I learned something in my class today. Whoa.
I realize that this may seem like an obvious and uncontroversial element of multicultural education, but it wasn’t until today that the importance of it struck me. We were discussing the implications of race in the classroom. One of the members of our group is Korean and he described the influence of his family on his educational expectations.
As he described it, starting when he was very young his parents showed him some sort of historical document listing all the Parks back to when they moved to Korea from China. He was told what each of those Parks did, from being a scholar to second-in-command of the state. His own parents and the community all around him were not highly educated. However, he felt driven to achieve a certain level of scholarship simply by the historical success of his people. Maybe his Dad didn’t go to college and maybe no one around him did, but he could look to the legacy of his family for the expectation and confidence to go on. He got a full-ride to an elite university and now, a suitable crowning achievement, teaches public high school.
Hearing him speak, the importance of multi-cultural education for students of color finally dawned on me. Of course I had realized before the neccesity of providing accessible role models for minority students. It wasn’t until today that I realized the need to provide so much more. The singular Cesar Chavez is not going to cut it. Cesar Chavez is an inspiration but not an expectation. Students don’t need a hero or a few, they need a whole pantheon. They don’t need to know that it is possible for them to achieve, they need to see that it is probable that they will. Similarly, they must be presented with such a history that they might see themselves as part of a community of achievement, if not local to where they live, at least historical to the culture in which they belong.
I’ll get right on this with the hour and a half a week I have to teach social studies.
Diversity without racial preferences
1 hour ago