WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT EDUCATION AND DIVERSITY, AND HOW DO WE KNOW IT?
This two-part question guided the work of the Multicultural Education Consensus Panel, which included the eight scholars named above. The panel's work was sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington and the Common Destiny Alliance at the University of Maryland. Our aim was not simply to respond individually to the question but, through deliberation, to arrive at a consensus. This brief article summarizes our consensus findings. (1)
We call our findings essential principles. They are designed to help educational practitioners in all types of schools increase student academic achievement and improve intergroup relations. Another aim is to help schools successfully meet the challenges of--and benefit from--the diversity that characterizes the United States and its schools.
We believe that democratic societies are fragile works-in-progress. Their existence depends upon thoughtful citizens who believe in democratic ideals and are willing and able to participate in civic life. We believe that schools make a difference in the lives of students and are essential to maintaining our democratic way of life.
There are twelve essential principles organized into five categories: (1) Teacher Learning; (2) Student Learning; (3) Intergroup Relations; (4) School Governance, Organization, and Equity; and (5) Assessment. The categories overlap somewhat.
Principle 1: Professional development programs should help teachers understand the complex characteristics of ethnic groups within U.S. society and the ways in which race, ethnicity, language, and social class interact go influence student behavior.
Continuing education about diversity is especially important for teachers because of the increasing cultural and ethnic gap that exists between the nation's teachers and students. Effective professional development programs should help educators to: (1) uncover and identify their personal attitudes toward racial, ethnic, language, and cultural groups; (2) acquire knowledge about the histories and cultures of the diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups within the nation and within their schools; (3) become acquainted with the diverse perspectives that exist within different ethnic and cultural communities; (4) understand the ways in which institutionalized knowledge within schools, universities, and popular culture can perpetuate stereotypes about racial and ethnic groups; and (5) acquire the knowledge and skills needed to develop and implement equity pedagogy, defined by Banks as instruction that provides all students with an equal opportunity to attain academic and social success in school. (2)
Professional development programs should help teachers understand the complex characteristics of ethnic groups and how variables such as social class, religion, region, generation, extent of urbanization, and gender strongly influence ethnic and cultural behavior. These variables influence the behavior of groups both singly and interactively. Social class is one of the most important variables that mediate and influence behavior. In The Declining Significance of Race, Wilson argues that class is becoming increasingly important in the lives of African Americans. (3) The increasing significance of class rather than the declining significance of race is a more accurate description of the phenomenon that Wilson describes. Racism continues to affect African Americans in every social-class group, although it does so in complex ways that to some extent--but by no means always-reflect social--class status.
Although students are not solely products of their cultures and vary in the degree to which they identify with them, there are some distinctive cultural behaviors that are associated with ethnic groups. (4) Teachers should become knowledgeable about the distinctive cultural backgrounds of their students; they should also acquire the skills needed to translate that knowledge into effective instruction and an enriched curriculum. (5) In these ways, teaching can be culturally responsive to students from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups.
Making teaching culturally responsive involves strategies such as constructing and designing relevant cultural metaphors and multicultural representations to help bridge the gap between what students already know and appreciate and what they will be taught. Culturally responsive instructional strategies transform information about the home and community into effective classroom practice. Research indicates that when teachers incorporate the cultures and languages of students into instruction the students' academic achievement increases. (6)
Principle 2: Schools should ensure that all students have equitable opportunities to learn and to meet high standards.
Schools can be thought of as collections of opportunities to learn. (7) A good school maximizes the learning experiences of students. One might judge the fairness of educational opportunity by comparing the learning opportunities students have within and across schools. The most important of these opportunities to learn are: (1) teacher quality (indicators include experience, preparation to teach the content being taught, participation in high-quality professional development, verbal ability, and teacher rewards and incentives); (2) a safe and orderly learning environment; (3) time actively engaged in learning; (4) student-teacher ratio; (5) rigor of the curriculum; (6) grouping practices that avoid tracking and rigid forms of student assignment based on past performance; (7) sophistication and currency of learning resources and information technology used by students; and (8) access to extracurricular activities.
Although the consequences of these different characteristics of schools vary with particular conditions, the available research suggests that when two or more cohorts of students differ significantly in their access to opportunities to learn, differences in the quality of education also exist. (8) Such differences affect student achievement and can undermine the prospects for positive intergroup relations.
The content of the lessons students are taught also influences the level of student achievement. This is hardly surprising, but the curriculum students experience, and the expectation of teachers and others about how much of the material students are expected to learn, varies from school to school. In general, students taught curricula that are more rigorous learn more than their peers with similar prior knowledge and backgrounds who are taught less rigorous curricula. To take a famous example from mathematics, early access to algebra leads to greater participation in higher math and increases academic achievement.
Principle 3: The curriculum should kelp students understand that knowledge is socially constructed and reflects researchers' personal experiences as well as the social, political, and economic contexts in which they live and work.
In curriculum and teaching units and in textbooks, students often study historical events, concepts, and issues only or primarily from the points of view of the victors. (9) The perspectives of the vanquished are frequently silenced, ignored, or marginalized. This kind of teaching privileges mainstream students--who most often identity with the victors or dominant groups--and cause many students of color to feel left out of the American story.
Concepts such as the discovery of America, the westward movement, and pioneers are often taught primarily from the points of view of the European Americans who constructed them. The curriculum should help students understand how these concepts reflect the values and perspectives of European Americans as well as their experiences in the United States. Teachers should help students learn how these concepts have very different meanings for groups indigenous to America and for groups such as African Americans who came to America in chains.
Teaching students the different and often conflicting meanings of concepts and issues for the diverse groups that make up the United States will help them to better understand the complex factors that contributed to the birth, growth, and development of the nation, to develop empathy for the points of views and perspectives that are normative within various groups, and to increase their ability to think critically.
Principle 4: Schools should provide all students with opportunities to participate in extra-and cocurricular activities that develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes that increase academic achievement and foster positive interracial relationships.
Research evidence that links student achievement to participation in extra- and cocurricular activities is increasing in quantity and consistency. (10) Research supports the proposition that participation in after-school programs, sports activities, academic associations like language clubs, and school-sponsored social activities contributes to academic performance, reduces high school drop-out rates and discipline problems, and enhances interpersonal skills among students from different ethnic backgrounds. Gutierez and her colleagues, for example, found that "non-formal learning contexts," such as after-school programs, are useful in bridging home and school cultures for students from diverse groups. (11) Braddock concluded that involvement in sports activities was particularly beneficial for African American male high school students. (12) When designing extracurricular activities, educators should give special attention to recruitment, selection of leaders and teams, the cost of participating, allocation of school resources, and opportunities for cooperative equal-status intergroup contact.
Principle 5: Schools should create or make salient superordinate crosscutting group memberships in order to improve intergroup relations.
Creating superordinate groups, or groups with which members of all the other groups in a situation identify, improves intergroup relations. (13) When membership in superordinate groups is salient, other group differences become less important. Creating superordinate groups stimulates liking and cohesion, which can mitigate pre-existing animosities.
In school settings there are many superordinate group memberships that can be created or made salient. For example, it is possible to create superordinate groups through extracurricular activities. There are also many existing superordinate group memberships that can be made more salient: the classroom, the grade level, the school, the community, the state, and even the nation. The most immediate superordinate groups (e.g., students or members of the school chorus rather than, say, Californians) are likely to be the most influential, but identification with any superordinate group can reduce prejudice.
Principle 6: Students should learn about stereotyping and other related biases that have negative effects on racial and ethnic relations.
We use categories in perceiving our environment because categorization is a natural part of information processing. But the mere act of categorizing people as ingroup and outgroup members can result in stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. (14) Specifically, making distinctions between groups often leads to perceiving the other group as more homogenous than one's own group and to an exaggeration of the extent of the perceived group differences. Thus, categorizing leads to stereotyping and to behaviors influenced by those stereotypes.
Intergroup contact can counteract stereotypes if the situation allows members of each group to behave in a variety of ways across different contexts so that their full humanity and diversity are displayed. Negative stereotypes can also be modified in noncontact situations by providing ingroup members with information about multiple outgroup members who disconfirm the stereotype across a variety of situations. (15)
Principle 7: Students should learn about the values shared by virtually all cultural groups (e.g., justice, equality, freedom, peace, compassion, and charity).
Teaching students about the values that virtually all groups share, such as those described in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can provide a basis for perceived similarity that can promote favorable intergroup relations. (16) In addition, the values themselves serve to undercut negative intergroup relations by discouraging injustice, inequality, unfairness, conflict, and a lack of compassion or charity. The value of egalitarianism deserves special emphasis since a number of theories suggest that it can help to undermine stereotyping and prejudice and to restrict the direct expression of racism. (17)
Principle 8: Teachers should help students acquire the social skills needed to interact effectively with students from other racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups.
One of the most effective techniques for improving intercultural relations is to teach members of cultural groups the social skills necessary to interact effectively with members of another culture. (18) Students need to learn how to perceive, understand, and respond to group differences. They need to learn not to give offense and not to take offense. They also need to be helped to realize that when members of other groups behave in ways that are inconsistent with ingroup norms these individuals are not necessarily behaving antagonistically.
One intergroup relations trainer asks members of minority and majority groups to discuss what it feels like to be the target of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. (19) Sharing such information informs the majority group of the pain and suffering their intentional or thoughtless acts of discrimination cause. It also allows the members of minority groups to share their experiences with one another. Other techniques that involve sharing experiences through dialogue have also been found to improve intergroup relations. (20)
Conflict resolution is a skill that can be taught in the schools in order to improve intergroup relations. (21) A number of school districts throughout the United States are teaching students to act as mediators for disputes among other students. This type of mediation holds promise as one approach to resolving certain intergroup conflicts in schools.
Principle 9: Schools should provide opportunities for students from different racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups to interact socially under conditions designed to reduce fear and anxiety.
One of the primary causes of prejudice is fear. (22) Fear leads members of social groups to avoid interacting with outgroup members and causes them discomfort when they do. Fears about members of other groups often stem from concern about realistic and symbolic threats to the ingroup--that the ingroup will lose some or all of its power or resources or that its very way of life will be undermined. Many such fears have little basis in reality or are greatly exaggerated.
To reduce uncertainty and anxiety concerning interaction with outgroup members, the contexts in which interaction takes place should be relatively structured, the balance of members of the different groups should be as equal as possible, the probabilities of failure should be low, and opportunities for hostility and aggression should be minimized.
Providing factual information that contradicts misperceptions can also counteract prejudice based on a false sense of threat. Stressing the value similarities that exist between groups should also reduce the degree of symbolic threat posed by outgroups and thus reduce fear and prejudice.
School Governance, Organization, and Equity
Principle 10: A school's organizational strategies should ensure that decision-making is widely shared and that members of the school community learn collaborative skills and dispositions in order to create a caring environment for students.
School policies and practices are the living embodiment of a society's underlying values and educational philosophy. They also reflect the values of those who work within schools. Whether in the form of curriculum, teaching strategies, assessment procedures, disciplinary policies, or grouping practices, school policies do not emerge from thin air; they embody a school's beliefs, attitudes, and expectations of its students. (23) This is true whether the school is one with extensive or limited financial resources, with a relatively mono-cultural or a richly diverse student body, or located in a crowded central city or an isolated rural count:
School organization and leadership can either enhance or detract from developing learning communities that prepare students for a multicultural and democratic society. Schools that are administered from the top-down are unlikely to create collaborative, caring cultures. Too often schools talk about democracy but fail to practice shared decision-making. Powerful multicultural schools are organizational hubs that include a wide variety of stakeholders, including students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. There is convincing research evidence that parental involvement, in particular, is critical in enhancing student learning. (24) A just multicultural school is receptive to working with all members of the students' communities.
Principle 11: Leaders should develop strategies that ensure that all public schools, regardless of their locations, are funded equitably.
School finance equity is a critical condition for creating just multicultural schools. The current inequities in the funding of public education are startling. (25) Two neighborhoods, adjacent to one another, can provide wholly different support to their public schools, based on property values and tax rates. Students who live in poor neighborhoods are punished because they must attend schools that are underfunded when compared to the schools located in more affluent neighborhoods.
Some policy makers and researchers argue that variations in funding are not strongly correlated with variations in student learning. (26) This literature has convinced some policy makers and politicians that funding is not a critical issue in improving America's schools. Investigators who have examined this situation more carefully have found that when funds are used for instructional purposes there are positive effects on student learning. (27) Thus, schools that have adequate supplies and learning aids such as computers are more likely to increase student learning than schools without these supplies and aids. While this finding may seem obvious, it has been obscured by those who wish to substantially reduce funding for public education.
Principle 12: Teachers should use multiple culturally sensitive techniques to assess complex cognitive and social skills.
Evaluating the progress of students from diverse racial, ethnic, and social-class groups is complicated by differences in language, learning styles, and cultures. Hence, the use of a single method of assessment will likely further disadvantage students from particular social classes and ethnic groups.
Teachers should adopt a range of formative and summative assessment strategies that give students an opportunity to demonstrate mastery These strategies should include observations, oral examinations, performances, and teacher-made as well as standardized measures and assessments. Students learn and demonstrate their competencies in different ways. The preferred mode of demonstrating task mastery for some is writing, while others do better speaking, visualizing, or performing; some are stimulated by competitive and others by cooperative learning arrangements; some prefer to work alone while others like to work in groups. Consequently, a variety of assessment procedures and outcomes that are compatible with different learning, performance, work, and presentation styles should be used to determine if students are achieving the levels of skill mastery needed to function effectively in a multicultural society.
Multicultural education is good education. Powerful multicultural schools help students from diverse racial, cultural, ethnic, and language groups to experience academic success. Academic knowledge and skills are essential in today's global society, but they are not sufficient. Students must also develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to interact positively with people from diverse groups and to participate in the nation's civic life.
Diversity in the nation's schools is both an opportunity and a challenge. The nation is enriched by the ethnic, cultural, and language diversity among its citizens and within its schools. However, whenever diverse groups interact, intergroup tension, stereotypes, and institutionalized discrimination develop. Schools must find ways to respect the diversity of their students as well as help to create a unified, superordinate nation-state to which all citizens have allegiance. Structural inclusion into the nation-state and power sharing will engender feelings of allegiance among diverse groups. Epluribus unum--diversity within unity--is the delicate goal toward which our nation and its schools should strive. We offer these design principles with the hope that they will help educational practitioners realize this elusive and difficult but essential goal of a democratic and pluralistic society.
(1.) The full report, including a checklist that can be used within schools, is entitled Diversity within Unity: Essential Principles for Teaching and Learning in a Multicaltural Society. It can be ordered from the Center for Multicultural Education, University of Washington. See the center's website for ordering (and downloading) information: depts.washington.edu/centerme/home.htm. Select "Publications" The Carnegie Corporation of New York generously supported the project.
(2.) James A. Banks, "Multicultural Education: Historical Development, Dimensions, and Practice;' in Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education, eds. James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004), 3-29.
(3.) William Julius Wilson, The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978).
(4.) A. Wade Boykin, "The Triple Quandary and the Schooling of Afro-American Children," in The School Achievement of Minority Children: New Perspectives, ed. Ulric Neisser (Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1986), 57-92.
(5.) Geneva Gay, Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research and Practice (New York: Teachers College Press, 2000).
(6.) C.D. Lee, "A Culturally Based Cognitive Apprenticeship: Teaching African American High School Students Skills in Literary Interpretation," Reading Research Quarterly 30 (1995): 608-630; and C. D Lee, "Is October Brown Chinese? A Cultural Modeling Activity System for Underachieving Students," American Educational Research Journal 38 (2001): 97-142.
(7.) Linda Darling-Hammond, The Right to Learn (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997).
(8.) Robert Dreeben and Adam Gamoran, "Race, Instruction, and Learning" American Sociological Review 51 (1986): 660-669.
(9.) James A. Banks, Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations, Curriculum and Teaching, 4th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 200l).
(10.) Jomills Braddock, "Bouncing Back: Sports and Academic Resilience among African-American Males," Education and Urban Society 24 (1999): 113-131; Jacquelynne S. Eccles and Bonnie L. Barber, "Student Council, Volunteering, Basketball, or Marching Band: What Kind of Extracurricular Involvement Matters?," Journal of Adolescence Research 14 (1999): 10-43; Jennifer A. Gootman, ed., After-School Programs to Promote Child and Adolescent Development." Summary of a Workshop (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000).
(11.) Kris D. Gutierrez, Patricia Baquedano-Lopez, Hector H. Alvarez, and Ming M. Chiu, "Building a Culture of Collaboration through Hybrid Language Practices," Theory into Practice 38 (1999): 87-93.
(12.) Braddock, op. cit.
(13.) Samuel Gaertner, Mary Rust, John Dovidio, Betty Bachman, and Phyllis Anastasio, "The Contact Hypothesis: The Role of a Common Ingroup Identity on Reducing Intergroup Bias," Small Group Research 25 (1994): 224-249.
(14.) Henri Tajfel and John C. Turner, "The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior; in Psychology of Intergroup Relations, eds. Stephen Worchel and William G. Austin, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1986).
(15.) Lucy Johnston and Miles Hewstone, "Cognitive Models of Stereotype Change," Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 28 (1992): 360-386.
(16.) Lawrence Kohlberg, Essays on Moral Development (New York: Harper and Row, 1981).
(17.) Samuel L. Gaertner and John E Dovidio, "The Aversive Form of Racism," in Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism, eds. John. E Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner (Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press, 1986), 61-90; and Irwin Katz, David C. Glass, and Joyce Wackenhut, "An Ambivalence-Amplification Theory of Behavior toward the Stigmatized; in Psychology of Intergroup Relations, eds. Stephen Worchel and William G. Austin, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1986), 103-117.
(18.) Stephen Bochner, "Culture Shock," in Psychology and Culture, eds. Walter Lonner and Roy Malpass (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1994), 245-252.
(19.) Louis Kamfer and David J. L. Venter, J. L., "First Evaluation of a Stereotype Reduction Workshop; South African Journal of Psychology 24 (1994), 13-20.
(20.) Ximena Zuniga and Biren Nagda, "Dialogue Groups: An Innovative Approach to Multicultural Learning," in Multicultural Teaching in the University, eds. David Schoem, Linda Frankel, Ximena Zuniga, and Edith Lewis (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1993), 233-248.
(21.) Morton Deutsch, "Cooperative Learning and Conflict Resolution in an Alternative High School," Cooperative Learning 13 (1993): 2-5.
(22.) Samuel L. Gaertner and John F. Dovidio, op. c/t.; and Walter G. Stephan, Reducing Prejudice and Stereotyping in Schools (New York: Teachers College Press, 1999).
(23.) Sonia Nieto, The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities (New York: Teachers College Press, 1999).
(24.) Joyce L. Epstein, "School and Family Partnerships," in Encyclopedia of Educational Research, ed, Marvin C. Alkin, 6th ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1139-51
(25.) Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools (New York: Crown Publishers, 1991).
(26.) Eric A. Hanushek, "School Resources and Student Performance" in Does Money Matter? The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement and Adult Success, ed. Gary Burtless (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1994), 43-73.
(27.) Robert Dreeben and Adam Gamoran, "Race, Instruction, and Learning," American Sociological Review 51, no. 5 (1986): 660-669.
JAMES A. BANKS is the Russell F. Stark University Professor and director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. PETER COOKSON is dean of the Graduate School of Education at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon. GENEVA GAY is professor of education and faculty associate of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. WILLIS D. HAWLEY is professor of education and public affairs at the University of Maryland, College Park. JACQUELINE JORDAN IRVINE is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Urban Education at Emory University, Atlanta. SONIA NIETO is professor of language, literacy, and culture in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. JANET WARD SCHOFIELD is professor of psychology and a senior scientist in the Learning and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. WALTER STEPHAN is professor of psychology at New Mexico State University.…