"If we can learn from our shared history of interactive experience, restore a part of what has been lost, and transform our present and future cross-cultural relations accordingly, both America's differing microcultures and our experimental multicultural society as a whole have the potential to develop in ways that contribute to our effectiveness in pursuing semi-autonomous cultural trajectories while further realizing our shared democratic ideals, thus offering a positive model for international processes of mutually respectful and beneficial cross-cultural interaction and cooperative development." -- Judith M. Green
One of the purposes of education in our society is to provide opportunities for the sharing of social and educational experiences. These experiences, if truly integrated into the curriculum, provide participants (teacher, students, administrator and, in some cases, parents) with common experiences, a common sense of values (Beane, 1997, pg 5). Thus, these shared experiences can promote the common good. Social integration allows for cultures to grow from each other, blend, in creating a new construct of meaning and reorganization of ideas that include all, and exclude none. This would blur the lines of groups presented by Banks, creating a new integrated group, as described by Kallen. Mortimer (1999) states,
It does not, though, mean losing all uniqueness, but rather creating a new tolerance of differences and a deeper understanding of cultures, customs, constructs and participants. (participants is used rather than people, because each individual has the right to move from one set of customs to another, thus participating in customs as they choose.)
As all educators know, concepts that are worth teaching, are worth assessing. With each lesson plan, teachers decide what will be presented, how the presentation will lead students to gain the insight/knowledge desired, and the type of assessment (the test, paper or other grading tool that will be used).
How can you use information on multiculturalism?
My findings on the subject of multiculturalism have led to the development of the term as a fluid rather than a static idea. It is like defining our "language"; it is always changing. The concept of multiculturalism changes as we, as individuals or as a nation, change. Some psychologist and philosophers have tried to put some parameters around this concept, all somehow still too limiting. And, while I have found theories, I've found no evaluation of the effectiveness of using any of the theories.
Although values and beliefs of a culture are often learned through interaction or observation of role models and the arts (drama, literature, visual arts, music, etc.), ultimately what we perceive as our culture comes from within. The values are constructed from experiences. Learning about oneself and ones' world from reflecting on these past experiences provides individuals and groups, in some instances, with a foundation for handling problems. One obstacle overcome gives the student tools to overcome a similar obstacle. Learning becomes internal, constructive, and reflective. It allows the individual to broaden his understanding of himself and his world, AND it allows the new learned behavior to broaden the spectrum from which to receive the next opportunity. In integrating learning about cultures with life experiences, students and adults find common moments that can build to create more moments. If, on the other hand, cultures are taught as separate entities that neither reflect life for the student body as a whole nor integrate into the whole learning experience, students are likely to miss transferring the lessons of multiculturalism into everyday life.
Thus, here lies a starting point to assessing multiculturalism Student can identify their own values, biases and prejudices. Later, evaluate again where each student is and analyze why and how they have changed. Even better, give the students guidance or tools to let them evaluate themselves and/or their groups.
Multicultural Assessment Researched
Though I searched for four months for assessments for multicultural projects in schools or companies, I found no assessment plans at all. Also, I received only one response to my request for information. I think this is because, in general, people think that assessing multiculturalism is somehow different from assessing other material. Part of the problem may be the lack of a concrete definition for what multiculturalism is. Yet, I think the idea of assessment is very important and therefore submit this information for consideration.
So, how can we assess how well we are doing?
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