It will also influence how different stakeholders – parents, teachers, students, administrators, and central office personnel – act and are held accountable. Culture describes the things people create to help them live effectively in their world: language, gestures, tools, rituals, ceremonies, and music are good examples. So are art, music, and fashion. By developing these things in unique ways, people and groups create cultures and cultural identity (Queensland Government, 2008).
Multicultural education seeks to reconcile the good things about cultural identity (unity, history, protocol, mutuality of goals) with the sometimes bad things about cultural identity (fear of different groups, resultant hostility, violence, and other poor treatment). Banks and Banks (1995) explain that multicultural education wants to provide a level field of opportunity for all students, from all racial, ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds. It recognizes and embraces a pluralistic society, and teaches students skills they need to operate effectively in such a society. It recognizes groups that have been marginalized in the past, and challenges established ideas, theories, and content from traditional disciplines.
Multicultural education can help address cultural differences and biases in our schools. This is because of its far scope: Gomez (1991) calls multicultural education “a perspective rather than a curriculum.” He implores teachers to consider students’ cultural backgrounds and to explore and refine their own thinking about cultural groups. Gomez suggests helping school members learn to identify when someone from a cultural group is being victimized because of their membership there.
Enhancing the self-concept of members of cultural groups is important. Members of these groups must believe that cultural differences do not make them less valuable as members of the school community (Gomez, 1991). Also, attempts must be