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Multicultural Education In My Classroom

Multicultural education is education in which students’ beliefs, values, and practices of different cultures are respected, appreciated, and recognized.

As a Latina teacher, I believe that every educator has the moral obligation to teach multicultural education, since I didn’t experience a lot of it during my education. It should be taught in all classes by all teachers.

The demographic of students, let alone people, in the United States is constantly diversifying. The latinx/hispanic population comprises 16% of the population, reaching 58 million in 2016. This population composes the largest minority group in the United States.

Due to the diversification, students of all backgrounds should feel comfortable and respected in the classroom. Students and teachers of all different backgrounds need to be able to come together and take part in a healthy and welcoming learning environment

As a teacher, how and what I teach influences my students, so the minds and attitudes of students can be changed depending on how I present information and material.

To integrate cultural issues in my own classroom, I have:

  • consciously thought about multiculturalism as I interact with students and plan lessons and assignments approached it as an enthusiastic learner with much knowledge to gain
  • made myself aware that my thoughts, beliefs, experiences, and culture can be different from my students
  • placed students at the center of teaching and learning
  • established a classroom climate that promotes human rights
  • held the belief that all students can learn
  • acknowledged and built on students’ and their families life histories and experiences

In order to further develop multicultural education, oppression and power relationships in schools and society should be analyzed to understand and avoid racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and ageism. Social justice and equity should be modeled in the classroom and in interactions with students, families, and the community.

The above teaching methods and dispositions were following the instruction and suggestions of Donna M. Gollnick and Phillip C. Chinn from pages 2-23 and 292-312 in their book Education in a Diverse Society.

The Difference Between Latinx and Hispanic

Whenever I find myself filling out a form, I feel frustrated on what to indicate my race. Typically forms don’t provide a “Latino/Hispanic” option in the race column, instead it is a separate section from race. Being of mixed race and heritage, I indicate white as my race and yes when asked if I am “Latino/Hispanic.” I don’t identify as white because I don’t look white, and race refers to skin tone, but that is the only option that logically applies to me.

As a Latina teacher, I’m responsible for educating people about the fundamental differences between the terms “Latinx” and “Hispanic.”

Latinx/Hispanic does not refer to race, but it does refer to ethnicity. People of this descent can be a variety of races, some with fair skin and others with dark skin.

The terms Latinx and Hispanic often get used as synonyms, which is technically incorrect. However, they are similar.

“Latina” (for women) and “Latino” (for men) define someone from Latin American descent. The term “Latinx” refers to both genders. Latin America includes the region below The United States, as pictured below.

Hispanic defines someone that comes from a Spanish speaking country.

These differences indicate that some Latinx are not Hispanic, such as Brazilians who speak Portuguese. The opposite also applies; some Hispanics are not Latinx, such as Spaniards (people from Spain).

It is okay to refer to both groups of people as Latinx/Hispanic because it includes both similar groups and that there is a difference. However, if only using one term, we should ensure that it is the correct one.

Representation of Latinx/Hispanic Students and Teachers

I’ve noticed that I am one of the few Latinx/Hispanic teachers. This didn’t come as a surprise to me as I never once had a Latinx/Hispanic teacher throughout my experience as a student. The only non-white teachers I’ve ever had were Asian and all but one of them were my professors in my last 3 years of college.

As of 2017, a whopping 80% of teachers in the United States are white. This 80% decreased by 2% since 2012. From 2012 to 2017, the percentage of Latinx/Hispanic teachers rose from 8% to 9%. Black teachers only account for 7% and Asian teachers account for 2%.

In most of my elementary schooling, I didn’t have any representation of other Latinx/Hispanic students or teachers. I attended a predominantly white, private, and Catholic school for most of my life. That same school finally gained a slightly larger number of Latinx/Hispanic students in my 7th grade year. Before then, my class contained only one other Latinx/Hispanic student, and she didn’t speak Spanish.

Since I wasn’t around any Spanish speakers in school, I didn’t want to speak Spanish at home or at all because it made me feel like an outsider. Due to this lack of want to speak Spanish, my parents had me switch to a school that taught Spanish for 1st and 2nd grade. I learned that being able to speak Spanish was a good thing and an advantage once I switched schools.

Fortunately, the public high school I attended contained a much larger Latinx/Hispanic Population than the previous school.

I imagine that many students in my position would feel as I did, which felt different and out of place because there are none or very few people that look like me or possess a similar culture to myself. Students of all races should see and feel representation. This representation goes beyond teachers and other students, but also in classroom materials and curriculum.

We need more Latinx/Hispanic teachers for representation. Non-Latinx/Hispanic teachers desperately need to ensure that students have representation that makes them feel acknowledged and included. Research that further supports this need for teachers states that minority teachers instructing minority students improved those students’ performance in the classroom.

Bilingual Latinx/Hispanic teachers, like myself, can help English Language Learners (ELLs). The average percent of ELLs in the United States is 9.5%. Of the 9.5% of ELLs, 7.6% speak Spanish or Castillian in their home. These students need help from bilingual teachers that can teach them in their native language to help them become proficient in both their native language and English. As a result, proficiency can help those students enhance their academic success.

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