Race and Culture in the Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Multicultural Education

Article excerpt

Race and Culture in the Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Multicultural Education, by Mary Dilg. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999. 144 pp. $17.95, paper.

Reviewed by Erica Simpson, Center for Research on Students Placed At Risk, Howard University.

In this informative and provocative literary work, author Mary Dilg presents a critical examination of the impact of race/ethnicity and culture in and out of the classroom. Although teacher education and engagement as they relate both to multiracial/multiethnic classrooms and those that are still homogenous are the overriding themes of this work, Race and Culture in the Classroom invites readers to travel down the path of adolescence. There, it explores racial identity formation and self-perception among today's youth, providing a bird's eye view of the perspectives of adolescents of color with regard to race and culture. An educator in urban public and private schools for over 20 years, Dilg is an authority on the ever-diversifying landscape of U.S. schools. She professes to be neither a social scientist nor an expert in multiculturalism but maintains that teachers, often by default, must begin to wear many of the hats relevant to those disciplines as schools evolve racially and culturally.

Race and Culture in the Classroom delineates the dynamics of an urban high school in which Dilg, a White English teacher, works and interacts. Her setting is a private, progressive high school, located in a major metropolitan area, which serves approximately 300 students, roughly 18% of whom are students of color. The selection and arrangement of the materials that comprise this case study were grounded in the principle that qualitative data or narratives are rich with information and vital to the extraction of background data. Dilg's method of presenting these data provides a clear picture of how adolescent students and other school people process race, ethnicity, and culture in their daily settings. It also conveys the message that all vantage points are relevant and imperative to group and individual growth. …