“Curriculum in any time and place becomes the site of a battleground where the fight is over whose values and beliefs will achieve the legitimation and the respect that acceptance into the national discourse provides.” Kleibard (Sleeter, P. 2)
Florida enrollment in elementary schools is widely diverse. The population of Florida as a whole includes Caucasians, African-Americans, Cubans, Dominican Republicans, Hispanics, Puerto-Ricans, and more. Percentages amongst these diverse groups are difficult to speculate or guesstimate and due to the nature of the diversity within the state, the education system as a whole needs to embrace diversity and teach students respect for all individuals.
Within Lake County, there are not any resources within organized curriculum that cater specifically to multicultural education. In lower economic areas that are already struggling for resources, adding special curriculum is impractical due to funding deficits, which fits many Lake county schools. In addition, generally the areas that struggle in socioeconomic status are generally those with higher diversity rates. These are the schools that need programs that instill within youth the importance of multiculturalism, since these programs allow students the opportunity to explore cultural roots, providing richer appreciation for their family background, as well as providing a positive impact on their personal lives. (Clemons P. 5-6). The benefits of having multiculturalism exposure within schools are life-long and essential for budding youth.
A resolution to the problem within the Lake County schools would be to host multiculturalism events and programs within the school, promoting family, community, and individual involvement. I believe by implementing a program of this nature, the benefits of multiculturalism would far exceed curriculum additions within the school and would be less costly. In addition, it would spawn relationships within the community and families, which are needed for strong unity.
Proposed Solution: within the school, parents, teachers, community leaders and administration would host multiculturalism nights, pre-planned and penned into the school calendar. These events can be introduced as needed for the diverse group of students attending the school. Families can participate by attending or setting up a booth to introduce foods, information on a culture, country, or family that will educate participants. Creativity will be left up to the participants of the booths, monitored by administrators. To ensure a variety of displays, administration should gather information from each participating vendor to ensure that materials and informational resources are available from the school library and from participants. Community sponsors can help support the school by donating supplies/materials, or by providing donations to the school for families to prepare make-and-take kits. These kits would ensure that each family presented would have the opportunity to take home a project, informational sheet, or souvenir from each booth present. This will ensure participation at home and engage families more with a family project and discussion.
Example of a booth might include a display on the city or town where the school is located, with information on the original population and diversity during that time period. The cultural environment can be shown through visuals, as well as displays of any artifacts. There can be a small project to complete at this booth, a scavenger hunt for specific visuals or answering questions, and then an info sheet can be passed to the family to include in their “make-and-take kit”. If an artifact is represented, materials to make your own artifact can also be given in the make-and-take kit.
What is needed to implement the solution: leaders within the community, families to support event, community sponsors, location to host the event, and materials to display for booths sponsored by schools. All other materials for the booth and display will be gathered and brought by participating families (vendors).
Projected timeline: Once the dates are selected and placed on the school calendar, one to three months of planning and advertising will be needed to secure all of the details of the event, from signing up families that will participate by displaying their own booth, to contacting community sponsors for the events. However, this can be done at one time, since the dates will be pre-planned and sponsorships can be collected just one time during the year, allowing for pre-planning based on budgetary needs for make-and-take kit projects. Within the one to three months booths will be planned, teachers can be scheduled at the event, and materials for the make-and-take kits can be collected. The planning process shouldn’t take three months, however, with some prior planning, the event will run smoothly and will ensure that the final event is focused on the incoming participants and the preparation of their individual kits to return home.
The expected outcome is that there will be a large interest in the event, producing attendees from within the school and possibly outside of the school, depending on space availability. The purpose of the multiculturalism event is to provide facts and information to students that will engage them and their families to learn about cultures represented within their school, the history of their culture, as well as the present day traditions. Students might learn how to approach individuals within this culture easier and provide relationships within the school with peers, as well as with families. The unity of this type of event will be phenomenal, as it will encourage participation, family and community engagement, and school support.
“Higher education institutions in the USA have actively encouraged multicultural infusion both in curriculum development and campus activities.” (Clemons, P. 3). This same theory can be brought to elementary and middle schools to bridge the gap that exists between different cultures, and paving the way for students to be unified, respectful, and interested in the lives of others.
Ankara Papers. Multiculturalism and Education. Print.
Clemens, Stephanie. Developing Multicultural Awareness through Designs Based on Family Cultural Heritage: Application, Impact and Implications. 2005. Print.
Davis, Bruce. How to involve parents in a multicultural school. 1995. Print.
Lake County Schools Search. www.lake. http://lake.k12.fl.us/lakeschools/site/default.asp. Acquired July 20, 2010.
Sleeter, Christine, et all. Standardizing Knowledge in a Multicultural Society. Print.