The Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education

Article excerpt

The Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education, edited by James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGhee Banks. New York: Simon & Schuster/Macmillan, 1995. 882 pp. $75.00, cloth.

Reviewed by Donna Y. Ford, The Ohio State University.

In The Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education, editors Banks and Banks and their contributors have created a scholarly masterpiece that synthesizes research, theory, and policy on multicultural education. The book's 11 parts are woven into a comprehensive body of work not likely to be equalled or duplicated soon. Unlike some multicultural scholars, Banks and Banks have adopted a broadly encompassing perspective on multiculturalism. Their vision of multiculturalism is not limited to multiethnic education-that is, education that attends exclusively to issues of race or ethnicity. Instead, contributors focus on all racially and culturally diverse groups-Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, European Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans-as well as examining diversity within and between groups. The editors offer the following definition of multicultural education:

A field of study designed to increase educational equity for all students that incorporates, for this purpose, content, concepts, principles, theories, and paradigms from history, the social and behavioral sciences, and particularly from ethnic studies and women studies. (p. xii)

Equally noteworthy is the editors' inclusion of demographic matrices often overlooked in education and research on multicultural education: linguistic and economic diversity, diverse families, gender identity, and combinations of these variables. Although no group is viewed as a homogenous collective of common traditions and values, these important (but sometimes superfiaal) cultural distinctions are not given undue attention in the Handbook. Rather, the authors focus their discussions on more substantive cultural issues and variables. Many contributors shed new and additional light on the topic of their chapter; few resort to rehashing the familiar and tiresome discourse that defensively argues the need for multicultural education. The contributors merely present the data, and readers are left to form their own opinions.

The Handbook is divided into 47 chapters presented in an in-depth, balanced, and scholarly fashion. Each chapter successfully describes and extends research, theory, policy, and / or practice. The book clarifies the meaning and boundaries of multicultural education and helps to alleviate the widespread misconceptions that hinder its greater acceptance in academia. To this end, contributors use case studies, survey research, ethnographic studies, historical inquiry, philosophical inquiry, and experimental and quasi-experimental research. In keeping with the editors' concept of multicultural education, the contributors also adopt an interdisciplinary approach, borrowing relevant work from history, anthropology, sociology, literature, and other disciplines.

Part I summarizes the history, goals, status, and development of multicultural education. It begins with James Banks's article, which outlines key dimensions of multicultural education as well as landmark events in the historical development of ethnic studies and multicultural education. Geneva Gay analyzes the conceptual connections between general curriculum theory and multicultural education. Donna Gollnick reports on national and state-level multicultural education initiatives aimed at students who may be low-income, female, limited-English-proficient, or from racially and culturally diverse groups. Gollnick categorizes these initiatives using the Sleeter and Grant multicultural typology (e.g., singlegroup studies, human relations). Cherry Banks discusses gender and race as factors in educational leadership and administration, focusing on factors that undermine the attainment of leadership positions among women. Although an important chapter, it seems misplaced in this section of the book, and perhaps would have been better placed in Part IX, which focuses on higher education. …