"Multicultural Education: Sparking the Genius of All Students"

Article excerpt

"The so-called modern education, with all it defects, however, does others so much more good than it does the Negro, because it has been worked out in conformity to the needs of those who have enslaved and oppressed weaker people." (1)

Dr. Carter G.Woodson's, call formulticultural education was framed in his 1933 seminal book, The Mis-Education of the Negro. Seventy-four years ago, he illuminated how the Negro was mis-educated, and regrettably it continues today. For example, African Americans are overrepresented in categories of emotional disturbance and mental retardation and underrepresented in classes for students who are gifted and talented. (2) Moreover the mis-education in the U.S. public school system has broadened to include other students of color, students who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse and students with disabilities. Woodson was clear in his conviction that different does not mean deficit. Just how different is the public school system since the Civil Rights Era? "Latino students are now the largest group of minority students in the public schools (19%) and African American students are 17% of all public school students." (3) Multicultural education provides teachers with a framework to design lesson plans that include variability in instructional strategies, curricula, and assessment to spark the genius of all children.

In this volume of the Black History Bulletin, authors contribute lesson plans that highlight tenets of multicultural education and that provide different processes for inspiring students. Dr. James A. Banks, Professor of Education, is considered by many to be the father of multicultural education. Banks defines multicultural education as "at least three things: an idea or concept, an educational reform movement, and a process. Multicultural education incorporates the idea that all students--regardless of their gender and social class and their ethnic, racial, or cultural characteristics--should have an equal opportunity to learn in school. (4)

Clearly, Woodson was a harbinger in education reform that focused on socio-cultural factors. …