Custom essays: Public education in the United States

Public education in the United States faces many challenges. The topic of the discussion is multicultural education in the USA. The relevance of the topic is due to the fact that factors of poly-ethnicity and multiculturalism in education have has become one of the most important. To date, the vast majority (90%) of countries around the world are ethnically mixed (Connor, 1994).
Demographic situation becomes more complicated in the context of globalization, population of individual states is becoming much more multicultural, ethnically diverse, as a result of mass international migration. Globalization has contradictory effects on education and culture in multicultural societies. Alarming seems the fact of growing tensions between ethnic and cultural groups on cultural, ethnic, or religious grounds, causing separatism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism.
At the turn of XX-XXI centuries in multinational states has sharply intensified the fight between ethnic and racial subcultures for their cultural and educational rights. Often, leaders of such movements stay indifferent to the cultural and educational needs and interests of other ethnic and cultural groups, that makes impossible to find a compromise between the different subcultures. Social, political, demographic, cultural transformation of multiethnic, multicultural nations has caused the search for adequate pedagogical models for solving the problems, without any violence, and taking into account the interests of all the ethnic and cultural groups in society.
This issue is important for the United States, and today two experts on problems of poly-cultural education in the United States will present their opinions on the issue. These experts are James Banks and James Hoops.
James A. Banks is a specialist in multicultural education and in social studies education, and has written numerous works on the issue (articles, chapters, and books). Professor Banks is the Director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, a member of the National Academy of Education. He is a past president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Professor Banks also holds honorary doctorates from five colleges and universities and The UCLA Medal from the University of California, Los Angeles, the University’s highest honor. (Center for Multicultural Education)
James Lynch is also one of the authors of the concept of “Multicultural education”, who in his numerous works on the issue has discussed special aspects and approaches to multicultural education, which are widely respected by many scientists.
Thus, Banks and Lynch as experts will present the topic, discuss it and tell their vision of the issue .
Banks: I’ll start the discussion about the problem in the U.S. since its beginning. The problem of multicultural education exists in the USA since last century, and the racial problems in education are recognized at the official level. It is important to note that in1954 the U.S. Supreme Court cancelled the division of schools by race, and most school districts follow the regulations on the prohibition of racial discrimination in schools, and educational opportunities for minorities. Thus, we can say that today in America there is a legal framework prohibiting racial discrimination in education, and problems of racial and ethnic conflict brought the need for such concept as multicultural education.
Lynch: Yes, it is multiculturalism reflected in the ideas and practice of multicultural education (multicultural education). Multicultural education is a special need for a multinational community. We come from the fact that the future of civilization and individual countries depends critically on the quality of the younger generation to live and work in a multicultural, interdependent world. There is an urgent need for justification and implementation of education, opposing xenophobia and ethnic hatred. In my book “Multicultural education in a global societ.” (1989) I tell readers that development of human values, introduction to the culture of other subcultures, the preservation of centuries-old traditions is the part of the solution to these problems.
Banks: I would like to emphasize that in this respect in the UN and UNESCO documents , for example, in the program MOST (Management of Social Transformation, 1995) it is said that human values should form the spiritual foundation of multi-ethnic and multicultural societies, help to solve conflict issues in a spirit of pluralism. Human values might be abstract concepts, unless they are combined with specific national cultural and historical traditions, and contemporary socio-political situation in the country. Education and training go back in its origin to national culture. Modern education should prepare future generation to live and work in new conditions, which have requirements to multicultural identity.
Lynch: that is why scientists stress the need to identify the best ways of multinational school in ethno-social environment, with a single pedagogical strategy: education must account national (ethnic) differences. I would argue that education and upbringing in a poly-ethnic and multicultural societies need to take into account national (ethnic) differences, and include many different types, models, and value orientation of teachers, adequate outlook and needs of different ethnic and cultural groups.
Banks: Speaking about the U.S., the establishment and development of the concept of multicultural education in the U.S. was preceded by ideas aimed at reducing racial and ethnic conflicts from 60-70 –s. Then in the pedagogical literature were raised questions about language learning, different learning styles of students of different ethnicity, the role of the teacher and his attitude toward minorities. As a result, took shape the concept of multi-ethnic education. In my book “Multiethnic Education: Practices and Promises” I speak about the fact that ethnic diversity enriches the nation and increases the possibility of solving personal and social problems, that people who are ignorant of other cultures are not able to discover their own culture. (Banks, 1970)
Lynch: I would like to clarify that in the mid 1970’s researchers began to use inhis works the concept of “multicultural education”. In the early 1980’s this concept appeared in leading educational encyclopedias: in 1982 in the 5th edition of the “The Encyclopedia of Educational Research”, in 1985 in the” International Encyclopedia of Education . In the middle of 1980 was created a professional organization – National Association for Multicultural Education. Thus, the term of “multicultural education” has been asserted in American Education, and in the beginning of 1990s it has got a conceptual design. (Lynch, 1989)
Banks: Yes, the modern interpretation of the concept of “multicultural education” can cause a lot of disputes and doubts. In “The International Encyclopedia of Education ” (1994) is expressed the opinion of some researchers, limiting its scope to national, racial, ethnic, cultural, and the purpose of “multicultural education” is seen in raising a tolerant attitude towards other cultures, in developing knowledge and understanding of differences and similarities between them. The social group, a group speaking a dialect, sexual minorities are treated as normal variation within a single culture, as subcultures, not related to multicultural education (The International Encyclopedia of Education, 1994). In this case, “multicultural education” is synonymous with “multi-ethnic.” J. Guy, for example, stressed that expanding the boundaries of the concept distorts the purpose of this type of education, diverting attention from issues of discrimination and equality, prejudice against ethnic minorities in general and black Americans in particular.
Lynch: in my turn I can add that as evidenced by analysis of studies of American specialists, materials, periodicals, the emergence of various concepts is due not only to disagreement over the inclusion of one group or another in the program of multicultural education. But before America has always been raised a problem: how social institutions, such as school, college, university, must respond to existing among the students cultural and ethnic differences and the diversity of society? Of course, as a proponent of multicultural education I can say that ethnic and cultural differences must be maintained. But how, recognizing the right of minorities to be “other” and promoting it through education, to preserve a unified state? To what extent we should encourage diversity? These issues cause the most heated debates.
Banks: I can say that I take a moderate position on this issue. In my works I study the concepts of culture, ethnicity, issues of ethnic, racial and cultural diversity of the United States, examine the influence of cultural differences in the educational process. So I define culture as “shared by a group of people symbols, meanings, values, behavior and perception”. (Banks J., Handbook of research on multicultural education, 2003)
Lynch: That is, you certainly support the idea of multi-ethnicity and diversity.
Banks: I can say that I support, encourage ethnic and cultural diversity, but advocate a one state and one national culture. Respecting and recognizing diversity, multicultural education seeks to build a nation – the state, which reflects the value of diverse groups and cultures. Multicultural education seeks to actualize the idea of “pluribus unum” which means to create a society of “different”, united democratic values. ” (Banks J. Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations, Curriculum and Teaching, 2001, р. 50.)
At the same time, I believe that the policies of educational institutions towards cultural groups that compose American Society should be more clear. Many of the problems faced by these groups are unique and require special analysis and approaches. In addition to the general concept, there is a need of specific theories that address specific problems of education of a cultural group. (Banks J. Multiethnic Education: Theory a. Practice, 1980, p. 80).
Lynch: In my turn, I would add that the main aim of intercultural education is to prepare students for life in a globally interdependent and culturally pluralistic world. However, I pay great attention to the relationship of ethnic (local), national and global levels of human existence. I believe that knowledge of another culture must begin with self-knowledge, with understanding of the unique characteristics of own culture and attitude towards the “other” cultures. One of the “corridors” connecting the ethnic, national and global levels of human existence is education.
Banks: Yes, multicultural education is a complex, multidimensional concept that brings together various approaches to solving problems related to cultural heterogeneity of American society. However, it has become an integral component of general education in the U.S., and despite the diversity of forms and methods of its implementation, it is possible to identify common features of its content. The leading role in shaping the content of multicultural education belongs to the higher education institutions and, above all, research centers at universities, dealing with the problems of multicultural education. Among them I want to point out The Center of multicultural education at the University of Washington (Seattle), which I chair. Along with theoretical research, conferences, seminars and special courses for teachers, the staff of the Centre is also working to develop the practice-oriented programs and training modules (Center for Multicultural Education)
Lynch: yes, and it is also worth noting an important role in the implementation of theoretical and applied research in the field of multicultural education, training, promotion of ideas of multicultural education among teachers and school administrations of multicultural education (National Association for Multicultural Education – NAME), whose members are experts in various fields of scientific knowledge , teachers from different schools.
Banks: Also, development of multicultural modules is also carried out on the basis of different teacher training colleges, institutes of teacher training. For example, Yale University together with public schools in New Haven organized the Institute for Teacher Training (Yale – New Haven Teachers Institute), in which are held different seminars, courses for teachers. Each participant must develop a module (curriculum unit), which can be used by himself or colleagues within the educational process. As a result, the Institute publishes a compilation of teaching materials on various topics, in particular on multicultural education. In 1999, there was a number of modules under the overall theme of “Immigration and life in America,” in 2001 – “Race and ethnicity in contemporary art and literature,” in 2002 – “Nature and history of oppression based on ethnicity and gender”.
Lynch: I would also like to note that in the U.S. nowadays there is a huge number of multicultural literature: individual works, collections of short stories, books with adapted texts. Multicultural literature is used in U.S. schools not only as a source of information about culture, history and problems of various racial, ethnic and cultural groups, but also as a means to motivate students in mastering reading and writing skills.
Banks: I can add that a significant place in multicultural education in the U.S. has objects of artistic and aesthetic field. In particular, pre-school music education, along with the development of creative abilities and knowledge of history and cultural heritage of the country, seeks to develop an understanding of other cultures by means of music. Just as in the study of history, social studies and literature, the emphasis is made on visual arts and music, racial and ethnic groups represented in American society: African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, etc. It should be noted that students do not simply familiar with the musical products, samples of painting, sculpture, decorative art, but they are involved in the creative process.
Lynch: Thus, the influence of the ideas of multiculturalism on American education system is obvious. We with my colleges have conducted numerous studies on the development of its theoretical foundations, practical implementation and, importantly, promotion of the idea of a multicultural, multiethnic society. We have achieved good results, for example, now in the charter of schools there must be a stating that” in the school is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation …” (Center for Multicultural Education)
Banks: The U.S. is among the first countries in the revision of ideas and practices of education in the multiethnic and multicultural environment in the spirit of multiculturalism. The study of these ideas and practices enables deeper analysis of the main challenges of multicultural education in the world. The American nation is enriched by the ethnic, cultural, and language diversity and all people must find ways to respect this diversity. In this situation, educational system is called to help to create a unified nation-state of a democratic and pluralistic society. (Banks J., 2001)

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