Embracing Diversity, Seeking Social Justice, and Achieving Educational Equity through Multiculturalism

By Martinez, Juanita Cruz | Multicultural Education, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

Embracing Diversity, Seeking Social Justice, and Achieving Educational Equity through Multiculturalism


Martinez, Juanita Cruz, Multicultural Education


Embracing Diversity, Seeking Social Justice, and Achieving Educational Equity through Multiculturalism One Classroom, Many Worlds: Teaching and Learning in the Cross-Culwral Classroom by Jacklyn Blake clayton Portsmouth, NH: Heineman, 2003 188 pp., paperback ISBN: 0-325-00548-6

One book, so much insight! In One Classroom, Many Worlds, Jacklyn Blake clayton arouses an interest in the reader by combining theory, practice, and personal anecdotes in support of multiculturalism in our schools and in our search for social justice. clayton begins her book by sharing a personal story of a time when she was crushed by her professor's comments on her inability to write "idiomatic English."

She then makes sense of her professor's comment thirty years later in a doctoral seminar. I am reminded of a time when my freshman English professor gave me encouragement and instilled confidence in me and in my writing, being fully aware that English was my second language. Ironically, by reading One Classroom, Many Worlds, I am adding meaning to my experience in my own doctoral seminar 20 years later.

clayton provides teachers an insightful look at multiculturalism as well as an opportunity to reflect on their own practices in their classrooms. She includes some distinctive sections in her book. A "Journal Time" allows teachers an opportunity for self-reflection and the "Try This" sections are excellent strategies that can be applied directly in any classroom setting. Another distinctive feature of clayton's book are the personal stories involving students and teachers at the beginning of each chapter that relates to the theme of each chapter. The chapters begin with a vignette, analysis of a theme in relation to multiculturalism, and end by tying the theme and vignette together.

Before attempting to define or analyze multiculturalism, clayton begins her first chapter by exploring the definition of culture. She describes culture as being pervasive, shared, learned, often unknown to us, dynamic, and the root of our identity. Individuals are enculturated to the values and ways of their culture which inevitably leads to exposure to the universal process of ethnocentrism.

I appreciate the way in which clayton ties this back to the classroom. She suggests that an individual look closely at books, maps, posters to determine if they were developed through ethnocentric perspectives. clayton strongly cautions that ethnocentrism can manifest itself in teacher's belief that all children are the same throughout the world. Understanding culture can be an eye-opening experience in making sense of the world around us. I agree with clayton's suggestion that through this, teachers can better understand the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse students.

In Chapters 2 through 6, clayton provides theories and research that have been conducted on socialization, development of values, learning, verbal communication, and non-verbal communication. These chapters provide us with a wealth of examples at how people respond differently to different situations based on their own unique experiences in life. clayton also challenges teachers to analyze how these differences have an impact in their classrooms.

I find myself reflecting on my experiences with my own students in my classroom and looking back at my own experiences as a student in school. clayton provides the reader with so much researchbased information and does an outstanding job of relating it back to the implications for students in our classrooms.

In Chapter 7, before exploring the process and end-state of acculturation, clayton provides a brief yet informative look at the history of immigration. Whereas, Chapters 2 through 6 allow us to reflect at one's own development of cultural identity, Chapter 7 allows an opportunity to delve into the question of what happens when an individual moves to a different culture.

Clayton describes acculturation as not only a process, but an end-state.

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