by Ilene D. Alexander
Multicultural Teaching and Learning is a responsibility of all teachers, not just those who are teachers of record for courses listed with “cultural diversity” designations. In fact, the main intention of this Issues and Insights paper is to offer new teaching assistants and instructors – whatever their disciplines – an overview of research related to multicultural teaching and learning so that readers will understand that such an approach to teaching is useful in framing course design and class delivery in everyday classrooms.
What is “multicultural teaching and learning”?
It is an understanding of education in which classroom learning and patterns of student-teacher and student-student interactions are seen as linked to the social and political worlds in which students and teachers live.
It is an approach to teaching that is dedicated to “facilitating educational experiences in which all students reach their full potential as learners and as socially aware and active beings, locally, nationally, and globally” (Paul Gorski, http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/presentations/nmci01/index.htm).
It is a practice of learning that is built upon three elements that structure significant learning in higher education: (1) establishment of clear, rigorous course goals, (2) use of course appropriate “active learning” strategies – which are commonly described as activities that involve students in doing something during the classroom learning process and thinking about what they are doing (for samples of active learning, see http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/resources/active/index.html and (3) development of assessments (tests, papers, projects) that set high expectations for all students while offering a range of resources that help students meet those expectation
It is an experience of teaching that is different for every teacher – whether educated in a US or international context, whether self-identifying as a cultural minority in a given context or not – and different in every classroom.