Friday, February 5, 2010

Bilingual/Multicultural education

When I was taking these courses, I didn't really see such an enormous need for them in teacher preparation. I, and everyone else in my class, were so culturally savvy. We quickly understood how important home languages and home cultures were to the cognitive development of children. I still experience code-switching now. I still see and experience gender and ethnic inequality on a daily basis. Not that these things will change anytime soon, but if I'm aware of it, I can teach in a more "equity conscious" manner. Whatever that means. I just do it because I'll know my students better, which helps me to teach them better.

It wasn't when I began my field work that I realized how important this part of teacher education is. How many times have I encountered an educator, a teacher, an office staff member who was completely ignorant of non-western cultural norms.

Nay, non-white bread American cultural norms. Greece is a western country, yet I've observed a teacher being completely insensitive and downright offensive to a student of Greek Orthodox tradition.

Of course multicultural education is way more than just not offending someone. That's just the first step. And many teachers pretty much fail at it - including some of my own CTs.

Apparently, at CSUS, there used to be an entire regiment of courses pre-service teachers needed before they could graduate. Now, there is basically only one. So much of the rest is up to each individual teacher to learn for themselves.

That is, if they even realize they need to learn it in the first place.

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