Multiculturalism, PEACE EDUCATION & SOCIAL JUSTICE in Teacher Education

By Quezada, Reyes; Romo, Jaime J. | Multicultural Education, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview
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Multiculturalism, PEACE EDUCATION & SOCIAL JUSTICE in Teacher Education


Quezada, Reyes, Romo, Jaime J., Multicultural Education


INTRODUCTION

We have many recent examples of significant changes that set the stage for possibilities in the future of higher education and teacher education: we witnessed the end of apartheid, a technological revolution, designer genetics and cloning, a future biological revolution, and the tragedy of terrorism and war. Speculating on the changes that are yet to appear in demographics, technology, biology, medicine, the environment, and social values seems to be near impossible.

Yet it is clear that U.S. K-12 students still remain too isolated from people who are different from themselves and are not developing respect for differences or the comparative skills they need to contribute effectively to a sustainable local and global society. We will need our collective abilities to adapt within the turbulence caused by our ever-changing world (Heifetz, 1994).

Educators and other leaders must continue to counter the persistence of racial, religious, class, gender, languagebased, social, regional, and ethnic discrimination in our society. For public education to meet the civic needs of students and society, educators must be able to envision and promote systemic change that is transformational, not merely additive, fundamental, not merely incremental, and adaptive for all students, not merely technically faster or cheaper. Our premise is that educators intrinsically want to learn and expand their collective awareness and capabilities, although the demonstration of such interest is insufficient in organizational or programmatic transformation.

Amid the various questions that emerge from the need to address violence and equity issues in society, three central questions stand out: What is Peace Education? What is the role of Multicultural Education in support of Peace Education? What is the role of Teacher Education Programs in promoting multicultural education, peace education, and social justice in the curriculum?

In this article, we examine the literature related to institutional and teacher education reform and change related to multicultural education, peace education, and social justice. A transformational model of cultural competence seems to describe the particular changes that have taken place at a small, private liberal arts university. Our reflections regarding peace education, justice, and equality and the implications for practice in teacher preparation programs are based on such a transformational model of cultural competence.

REVIEW OF PEACE EDUCATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE CONCEPTS

Research indicates that there is a correlation between exposure of violence in the media and in entertainment and student behavior (Morrison, 2002). Many students have been victims themselves of violent, verbal, and physical assaults. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "if we are to reach real peace in the world, we have to begin with the children." Classroom teachers and educators continue to address this issue locally in classrooms and in their schools.

How can we provide future teachers with a vision that will promote multiculturalism, peace, justice, and social equality in the classroom? How can teachertraining programs' include these skills in their curricula? Many schools have adopted mediation and conflict resolution programs, but too often fall short of the implementation phase.

For the most part issues of multiculturalism, peace education, justice, and equality seem to permeate the U.S. school curriculum during the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and in California during the recognition of the life of Cesar Chavez and other celebrated holidays. Internationally, the United Nations continues to provide many forums for students to study peacebuilding efforts. Many institutions have degree programs that further the research of peace education and conflict resolution and mediation. Yet more research is needed regarding the impact it has on elementary and secondary schools.

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