Multiculturalism: Culture and Children Essay

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Words: 960
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Tara White
Professor Tehseen Irfan
Children’s Literature
09/20/2012

Multiculturalism

Tara White
Professor Tehseen Irfan
Children’s Literature
09/20/2012
Multiculturalism All children are different and beautiful in their own way. No one student should feel excluded from the class especially if the reason they are excluded is based on their culture, race, ethnicity, or color. Culture refers to the “traditions, rituals, beliefs and values that are shared amongst a group of people.” Each person is a part of at least one culture. Some families participate in several cultures. Multiculturalism refers to the sharing of many cultures. The first goal of a multicultural program would be to assist children with recognizing differences, as well as similarities, among all people. Children that are allowed to explore different cultures are able to see that people have different customs and traditions. They will notice that often, they share some common traits also. Children learn that people can be different and unique, yet still have much in common. The second goal is to encourage cooperative social skills. As children learn to accept differences and similarities among people, they can work and get along with others better. They begin to see others view points and individualities. The multicultural classroom assists children from minority cultures in developing cooperating and social skills in a setting that may be unfamiliar to them. Providing children with multiculturalism will help boost self-esteem and teach them about acceptance and diversity. It will also help children understand; and how to work well with others as they grow and mature. The growing role of children’s literature in the lives of young children may be seen in the number of books being published per year. This increase reflects a growing awareness of what children’s literature can bring to a child’s classroom. Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction offer young children a multitude of opportunities to gain information, to become familiar with print, to be entertained, and to experience perspectives other than their own. Children’s picture books have an increasingly significant place in the U.S. early childhood classrooms. Picture books that offer a variety of ethnic, racial, and cultural groups allow young children opportunities to develop their understanding of others, while affirming children of diverse backgrounds. When teachers share books with young children, they offer, among other things, exposure to ways of thinking about other human beings. For the child, illustrations and text combine to create particular views of individuals as well as groups of people- complete with messages about what those people are like. Sociocultural changes during the 1960’s and 1970’s fostered renewed interest in literature for adults and children that reflected “ the diverse life experiences, traditions, histories, values, world views, and perspectives of the diverse cultural groups that make up a society, – in other words, multicultural literature. Howard M. Miller suggests that one very simple way for ALL teachers to add multicultural ideas and content to his or her curriculum is to build a classroom library of multicultural books. No matter what subject you can build a library of books by and /or about different cultures. Teachers who own literature by authors from different backgrounds is great but it is not enough. True multicultural activities must be ongoing and integrated daily in both informal and formal activities. Gloria Boutte and Christine McCormick suggest six basic principles for teachers to use when evaluating their culturally diverse classroom. These are 1) building multicultural programs 2) showing appreciation differences 3) avoiding stereotypes 4) acknowledging differences in children 5) discovering the diversity within the classroom 6) avoiding pseudo multiculturalism. Literature is a powerful vehicle for…