Inclusive Learning: A Culturally Inclusive Curriculum

Within in the United States there is a diverse population of people who come from different backgrounds. Some of the diverse  differences are language, culture, race,  nationality and ethnicity; please see the US census report the for specific breakdowns. Due to the diversity of ethnic groups in our educational system, there is a need for a cultural curriculum to reflect the diversity of students in the educational system, …students represent and exhibit the greatest diversity in American society (Cushner, McClelland & Safford, p.112). A culturally inclusive curriculum will help make all students, no matter their background, feel included in the learning process and show a  more reflective representation of the population. According to Cushner, McClelland and Safford (2012) multicultural education can be defined as a process of educational reform that assures that students from all groups (racial, socioeconomic, ability, gender, etc) experience educational equality, success and social mobility (p. 22). Showing the diversity, will help students become more connected and engaged in the learning processes because their sense of  identity is reinforced and normalized. Teachers knowing and including culture in their classrooms can help students identify and relate with topics and/or lessons. Chung and Miller (2011) stated that it is the teacher who works with diversity in the classroom and who must make informed decisions about all students’ learning (p.39). Teachers including culture within the classroom and lessons can increase students knowledge and understanding about diversity and make minority students more comfortable with their culture because they are discussed and represented within the curriculum.

Students having a sense of identification in the educational system, helps students relate to the topics and lesson which are being taught in school, which in turns makes an inclusive environment. Adding sex education to the curriculum and including a multicultural curriculum helps making teaching sex educational lessons easier and more relate able. Cushner, McClelland & Safford (2012) stated educational strategies that  have demonstrated the ability to [ be inclusive of all cultures, usually includes]: (1) improving social contact and inter group relations (2) increasing cognitive sophistication [of various groups] (3) improving self-esteem, and (4) increasing understanding of other groups (p.188).  Having the ability to relate to students in a sex educational class is important because it can help lower the anxiety of a student from a different cultural background because they feel comfortable enough to know that the teacher is cultural competent and sensitive to specific cultural norms and know that there will be cultural diversity within the lesson.

Becoming multicultural inclusive in schools has become a topic in which many schools, administrators, and teachers have been forced to address. Educational boards are having teachers do multicultural workshops to help teachers become more cultural inclusive. Some schools are moving in the right direction of becoming inclusive with educating a diverse population. However, administrators are not acknowledging that  multicultural education is a huge platform, and  many teachers are doing the bare minimum to be consider cultural competent.  According to Chung and Miller (2011) multicultural education is an umbrella term that can mean many different things to different people, and how a person approaches it (p. 39). Because there is an array of ways to include culture in the classroom, Banks and Banks have developed 4 approaches to multicultural education reform.

Having an understanding that multicultural education consist of an array of approaches, administrators need to set a standard for all teachers to adhere to. If all teachers are held to the same standard of multicultural inclusion, then each student can have their culture learned while teaching other students something new. To gain further understanding of  the various approaches you can read Allison Cumming-McCann article, “Multicultural Education Connecting theory to practice”  for  detailed about the  learning process for including multicultural education and dissected each approach and its goals.

Future research should focus on how teachers can educate themselves with hands on approaches to culture diversity and how to gain skills to incorporate in their classrooms. Also, research should be done to see if there is a specific way of teaching which helps students accept cultural information better. Currently, there is much research on multicultural education, which proves that it is a benefit to students. Multicultural education is a great tool because children get to learn the basic school curriculum and get a bonus treat by learning about a different type of cultures as well.

References

Chung, M. & Miller, J. (2011). Do we live in a box of crayons?: Looking at multicultural metaphors written by teachers.  Multicultural Education, 18 (4), 39- 45.

 Cushner, K., McClelland, A. & Safford, P. (2012). Human diversity in education: An intercultural approach (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Inc.

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3 responses to “Inclusive Learning: A Culturally Inclusive Curriculum

  1. “Students having a sense of identification in the educational system, helps students relate to the topics and lesson which are being taught in school”
    I like this quote because it relates the importance of cultural inclusivity back to learning, not just being culturally sensitive for the sake of it. I think when people hear that they are expected to be aware of diversity, there’s this feeling that it’s just for the sake of everyone’s feelings. But as educators, we know that students need to be able to identify themselves within a lesson to make it feel relevant. This means more than a variety of races in textbook photos, this is also about how we represent parents (mom and dad, mom and mom,or just dad?), how we describe a home (house, apartment, or mobile home?), if there an assumption of class (Do field trip cost extra? Are the students with financial help separated in the lunch line?).
    When teaching fellow educators about cultural sensitivity, the subject should always relate back to how including a variety of culture is vital to the learning experience for the students.

  2. Inclusive learning is so important, thank you for covering it. Students need to be able to identify themselves in the curriculum to make a connection with the material presented. I value that you included how this inclusivity can decrease student anxiety, specifically within sexuality education. Finding ways to make a curriculum more inclusive while decreasing student anxiety can be a daunting task. Having an awareness of some of the resources available helps me feel more prepared to make my curricula more inclusive.

    I appreciate the link to Bank’s approaches to multicultural curriculum reform. Determining where I personally fall on the spectrum of multicultural and inclusive educators, and understanding what approach I use, is important to me. Without knowing where I am now, I’ll have no benchmark to evaluate my progress in the future.

  3. This is an important topic and I’m glad you were able to write about it. Looking at the curriculum my school uses now, I’ve notice that it’s not culturally inclusive at all. For example, we have a student in our class whose family is Asian. Most of the stories and pictures used in our language arts curriculum doesn’t take other cultures into consideration.
    I liked the information provided at Banks and Banks. Oftentimes, teachers use the Contributions Approach in elementary school. Thanks again for the information.

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