multicultural education (see Defining Multicultural Education), there are several
perceptions as to what constitutes multicultural curriculum transformation. Approaches for multicultural curriculum transformation
range from slight curricular changes to a fully-revised social awareness and action conceptualizations. James Banks (1993), Peggy
McIntosh (2000) and others have formulated continuums for curricular reform that help move transformation efforts from the former
toward the latter.
The following stages of curriculum transformation have been adapted from several existing models including those by Banks (1993)
and McIntosh (2000).
Stage 1: Curriculum of the Mainstream
The curriculum of the mainstream is Eurocentric and male-centric. It ignores fully the experiences, voices, contributions, and
perspectives of non-dominant individuals and groups in all subject areas. At this stage, all educational materials, including textbooks,
films, and other teaching and learning tools, present information in a Eurocentric, male-centric way. This stage is harmful both for
students who identify with dominant culture and those from non-dominant groups. It has negative consequences for the former
because, according to Banks (1993), it:
reinforces their false sense of superiority, gives them a misleading conception of their relationship with other racial and ethnic groups,
and denies them the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge, perspectives, and frames of reference that can be gained from
studying and experiencing other cultures and groups (p. 195).
The curriculum of the mainstream has negative consequences for students from non-dominant groups, as well, failing to validate their
identities, experiences, and perspectives. According to Banks (1993), it further alienates students who already struggle to survive in a
school culture that differs so greatly from their home cultures.
Stage 2: Heroes and Holidays
Teachers at this stage "celebrate" difference by integrating information or resources about famous people and the cultural artifacts of
various groups into the mainstream curriculum. Bulletin boards might contain pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr., or Rosa Parks, and
teachers might plan special celebrations for Black History Month or Women's History Month. Student learning about "other cultures"
focuses on costumes, foods, music, and other tangible cultural items.
The strengths of this stage are that the teacher is attempting to diversify the curriculum by providing materials and knowledge outside
the dominant culture and that the Heroes and Holidays approach is fairly easy to implement. Still, the weaknesses heavily outweigh
the strengths:

By focusing celebratory attention on non-dominant groups outside the context of the rest of the curriculum, the teacher is
further defining these groups as "the other."
Curricula at this stage fail to address the real experiences of non-dominant groups, instead focusing on the accomplishments
of a few heroic characters. Students may learn to consider the struggles of non-dominant groups as "extra" information
instead of important knowledge in their overall understandings of the world.
The special celebrations at this stage often are used to justify the lack of effort at more authentic transformative measures.
The Heroes and Holidays approach trivializes the overall experiences, contributions, struggles, and voices of non-dominant
groups, consistent with a Eurocentric, male-centric curriculum.

Stage 3: Integration
At the Integration stage, teachers transcend heroes and holidays, adding substantial materials and knowledge about non-dominant
groups to the curriculum. The teacher might add to her or his collection of books those by authors of color or by women. She or he
might add a unit which covers, for example, the role of women in World War I. A music teacher might add slave hymns or songs from
Africa to her or his repetoire. At the school level, a course on African American History might be added to course offerings.
The strengths of the Intergration stage are that it transcends special celebrations to deal with real issues and concepts and that it
more closely ties diverse material into the rest of the curriculum. But many weaknesses remain:

New materials and units become secondary resources and knowledge as textbooks and the meat of the curriculum remain
based on a Eurocentric, male-centric orientation (Banks, 1993).
New information is still delivered from a Eurocentric, male-centric perspective. For example, the story of Manifest Destiny is
still told only from a European point of view.

Stage 4: Structural Reform


New materials, perspectives, and voices are woven seamlessly with current frameworks of knowledge to provide new levels of
understanding from a more complete and accurate curriculum. The teacher dedicates her- or himself to continuously expanding her
or his knowledge base through the exploration of various sources from various perspectives, and sharing that knowledge with her or
his students. Students learn to view events, concepts, and facts through various lenses. "American History" includes African
American History, Women's History, Asian American History, Latino American History, and all other previously differentiated fields of
knowledge.
Stage 5: Multicultural, Social Action, and Awareness
In addition to the changes made in the Structural Reform stage, important social issues, including racism, sexism, and economic
injustice, are addressed explicitly as part of the curriculum. The voices, ideas, and perspectives of the students regarding these and
all other topics are brought to the fore in the learning experience -- the students themselves becoming yet another multicultural
classroom resource. The textbook is viewed as a single perspective among many, and the relevance of its limitations, along with
those of other educational media, are explored and discussed.
References
Banks, J. (1993). Approaches to multicultural curriculum reform. In J. Banks and C. Banks (Eds.), Multicultural education: Issues and
perspectives. Boston: Allyn& Bacon.
McIntosh, P. (2000). Interactive phases of personal and curricular re-vision with regard to race. In G. Shin and P. Gorski
(Eds.), Multicultural resource series: Professional development for educators. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association.
an EdChange project
Paul C. Gorski, 1995-2014

Key Characteristics of a Multicultural Curriculum


by Paul C. Gorski for EdChange
1. Delivery
Delivery must acknowledge and address a diversity of learning styles while challenging dynamics of power and privilege in
the classroom.
o

o
o

Vary instructional techniques.


Cooperative Learning
Dialogue
Individual Work
Student Teaching
Understand the dynamics of power in the room so you do not perpetuate privilege and oppression.
On whom do you call more or less frequently?
Who do you encourage to work through a problem and to whom do you provide the answer?
Challenge the notion of teaching as "mastery."
Ask students what they already know about a topic.
Ask students what they want to learn about a topic.
Ask students to participate in the teaching of a topic.

2. Content
Content must be complete and accurate, acknowledging the contributions and perspectives of all groups.
o

Ensure that content is as complete and accurate as possible.


"Christopher Columbus discovered America" is neither complete nor accurate.
o Avoid tokenism--weave content about under-represented groups (People of Color, Women, Lesbian, Gay, and
Bisexual People, People with Disabilities, etc.) seamlessly with that about traditionally over-represented groups.
Do you present under-represented groups as "the other"?
Do you address these groups only through special units and lesson plans ("African American Scientists";
"Poetry by Women") or within the context of the larger curriculum?
Do you "celebrate" difference or study, acknowledge, and explore its implications as part of the overall
curriculum?
o Study the history of discrimination in curriculum and ensure that you are not replicating it.
Are you supporting stereotypes (learning about Native Americans by making headdresses and tomahawks)
or challenging them (learning about Native Americans through resources by Native Americans)?
Are you supporting or challenging the assumption that our society is inherently Eurocentric, male-centric,
Christian-centric, heterosexual-centric, and upper-middle-class centric?
3. Teaching and Learning Materials
Teaching and learning materials must be diverse and critically examined for bias.
o

Vary instructional materials.


Texts
Newspapers
Videos/Movies
Games
Workbooks
Examine all materials for bias and oppressive content.
Does your history book show stereotypical or inaccurate images of people from certain groups or eras (ex.
railroad workers)?
Do your science materials use male-centric language?

Do your reading or literature materials have racist language or stereotypical images?


Does the language you use and the language your materials use assume heterosexuality, a 2-biologicalparent household, U.S. citizenship,and so on?
o Diversify images and content in bulletin boards, posters, and other constantly-visible materials.
Do you always diversify, or only during special months or celebrations?
4. Perspective
Content must be presented from a variety of perspectives and angles in order to be accurate and complete.
o

Present content from a variety of perspectives, not only that of majority groups.
How do we define "classic literature" or "great books" or "the classics," and from whose perspective?
From whose perspective do we tell history? When is "westward expansion" the same as "genocide"? When
are champions of "liberty" the same as slave owners?
o Present content through a variety of lenses, not just those of a few heroic characters.
Slave narratives to teach about slavery (not Frederick Douglas).
Slave narratives to teach about colonial Virginia.
American Indian texts to teach about westward expansion.
5. Critical Inclusivity
Students must be engaged in the teaching and learning process--transcend the banking method and facilitate experiences in
which students learn from each other's experiences and perspectives.
o
o

Bring the perspectives and experiences of the students themselves to the fore in the learning experience.
Encourage students to ask critical questions about all information they receive from you and curricular materials, and
model this type of critical thinking for them.
Who wrote or edited that textbook?
Who created that Web site?
Whose voice am I hearing and whose voice am I not hearing?
o Make content and delivery relevant for the students--facilitate experiences in which they connect what they're
learning to their everyday lives.
o Recognize your students as your most important multicultural resources.
6. Social and Civic Responsibility
If we hope to prepare students to be active participants in an equitable democracy, we must educate them about social
justice issues and model a sense of civic responsibility within the curriculum.
o

Starting with the youngest students, incorporate discussions about difference and inequality into your lessons--this
can be done across all subject areas.
How has misapplied science been used to justify racism, sexism, and religious oppression?
o Look for ways in which recognized names in various disciplines have used their work and stature to fight social
injustices. (It can be particularly powerful to find people from majority groups who fought certain types of oppression.)
Mark Twain
Albert Einstein
Eleanor Roosevelt
o When an opportunity arises to address racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, or other forms of oppression,
facilitate it.
o Have honest discussion with your students about the history of privilege and oppression in your subject area, school,
education, and society at large.
o Connect teaching and learning to local community issues and larger global issues.
o Encourage students to think critically about the United States, capitalism, the two-party system, and other
traditionally untouchable subjects of critique.
7. Assessment

Curriculum must be assessed constantly for completeness, accuracy, and bias.


o
o
o

Work with a cohort of teachers to examine and critique each other's curricular units, lesson plans, and entire
frameworks.
Request and openly accept feedback from your students.
Return to this model from time to time to make sure you haven't reverted to former practices.

an EdChange project
Paul C. Gorski, 1995-2014

Make a Cultural Time Capsule


Social Studies
Students will make and bury a time capsule filled with materials that reflect the cultures and traditions
found in their community today.
What You Need

A container that can be sealed against the elements (a large plastic or metal box with a lid)
Sealing materials (heavy-duty plastic bags or plastic sheets, waterproof tape)
Student collections of print materials, photos, and small objects representative of cultural or
traditional activities taking place in their community
A variety of art supplies (crayons, colored pencils or markers, long scrolls of drawing paper, and
so forth)
A shovel

What to Do
1. Tell students that a time capsule is a container filled with things that reflect the way of life,
cultures, and traditions of a given community at the time when the capsule is assembled. Explain
that the capsule is buried with the intention that it be discovered by people living at a later time,
when it will serve as a historical record of an earlier time.
2. Ask students to think about the way of life, cultures, and traditions of their community today.
Then have them gather and bring to class small objects that reflect the community's current life.
You may want to offer some of these suggestions for items to collect: a local newspaper;
advertisements or announcements about current events in the community; recent photos of public
buildings, local celebrations, and local people; small toys, games, or clothing accessories that are
currently popular; a sampling of small products made in the area; and photos or drawings of
animals and plant life found locally. You might also suggest that students work together to create
a paper mural (using a long scroll of drawing paper) that depicts life today in your community.
3. Place the time capsule's contents into a container and seal it. Obtain permission to bury the
capsule in a place selected by the class (perhaps on school property or in a park). Let students
take turns digging the hole in which the capsule will be placed.
4. Hold a small ceremony to celebrate the completion of this project. Remind students that every
time they pass by the spot where the capsule is buried, they will remember the items they have
left for future generations.

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Cultural Show and Tell


Social Studies

Students will research their own cultural heritage and share it with the class in a Show
and Tell presentation.
What You Need

Student access to family members who can help students learn about their
ancestry and cultural heritage
Student access to reference sources (encyclopedias, magazine articles,
audiovisual materials, Web sites, and so on) on the heritage of a variety of
cultures

What to Do

1. Explain to students that many people have more than one cultural heritage
because of marriages between people of different cultures. Then tell students
that you would like them to learn as much as they can about their own cultural
heritage and prepare a Show and Tell presentation about it.
2. Have students begin by asking family members about their cultural heritage
and about traditions, symbols, and objects found in that heritage. Also help
students locate reference sources that will help them learn about their heritage.
Ask them to take notes to use as aids during Show and Tell.
3. Tell students to plan to include in their presentations examples of things found
in or symbolic of their cultural traditions. Students might, for example, collect
and organize personal or magazine photos that show aspects of their heritage,
or make objects or drawings of objects that play an important role in their
heritage. Emphasize that the objects students will show needn't be elaborate,
but may be quite simpleperhaps a handful of rice (representative of an Asian
heritage) or a drawing or photo of an Aztec monument (representative of a
Mexican heritage).
4. When students are ready, have them take turns giving their Show and Tell
presentations to the class.

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A Nation of Many Cultures
Grade Level: Elementary (K-5)
Estimated Time: Three 1/2-hour classroom sessions; one homework assignment
Lesson Overview:
Invite students to create a visual representation of themselves to include their family, heritage, and
interests. Use these creations to compare and contrast similarities and differences. Create a display of the
art work in the form of a U.S. Flag
Related National Standards from McREL:

Understands that people are alike in many ways and different in many ways
Understands that people might feel uncomfortable around other people who dress, talk, or act very
differently from themselves
Understands that various factors (e.g., interests, capabilities, values) contribute to the shaping of a
person's identity
Knows that human beings have different interests, motivations, skills, and talents

Materials:

Paper: Plain or notebook; red, and white construction


Venn Diagram
Blue poster board
Art supplies
Magazines, newspapers, and/or photographs

Procedure:
1.

2.
3.

4.
5.

Begin by addressing the fact that the United States of America is made up of people from many
different cultures and nations. Include a conversation that defines the factors of culture to include
race, religion, etc. Discuss some of the different cultures represented in the classroom and school.
Brainstorm images or ideas that accurately represent these cultures.
Homework: Ask students to prepare either a poem or collage that represents themselves. Be sure to
include family, home, nationality, and interests. Poems or collages should fit on an 8 1/2" by 11" or
smaller piece of paper. Teacher may choose to have all poems, all collages, or a mix.
Create a Venn Diagram on a standard piece of blue poster board. (approximately 18" X 27") Use the
collages and poems to compare and contrast the similarities and differences of the students. The
middle of the diagram should represent the similarities in the class. The outer rings can be used
collectively to represent differences.
Discuss the similarities and differences of the students. Do the students feel comfortable around
everyone, or do they tend to congregate with those most like them? Are these congregations based
on culture, interests, neighborhood, age, gender, or other factors?
Post the Venn Diagram in the upper left hand corner of a bulletin board or wall. Glue each collage or
poem to red or white construction paper. Arrange the now backed collages or poems to the right of
and below the blue Venn Diagram to form the stripes of the American Flag.

Assessment:
Student understanding should be assessed through:

contribution to class discussion and activity


successful completion of collage or poem

Homes Around the World


Social Studies

Children will study houses and homes from around the world and make a map
collage.
What You Need

A large map of the world, displayed on a bulletin board


Pictures from magazines, such as National Geographic, of homes and houses
found in different parts of the country and in different places in the world
Glue, tape, or pushpins

What to Do

1. Over the course of two to three weeks, choose pictures of different types of
homes to talk about.
2. For each picture, talk about where you are likely to find such a home.
3. Have children study each picture, comparing how the homes are like ones they
have seen and how they are different. Use the opportunity to discuss why the
homes have some of the features that they do, such as high stilts for homes built
where water rises or chimneys for homes in cold climates.
4. Attach each picture to an appropriate place on the map.

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