Tyler Brogan ENGL 3134 April 16, 2014

Why Multicultural Education is Important
Donna Y. Ford is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and in her journal article entitled “Why Education Must Be Multicultural” for Gifted Child Today, she discusses the importance of incorporating multicultural education into the classroom curriculum. This intent, as described by Ford, is to welcome students from different cultural backgrounds into the predominantly white school system without fear of suppression or feeling inferior to their peers. Ford’s article discusses the implications often placed on students of different cultures in the traditional monoculture school, which includes prejudice and racism.

Her enlightening article sparks fire on the often seen but ignored issue of social prejudice in the classroom; from teachers who simply do not know how to teach children of different cultures, to students who simply do not know how to interact with children of a different culture. Every day, children are sent home in shambles because of crude, racist encounters in their school, oftentimes rarely seeing the attack coming and usually never understanding why the attack happened to begin with. Ford explains why it is important to incorporate this type of education in the classroom, now more than ever, and why it should no longer be swept under the rug by school officials who civil duty is to provide a safe location for all students (regardless of race, sex, etc.) to garner an honest and equal education.

Ford’s article is very informative on the subject of why multicultural education is important, and is very articulately constructed. She begins with a summary of the issues at hand, and tackles those problems by assigning them to three separate categories: A) Which students need multicultural education? What must be taught about racially and culturally different groups? B) What is the purpose of multicultural education? What are the benefits of multicultural education? And C) What does rigorous multicultural education look like? (2014). While reading her article, I focused on Ford’s answers to these questions and if they adequately related to the overall topic. Her objective was to provide information on multicultural education and why it is necessary, and I believe she achieved in making a

serious point. Her examples on culture blindness, the disconnect between teachers and students, and the outdated classroom curriculum all work to balance her argument for the incorporation of multicultural education into the school system without seeming onesided. Her points are presented professionally and with good intentions towards ALL members of the issue: both white students and students of different backgrounds, and classroom teachers.

I would like to believe that I have always, in at least some ways, known of the lack of multicultural education in the classroom. I have seen prejudice and racism in the classroom. But to be completely honest, I never knew the extent of the problem and, to be frank, I am white and have never truly experienced racism directed towards me. I am not a racist but I am ignorant to the experiences people of other cultures face on a daily basis and it is articles like these that bring light to these dim situations and relieve some insight for me. Ford states, “I recall a recent activity where elementary students were asked to come to school dressed as African Americans. The letter sent home to parents said that if the second-grade children did not have African American attire, they could come dressed as zebras, tigers, lions, and so on,” (2014) and a comment or statement like this is astonishing to me because even though experiences like this happen every single day in classrooms—where teachers have no idea how to teach different cultures to students because of their

own lack of knowledge—to them, the teachers, this is okay. It is okay to them because in white monoculture schools, the need to learn about other cultures is believed to be irrelevant because the cultures being discussed are not frequent in the classroom itself. This is a problem. Ford makes a valid point that “Culturally different students have virtually no opportunity to read about themselves; and White students will rarely read about others,” (2014) and I firmly believe this to be true. The stories told in school are almost always told from the perspective of a white protagonist. Only when the time comes to actually read black literature or literature from any other culture is that need “met”, and it oftentimes places that culture into a stereotype. The reason I chose to study multicultural education is to learn about other cultures—their struggles and their triumphs—and to learn how to be a future educator that does not put more of my time and energy into a group of students over another. I want a classroom founded on equality, so every student that enters feels welcome. This article was an interesting glimpse into the possible resolutions to in-class racial and cultural prejudice and the ideas Ford gives to provide multicultural education into every aspect of the education a teacher can give instead of ignoring it or physically moving it to its own category are practical, influential, and necessary to providing an equal educational opportunity to all, and these are methods I will strive to utilize in my future classroom.

Ford, D. Y. (2014). Why Education Must Be Multicultural. Gifted Child Today, 37(1), 5962. Retrieved February 1, 2014, from JSTOR (The Scholarly Journal Archive) database.