It is my firm conviction that all or most of the ideals and goals of multicultural education should be met if we are to reap to fruits of education on a global scale. However, that every student must have an equal opportunity to achieve her or his potential, and that teachers must be prepared to effectively facilitate learning for every individual student no matter how culturally different he or she is are ideals that resonate most strongly with me. Also, among the goals of multicultural education to which I attach more importance are addressing diverse learning styles, encouraging students to take an active role in their education by bringing in their stories and experiences into the classroom and helping students become good and resourceful citizens.
These idelas and goals should help learners make the most of education to the best interest of their community and the world at large.I defintely take them into account when designing my lesson plans as they are part and parcel of our curriculum. I try to use them through giving every student the time and the tools to express herself and achieve her maximum. No student lagging behind could be said to be my motto. Besides, I’m the facilitator and moderator of my students’ learning par excellence as I have learned to be the guard by the side and leave the ‘sage’ on the stage. This facilitation is the right of all my students without exception and regardless of their backgrounds. I’m the teacher of all my students and I just enjoy learning from the variety I have in my class. It is to be avowed that addressing diverse learning styles seems like a daunting act to do given the time and energy that it takes, but I do my level best to use multi-modal techniques to provide information in a way that reaches all types of learners and meet their needs according to their learning styles.For example, I use realia to present vocabulary items, add readings students can refer to and physical activities to foster the same points.As to educating students to become good citizens, I have already had training sessions about civic education and how it could be incorporated in our daily teaching practices. I teach a unit titled ‘Citizenship ‘ where I teach my students about good citizenship and what it takes to be a good citizen. Here they are introduced to their rights and obligations as full citizens. This unit also teaches them about a set of values and qualities that shape the thoughts and actions of good citizens.
Making students feel included and validated and have opportunities to see their cultures and other cultures have value means instilling in them feelings of success. I would accomplish this by creating a classroom culture of respect and appreciation of diversity. Also, to make my students feel included I would provide them with a safe learning environment where they can take risks and feel good about themselves. What is more, I would validate how they feel and acknowlege how hard or easy it has been for them to achieve a given goal. This would give them the chance to feel comfortable and discuss their challenges with me and their classmates. Moreover, I would openly recgonize that students are different and each one of them has her or his own way of grasping the material. As to valuing the student’s culture and how this impacts her or his feeling of belonging, inclusion and hence her or his feeling of validation, I believe we teachers have a lot to do in this regard. For instance,I would encourage my students to talk about their customs and traditions and then discuss how they contribute to the richness of their country’s culture. And as our city’s revenue is based mainly on tourism, I would make them show how their specific culture entices tourists who come in waves everyday. I believe this way students would appreciate their culture and feel that they count as part of that culture. Regarding other cultures, my students are already used to appreciating other cultures thanks to the ‘Across Cultures ‘ section in their books where they get to know more about other cultures and their constituents. Some cultures may strike them as weird but I always help them understand that no culture is better than the other and that every culture has its own pecularities.
Teachers in my school have to explore the benefits of multicultural education. I would encourage them to examine those benefits and design appropriate activities that put the student at the center of learning as in the end of the day it is the student that matters to us. All students have preparedness, potential, curiosity and interest in constructing their own learning, we only need to tap those qualities through giving them equal oppportunities and due respect. Now I can clearly see why Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that ‘ the secret of education lies in respecting the pupil’.
By Mohamed El Moussaoui