Learning about the "Other": Building a Case for Intercultural Understanding among Minority Children

By Pattnaik, Jyotsna | Childhood Education, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Learning about the "Other": Building a Case for Intercultural Understanding among Minority Children


Pattnaik, Jyotsna, Childhood Education


"My three-year-old boy imitates his father's verbal rejection (bla-bla-bla) of Spanish language whenever I try to talk to him in Spanish."

An African American student (also a fluent Spanish speaker) in one of my graduate level courses once shared her frustration over her thwarted efforts to teach Spanish to her son. She confided that her African American husband was biased against the Latino culture. As an infant, their son began learning some words in Spanish, but over time he picked up on his father's negative attitude. He started refusing to speak, or to be talked to, in Spanish. Other students in this education class shared similar stories from their own classrooms about minority children who display biased attitudes against other minority groups.

The stories shared by these students are not isolated or unique. Racial/ ethnic division among various minority groups in the United States is manifested in a wide variety of contexts. Clearly, ignorance and stereotypical views about cultures other than one's own extends across all racial/ethnic groups. Consequently, violence among minority groups has erupted throughout the United States: the 1992 Los Angels riots that involved, in part, African Americans and Korean Americans; the 1991 Crown Heights riots in New York between blacks and Jews; the July 4, 1993, violence in Washington, D.C., between blacks and Hispanics; and violence against Arab Americans in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Despite these events, efforts to facilitate intergroup understanding and harmony among minority children from different groups have received insufficient support from teachers, administrators, and parents. Even "The Condition of Education, 2002," published by the National Center for Education Statistics (2002), did not include children's intercultural attitude, knowledge, and skill as an important part of "learner outcomes." Brawarsky (1997) laments that "in general, the number of research studies in the area of intergroup relations has declined considerably since the 1970s, yet the need for such study is probably greater than ever" (p. 7).

While proponents of multicultural education hold out hope for its potential to alleviate conflict among all racial/ethnic groups, many people, including minority teachers, do not understand the true scope of multicultural education. One of my students (a kindergarten teacher in a predominantly Latino school) once remarked, "We do multicultural education in our class all the time. My classroom library is full of books from the Latino culture, including bilingual [Spanish-English] books." My student's efforts to expose her Latino children to literature from their own cultures is certainly laudable. However, she made no mention of how her Latino students were learning about cultures other than their own. This particular example reflects how multicultural teaching can become monocultural teaching in predominantly minority schools, perpetuating the very ideology that multicultural education struggles to overcome.

It is important that schools and college campuses reflect the diversity of society so that students are "living diversity" rather than just "doing diversity" (see Michele Foster's comments at the Carnegie Corporation's "Youth Intergroup Relations Initiatives" meeting, as cited in Brawarsky, 1997). However, the mere existence of racial/ethnic diversity in school and college campuses, or even the absence of overt conflict, does not guarantee intercultural understanding and harmony among students from various minority groups. As Parker, Archer, and Scott (1992) rightly point out, "We must make the transition from numerical diversity to interactive pluralism" (p. 2).

I am not arguing for an intercultural learning program for minority children that is separate from the school's multicultural program. Rather, this article highlights some common misunderstandings of multicultural education that impede understanding among minority children, provides justifications for intercultural understanding among minority children, and offers suggestions for an ideal intercultural program. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Learning about the "Other": Building a Case for Intercultural Understanding among Minority Children
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.