Challenges of Multicultural Education: Teaching and Taking Diversity Courses

Challenges of Multicultural Education: Teaching and Taking Diversity Courses

Challenges of Multicultural Education: Teaching and Taking Diversity Courses

Challenges of Multicultural Education: Teaching and Taking Diversity Courses

Synopsis

The voices of college students and teachers vividly enlighten readers about the real-world challenges of multicultural education. Courses on diversity abound in American universities today. But open classroom discussion of racial and gender differences can evoke discomfort as much as new understandings. Negotiating these courses takes a toll on both faculty and students as classrooms become filled with emotion.Based on student and teacher experience in a range of American colleges and universities, this book shows how to meet these challenges and create a truly open and beneficial environment. The authors demonstrate pedagogical strategies and new approaches. A vital resource for teachers, students, college administrators, and university libraries.

Excerpt

This book was born in the midst of conflict. In the summer of 2000, six Arcadia University faculty members, including us, met for two weeks to plan the curriculum and teaching assignments for “pluralism in the United States, a core requirement for sophomores. The course is team-taught and so the summer workshop is an essential part of the planning process.

Among the group of six, two of us are male, four female; four white, two persons of color; two lesbians, the rest of us straight. As we began our conversations, the two persons of color, Ana María García and Angela R. Gillem (also the authors of Chapter 7 of this collection), brought the other four of us up short and called us to task. Their assertion was that in this course, with its emphasis on issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, we were teaching about the concepts while they were teaching about their lives. Thus began a conversation in which tears were shed, voices were raised, accusations and recriminations flew right and left.

We survived the workshop, still friends, tired and spent but hopefully wiser. In the end, we came to realize that if we, as the faculty of the course, had issues related to denial, anger, and frustration, how must our students feel about dissecting and exploring subject matter that is not generally talked about in our society? This is the challenge we continue to face in teaching this course.

As a result of these exchanges, we (Norah and Jeff) decided to ask colleagues and students, both at Arcadia and elsewhere, to write about their experiences teaching and taking these courses. In the chapters that follow, we present our colleagues’ and their students’ responses to our questions. Represented among them are small colleges and large state universities; geographically they range from New England to Texas. What is clear when reading the various accounts is that many of the same issues we encountered four years ago are not exclusively ours. But we’ll allow you, the reader, to determine this for yourself as you explore these issues with us.

Many people play key roles in putting together a collection of this sort. In our search for a publisher, we had to face the fact that market forces might determine whether or not this book would be published. Somehow, the subject matter didn’t fit neatly into any of the publishers’ marketing categories. Dean Birkenkamp at Paradigm Publishers saw the possibilities and was willing to take a chance with the manuscript. We are grateful to him for his vision and support. As the focus of the book changed over time, some potential contributors dropped away while others joined up. Those that stuck it out provided us with their work in a timely manner, responding, for the most part, promptly to our nagging e-mails. We are thrilled they continued to work with us to help make this book a reality.

At Arcadia University, Mike Berger, vice president for academic affairs and provost, the person to whom we both report, encourages his staff and faculty to engage in works such as this one and is a role model for us because he does . . .

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