Let’s face it, the education business has a hell of a lot of jargon. And very often everyone around the table simply assumes that everyone else around the table understands all the fancy language being tossed about. In some cases, it’s considered not proper to admit ignorance and even ask for a definition – everyone already knows what it means.
If that all sounds like a Monty Python routine, just try doing what Jenny D. dared to do. In her graduate class of people working to be trainers of future teachers, she had the nerve to ask "what exactly is multiculturalism in education?". Good question! Her follow up was even better.
It seems to me that multiculturalism is a bag that’s full of good ideas and garbage, and that we stuff anything we want into it and just label it all under fog of the word multiculturalism. I don’t want to teach it until I know what it means.
As you might expect, that didn’t go over too well in a gathering of professional educators, even if it is a topic worthy of serious discussion. But Jenny’s right about mixing the good with the bad. There are many educational terms (differentiation is another) that education writers – and professors – toss around and adapt for use in any way needed to make their point. Not unlike the politicians who spout the jargon without understanding the application.
Any good teacher knows they must take into account the background and culture of their students. But should it change the content of their curriculum? Should it alter the expectations they have for those students? Should they assume that any particular culture produces students of greater or lesser capabilities? I suppose when you arrive at a valid definition of "multiculturalism in education", you’ll probably also have the answer to those questions.