Assignment 1 approximately 3 – 4 sentences for each response ( about 2 pages) The
Use APA references from the book
Education in a Changing Society – submit all reflective questions and responses. (Its highlighted in red in the Text)
Multicultural and Global Education – submit completely questions 1-3 and responses (Its highlighted in red in the Text)
Education in a Changing Society
Focus Questions ( to be answered Assignment for chpt 1 pls reference the book)
1. What is the rationale for increased attention to diversity and intercultural competence in education?
2. What are some of the fundamental changes influencing American society and the world, including issues such as globalization, our changing demographics, rapidly expanding technologies, environmental pressures, and consequent changing experiences, attitudes, and values among the generations? How do these changes impact teaching and learning?
3. What are some differences between schools designed to prepare students for an industrial age and schools designed to prepare students for an informational, global age?
4. Why do you think real, substantial change is so difficult? Or do you?
“ Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time. ”
Samantha Carter’s Diversity Class
Samantha Carter, or “Sam” as she is called by her family and friends, along with many of her friends, has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. Most of her friends have worked in a variety of local recreation programs, summer camps, and in neighborhood parks, sometimes coaching younger kids in a range of sports. Although encouraged by their teachers throughout high school, they have all heard from their parents, and increasingly society in general, the arguments against teaching as a career: it’s a difficult, and sometimes even dangerous job; it’s only moderately well paid; they could do more with their skills and abilities. But regardless, they really all want to be a teacher, and that’s all there is to it.
Sam is a volleyball player and has been playing the sport competitively since she started high school. She now is on a full athletic scholarship at the university and hopes to coach volleyball in a high school like the one that she has already begun for some of her field class assignments. She made a good transition to the university last year, has maintained friendships with many of her former friends who are attending her present university and studying to be teachers while managing to remain in touch with others who are at different colleges and universities around the state; with one who even ventured to a school more than 1,000 miles from home. Although she still has a few years to go until she graduates, her heart is set on finding a teaching position in a suburban school system just far enough from her parents’ home to give her a real sense of independence. American history … World history … Economics … Government … and, of course, volleyball! She really can hardly wait!
Except, here she is with some of her friends sitting in a diversity course that is required of all second-year teacher education students, all wondering why in the world everyone is making such a fuss about all this “diversity stuff.” Haven’t we gotten past all that? On the Internet, after all, no one knows your color, your religion, or your gender. Indeed, she and her friends have all used “alternate” personalities while surfing the Net at one time or another, and clearly, people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media often give themselves “other” faces and personalities. The important thing is what people have to say, not what they look like!
Still, Sam recalls that when the class first visited their field site, the principal told them that the district, as well as most others, is changing rapidly in terms of race, ethnicity, and social class. She often wondered if he mentioned that to them because he thought that it might be a challenge for them as they spent more and more time in the school. Regardless of his reason, even though all of her friends are like her in many ways, it isn’t as if they have never spent any time with people who are different from them. Her high school volleyball team looked like the United Nations, and they all got along fine. And it certainly isn’t as if she doesn’t already know that some groups of people still suffer from discrimination—some of her college community service credits were spent working with kids in a low-income urban neighborhood, and she and some of her friends spent one whole summer volunteering in a community development project in Appalachia. They really did like the people they worked with and wished they could have done more to help them.
Why, Sam thinks to herself, she could probably teach this course! And anyway, teaching social studies will give her plenty of opportunities to introduce her students to many issues of difference. Yet, she recalls with a little pang of doubt, that some of the kids she worked with last year in her urban education field classes had zero interest in history, and that some of the people in Appalachia spoke with such an accent she could hardly understand them. And she doesn’t feel too well prepared to deal with children with disabilities either, and no doubt, there will be students with both medical and developmental disabilities in her classes.
Sam and her friends are learning that society is changing—in lots of ways. If there is one thing people keep telling them, it is that schools aren’t like they used to be, even from just a few years ago. Susan, one of Sam’s friends, has a brother who teaches sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade social studies in a school not too far from where they study. He once told them that close to half of the students in his classes live in families headed by a single parent (some of them, fathers), one third are reading below grade level, and two thirds are eligible for free lunches. His classes, too, are far from being all white or even all native-born: he has African American students, East Indian, Vietnamese, and Central American students, as well as an increasing number who are new immigrants or refugees from various countries in the Middle East and Africa. His students practice a number of different religions—a couple of them are fundamentalist Christian, some are Catholic, a growing number are Muslims, a few are Jewish, one is a Jehovah’s Witness, and many are not affiliated with any organized faith. He has one student in a wheelchair as a result of a bad automobile accident, one student with a breathing apparatuses because of asthma, and at least six who are waiting to be tested to determine their eligibility for the newly created severe behavior disorders program which is to be housed in a separate school on the other side of town.
Other changes are taking place as well. Sam recalls the principal proudly announcing that every teacher in the school will now have a Smart Board or SMART Board this year, and that all are using more and more technology in their teaching. The fact that technology is so ubiquitous in the lives of the students, he went on to say, seems to have dramatic changes on the attention span of children as more and more appear to become easily bored, have shorter attention spans, want things done quickly, and don’t like to read long assignments, even if they are good readers. What’s going on here, Sam wonders?
In addition, since the No Child Left Behind Act was replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, the performance of students, teachers, and school districts is being measured as never before. “The good news,” says her professor, “is that the proponents of accountability really want all children to learn and all teachers to teach well. The bad news is that we have never before really tried to educate all children to the same standard, and we are still not altogether sure how to do that—nor, it seems, can we all agree on what it means to be a good teacher! Nor are we sure that testing so often is the way to do this.”
Another one of Sam’s classmates, David, raises his hand. “What,” he asks, “about kids with really bad family problems, kids whose parents aren’t there for them, or the growing number who are homeless? What about kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or kids who just hate school? What about kids who are working 20 hours a week, or kids who just can’t ‘get it’? What about kids who don’t speak English? What about kids who are victims of violence, sexual abuse, or who act out in violent ways?”
Another student, Joanne, raised her hand, asking, “How can teachers really go about preparing young students for a globally connected future if they, themselves, have little knowledge or experience of the broader world in which we exist?”
She went on, “Last summer I was lucky enough to spend 4 weeks in Australia on a study abroad program designed especially for future teachers. This is something most teacher education students don’t do, by the way, which I highly recommend! We spent a day with a group of Australian high school students who were part of a Global Futures Club in their school. One student in particular, a 15-year-old girl named Felicity, stood up and challenged us with some ideas I’d never thought about before. This really got me thinking. I was so impressed with what she had to say that I asked her if she could write it down. She had already done that as part of her club’s activity, so she gave me a copy. I still carry it around with me, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to read it as I think there are some really important messages for us.”
“Go ahead,” said the professor.
“Here’s what she said … I want you to understand how I think about my future and my world. Wherever I live and work, I will certainly be mixing in a multinational, multifaith, and multicultural setting. During my lifetime, a planet-wide economic system is likely to operate, controlled not so much by big nations as by big business networks and regional centers of trade like Singapore, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, and Sydney. By the time my classmates and I are 35 years old, it is thought that more people will live in Shanghai, just one city in China, than in the whole of Australia. Most people will be working across national borders and cultures, speaking more than one language—that probably includes an Asian language. That’s the kind of job for which I need to be prepared. Because I am growing up in Australia, the Asia-Pacific area will be a strong focus of my world. There are three billion people in Asia alone—and that number will certainly continue to grow, with the Asian continent (from India to Japan) already accounting for half the world’s population. And, the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, is in this region too, just north of Australia, with a population of over 220 million—larger than that of Japan and Russia. People, the world over, will have to learn about Islam and to respect Muslims—even in the face of all the challenges present today.”
“But change is not only happening to those of us in Australia. More than half of the population in many of the world’s developing countries is under the age of 25—think about the consequences of that! These are all potential partners and competitors of all of us young people around the world and they’ll all want the good things they see that life has to offer. It will not matter what nationality any of us have, because our world is smaller, people move about, and most workplaces will be internationalized. Our world is likely to be borderless. We are more than likely to be employed in an internationally owned firm, and it is likely that in our homes someone will speak Japanese, Korean, Spanish, or Chinese.”
“Our environment, too, will continue to be changed and challenged. In the 1950s, when my grandparents were born, only two cities in the world, London and New York, had more than 8 million inhabitants. In 2015, there were 42 such cities—more than half of them in Asia. Environmentally what happens within the border of one country is no longer solely that country’s business, and environmental responsibilities will have to be enforced internationally. By the time I am 50, the world could be threatened by “green wars” or “water wars” unless my generation learns to do something to balance the unequal access to clean water, good soil, food distribution, and climate change. And recall the horribly devastating wildfires that only get worse and worse in Australia each year—how are we to continue to live in a country where this is a growing threat?”
Joanne continued, “The more I think about it, all of our future students are like Felicity in many ways. A lot of our schooling, from the way people look at things, and even many of the textbooks used around the world, are Eurocentric in their thinking and orientation and really are out-of-date. Schooling today must teach young people about living comfortably and successfully in a multicultural world. What skills and understandings will people living and working in the near future need? Most schools today say that students need to be global citizens. But do they really know what that means? … Do teachers know what an international curriculum looks like, and how it can be taught? … Do they know what to teach? … Do they know how to teach?… And are they confident that they can design and deliver a curriculum that will equip today’s young people to live in a complex, intercultural world?”*
“Yes,” says Melissa, another classmate, “How are we supposed to teach everyone?”
Carl jumped in, “I’m not really comfortable with all that I’m hearing in this class right now. Do you all really think that we should teach for so many differences? Aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice if we think we have to address everyone’s needs and interests? Shouldn’t we just teach what has proven in the past to be good education? Aren’t there just too many external influences and different groups trying to tell us what’s good and right?”
Another student, Susan, chimed in, “I don’t know Carl. I agree that the world is changing quite a lot and we’d better be prepared for this, not only as teachers, but as citizens in this global world. I’ve got a friend who is studying abroad this semester. I’m going to reach out to her to learn what her experience is like. I’ll let you all know later what I learn.”
“You all have raised some good points,” says Professor Adams, “Perhaps we’re better off asking it another way: How are we to think about our practice of teaching so that everyone learns and that they learn what they need to learn given the times in which we live? The scene has shifted in schools today for sure, from an emphasis on teaching to an emphasis on learning. This change in focus makes it all the more important that we understand the differences among students—all kinds of differences, visible and invisible—because those differences may influence a student’s learning, and our job is to create classrooms in which everyone learns. Perhaps we can all agree on that; even you Carl.”
Sam sighs. She really does want to be a teacher, but it seems to be a lot more complicated than she thought it would be. As the world around her changes, perhaps she, too, will have to make some significant changes if she is going to be as effective an educator as she hopes to be.
*(Modified from Tudball, 2012).
The Reality of Social Change
As we get used to living in the 21st century, Samantha, along with all of us, continues to witness changing circumstances in many areas of life that have widespread importance for the future of our country, our schools, and the world-at-large. Taken together, these changed circumstances are resulting in profound changes in the nature of some of our basic social institutions, such as the economy, politics, religion, the family, and, of course, education.
Institutions in Transition
The term social institution has been defined as a formal, recognized, established, and stabilized way of pursuing some activity in society (Bierstedt, 1974). Another way to define a social institution is to think of it as a set of rules, or norms, that enable us to get through the day without having to figure out how to behave toward others, whether to brush our teeth or not, or if, in fact, we should go to school or to work. In this society, as in all societies, there are rules that pattern the way we interact with family members, friends, people we see often, such as neighbors, teachers, or doctors, and even strangers who fill certain roles—the bus driver, the clerk in the store, and the server in a restaurant. We know these rules because we have internalized them as children, and in a stable society we can depend on the rules staying relatively the same over time. All societies, including nonliterate ones, create social institutions—or sets of norms—that govern at least five basic areas of social need: economics (ways of exchanging goods and services), politics (ways of governing), religion (ways of worshipping one or more deities), the family (ways of ensuring the survival of children), and education (ways of bringing up and educating the younger generation so that the society will continue to exist).
In our society, and indeed in most of the world, people are encountering profound changes in the nature of these basic institutions; in other words, the rules—or norms—are changing, and more and more are feeling unsettled or unsure by what they are encountering. Many scholars who study the past as a way to understand the future assert that these changes are so fundamental as to constitute a shift in the very nature of our civilization. In his book The Third Wave, Alvin Toffler (1980) was among the first scholar-futurists to warn that our institutions (what is normative in society) are changing in specific and characteristic ways and to hint at the rise and the effect of globalization on us all. Many of today’s changes, Toffler suggested, are neither random nor independent of one another. He identified a number of events that seem to be independent from one another—the “breakdown” of the nuclear family, the global energy crisis, the influence of cable television, the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States, and the emergence of separatist movements within national borders of many nations. Today, we might add the ubiquitous use of new technologies, the Internet, and various social media that have dramatically changed the way we live our lives and interact across various boundaries—in many circumstances resulting in major social change. These and many other seemingly unrelated events are interconnected and may be part of a much larger phenomenon that Toffler described as the death of industrialism and the rise of a new civilization that he called “the Third Wave.”
Toffler is not the only one to have perceived these changes before most people were aware of them. In the early 1980s, the book Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives added a new word to the language. In this work John Naisbitt (1982) accurately predicted the move toward globalization, the shift from an industrial economy to an “information” economy, and the growth of networks as a way of managing information (although he didn’t even mention the Internet or the World Wide Web!). Later Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene (1990) wrote Megatrends 2000: Ten New Directions for the 1990s, in which they discussed the evolution of telecommunications, the rise of China as a competing power, and a growing need to “look below the surface” to find the meaning of these changes for real human beings and real organizations. More recently, in The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century Thomas Friedman (2006) introduced the notion of the “flat world” in which people from all walks of life, almost regardless of their location, can engage in meaningful ways with one another. Indeed, Patricia Aburdene (2005) revealed in her book Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism that our society was reaching a new phase in which the ideas of social responsibility, environmental values, and a spiritual dimension were beginning to reshape capitalism in interesting ways. Although we cannot take all these predictions as absolute fact (predicting the future is a precarious occupation), it is worth thinking about our changing circumstances and the impact these changes are having (and will continue to have) on the way we live, work, play, govern ourselves, worship, and learn.
The Impact of Specific Changes on Basic Institutions
It is useful to think in terms of four different sets of specific changes that, taken together, seem to be reshaping our basic institutions. These areas, suggested by Willard Daggett (2005) in Successful Schools; From Research to Action Plans, are globalization, demographics, technology, and changing values and attitudes among the generations. New circumstances in each of these areas are having an impact on the way we think about and accomplish our purposes as a society. Also each of these areas provides a rationale for greater intercultural knowledge and understanding. Let’s take a closer look at how each of these areas may be changing the basic social institutions in our society.
Factors Influencing the Institution of Economics
1. From National to Global
For much of our nation’s history, the U.S. economy has been based on manufacturing done by companies whose production could be found within the borders of the country. Today, our economy is firmly global, and the acquisition of raw material, manufacturing processes, and distribution of goods by such giants as Ford Motor Company, General Motors, or General Electric is done worldwide. In large measure because of advances in computer technology and high-speed travel, we find ourselves looking more and more often beyond our own borders for goods, services, and sales. Indeed, the much-revered American corporation can hardly be said to exist any longer. In 2017, for instance, General Motors sold 32% more automobiles in China than it did in the United States. This represents the 7th year in a row that sales in China surpassed those in the United States.
The effects of globalization are now increasingly encountered by each and every individual. Call the help desk with a problem with your computer, or have a question about your cable TV, and it is likely that the person you are speaking with on the other end of the phone is in India or Costa Rica. In your daily interactions, whether on campus or in your local stores, hospitals, and community in general, you are almost certain to encounter people who have immigrated to the United States and who speak a language other than English.
Our recent experiences related to the COVID-19 global pandemic offer an example of the ways in which people across the globe can, and do, come together on the global level in response to a common threat (see Chapter 6 for more detailed discussion of the contact hypothesis and superordinate or common goals). Never before in human history have so many of the world’s scientists and medical researchers focused so urgently on a single issue as they did in response to the coronavirus, putting aside national identities, individual recognition and profit, as well as most other research in which they were engaged (New York Times, April 1, 2020). Science, and mathematics, many would say, speak a global language rather than in terms of my nation or your nation; my language or your language; and my geographic location or your geographic location. Such nationalistic or ethnocentric thinking does not reflect the thinking and practice of most top-level scientists.
One morning, in the first weeks of the pandemic, for instance, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that a ferret exposed to COVID-19 particles had developed a high fever—a potential advance toward animal vaccine testing. Under ordinary circumstances, they would have started work on an academic journal article. But realizing the potential they were dealing with, the reality that their own academic journal writing could take a back seat for the time being, and that this was not the time to be touting “America First” or other nationalistic ideologies, they quickly shared their findings with scientists around the world through the World Health Organization (WHO). Within a few days, the lab in Pittsburgh was collaborating with the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the Austrian drug company Themis Bioscience. This consortium then received funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, a Norway-based organization financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a group of governments, and was in talks with the Serum Institute of India, one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world. Vaccine researchers at Oxford made use of animal-testing results shared by the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana. And separately, the French public-health research center Inserm was sponsoring clinical trials on four drugs that showed promise in treating COVID-19 patients. The trials then were underway in France, with plans to expand quickly to other nations.
In many ways, the coronavirus response reflects the global reach of our medical communities. At Massachusetts General Hospital, a team of Harvard doctors was testing the effectiveness of inhaled nitric oxide on coronavirus patients. The research was being carried out in conjunction with Xijing Hospital in China and a pair of hospitals in northern Italy. Doctors in those centers had been collaborating for years, but the coronavirus suddenly ignited them in ways that no other outbreak or medical mystery had before. This reflects the scope of the pandemic and the fact that, for many researchers, the hot zone is no longer an impoverished village in the developing world—it is in their hometowns. The adage, “Think Globally–Act Locally” can now be expanded to include “Think Locally–Act Globally” as COVID-19 appeared in every community worldwide.
Yet, while there are many positive aspects to globalization, this is not always the case; and certainly not so for everybody on the planet. The rapid speed with which the coronavirus spread was a direct result of our frequent air travel and ease with which people can move around the planet. And while you may be able to buy your favorite fruits and vegetables almost any time of the year relatively inexpensively because they are flown in from countries around the globe, we also encounter the possibility of large-scale salmonella outbreaks, as was experienced across the United States in 2008 from contaminated jalapeño peppers imported from Mexico.
In fact, our often unquestioning behavior at home can often have some unanticipated consequences elsewhere. The recent addition of quinoa to the American health-conscious diet offers a good example of the potential negative impact globalization can have on traditional societies. Not too long ago, quinoa was a relatively unheard of Peruvian grain that could only be found in small health food shops. Nutritionists soon identified quinoa as the only vegetable source of all amino acids, giving it the biological food value equivalent of milk, meat, and eggs, viewed as a godsend to vegans and vegetarians alike. Sales of quinoa, now marketed as the “miracle grain of the Andes,” skyrocketed. Consequently, the price shot up since 2006. The desire for quinoa in countries like the United States pushed prices for the grain so high that poorer people, who once depended upon it as a staple food in their diet, can no longer afford to eat it. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken, and junk food is cheaper to buy than quinoa. Outside the cities, and fueled by overseas demand, the pressure is on now to turn land that once produced a diversity of crops into a quinoa monoculture.
Arguing that globalization was not new, Thomas Friedman (2006) wrote that, in fact, there have been three phases of globalization. The era he calls Globalization 1.0 began at the end of the 15th century when Columbus opened trade between Europe and the Americas and lasted until around the beginning of the 19th century. This was the era of national competition—often incited by religion or the lure of conquest—that began the process of integrating the countries of the world. Globalization 2.0, he asserts, lasted from the beginning of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century and was an era characterized not by national entities in competition but by the formation of multinational entities—usually companies and corporations—driving global integration. He wrote:
These multinationals went global for markets and labor, spearheaded first by the expansion of the Dutch and English joint-stock companies and the Industrial Revolution. In the first half of this era, global integration was powered by falling transportation costs, thanks to the steam engine and the railroad, and in the second half by falling telecommunication costs—thanks to the diffusion of the telegraph, telephones, the PC, satellites, fiber-optic cable, and the early version of the World Wide Web (p. 9).
Beginning around the year 2000, Friedman claimed that Globalization 3.0 emerged, a product of the convergence of three elements:
the personal computer (which allowed every individual suddenly to become the author of his or her own content in digital form) with fiber-optic cable (which suddenly allowed all those individuals to access more and more digital content around the world for next to nothing) with the rise of work flow software (which enabled individuals all over the world to collaborate on that same digital content from anywhere, regardless of the distances between them) (pp. 10–11).
The differences between the first two eras of globalization and Globalization 3.0 are striking. While the first two empowered national and multinational companies and corporations, Globalization 3.0 empowers individuals to “go global.” Furthermore, while the first two eras of globalization were largely the product of European and American explorers, entrepreneurs, and companies, Globalization 3.0 is seeing the rise of individuals literally from everywhere, exercising their initiative in both competition and collaboration with other individuals around the planet, forming networks of communication and shared work that hold the possibility of competing effectively with—and sometimes superseding—both nation-states and national and multinational companies and corporations. While there are many examples of the benefits from globalization, such a transformation has also allowed organizations such as ISIS, or the so-called Islamic State, to recruit followers through a global reach.
2. Growing Income Inequality
Despite the fact that the median income in the United States reached a new record in 2018 ($61,937), the gap between the richest and the poorest U.S. households is now the largest that it has been in the past 50 years. Wages for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, for example, more than doubled between 1979 and 2011 while wages of the median U.S. worker increased by only 6% over the same period. Significant changes in income disparity have occurred since the start of the Trump administration. From the end of the Obama Administration in 2016 to the third quarter of 2019 (or at least until the financial decline due to the coronavirus), household net worth increased by $15.84 trillion or about 17%, driven primarily by gains in the stock market. But since the bottom 50% of U.S. households have little if any investment in the stock market, these gains have had little impact on the majority of people, with 75% of gains going to the wealthiest 10% of the population. In 2015, in 34 OECD countries, the richest 10% earned 9.6 times more than the poorest 10% (the OECD, or Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, is a 35-member international agency founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade).
Income inequality has significant impacts on many aspects of people’s lives. There is a growing body of research, for instance, that demonstrates that despite huge advances in medicine, technology, and education, rich people tend to live longer than poor people. In the early 1970s, a 60-year-old man earning at the top half of the income ladder could expect to live 1.2 years longer than a man of the same age in the bottom half (New York Times, 2016). In 2001, that difference grew to 5.8 years longer than his poorer counterpart. Recent research has found that for men born in 1950, that difference had more than doubled, to 14 years. For women, the gap grew from 4.7 years to 13 years.
Discrepancies in income also have significant impact on educational attainment. College, for instance, has become virtually a necessity for upward mobility. Yet, the increasing cost of American higher education has resulted in it being out of reach for many. The children of college-educated parents are more than twice as likely to attend college as are the children of high school graduates and seven times as likely as those of high school dropouts. Only 5% of Americans aged 25 to 34 whose parents didn’t finish high school have a college degree. This figure compared to 20% across 20 countries in the OECD.
The problem, of course, begins long before college. On the day children begin kindergarten, those from many low-income families are more than a year behind the children of college graduates in their grasp of both reading and math. Despite the efforts deployed by schools, this achievement gap will widen even more for many children by the time they reach high school.
3. A Change in the Work We Do
It will come as no surprise that manufacturing jobs in the United States have given way to so-called service jobs in recent decades. On the global scale, people around the world are increasingly divided by vast differences between rich and poor, and this discrepancy has widened in the past decade. The average U.S. citizen earns just under $200.00 per day. This compares to those living in the poorest countries of the world (e.g., the Republic of Congo, Somalia, Haiti, Niger), who take home less than $2.00 per day. Services amount to approximately two thirds of the U.S. domestic product, with financial services, such as banking, insurance, and investment leading the way followed closely by real estate services. Other growing service industries are transportation; health care; legal, scientific, and management services; education; wholesale and retail sales; arts; recreational services; and hotels, restaurants, and other food and beverage services (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2015).
Because service jobs—especially in sales, recreational services, hotels, restaurants, and so forth—do not generally pay as well as manufacturing jobs have in the past, these shifts in the economy disproportionately affect lower-income families. In his article, “Welcome to the Service Economy,” Peter Rachleff (2006) noted that this was also the case in the first third of the 20th century, when the great mining and manufacturing companies had total control of workers. That situation changed with the labor movement of the 1930s and 1940s when “their contracts brought them not only improved wages and working conditions but also benefits such as individual, family, and retiree health care coverage; paid vacations; and pensions. These benefits are not available to low-paid service workers in our economy today. Moreover, the idea of unionism is not popular in jobs where workers are encouraged to put their patients and customers first, to see themselves as ‘unskilled,’ and to expect little reward for their work” (Rachleff, 2006).
In the past, labor unions and the contracts they negotiated provided the scaffolding for working-class families to rise into the middle class. That “ladder” doesn’t exist today in many service industries, which employ—probably disproportionately—many minority, immigrant, and poor individuals. One of the tasks ahead, then, is to create conditions in the service sector such that people can “move up” the social ladder into the middle class.
Recent trends in globalization, like the growth of China and India, have increased the number of U.S. jobs “outsourced” to other countries. Between 1984 and 2004 more than 30 million U.S. workers lost their jobs, mostly in high import-competing manufacturing industries such as clothing, autos, and electronics. These industries account for only 30% of all manufacturing jobs in the United States, but accounted for 38% of manufacturing job loss. Of those workers displaced, about one in three moved into new jobs with equal or better incomes, but one in four suffered earnings losses of more than 30%. This trend continued, with more than 2 million jobs being outsourced in 2011 alone. There are spin-off effects as well. Nearly 70% of Americans who have health insurance get their coverage through their employers, so losing a job can be extremely costly to families, with lost health coverage as well as lost wages (Children’s Defense Fund, 2009).
An increased dependence on technology has also led to numerous changes in the way we work, with many jobs at risk of being lost due to increased automation, while at the same time new jobs emerge as a result of new technologies. The skills required in traditionally more “stable” jobs are undergoing change as one set of required skills is replaced by newer ones. This exacerbates the abilities and skills gap that many employees and employers face, thus creating uncertainty and insecurity for many workers—unless they are willing and able to rapidly reskill or upskill for their roles. In addition, technology is changing how work is organized, with new platforms connecting people in ways not possible just a decade ago. For example, websites such as HomeAway.com and Airbnb.com allow home owners to sublet all or part of their home to short-term guests in place of people using well-established hotel and motel chains. Similarly, companies like Uber and Lyft are connecting drivers with those who want rides, empowering individuals to assume new roles and responsibilities.
4. A Change in Generational Attitudes About Work
Until not too long ago, the norm was that folks went to work for a particular company and stayed there throughout their working lives. Indeed, as recently as 30 years ago, people who changed jobs too many times were considered quite undependable. Today, however, it’s a different story. Although workers may frequently change jobs because their companies are moving production to another country, or eliminating jobs altogether, it is also the case that workers move to enhance their own prospects, and it is more likely today that workers will not work for the same company for 30 years.
Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996), are the 56 million adult Americans who, in 2017 made up one third of the U.S. workforce—the largest generation at work (most readers of this book fall into this category). These individuals are technologically connected, grew up in the shadow of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the Great Recession, are well adapted to change, and highly innovative—when given the right environment, support, and autonomy.
As Raines (2002) noted, they have been bombarded with a unique set of messages since birth:
Be smart—you are special. They’ve been catered to since they were tiny. Think Nickelodeon, Baby Gap, and Sports Illustrated for Kids.
Leave no one behind. They were taught to be inclusive and tolerant of other races, religions, and sexual orientations.
Connect 24/7. They learned to be interdependent—on family, friends, and teachers. More Millennials say they can live without the television than without the computer. Many prefer chatting online, texting, or using Instagram, Facebook, or other social media to talking on the phone.
Achieve now! Some parents hired private agents to line up the right college; others got started choosing the right preschool while the child was still in the womb.
Serve your community. Fifty percent of high school students reported volunteering in their communities, many of their high schools requiring community service hours for graduation. On one Roper Survey, when Millennials were asked for the major cause of problems in the United States, they answered selfishness.
As a result of their upbringing, many young workers in this generation are looking for role models in the workplace. They want more learning opportunities, want to work with friends, have fun at work, get respect for their ideas, even if they are young, and have time flexibility to pursue family and interest activities.
Factors Influencing the Institution of Politics
1. International Agreements
Changes affecting economics have their counterparts in the political sphere as well. As we increasingly interact with people from other nations in matters of trade, we also increasingly interact with them politically, and political events occurring in other countries have a much more profound effect on our own political agenda than they used to. For example, the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Treaty—as well as its successor, the World Trade Organization—are political responses to the facts of international trade. On January 1, 1994, the United States, Canada, and Mexico came together and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The purpose of this trade agreement was to reduce trade restrictions among the three countries, thus encouraging investment and increasing market access. In 2019, the three countries reached a new agreement called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replacing NAFTA. These two agreements have many similar points with a few unique distinctions related to country of origin rules on automobiles, U.S. farmers gaining greater access to Canadian dairy markets, and intellectual property and digital trade. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989 was a defining feature of international politics as the 20th century drew to a close (see Chapter 7). Today, the recurring ethnic and religious wars around the world, terrorist attacks on American soil and on Western interests around the world, and various uprisings throughout the Arab world during the “Arab Spring” are expressions of new realities with which the United States must contend. In recent years, a day does not go by without some news of opposition to one or more international agreements that is perceived to negatively impact the domestic economy. This obviously is not restricted to the United States as was witnessed in the drawn out discussion of BREXIT which after being approved by British voters in 2016 finally took effect in 2020. And as industrial growth and our growing dependence upon oil continue, new treaties addressing climate change, such as the Paris Climate Conference where 195 nations adopted the first-ever universal and legally binding global climate deal, are to be enacted, although the United States effectively withdrew from this a global agreement in 2019. The norms have changed—we are doing politics differently. Yet, the increasing need to address the ever-growing array of global issues demands that people acquire new skills in intercultural understanding and collaboration.
2. Increasing Division Between Political Parties and the Frequent Stalemate in Congress
Over the past 20 years, conservative political ideas have come to the forefront on both economic and social issues. This may, in part, reflect a resistance to the very rapid change that characterizes the times in which we live.
In some ways, this may indicate a decline in the power of the two major political parties in the United States and provide some intriguing questions about the future. This was especially evident in the run up to the 2016 presidential election when none of the traditional Republican Party candidates were selected to represent the party, and the seemingly inability of Democrats and Republicans following the election to work together and agree on much. Will there be a greater emphasis on the difference between economic and social issues in the political marketplace of ideas? Will a new generation of voters be more interested in the electoral process than their parents have been? What will be the future of the Electoral College?
3. Political Participation
Americans who voted in 2012 looked much more like what President Obama had envisioned—a multicultural array that reflected a changing nation. The 2016 election saw an unanticipated increase in the number of disenfranchised blue-collar workers take to the polls transforming the election and altering the direction the country would take on many fronts. And we can only imagine the outcome of the 2020 election as this book goes to press.
4. Change in Voting Technologies
Another change in the political landscape with respect to voting is the advent of electronic voting machines, which have replaced voting with pencil or stylus and the hand-counting of ballots. Debates center around the following issues: security, lack of a paper trail of votes cast, interference with the transmission of results, inability to conduct an independent recount, vulnerability to tampering with the machines before the vote, and machine malfunction (Wang, 2004). The 2016 election saw widespread hacking of the computer systems by Russia at both the Republican and Democratic headquarters with similar threats being made against both parties in the runup to the 2020 election.
Given that younger generations of Americans are theoretically more likely to engage in civic affairs and are growing up accustomed to and trusting technological innovations, it will be interesting to see how long this debate continues. Clearly, there is going to continue to be a large role for education in giving young people both the knowledge and the judgment to support their involvement in civic affairs.
Factors Influencing the Institution of Religion
1. Increasing Diversity of Religious Ideas
In times of transition such as we are experiencing today, organized religion can serve as a stabilizing influence. However, the institutionalized churches of all faiths are undergoing change as well. Once largely a nation steeped in the Judeo-Christian heritage, the United States is now home to a growing number of faiths that are unfamiliar to many people. Buddhism, Islam, and other religions of the East and Middle East are growing as new immigrants bring their religious ideas and practices with them, with Islam being among the fastest growing religions in the nation. Similarly, a wide variety of relatively small but active congregations built around scientific, philosophical, and psychological ideas are appearing to proliferate—the so-called New Age religious sects.
At the present time, religious affiliation in the United States is in the midst of a decline that appears to be twice as great as that which occurred in the 1960s and 1970s (Religion New Service, 2014). Roughly 80% of U.S. citizens identified with one of the major religions in the post-war baby-boom years of the 1950s. This was followed by the social upheavals and changes of the 1960s and 1970s that included a questioning of religious institutions and a subsequent decline in membership. This decline in religious identification leveled off by the end of the 1970s. Over the past 15 years, however, religious affiliation has been in a much steeper decline than that experienced in the 1960s and 1970s. Church attendance is down from 62% in 1994 to 53% in 2013, while church membership is down from 69% to 59%. At the same time, the number of people who say that religion is an important part of their life has dropped from 88% to 78%, with atheists now accounting for 4% of U.S. adults, double the number as in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009.
2. The Rise of Fundamentalism in Many Religious Contexts
Conservative branches of mainline Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim religions serve as havens for people for whom social change seems too rapid and too chaotic, and fundamentalist denominations (usually Protestant) are both the fastest growing religious organizations in the nation and, often, the most politically aware and active. Fundamentalism is not limited to Christianity but is also growing among young Jews and Muslims.
We see frequent reference to a rise of religious fundamentalism around the world today. Historically, at least in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fundamentalism referred to a religious movement specific to the Protestant religion. This movement emanated primarily from the more traditional White Anglo-Saxon Protestants who felt displaced by the influx of non-Protestant immigrants from southern and eastern Europe that began to flood America’s cities. The fundamentalists deplored the teaching of evolution in public schools, which they paid for with their taxes, sought to minimize the distinction between the state and the church, and resented the elitism of professional educators who seemed often to scorn the values of traditional Christian families.
In the 21st century, fundamentalism refers to a global religious response that aims to recover and publicly institutionalize aspects of the past that modern life has changed and obscured. Typically, fundamentalism views the secular state as the primary enemy, interested more in education, democratic reforms, and economic progress than in preserving the more traditional and spiritual dimension of life. A central belief of many of the Christian Right, at least in the United States, is that the country has fallen into national sin, as witnessed by the seemingly never-ending list of social ills—babies born out of wedlock, substance abuse, and ubiquitous pornography where prayer is forbidden but condoms are freely available. Public school teachers and administrators are increasingly viewed as hostile by Christian Right activists, viewed as menacing the spiritual welfare of “Christian” children.
These attacks on public education generally fall into two categories. The first category can be viewed as attempts to “re-Christianize” the schools, be it through state-sponsored religious practices, the inclusion of “Creationism” into the science curriculum, the posting of the Ten Commandments in every classroom, the deletion or watering down of sex education, and removing any mention of multiculturalism (Gaddy et al., 1996; Diamond, 1996, 1998; Edwards, 1998). The second category is “de-institutionalization,” or attempts to destabilize public education. Christian Right activists view vouchers, charter schools, and homeschooling as good and corrosive developments that will eventually wither away support for public schools. This generally is evident in clear-cut and distinct roles for men and women, parents and children, clergy and laypersons.
3. The Marriage of Religion and Politics
The founders of the United States were firm in their belief that religion and politics, or church and state, should be separate. Indeed, the nature of the separation of church and state written into the First Amendment of the Constitution is there not so much to involve religion in public affairs but to protect religious groups from interference by the state.
Nevertheless, we have nearly always carried religious ideas into the public (or political) sphere. Organized religions have, at various times in our history, been more or less important in the carrying out of public business. Today, and for the past two decades or so, some religious groups—notably conservative Protestant Christian groups—have become important “players” on the political scene, not only by putting forth agendas for public policy, but also by systematically organizing and supporting their members in elections, from school boards to Congress.
This is not, however, just an American phenomenon, but a global one, as can be seen by the involvement of religiously backed political (and military) forces in eastern Europe and the Middle East in the past 20 years. The same technological revolution that has provided innovative individuals and groups with the means to author their own digital content and link to others around the world for very little money has also provided the mechanism for individuals and groups to organize and carry their message (sometimes based on religious ideas) to others who, without this technology, would be unreachable. As Friedman (2006) cautioned, “the playing field is not being leveled only in ways that draw in and superempower a whole new group of innovators. It’s being leveled in a way that draws in and superempowers a whole new group of angry, frustrated, and humiliated men and women” (p. 8). Recent evidence of this can be seen in the rise of such extremist activities as the destruction and barbarism carried out by ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, which claims a religious identity that is not endorsed by any mainstream Muslims, and the Boko Haram kidnapping of young girls in Nigeria. These movements utilize various forms of social media and dramatic events spread across the global media to recruit disenfranchised young people to their ideology.
4. Generational Differences in Attitudes and Values, and the Role of Electronic Culture
Another shift that is having an impact on religion is the presence of a generation of young people who have been raised in a technologically rich environment. They are looking to all the major institutions, including religion, for new ways of understanding traditional messages and new forms of worship.
While issues and solutions vary, the younger generation of church-goers appears to be giving its elders pause for reflection. For example, a study of college students who identify as Jewish, sponsored by Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, shows that these students “are increasingly likely to be products of interfaith marriages, to have non-Jewish boyfriends and girlfriends, and to shun denominational labels” (Birkner, 2005). Indicating that this generation has a different understanding of identity, the director of the study’s online student survey notes that
they see their identity as a set of windows on a computer screen, and any number of screens can be open simultaneously. For them, it’s not just a question of am I a Jewish American or an American Jew. They see themselves as American, Jewish, heterosexual and a volleyball player all at once. They don’t feel the need for one of those windows to take over the whole desktop (Birkner, 2005).
Similarly, two sociological studies of young Catholics note that this generation “is more individualistic, more tolerant of religious diversity and far less committed to the practices of their faith than older Catholics” (Heffern, 2007).
Recent surveys find that acceptance of homosexuality has grown rapidly, especially among young adults, even among religious groups that have traditionally been strongly opposed to it (Pew Research Center, 2019a). Among evangelical Protestants, for example, 51% of Millennials say homosexuality should be accepted, compared with about a third of Baby Boomers and a fifth of those in the Silent Generation. Similar patterns are seen among mainstream Protestants, in the historically Black Protestant tradition, and among Catholics.
Compared with views on homosexuality, there has been little change in Americans’ attitudes about abortion. Among the public as a whole, more than half (61%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Views on abortion have changed little across most major religious groups, although those who are unaffiliated and those who belong to historically Black Protestant churches are somewhat more likely to support legal abortion than in the recent past. The survey also finds generation gaps within many religious groups in attitudes about a variety of other social and political issues. Young adults generally express more politically liberal opinions than older people when asked about the environment, the proper size and scope of government, and immigration.
Finally, Protestant Christian denominations are increasingly interested in framing the religious message in ways that younger generations, those who have grown up in a “wired” world, can understand and will participate in. This framing takes many forms: Harvey Cox refers to a pan-historical change in the “Ages” of Christianity, from the Age of Faith, to the Age of Belief, to the Age of the Spirit (Cox, 2009, 4–8). Diana Butler Bass sees the end, or at least the transformation, of current Christianity to a more spiritual, relational way of being religious—one that is more in tune with young people and adults who are looking for less dogma and more creative spirit (Bass, 2012, pp. 193–196). The idea of “re-imagining religion” is easy to see in established churches as well as on the internet. Indeed, as Heckman notes,
One of the biggest religion stories of today is the rising number of Americans who no longer identify with a particular religion. But disaffiliation is only one side of the story. The current period of flux also is characterized by people and congregations exploring spirituality and experimenting with new forms of religious expression (Heckman, 2017).
Factors Influencing the Institution of the Family
1. Increasing Age of Men and Women at the Time of Marriage and Childbirth
The age at which men and women marry in any society varies over time, and that is the case in the United States as well. In 1900, the average marriage age for men was 26 and for women, 22; by midcentury, it had fallen to 23 for men and 20 for women; and but by 2019, it had reached the all-time high of nearly 30 for men and nearly 28 for women (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019).
Some researchers believe that this phenomenon bodes well for marriage and motherhood because marrying later often means that the partners have higher educational levels, which is, itself, a stabilizing factor in marriage. There is some evidence to support this. Mothers today are far better educated than they were in the past. In 1960, 18% of mothers with infants at home had any college experience; today that share stands at 67%. Moreover, since the overall life span is increasing—in 2003 the average life expectancy in the United States was 78.6 years (USA Today, 2019)—ages for marriage and childbirth might be expected to continue to rise. Debates still exist, however, about the relation between age of marriage and first children to divorce, health care, work life, religious affiliation, and other family and social issues. It is safe to say, though, that increasing the age at which typical couples marry will have some effects on the society as a whole.
2. Increasing Diversity of Family Forms
In the family, too, we are witnessing profound changes in structure and organization. For the first time in 150 years, the number of households headed by single adults and unmarried couples is greater than those headed by married couples (Coontz, 2006). Recent research on the changing demographics of our families graphically portrays the changing nature of family life. For instance, in 1942, 60% of families could be described as nuclear families consisting of two parents and their children. Furthermore, if one believes the images that until relatively recently were often portrayed in basal readers, this nuclear family includes a dog and a cat all living happily together in a white house surrounded by a neat picket fence. In these families, the father’s role was to leave home every day to earn the money to support the family, and the mother’s role was to stay at home and raise the children. Those were the norms. Today, fewer than 10% of American families match that picture and families are smaller due to both the growth of single-parent households and the drop in fertility. Not only are Americans having fewer children, but the circumstances surrounding parenthood have also changed. While in the early 1960s babies typically arrived within a marriage, today fully four-in-ten births occur to women who are single or living with a nonmarital partner. The norms, again, have changed. It is estimated today that about half of all marriages in the United States will be disrupted through divorce or separation. More than 10 different configurations are represented by the families of children in today’s classrooms; a most significant one is the single-parent family, often consisting of a mother and child or children living in poverty, which increased from 9% in 1960 to 26% in 2014, representing one-fourth of all children, the highest rate of 30 countries surveyed in 2019 (Pew Research Center, 2019). Increasingly, this single parent is a teenage mother. We have seen a rapid increase in the number of children being brought up in “blended families”—a household with a stepparent, stepsibling or half-sibling, as well as raised by grandparents, with close to 5 million American children living in grandparent-headed households (Johnson and Kasarda, 2011). Another increasing family configuration, and a hotly debated topic, is one in which two adults of the same sex, committed to one another over time, are raising children who may be biologically related to one or the other adult, or who may have been adopted by them.
3. Increasing Intermarriage Across Racial and Religious Boundaries
There has also been a corresponding increase in the outmarriage rate, or intermarriage between individuals from different ethnic or religious groups in recent years, a rate that doubled from 6.7% in 1980 to 17% in 2019 (Pew Research Center, 2019b). Some racial groups are more likely to intermarry than others. Of the 3.6 million adults who got married in 2013, 58% of American Indians, 28% of Asians, 19% of Blacks, and 7% of whites have a spouse whose race was different from their own (Pew Research Center, 2015). In some Asian American groups (Japanese Americans, for instance), more people marry outside the group than marry within the group (Cortes, 1999), and roughly 50% of American Jews marry outside their religion. The population of those identifying as members of two or more races continues to increase. The number went from 1.1 million in 2000 to an estimated 1.5 million in 2009, or roughly 4.5% of the total U.S. population. Percentage-wise, this increase (32.7%) was second only to the relative growth of the nation’s Latino population (35.8%) (Johnson and Kasarda, 2011). Children of these mixed marriages will increasingly find themselves in our schools, as is evident in the 6.8% of young people under the age of 18 who claim similar multiple racial identities.
4. Increasing Effects of Poverty in a Globalized America
People living in poverty are a diverse group and reflect as wide array of values, beliefs, dispositions, experiences, backgrounds, and life chances as those in any other socioeconomic class. Although the poverty rate in the United States continues its downward trend, from 14.5% in 2013 to 11.8% in 2018. The number of people living in poverty still stands at a staggering 38.1 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). In the United States, more women live in poverty than men. In 2018, 12.9% of women were poor compared with 10.6% of men. The difference between households headed by men or women in poverty is even more dramatic, with over 30% of female-headed households in poverty. For men in the same situation as head of household and no wife present that number is 15.9%. On the global scale, over 700 million people live at or below $1.90 a day. Although a staggering number, this is down from 37% in 1990 and 44% in 1981. Poverty and its effects on children is not limited to the so-called Third World or developing societies of the south. A recent report issued by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “Child Well-Being in Rich Countries,” reports that the United States ranks among the lowest of wealthy countries for children, coming in 26th place of 29 countries, with only Lithuania, Latvia, and Romania placing lower (UNICEF, 2013). The United States has the second highest percentage of children living under the relative poverty line, defined as 50% of each country’s median income, and ranked 25th out of 29 in the percentage of people 15 to 19 years old who were enrolled in schools and colleges. In 2018, one in six children in the United States lives at or below the poverty line with 2.5 million experiencing homelessness in a year. As educators, in order to be responsive to the needs of all students, it is helpful to consider the constraints that poverty may place on people’s lives, particularly children’s, and how such conditions might influence learning and academic achievement. Health and well-being, for instance, are often interrelated, and one factor can compound another. Substandard housing, inadequate medical care, and poor nutrition, for instance, can affect the rate of childhood disease, premature births, and low birth weights. All of these can impact a child’s physical and cognitive development, thus influencing a students’ ability to benefit from schooling.
Consider these facts about children collected by the Children’s Defense Fund (2003, 2013): Each day in the United States, 2 mothers die in childbirth, 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect, 5 children or teens commit suicide, 7 children or teens are killed by firearms, 67 babies die before their first birthdays, 892 babies are born at low birth weight, 914 babies are born to teen mothers, 1,208 babies are born without health insurance, 1,825 children are confirmed as abused or neglected, 2,712 babies are born into poverty, 2,857 high school students drop out, and 4,475 babies are born to unmarried mothers. In addition, 1 in 5 was born poor, 1 in 3 will be poor at some point in childhood, and 1 in 6 is born to a mother who did not receive prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy. One in 5 is born to a mother who did not graduate from high school, 1 in 5 has a foreign-born mother, 1 in 3 is behind a year or more in school, 1 in 50 is homeless, 2 in 5 never complete a single year of college, 1 in 10 has no health insurance, 1 in 7 has at least one worker in their family but still is poor, 1 in 8 lives in a family receiving food stamps, 1 in 8 never graduates from high school, and 1 in 12 has a disability.
Clearly, the family pattern once considered the norm, that provided the image of the “right” and “proper” kind of family and guided the policies of our other institutions, has changed.
Factors That Influence the Institution of Education
1. Changing Demographics of the School-Age Population and the Population as a Whole
All the institutional changes discussed thus far are inevitably reflected in the institution of schooling—its purposes, policies, and practices. For example, demographic changes with respect to the total population of the United States are first seen in our schools. It is projected that by the year 2026, children of color will comprise more than half the children in classrooms, up from approximately one third at the beginning of the 21st century (NCES, 2017). Startling changes are already occurring in a number of places in the country. For example, more than a decade ago, students from minority groups comprised more than 50% of the school populations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and New York. In these states, minority children soon may find themselves in the uncomfortable position of being the majority in a world whose rules are set by a more powerful minority. Recent census figures for California show that there is currently no majority cultural group in the state!
Three factors are of primary importance in the shifting demographics of our population.
First, immigration from non-European countries currently rivals the great immigrations from Europe that this country experienced at the turn of the 20th century. There is an important difference, however. In the early part of the 20th century, the majority of immigrants (87%) arrived from Europe. Except for language, it was relatively easy for these new immigrants to fit into the cultural landscape of the country; after all, many of these people looked similar to the majority of people around them. Today, 65% of the roughly 1 million immigrants who come to the United States each year come from Latin America and Asia (Pew Research Center, 2019c), resulting in what has been referred to as the “browning of America.” Most of the new immigrants look somewhat different from the mainstream, which immediately sets them apart. Indeed, many communities are becoming increasingly international as the phenomenon of globalization extends its reach.
Second, while birthrates among Americans as a whole are just holding their own, birthrates among nonwhite populations are considerably higher than they are among whites. Among European Americans, for instance, birthrates have dropped to 1.4 for every 2 people, well below the 2.1 replacement level. Birthrates for all other groups have remained the same or increased slightly. When most current teacher education students were born, approximately 1 in 3 schoolchildren was a child of color (traditionally referred to as minority students). By the year 2027, it is likely that this figure will increase to 1 in 2, and many of these children will be poor. By midcentury, people of color will become the majority of Americans. The census bureau, for instance, projects that by the year 2050 the percentage of European Americans will decline to 47% while more than one fourth of the U.S. population will be of Hispanic origin. By 2056, the average U.S. resident will trace his or her descent to Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, or the Middle East—almost anywhere but white Europe (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
Third, the total population of children in relation to adults in the United States is changing as the public grows older. Although the number of school-age children will increase from now until the year 2025, the number of American youth compared to citizens age 65 and older will continue to shrink (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). The Pew Research Center has predicted that if current immigration trends and birth rates continue, by 2050 virtually all (93%) of the nation’s working age population growth will come from immigrants and their U.S.-born children (Pew Research Center, 2013). An increasing concern is that there will not be enough workers to support the aging baby boom population, who will be a tremendous drain on the nation’s Social Security system at a time when the system itself may be in jeopardy. In addition, emerging medical technology is enabling people to live longer lives, and the health care needs of an aging population are projected to strain the government’s Medicare program to its limits unless adjustments are made. Both of these concerns mean that public resources for school-age populations will be in direct and serious competition Page 23
2. Increasing Language Diversity Among Schoolchildren
Along with ethnic and racial diversity often comes linguistic diversity. Increasing numbers of children are entering school from minority language backgrounds and have little or no competence in the English language. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans, some 47 million individuals age 5 and older, speak a language other than English at home, reflecting an increase of approximately 50% during the past decade. It is estimated that there are approximately 4.5 million Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, or 9% of the school-age population, in schools in the United States, many of whom speak Spanish as their primary language (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016), making the United States the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. The majority of these students (67%) can be found in the five states of California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois, with the greatest percentage of increases being in Kansas, Delaware, Kentucky, and South Carolina, but most school districts in the country have LEP students. Spanish is the most common second language spoken in America’s classrooms, spoken by 75% of English language learners, although an increasing number of students are entering the schools speaking Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Hmong, Khmer, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese. More than 50% of LEP students are in grades K–4, with 77% coming from poor backgrounds. A relatively high dropout rate characterizes this group of children in spite of all our efforts at bilingual education. Since a person’s language provides the symbols used to understand the world, children whose symbol systems differ from those of the dominant group are likely to see the world from a different perspective, to look for meaning in different ways, and to attribute different meanings to common objects and processes. Although these students may be perceived as a challenge to our educational system in the years ahead, one consequence of successfully accommodating this diversity is that all of us—students, teachers, and communities alike—will become more knowledgeable, more accepting, and better skilled at communicating with people from different backgrounds.
Ariel Skelley/Blend Images LLC
3. Increasing Concern About Gender Differences in School Outcomes
In the 1970s and 1980s, there emerged an increasing awareness in many classrooms of a difference among children that was so fundamental that it had been overlooked as a matter of inquiry throughout most of our history. That difference is gender. Because we have included both girls and boys, at least in elementary education, since the very beginning of the common school, and because our political and educational ideals assume that school is gender neutral, the effect of gender on children’s education has not been analyzed until relatively recently. In the past 35 years, however, considerable research has been done on differences in the social and educational lives and academic outcomes of boys and girls in school. In the earlier years, the focus was on girls—the “stereotypical” roles they saw themselves playing in textbooks, the way in which they were counseled away from math and science courses, the ways in which teachers interacted with them, and ways in which the “culture of the school” tended to channel them in certain directions, both socially and vocationally.
Today, there are some who are equally concerned with the educational lives and outcomes of boys—the fact that they are dropping out of school at a higher rate, that their success in literacy is lower, and that fewer are academically prepared for college (and, in fact, are attending college in reduced numbers). Whatever the case, it is true that gender roles have changed in our society and that these changes have an effect on all our institutions, including, of course, education.
4. An Increasing “Clash of Cultures” Between Teachers and Students
A considerable discrepancy continues to exist between the makeup of the student population in most schools and that of the teaching force. Most of our nation’s teachers continue to come from a rather homogeneous group, with approximately 80% being European American and middle class, 9% Hispanic, 7% Black, 2% Asian, and 1% mixed ethnicity (Pew Research Center, 2018). Indeed, the profile of the teacher education student that emerged from Zimpher’s (1989) study has not changed appreciably. Typically, the teacher education student is a monolingual white female from a low-middle- or middle-class suburban or rural home who wants to teach children who are just like herself. Women continue to outnumber men in the teaching force almost 4:1, with 77% of teachers being female overall while 90% being women at the elementary levels (Education Week, 2017).
These figures contrast sharply with the student diversity that currently exists in schools and that will continue to increase in the years ahead. Although alternative routes to teaching have resulted in a slight increase in the representation of teachers of color in recent years (Feistritzer, 2011), a considerable number of children are still missing important role models who represent their background within the school setting—boys in the early years, and children of color throughout the educational experience in general. European America students as well miss having role models who represent groups other than their own.
Equally critical is the fact that teachers (like many other people) tend to be culture-bound, and to have little knowledge or experience with people from other cultures, thus limiting their ability to interact effectively with students who are different from them. Indeed, in Zimpher’s study, 69% of white teacher education students reported spending all or most of their free time with people of their own racial or ethnic background. This, too, has not changed appreciably in recent years. More disturbing, this same study reported that a substantial number of teacher education students do not believe that low-income and minority learners are capable of grasping high-level concepts in the subjects they are preparing to teach. Finally, the traditional identification of teaching as women’s work means that even multiculturally sophisticated teachers are usually powerless to make their school’s culture more accommodating to female and underrepresented students because white males are often in key decision-making roles.
Rethinking Schools and Learning: The Effort to Reform Our Schools
In terms of traditional definitions of social order, it appears that most of our social institutions are not working very well in the beginning of this new millennium. Another way to state this observation is to say that the norms governed by our institutions have changed. In this context, the principle values of democratic equality, liberty, and community are once again called into question. What does equality mean when people from a variety of cultures around the world are competing for the same jobs? What does liberty mean when language barriers prevent common understanding? What does community mean when allegiance to one’s group prevents commonality with people in other groups?
Some scholars have argued that the changes we are experiencing require a shift from the ideals of a Jeffersonian political democracy (in which democratic principles are defined by individualism) to the ideals of a cultural democracy in which democratic principles are defined by cultural pluralism (McClelland & Bernier, 1993). Such a shift involves a radical change in our beliefs about how we are to get along with one another, what kinds of information and skills we need to develop, and how we are to interpret our national ideals and goals. Among other changes, this cultural view of democracy requires a fundamental rethinking of our national goals and how we structure or organize schools in relation to those goals. Schooling is, after all, the institution charged not only with imparting necessary information and skills but also with ensuring that young people develop long-cherished democratic attitudes and values. Schooling alone cannot completely alter the larger society in which it exists, but schooling can influence as well as reflect its parent society. Since teachers can engender or stifle new ideas and new ways of doing things with their students, they are in a position to influence both the direction and pace of change in our society. Page 25
As Sam and her fellow students are learning in their teacher education program, one of the most significant results of rethinking schools and teaching is the testing and accountability movement. Although there is considerable debate about both the means and ends of the movement, taken at face value it signals a major change not only in the way we think about schools but also in the way we think about teaching and learning. It is no longer acceptable to eliminate certain children from the ranks of the educable. Nor is it acceptable to think that it’s all right if some children don’t measure up to standards, or that you just can’t “teach everyone.” Indeed, the emphasis is now squarely on learning outcomes for all children.
Fortunately, some teachers have accepted this challenge and are learning to think about their practice in more inclusive ways. They work in classrooms in schools around the world—sometimes alone and sometimes with colleagues who are also excited about new possibilities. They work with students of all backgrounds: white and nonwhite, wealthy and poor, boys and girls, rural and urban, domestic and international. They work with students of varied religions and of no particular religion, with students who have vastly different abilities, and with students who have different sexual orientations. They work in wealthy districts that spend a great deal of money on each student and in poor districts that have little in the way of resources. But most important, their classrooms reflect their belief that all children can succeed. In 21st-century schools and classrooms, teachers see change as an opportunity rather than a problem and difference as a resource rather than a deficit.
The Difficulty of Change
Change is difficult, particularly when it deals with the fundamental beliefs, attitudes, and values around which we organize our lives. Attempts at such change often result in hostility or in an effort to preserve, at any cost, our familiar ways of doing things and thinking about the world around us. The universal nature of such resistance to change is illustrated in the following parable.
The Wheat Religion: A Parable
Once upon a time there was a group of people who lived in the mountains in an isolated region. One day a stranger passed through their area and dropped some wheat grains in their field. The wheat grew. After a number of years, people noticed the new plant and decided to collect its seeds and chew them. Someone noticed that when a cart had accidentally ridden over some of the seeds, a harder outer covering separated from the seed and what was inside was sweeter. Someone else noticed that when it rained, the grains that had been run over expanded a little, and the hot sun cooked them. So, people started making wheat cereal and cracked wheat and other wheat dishes. Wheat became the staple of their diet.
Years passed. Because these people did not know anything about crop rotation, fertilizers, and cross-pollination, the wheat crop eventually began to fail.
About this time, another stranger happened by. He was carrying two sacks of barley. He saw the people starving and planted some of his grain. The barley grew well. He presented it to the people and showed them how to make bread and soup and many other dishes from barley. But they called him a heretic.
“You are trying to undermine our way of life and force us into accepting you as our king.” They saw his trick. “You can’t fool us. You are trying to weaken us and make us accept your ways. Our wheat will not let us starve. Your barley is evil.”
He stayed in the area, but the people avoided him. Years passed. The wheat crop failed again and again. The children suffered from malnutrition. One day the stranger came to the market and said, “Wheat is a grain. My barley has a similar quality. It is also a grain. Why don’t we just call the barley grain?”
Now since they were suffering so much, the people took the grain, except for a few who staunchly refused. They loudly proclaimed that they were the only remaining followers of the True Way, the Religion of Wheat. A few new people joined the Wheat Religion from time to time, but most began to eat barley. They called themselves The Grainers.
For generations, the Wheat Religion people brought up their children to remember the true food called wheat. A few of them hoarded some wheat grains to keep it safe and sacred. Others sent their children off in search of wheat, because they felt that if one person could happen by with barley, wheat might be known somewhere else too.
And so it went for decades, until the barley crop began to fail. The last few Wheat Religion people planted their wheat again. It grew beautifully, and because it grew so well, they grew bold and began to proclaim that their wheat was the only true food. Most people resisted and called them heretics. A few people said, “Why don’t you just admit that wheat is a grain?”
The wheat growers agreed, thinking that they could get many more wheat followers if they called it grain. But by this time, some of the children of the Wheat Religion people began to return from their adventures with new seed, not just wheat, but rye and buckwheat and millet. Now people began to enjoy the taste of many different grains. They took turns planting them and trading the seed with each other. In this way, everyone came to have enough sustenance and lived happily ever after.
This parable carries many metaphorical messages: It applauds diversity and recognizes that a society cannot function to its fullest when it ignores the ideas, contributions, efforts, and concerns of any of its people. The parable illustrates some of the consequences of unreasonable prejudice, but also recognizes the powerful emotions that underlie a prejudiced attitude. It also indicates the power of naming something in a way that is familiar and comfortable to those who are uncomfortable about accepting something new.
But perhaps most important, the parable recognizes the tendency people have to resist change. People are creatures of habit who find it difficult to change, whether at the individual level, the institutional level, or the societal level. People often work from one set of assumptions, one pattern of behavior. Because of the way in which people are socialized, these habits of thought and behavior are so much a part of them that they find it very difficult to think that things can be done in any other way. Some habits people develop are positive and constructive; others are negative and limiting. The story shows us that sometimes even a society’s strengths can become weaknesses. And yet new circumstances and opportunities arise in each generation that demand that new perspectives, attitudes, and solutions be sought. Such circumstances are evident today in the changing face of the American classroom, and much of the responsibility for change must lie with teachers and teacher educators.
How prepared are you to accept the reality of change? How ready are you to examine some of your own beliefs and ideas about others? About yourself? About how you can interact with others? Are you at a point where, like Sam in the case study, you can begin to see how critical it is that you may have to change?
Ideological Perspectives on Multicultural Education
Attention to social differences among students has a relatively long history in this society, beginning at least with the arguments for the common school (which was intended to give students of different social class backgrounds a “common” educational experience that would enable the society to continue to be governed by “we, the people”). During some periods of our history, the focus was also on assimilation to a “common culture,” by which was meant a dominant, largely Anglo society. During other periods—notably in the early years of the 20th century, when Black scholars began to develop curricular materials on the African American experience in America, and in the 1940s, when the Intergroup Education movement had as its main objective the reduction of prejudice and discrimination in the U.S. population—various attempts have been made to perceive difference as a strength rather than as a problem.
The field known as multicultural education emerged in the aftermath of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, first with the ethnic studies movement and later with a somewhat broader “multicultural” education effort. Within that effort (and outside it as well), there are a variety of perspectives on both the definition and the goals of multicultural education, which will be discussed in greater detail later in the book. Essentially, multicultural education can be defined as a process of educational reform that assures that students from all groups (racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, ability, gender, etc.) experience educational equality, success, and social mobility. Today, as we continue to move closer to a truly global society, an education that develops intercultural competence becomes increasingly essential.
Some important questions emerge from what is in fact a healthy debate about our ability to provide educational opportunity and success for all children. Some of these questions have existed from the beginning; others have emerged as knowledge has increased and times have changed. Consider the following:
Is intercultural education for everyone, or for minority students alone?
Should intercultural education focus on the individual student, on the student as a member of a group, or on both?
To what extent should intercultural education include the study of relationships of power along with the history and contributions of all people?
Is intercultural education academic, political, or both?
Will intercultural or multicultural education, as ideological movements, divide us as a people or bring us closer together?
Are intercultural teaching practices good for everyone?
To what extent should intercultural education have as a goal the reconstruction of the whole society?
How are multicultural education, global education, and intercultural competence similar or different? Are there common areas where they all intersect?
All of these questions are important, in part because they are inexorably related.
Given the interdependent nature of the world in which we live, it is becoming less and less possible to think about purely American (or, to be more accurate, “United Statesian”) issues of difference. If the students being taught happen to belong mostly to one group or another, it is still the case that all of them, at some point in their lives, will need to learn how to understand and work with those who are different from themselves. If you think that local issues of inequality, poverty, and unequal access to education, housing, and jobs are central to Americans’ work concerns, consider that well over half the world’s population is struggling with the same issues (Cushner, 1998). Americans work to preserve and protect democratic institutions in this society while millions of people around the world try to understand what democracy really is. Page 28
Multicultural or intercultural education, both as fields of study and practice and as ideological perspectives, have experienced a continued broadening in scope and interests over the years. Increasingly, the fields and their ideologies are turning toward a more global sensibility. This change does not mean that local or national issues are no longer important; it means that what Americans have and continue to learn locally has important implications for global action. It also means that, inasmuch as we are not the only society struggling with issues of difference, there is much we can learn from others around the world. For instance, what can we learn from the French as they struggle with the question of whether or not to allow Muslim girls to wear the hijab, or head scarf, in public schools? What can we learn from the way Arabs and Jews are portrayed in textbooks in Palestinian and Israeli schools?
This book is based in part on a notion of intercultural interactions and their cognitive, emotional, and developmental aspects. An intercultural interaction can be domestic—that is, between two (or more) people within the same nation that come from different cultural backgrounds—or it can be international, between two (or more) people from different countries. The cultural identity of the parties involved in an interaction may come from a limited and mutually reinforcing set of experiences or from more complex and sometimes conflicting elements. The significant difference in an interaction may be race, class, religion, gender, language, or sexual orientation; it may be physical or attitudinal in origin; it may be age-related or status-related; or any combination of these.
Regardless of the kind of differences involved, all people tend to approach significant differences in similar, oftentimes negative, ways. That is, to understand the processes involved is a first step toward overcoming these differences; and both culture-specific knowledge and culture-general knowledge are prerequisites on the road to social justice.
Goals of This Book
This book is about change, especially as it relates to diversity. It is about teaching all children in a society that is growing more diverse each year. It is about changes in classrooms and in the act of teaching within those classrooms. It is about changes in schools and in the larger society in which these schools are embedded. It is equally about change within oneself, for change in the larger dimensions of society cannot occur without significant changes in one’s own perception, attitudes, and skills. All these environments (self, classrooms, schools, and society) are connected, so that changes in any one of them produce disequilibrium and change in the others. Their connectedness, and the mutual influence that each one exerts on the others, is visually depicted in Figure 1.1.
Figure 1.1 Interconnected Environments
As a teacher in the 21st century, you will spend your career in ever-changing schools, schools whose mission will be to help society make an orderly transition from one kind of civilization to another. Your ability to feel comfortable and operate effectively within such a changing environment will require a unique set of cultural understandings and interpersonal skills that go beyond traditional pedagogy. These skills, perspectives, and attitudes that you as a teacher must adopt in order to coalesce diverse students into an effective learning community must also be transmitted to the students in your charge, who will live their lives in the same kind of highly interconnected and interdependent world. You are thus walking both sides of a double-edged sword, so to speak. The process that you undergo to become more effective working across cultures must ultimately become content that you teach to students. This feat will not be easy!
Figure 1.2 illustrates four basic goals of this book, which can be viewed as steps in understanding intercultural education and your role as an educator in an inclusive system. A word about each goal follows.
Figure 1.2 Goals of This Book
Goal 1: To Recognize Social and Cultural Change
The first step in providing an education that is truly intercultural is to improve students’ understanding of the concept of pluralism in our global society. Pluralism in this context must consider such sources of cultural identity as nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, geographic region, health, and ability/disability, and must look particularly at how each of these identities has had an impact on the individual as well as the group. This step requires that teachers understand the social changes that have historically and are currently taking place in our pluralistic society; these social changes provide the underlying rationale for an intercultural education and are found in Chapters 1 and 2, as well as throughout the book.
Goal 2: To Understand Culture, Learning, and the Culture-Learning Process
After establishing the need for an intercultural education it is necessary to understand just what is meant by that term. What does the term culture refer to, and how do people come to acquire different cultural identities? With what knowledge do children already come to school? Too often schools do not legitimize the experiences children bring with them to the school; instead schools label some children as failures because their backgrounds, including their language and culture, are not seen as adequate or legitimate. Teachers must thus expand their knowledge base of culture and the different groups found in the United States as well as abroad. This means that curriculum content must be expanded and pedagogy adapted to include the experiences of all students. Chapter 3 examines these issues and in the process provides models of the sources of cultural learning and of the culture-learning process. An important recognition here is that differences within groups are often as important as differences between groups. Individuals belong simultaneously to many different groups, and their behavior can be understood only in terms of their simultaneous affiliation with these many groups. These models illustrate how culture filters down to the individual learner who actively engages with it, accepting and absorbing certain elements and rejecting and modifying others. Page 31
Goal 3: To Improve Intergroup and Intragroup Interactions
While Goal 2 is to examine how individuals come to acquire their particular cultural identity, Goal 3 is to show how culturally different people interact with one another and how these interactions can be improved. We must work to improve intergroup as well as intragroup interactions. We must also learn how individuals develop intercultural competence and improve their interactions with other cultures. Goal 3 demands attention to such issues as development of intercultural sensitivity and competence, cross-cultural understanding and interaction, attribution and assessment across groups, and conflict management. Teachers, in particular, must broaden their instructional repertoire so that it reflects an understanding of the various groups with whom they will interact. To help teachers understand the interaction between culturally different individuals (whether from different groups or from the same group), Chapter 4 presents a model of intercultural interaction that applies culture learning to ourselves as well as to our students and that develops a culture-general model of behavior. These models help us analyze the nature of intercultural interaction, and they show how key concepts can be applied to various types of school situations. Chapter 5 offers some useful models of development and synthesizes them with a new and somewhat more sophisticated model of intercultural development that helps increase the number of concepts as well as the language with which we can profitably understand and discuss these issues.
Goal 4: To Transmit Intercultural Understanding and Skills to Students
The book’s final goal is to help teachers transmit to students the same understandings and skills that are contained in (1) the model for explaining cultural differences and (2) the model for improving intercultural interaction in order to prepare multicultural citizen-actors who are able and willing to participate in an interdependent world. That is, this book strives to empower action-oriented, reflective decision makers who are able and willing to be socially and politically active in the school, community, nation, and world. This book is concerned not only with developing the knowledge and skill of practicing teachers, but also with transferring this knowledge to the students in their charge. Thus, individuals become proactive teachers and reflective practitioners who can ultimately prepare reflective citizen-actors (their students) for an interdependent world. The content of these models is universal. It applies to all intercultural situations, not just those confronted by teachers in classrooms and schools. Teaching these understandings and skills to students can be accomplished both through teacher modeling and through explicit instruction, and both methods are illustrated in the remaining chapters of the book.
The Role of Stories, Cases, and Activities
This book contains many stories because stories help us visualize and talk about new ideas and experiences. Some stories are about real people and events, while others, like the story of the wheat people, are folktales and parables. Stories contain the power to speak about complex human experiences; in this book, stories speak about how people experience the fact of human diversity. Stories help us see the universals within the experience. Everyone, no matter what his or her cultural or biological differences, goes through similar stages of experience when confronted with change. Stories, like no other literary device, help us cut through the morass of individual and cultural differences that separate us and enable us to focus on the universals of the experience as we come to grips with those changes.
Case Studies and Critical Incidents
Because it is difficult to imagine situations with which you have had little experience, this book presents a number of Case Studies and Critical Incidents that describe a range of multicultural teaching situations that you might encounter. At the same time, the case studies are designed to introduce readers to the wide range of international and intercultural opportunities that are increasingly available to pre-service as well as in-service teachers who wish to expand their own knowledge and experiential base. These scenarios are actual or synthesized real-life situations that have been described by a number of researchers and practitioners. Think of them as scenes in a play about teachers and schools with a multicultural student population and interest in addressing intercultural concerns.
Most cases have been generated from multiple sources and are designed to cover a variety of communities and classrooms with diverse kinds of people in them. Although each case is designed to illustrate one or more particular issue related to the topic at hand, the portraits of people, places, ideas, and activities are rich enough that they can also be used to discuss topics in other chapters. Taken together, these cases illustrate a number of complex classroom realities that defy simple right-and-wrong solutions. They present small dramas in which a number of points of view and interpretations are possible and in which a number of ideas can be used to develop plans of action. Each chapter begins with a Case Study that introduces many of the concepts that will be further developed. Critical Incidents can be found at the end of many of the chapters that ask you to give further consideration to the topics presented.
This chapter provides an overview of some of the factors that are undergoing change in American society and that have an influence in the lives of children and teachers in schools. Such rapid social change has resulted in schools being caught in the transition from the Second Wave, an earlier factory model that offered a standardized curriculum for all, to the Third Wave, a more globally oriented dynamic model that attempts to address social change and prepare a citizenry that is more inclusive, integrative, and proactive. This book is designed to assist pre-service and in-service teachers to (1) recognize social and cultural change, (2) understand culture and the culture-learning process in self and others, (3) improve intergroup and intragroup interactions, and (4) transmit cross-cultural understandings and skills to students. The chapter also recognizes that change is difficult, yet is a force that we all must understand and accommodate—both as individuals and as institutions.
Identify three changes that American society is undergoing, how you experience them, and discuss how those changes are reflected in schools.
Think back to your experiences in elementary or high school. What indication do you have that your school was attempting to become a different kind of school? What indication do you have that your school was reflective of an information-age school?
In the case study, Sam questions why she needs to be in a diversity course. What experiences have you had that might lead you to say that you are well prepared for diversity? In what areas do you not feel as well prepared?
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Multicultural and Global Education
Historical and Curricular Perspectives
Jani Bryson/E+/Getty Images
As a matter of principle, do you think that differences in language, religion, country of origin, and culture should be recognized and taken into account in schools, or should schools be the central place in American society where all students are “made into” good Americans?
What do you think the phrase “good American” means?
Do you think it would be a good idea if all students in schools learned about people in other countries and cultures as a matter of course?
On balance, do you believe that recent waves of immigration into the United States are a major problem or a major benefit to the society as a whole?
“ We are all the sons or daughters of immigrants—some more recent than others—but all dedicated to the triumph of an idea that serves as the touchstone of what it means to be an American. This America is the only America that we have hitherto known—if being conservative has anything to do with conserving the principles of our past, then no conservative has any business bashing legal immigration. ”
WILLIAM BENNETT, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, 1996
Learning from One Another’s Common Global Immigration Experiences
Julianna Schneider ([email protected])
Rebecca Wilson ([email protected])
I hope this e-mail finds you well. It’s been about a year since we first met when you were in the United States studying for a year at our university. Oh, how I wish I’d spend more time getting to know you! I was a little reluctant to reach out beyond my immediate comfort zone that first year at school with everything so new and unfamiliar. But now I realize that there was so much I could have gained by getting to know you better and to learn about your life in Europe.
This year we’re all taking a diversity course that everyone studying to be teachers are required to take. At first, I was a little ambivalent thinking that I knew quite a lot about these issues. Oh, how I’m getting an education! I know you spent a lot of time with Samantha Carter last year. I’m in her diversity class now and she suggested that perhaps you can help me.
In the past few years, our country seems to have experienced an incredible amount of divisiveness around a wide range of issues. Perhaps you’ve seen in the news how our own Congress can’t seem to agree on much of anything; many people appear more and more divided about our own government; and there has been a constant debate about immigration issues. I recall you talking quite a bit about the immigration issues in Europe. We’re having all these heated debates in class about the pros and cons of immigration into our country, how best to manage the flow of people who want to immigrate here, how this might influence teaching and learning, and if we should build a wall as one attempts to manage these issues.
What’s the experience been like in Germany? What might we in the United States learn from you?
Hope to hear from you soon.
Rebecca Wilson ([email protected])
Julianna Schneider ([email protected])
How nice to hear from you! It’s really surprising how quickly time seems to go! Now that I am in my first real teaching position in a middle school in Hamburg I find myself reflecting more and more about what I learned and experienced in your public schools, communities, and college classrooms, as well as the many long talks I had with many U.S. students. I, too, wish we’d spent more time together. But never mind—we can develop a relationship over e-mail without any problem—glad to get to know you better and share some ideas!
Things have changed in so many ways in Germany in the past few years with the recent influx of immigrants and refugees that have entered our country. I’m not sure if you know all the details, but just a few years ago, in 2015 and 2016, we attempted to integrate about 1.3 million refugees who came to Germany, the majority being young men under the age of 35 from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. It was thought that although costly and difficult to the nation in the beginning that there would be a long-term benefit because these refugees would help populate our workforce which is rapidly aging. While some in our country responded with open arms, others felt threatened. It’s been quite a challenge for all Germans.
Ariel Skelley/Blend Images LLC
The situation today, some 5 years later, however, is rather complicated. The financial burden on the German economy has been high, and the presence of the refugees has triggered an intense political backlash—perhaps somewhat like you’re experiencing now in the United States. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders in 2015 fueled the rapid rise of the right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AFD) and helped breed anti-EU populism across Europe.
Against this backdrop, it’s nonetheless important that Germany succeeds in its integration efforts and prevents the perpetuation of a social problem that fuels xenophobia and nativism. The good news is that many of the refugees in Germany are now attending university and working in greater numbers, thereby, helping to address the country’s labor shortages, and some economic benefits of the refugee influx are beginning to materialize. It’s also notable that since 2015, Germany has enjoyed substantial economic growth, record low unemployment, as well as record federal budget surpluses, even with the costs of absorbing more than a million newcomers. Despite the high number of refugees—most of whom are entitled to public welfare payments—the number of welfare recipients in Germany has actually dropped in recent years. But this has not stopped the rightwing anti-immigrant voice.
With all this as a backdrop, I’ve been struggling to find ways to engage my students in sensitive and meaningful discussion around some of the issues we experience and face on an almost daily basis. I know that your country has a long history of welcoming immigrants and perhaps we could learn something from one another as we share our experiences. I do realize, though, that this has presented a challenge for many Americans in recent years. Perhaps we can connect our students in a conversation around some of these issues so they can learn from one another.
Anyway, I hope we might do something together around this issue. Give my regards to the students in your class who may remember me.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Julianna Schneider ([email protected])
Rebecca Wilson ([email protected])
How nice to wake up this morning to find your e-mail. I do recall hearing a bit about the refugee crisis in Europe and wondered how it might be affecting you. I’m glad you wrote.
I’ve had a few opportunities to do some teaching in some of my field classes and am looking forward to doing much more this year. This year I’ve been placed in a local middle school with a team of four content area teachers and one integration specialist who assists us with children who have special learning needs. My primary responsibility is to assist with language arts—one of my major areas of focus. You know that in the past few years, teachers have had many more requirements placed upon them and that quite a lot of their teaching seems to be preparation for the end-of-year tests that students must complete. I’ll see if I can work with the social studies teacher on the team, and between the two of us develop something meaningful that would satisfy our requirements while linking the students on both sides of the ocean. That would be great if we can make this happen. I’ll get back to you on that as soon as possible.
So yes, I would be eager to begin working with you and see how we might collaborate. In the meantime, give me a little background about Germany’s current experiences with regard to refugees and immigrants that I can share with the team and I’ll put some thoughts together on our country’s experience.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Rebecca Wilson ([email protected])
Julianna Schneider ([email protected])
Our experiences in Germany are rather different from your experiences in America. Ethnic diversity is a relatively new phenomenon in Germany. Up until the 1950s, most Germans lived in predominantly homogeneous cultural communities, and few people traveled overseas or had contact with foreign visitors. Speaking a foreign language or experiencing a different lifestyle seemed to be something that was reserved for the educated and wealthier middle and upper classes, and just not a part of the everyday life for most Germans.
The situation began to change rather dramatically in the 1960s when Germany, together with several other European countries, began to recruit workers from southern and southeastern Europe. Waves of predominantly male migrants from Italy, Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey came to work in the factories of the then booming industrial centers. We referred to them as “guest workers.” After some time, many of these “guests” were ultimately given permission to remain in the country, and by the late 1970s they had turned into residents, raised families, and were beginning to settle into their new environment. In accordance with German immigration law, migrants could be granted permanent work and residence permits without becoming naturalized German citizens. In addition to these new immigrants, in the 1970s there was a sizable group of ethnic Germans and Jews who emigrated from Russia for a better life and were granted German citizenship status on the basis of specific legal provisions concerning the repatriation of the descendants of ethnic Germans and the compensations for Jews. A lot of our attention to these new faces in our schools, something we referred to as intercultural education, began during these times. Our attention then was focused on accepting and working with students who spoke a different language, something, I believe, was rather different from the way you approached multicultural education in the United States.
Today, a growing number of refugees leaving war-torn regions have entered Germany, again under special circumstances. The majority of these people come from across the African continent as well as from such countries as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Germany agreed to accept more than any other nation in Europe! These new arrivals really emphasize the differences that exist between the more traditional German-born locals and the non-German-born immigrants, thus setting the stage for significant discrimination and conflict. Immigration policy and bureaucracy differs sharply between those who have always been here and the newcomers.
More people with backgrounds different from the dominant culture now live in Germany than ever before. The result is a dramatic increase in the differences we now find in our classrooms—and in the pressures on most teachers who are from the mainstream and have little understanding of how to teach in a multicultural setting. Intercultural education that focuses on much more than simply language differences is suddenly a very important topic for us to consider. Your country has a long history of addressing domestic diversity in schools. We, on the other hand, seem to be dealing with more international diversity.
I wonder how you deal with recent immigrants and refugees, and what we might learn from the experiences of multicultural educators as we address a newer global reality. What do you think?
Julianna Schneider ([email protected])
Rebecca Wilson ([email protected])
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but I wanted to talk more with my mentor teachers while doing a bit of background research myself. I’m happy to report that this issue is certainly one that the entire team wishes to pursue, and there is a lot of interest in doing this with you. We see lots of opportunities to compare the way our two countries have addressed diversity in the past, and then how we are addressing the very real concerns and issues that so many nations face today. They began brainstorming possible ways they might approach this in various content areas. Although these are just some preliminary ideas, in the social studies we could look at the historical experiences of our respective pasts as well as what’s happening today. Since in the United States, except for our indigenous people, almost all of us have immigrant pasts (some voluntary and some involuntary), we might do a family tree exercise with each of our students and see what we could learn about the challenges our own ancestors faced (see the Active Exercise at the end of this chapter). We could discuss issues related to acculturation, or how cultures change as a result of long-term contact with others. Did you know that more U.S. Americans trace their heritage to Germany than anywhere else? It would be interesting to compare how German influences have changed in this country over the years. I don’t know if you have many books in the German language about immigrants and refugees, but we have many books in English that we could read in language arts that address these issues. We could also do things such as writing letters to newspapers or social service agencies or uploading blog posts about what we are learning. In math, we might generate and compare both historical and present-day data as well as survey and collect data on people’s opinions on various topics related to immigration. We could do this in both of our countries and compare the similarities and differences. In science, we might look at other pressures that might cause people to move away from their homes—anything from climate refugees—those forced to leave their homes because climate change has made some parts of the planet uninhabitable, to looking at famine today and in the past, like the Irish Potato Famine. Suffice it to say that there are many ways we might address these issues and we are really excited to begin doing so. Page 42
You are correct when you say that America has a long history of immigration; our country was founded by immigrants looking for a better life. But it wasn’t always easy—either for the newcomers or for those who had been here for several generations. Many people, of course, came from Europe and didn’t look all that different from mainstream “Americans,” so for them, once they learned to speak English, the integration was fairly easy as they tended to look similar to others. But for the poor among them—the Irish, Italian, and Slavic “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—it was always a struggle. Today, however, immigrants and refugees come from all over. Fewer and fewer are from Europe, mostly coming instead from Central and Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, and for the most part look different from those in the mainstream. The unrest over immigration is happening again. While we are a nation founded by immigrants and all Americans, except for our indigenous populations can claim heritage from somewhere else, many people seem to feel threatened and are beginning to push back against this. I’m not sure where this will end, but it certainly is an issue people here are beginning to talk about.
The bottom line in all of this is how our various societies and institutions, like schools, respond to difference and the sometimes sudden and unexpected influx of new people. You mentioned that society in general, and schools in particular in Germany, have only recently begun addressing issues related to what we call “diversity.” We, in the United States, have a somewhat longer history of trying to integrate a multicultural perspective into our schools. In our country, we began to really understand and address these issues in earnest in response to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s; this was about the same time that your country began to experience demographic shifts. It has not always been an easy task.
It seems as if we are beginning to experience an issue that is as much a domestic concern as it is a global issue. I wonder if there are similarities between our historical experiences and the issues we currently face, and how our respective nations will respond. I look forward to our journey together.
When Noah Webster observed that “our national character is not yet formed,” he identified a central dilemma that still faces the United States, as well as many other multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural, and multireligious nations (as cited in Frost, 1942, p. 1.41.1). This land of immigrants is, indeed, a land in which it is not all that difficult for many people to feel like strangers in their own country.
In the United States, one major instrument for attempting to create unity out of diversity has been the public school system, which has been a powerful tool for socializing us into a common culture. Resistance to this attempt at socialization has also been a part of our history, either by those who have not wanted to be “melted,” or those who believe their vision of the “American way of life” should be the model to which all others must be formed. Thus public schools have always been a battleground where various groups have sought to control the public school and its curriculum and, by so doing, shape our common culture. The way schools should address American pluralism has been publicly debated from the beginning of our Republic and continues unabated today, particularly in light of our position as a leading player in the global community of nations.
Educational literature over the past 175 years reflects profound disagreement about how to educate the young while forging a nation-state from a multiethnic, multiracial population. Should differences of language and culture be recognized and taken into account? Or should we work as hard and fast as we can to assimilate newcomers to “the American way of life”? Indeed, as our nation becomes increasingly diverse and increasingly a part of an interdependent global community, many question whether or not there really is any longer something called the “American way of life.” What is certain is that advocates on all sides of the debate have never been fully satisfied with the role played by the school and the way it carries out its socializing mission. There have been many times when dissatisfaction grew into violent action.
If, as we argued in the preceding chapter, fundamental changes must be undertaken in the way we “do school” for an increasingly cosmopolitan population, then it will be helpful for us to examine the history, not only of specific incidents in the struggle for equal educational opportunity, but also of the debate surrounding multicultural or intercultural education.
Historical Perspectives on Diversity in the United States
We Have Been Different From the Beginning
One might argue that intolerance toward differences in the Americas began with the introduction of European culture in the 1490s. There is considerable evidence that the Native populations that lived in the Americas before European settlement exhibited far greater tolerance toward differences in thought and lifestyle than did the arriving Europeans. The Taino people, for instance, greeted Columbus with food, shelter, and open festivity when the Spaniards first arrived on their small Caribbean island in 1492. At first intrigued with the Taino, Columbus wrote that “their manner is both decorous and praiseworthy” (as cited in Brown, 1970, p. 1).
The Taino’s hospitality, however, was soon met with severe cruelty, as well as an assortment of diseases to which the indigenous people had no immunity, by the Spaniards. Within 20 years of Columbus’s landing, the Taino were extinct as a people. In fact, this tendency toward intolerance for both religious and cultural diversity on the part of the Spaniards may have prevented them from becoming the dominant culture in North America. So much energy was spent repressing and fighting the native populations that the northern spread of Spanish culture was halted in the Southwest.
The emergence of the English as the dominant force in the new lands may be partially attributed to their somewhat greater tolerance, born, perhaps, of their own need for religious freedom, and their interest in doing business. However, even though the English government allowed, even encouraged, immigrants from a variety of ethnic backgrounds to settle in America, it was the white, English-born Protestants who, by the time the United States became a nation in 1776, had emerged as the dominant group. This group, too, was fearful of “different” kinds of immigrants. In 1698, for example, South Carolina passed an act exempting Irish and Roman Catholics from new bounties (Dinnerstein & Reiners, 1975). In 1729, Pennsylvania placed a duty on all servants of Scotch-Irish descent. One official at the time wrote, “The common fear is that if they continue to come, they will make themselves proprietors of the province” (p. 2). Ironically, the very people who originally had come to the New World to escape religious persecution were among those who actively engaged in the persecution of others for their beliefs, values, and lifestyles.
Immigration and Religious Pluralism
Both Robert Frost and Julianna Schneider in our case study were right when they noticed that we have long been a nation of immigrants. In the early years of the 19th century, an influx of European immigrants followed the Industrial Revolution across the Atlantic. At the same time, the United States was developing the idea of the “common school,” heralded in part as a way to give all children, no matter what their cultural, religious, or economic backgrounds, a common experience that would help them understand one another and provide a common basis for citizenship in a democracy. Despite a growing network of public elementary schools, the increasing diversity within the United States began to be viewed as a “problem” for public schooling. The first battles surrounding these pluralistic common schools were not waged around the issue of race or ethnicity, as is common today, but around the issue of religion.
Many new immigrants in this period were Catholic and, to native-born Protestants, represented a threat to the stability of the republic—as well as competition for newly created industrial jobs. Many suspected that immigrant Catholics owed a greater allegiance to the Pope in the Vatican than to the U.S. government, an issue that was not finally settled until the election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency in 1960. Second-, third-, and fourth-generation Protestants also opposed the emergence of Catholic schools, believing that they were intended to instill undemocratic values in Catholic children. Catholic parents, on the other hand, felt that a Catholic education was necessary to preserve their children’s religious faith and an important vehicle for maintaining Catholic communities.
Opposition to Catholic schooling often became violent in both word and deed. Political cartoonists had a field day with caricatures of the pope as an ogre attempting to “swallow” the United States. More serious, however, were physical attacks on Catholic schools, exemplified by the burning of the Ursuline convent in Charleston, Massachusetts, by a Protestant mob in 1834 (Provenzo, 1986, pp. 90–91).
In the 1830s, The Common School Movement, which was supposedly nonsectarian but was largely Protestant driven, came into dramatic conflict with those who wished to educate their children in religious-based schools. If the emphasis in Catholic schools was toward a religious faith, the emphasis in the common school was toward a secular government that would maintain the new of democracy being developed in the United States. Allegiance to the kind of democracy that was taking shape was rapidly becoming a kind of civil religion, and the development of loyalty to that idea was one of the foundations of public schooling. Thus, Catholics had some justification for the belief that the common school might socialize their children away from their religious faith. As the number of Catholic immigrants increased, and the network of Catholic schools grew, Catholic parents began to insist that public funds raised through taxation to support public schools should also be used to fund private Catholic institutions. That debate continues to this day. Page 45
Catholics were not the only group who were feared and prosecuted because of their religion. In the case of the Jews, the last barrier to their voting rights was not abolished in New Hampshire until 1877. Nor was religion the only reason for fear and persecution. In 1835, the last vestige of Native American culture in the eastern United States swept westward across the Mississippi River in the tragic roundup known today as the Trail of Tears. And, in 1882, after 20,000 Chinese immigrants poured their life blood (often literally) in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, the federal government prohibited by law the entry of Chinese people into the United States.
The Civil War: Freedmen’s Schools and the Issue of Race
Issues of race in public education became important only after the Civil War. In the pre–Civil War South it was against the law to educate Black slave children, so no racial educational problem existed in southern schools. In the North, Blacks who had bought or had been given their freedom achieved some education in the common schools, in African American church communities, and through abolitionist efforts. After the Civil War, the education of Black children was still not perceived to be a “national problem” by most whites because, where African Americans were educated at all, they were educated in separate schools.
Southern states, notably resistant to providing public education for Blacks, were not above taxing them for white schools. In some places—Florida, Texas, and Kentucky, for example—Black schools were built only after Black citizens paid a second tax to build their own schools (Webb & Sherman, 1989, p. 524).
In 1865, Congress established the Freedmen’s Bureau to help freed slaves with the transition to citizenship. In 1866, the law was amended to assist in the provision of Black schools. Many of the teachers in these schools were northern white women, often daughters of abolitionist families. Indeed, the story of the women, both Black and white, who taught in the “Freedmen’s Schools” is among the proudest in the history of teaching.
Elizabeth Hyde Botume, one of the teachers who spent 30 years teaching in the south, summarizes her experiences this way:
Nothing in the history of the world has ever equaled the magnitude and thrilling of the events then transpiring. Here were more than four millions of human beings just born into freedom; one day held in the abject slavery, the next, “de Lord’s free men.” Free to come and go according to the best lights given to them. Every movement of their white friends was to them full of significance, and often regarded with disgust. Well might they sometimes exclaim, when groping from darkness into light, “Save me from my friend, and I will look out for my enemy.”
Whilst the Union people were asking, “Those negroes! What is to be done with them?” they, in their ignorance and helplessness, were crying out in agony, “What will become of us?” They were literally saying, “I believe, O Lord! Help thou my unbelief.”
They were constantly coming to us to ask what peace meant for them? Would it be peace indeed? or oppression, hostility, and servile subjugation? This was what they feared, for they knew the temper of the baffled rebels as did no others.
“And is this what we fight for?” asked the young soldiers.
The hatred of some white people for the colored race amounted almost to frenzy. It was by no means confined to the old Southerners, but was largely shared by Northern adventurers, a host of whom had followed the army.
It took time for the freed people to find out who were their true friends. But they gradually learned to discriminate. Their respect, however, for a white skin was amazing and sometimes made us ashamed of our own race.
One of our colored men, who had been deceived, and grossly cheated and ill-treated by one who was known as a missionary, recounted his troubles to me, exclaimed — “I declar, ma’am, he don’t deserve to be a white man. He’ll shuck han’s wid hi right han’, and fling a brick-bat at you wid his lef’” (Hoffman, 2003, p. 191).
By 1870, nearly 7,000 white and Black “schoolmarms” were teaching 250,000 Black students, and learning to cross the barriers of race and class that have characterized American history. The legacy of these teachers was enormous. Not only did they educate the children who later became the teachers in segregated schools, but they educated a generation of free Black leaders who are too seldom talked about today (Hoffman, 2003).
Violence characterized the development of Black schools after the Civil War as it had the development of Catholic schools earlier. Burning buildings and harassment of Black teachers and students were commonplace. However, passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1868 made responsibility for civil rights a federal rather than a state function and, as a result, African Americans began to gain more access to public education. Fully aware that education was a way out of poverty, Black parents saw that their children got to school, one way or another. When they were needed on the farm, they alternated between school and work, as this Alabama boy describes:
I took turns with my brother at the plow and in school; one day I plowed and he went to school, the next day he plowed and I went to school; what was learned on his school day he taught me at night and I did the same for him (Weinberg, 1977, p. 46).
Black children remained in segregated schools that were funded at minimal rates and often open for only part of the year. Indeed, despite efforts through the courts to equalize the rights of Blacks in all spheres of public life, in 1896 in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, the Supreme Court held that segregation was not prohibited by the Constitution. Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the doctrine that “separate but equal” facilities for Blacks and whites were constitutionally permissible, justified separate (usually inferior) education of African American children in both the North and South until 1954, when Brown v. Board of Education made such unequal facilities illegal.
Very few African American children with disabilities received any schooling at all in the 19th century, but the tiny number who did, mainly those with visual impairments, experienced double segregation. Among the 30 public and private residential schools for blind pupils established in the United States between 1832 and 1875 was the first school for “the colored blind,” in North Carolina (Wallin, 1914). By 1931 there were five such separate schools for Black children and youth. Ten other Black schools maintained separate (inferior) departments for blind students, most of which used secondhand materials such as badly worn Braille books that were virtually impossible to read. Moreover, “segregation not only kept Black children in separate schools staffed by Black teachers, but prevented those teachers from attending courses given at white southern colleges” (Koestler, 1967). Their lower salaries made attendance at northern colleges prohibitive.
Historical Perspectives on Approaches to Diversity in U.S. Schools: Anglo-Conformity and Assimilationist Ideology
The issue of diversity as a problem for public schools is not a new phenomenon. During the earlier years of massive immigration, from about 1870 to perhaps 1920, the “problem” of diversity in the schools was largely perceived as a problem of how to assimilate children of other nationalities. In short, it was thought to be the school’s task to make immigrant children as much like white, middle-class, Anglo-Saxon Protestants as possible in as short a time as possible.
Interestingly, a key strategy employed by public schools to accomplish this goal involved establishing the field of speech therapy (formally termed speech/language pathology). Immigrant children placed in New York’s “vestibule” or “steamer classes” were instructed in the proper use of English by speech teachers, who very soon, at parents’ requests, were also assigned to work with children who had medically impaired articulation or fluency. Described as Anglo-conformity, or the assimilationist model, the rationale for this strategy was typified by these words of Ellwood Cubberly, a prominent educator at the turn of the 20th century:
Everywhere these people settle in groups or settlements to set up their national manners, customs, and observances. Our task is to break up these groups or settlements, to assimilate and amalgamate these people as part of our American race and to implant in their children so far as can be done, the Anglo-Saxon conception of righteousness, law and order, and our popular government and to awaken in them a reverence for our democratic institutions and for those things in our national life which we as a people hold to be of abiding worth (as cited in Trujillo, 1973, p. 21).
The assimilationist strategy was applied to each new ethnic group as immigrants poured through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. Jews, Poles, Slavs, Asians, and Latin Americans all became the “raw material” from which the “new American” would be made. Between 1860 and 1920, 37 million immigrants became naturalized citizens. Their sheer numbers changed the ethnic makeup of America. By 1916, for example, only 28% of San Francisco’s population claimed English as its first language.
Yet despite the high number of immigrants, the dominant American culture retained its English, Protestant identity. The nation’s public schools, staffed largely by white, middle-class, Protestant women, did little or nothing to encourage the expression of ethnicity or address the special needs of an increasingly diverse student population. Indeed, in the eyes of the nativist population, the schools were supposed to prevent such expression. This attitude lasted well into the 20th century, and indeed, can be found today in some schools. Listen to the voice of a young Austrian girl’s first day in an American school in 1942*:
The school building is so large. How am I ever going to find my classroom? How can I ask directions when I am unable to communicate in the English language? These thoughts are ruminating through my mind in German. The hallways are so long—so many doors on each side and so many people. I feel that they are all looking at me. My appearance is uncommon. I am 12 years old and know what it means to be different. Oh, here it comes again, this awful feeling in my stomach—it moves all the way down to my feet. I am sinking and no one cares, no one is there to help me. The words on a slip of paper I have in my hand say “Home Room” and a number. Strange, as this is not my “home.”
I am 12 years old. I am afraid. I am a refugee. I understand that word and it makes me feel ugly. I force myself to look for the number on the door. I understand the numbers for they mean the same all over the world. I like arithmetic. I find the correct number and the door is open. I hear much talk and laughter. I walk through the door. I stand still and look around—the room becomes very quiet with the exception of a giggle here and there. I have heard this sound before; it makes me feel so bad. The sinking feeling is back. There is no teacher visible in the classroom. I remain standing. I am being observed and I know what they see. A girl, perhaps 5-feet tall, my clothing very foreign looking—a gray skirt with a green stripe on the side. This is all the rage in Vienna—it is Tyrolian in style. This is certainly is not the style in Cleveland, Ohio, nor are my high-top shoes. This outfit is a disaster in circa 1942 and I pay for it dearly. Page 48
Finally, a tall man enters the room. He has snow white hair and a stern look about him. He looks around and the room quiets down. He beckons me over to the desk. I hand him the papers I have in my hand. He looks them over. He reads my name and introduced me to the class. “This is Gerti Bider.” I correct his pronunciation. “I am Gerti Bieder.” Much laughter follows this statement. I have lost so much, and I am determined not to lose my name which is the only “me” that remains. The correction is ignored. I am too young to insist. I have been taught to respect my elders and my teachers. Therefore, I remain Gerti Bider. I have a feeling of being powerless. But, at my age I am unable to identify this feeling, only years later does it become clear. The day continues, I go from one classroom to the other. I meet so many different teachers. None appear to be too friendly, for my presence presents a problem to them. We are unable to communicate with each other and they don’t have the knowledge or the time to help me. The sense of being an outsider heightens as the day progresses.
I now enter the mathematics classroom. The teacher is an unfriendly man. He assigns my seat. I am placed next to a boy who smiles at me, a friendly smile, and the first of the day. Not a giggle. I somehow feel comforted. The teacher is talking very rapidly. I am unable to follow any of his instructions. I am wrong—numbers too become different in a foreign language. I sit totally stunned. I am lost in a sea of words. It is the last class of the day. I have not learned one thing except that I am lost. I rise from the seat and approach the teacher. In broken English I say, “I do not understand.” He replies with one word, “tough,” which I do not understand until much later in time. The word is so cruel. As I start to leave the room I sense the boy who sits next to me at my side. The same warm smile sits on his face. I do not know it then, but he is to become one of the closest friends I will ever have. The confidant of my youth.
But now, it is my last class of the first day of school and I can go home.
I know I will feel better once I share the pain of the day with my mother. When I arrive at our apartment, I look at my mother, who appears quite sad to me. I very quickly realize that her day was equally sad and I never shared my experience with her.
Taken from the industrial process used in making steel in which iron ore and a number of other ingredients are melted down and combined to produce a “new” metal—steel, the metaphor of a melting pot was used to describe the process of helping immigrants shed their native languages, learn English, and assimilate into the dominant American culture. The term melting pot actually came from the name of a play written by Israel Zangwill (Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 1909). The goal of creating one homogeneous culture from the many that arrived on the shores of the United States is captured in the following speech from that play:
America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty hatreds and rivalries, but you won’t be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God. A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American. … The real American has not yet arrived. He is only in the Crucible. I tell you—he will be the fusion of all races, the coming superman (p. 37).
James Banks (1988) suggested that assimilationists believe that one’s identification with an ethnic group should be short-lived and temporary as it presents an obstacle to an individual’s long-term interests and needs. Assimilationists believe that, for a society to advance, individuals must give up their ethnic identities, languages, and ideologies in favor of the norms and values of the larger, national society. The goal of the school, from an assimilationist perspective, should be to socialize individuals into the society at large so all can function in an “appropriate” manner; that is, in a manner that supports the goals of the nation as expressed through its leaders. Ethnic group identification, if it is to be encouraged and retained, should be confined to small community organizations. In short, the goal for assimilationists has been to make it possible for everyone to be “melted” into a homogeneous whole.
The assimilationist view, sometimes called a monocultural perspective, shares an image or model of American culture. In this view there is a core “American” culture composed of common knowledge, habits, values, and attitudes. For people who think of American culture this way, these common characteristics might include the following: “real” Americans are mostly white, middle-class adults (or are trying to be); they are heterosexual, married, go to church (mostly Protestant but sometimes Catholic). They live in single-family houses (which they own, or are trying to); they work hard, eat well, stand on “their own two feet”; they expect their children to behave themselves; they wash themselves a good deal, and generally try to smell “good”; they are patriotic and honor the flag; they are often charitable and, in return, expect only that those receiving their charity will try to “shape up”; and they are not very interested in “highfalutin” ideas found in books written by overly educated people; instead they believe in “good, old-fashioned common sense.”
Of course, this is a composite picture. Not all monoculturalists fit neatly into this view of “real” Americans. But most share many of these characteristics, and divergence from some of them (for example, heterosexuality) almost automatically disqualifies a person even if that is the only way in which he or she differs. For people who see American culture in this narrow way, those who do not share these characteristics are clearly not “real” Americans, whether they happen to have been born here or not. Moreover, their difference makes them dangerous to the maintenance of America as it is “supposed” to be. It is therefore a primary role of schooling to make the children of the culturally different into “American” children; that is, to teach these children those ways of thinking, behaving, and valuing that will help them fit harmoniously into the monoculturalists’ culture. Children of monoculturalists, of course, do not need such help because they already match the model.
Although exceptional individuals, those who have disabilities and those who are intellectually or otherwise gifted, may be considered “real” Americans, they too have been viewed in some sense as “others.” Beginning in the 1870s, large urban school districts formed separate classes for “unrulies” and for “backward” or “dull” pupils. In actuality, most such classes were repositories for children who, for one reason or another, “didn’t fit” the regular program. From these beginnings, special education emerged as a separate, smaller system within the public school.
Multiculturalism and Pluralist Ideology: The Civil Rights Movement and the Schools
Those who believed strongly in the idea of the melting pot have been both bemused and angered by the fact that the contents of the pot never melted. Eventually, in opposition to the assimilationist ideology, came the call for cultural pluralism by a small group of philosophers and writers who argued that a political democracy must also be a cultural democracy (Banks, 1988). To these pluralists, immigrant groups were entitled to maintain their ethnic cultures and institutions within the greater society. The analogy they used was that of a salad bowl, and in order to have a rich, nutritious salad (society), it was necessary to include a variety of cultures. In short, American society would be strengthened, not weakened, by the presence of different cultures.
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division [LC-DIG-ppmsca-03119]
Pluralists view one’s social group as critical to the socialization process in modern society. The group provides the individual with identity, a sense of belonging or psychological support, particularly when faced with discrimination by the larger society. It is through one’s group, the ethnic group, that one develops a primary language, values, and interpersonal relationships, as well as a particular lifestyle. Pluralists believe the identity group (racial/ethnic, religious, and so forth) to be so important that the schools should actively promote their interests and recognize their importance in the life of the individual. Because pluralists assume a “difference” rather than a “deficit” orientation, they stress the importance of a curriculum addressing different learning styles and patterns of interaction, and fully recognize students’ cultural histories. The assumption is that the more congruent the school experience is with the other experiences of the child, the better the child’s chance of success.
Six decades after Plessy v. Ferguson, diversity in American society and in its schools again became the subject of major social turmoil. During the 1960s and 1970s, fueled by the general social ferment of the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam, educational reform legislation was enacted in the following areas: desegregation, multicultural and bilingual education, mainstreaming students with special needs into regular classrooms, and gender-sensitive education. These programs recognized the pluralistic nature of this society in a positive rather than a negative sense. Each one attempted to help some educationally disadvantaged group of students to receive a better education within a pluralistic framework. Page 51
It is important to realize that these educational mandates were not achieved in isolation but as part of the larger human and civil rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. During this period, Congress passed a number of antidiscriminatory statutes: the Voting Rights Act (1965), dealing with voter registration; the Equal Pay Act (1963), requiring that males and females occupying the same position be paid equally; the Civil Rights Act (1964), which ended discrimination in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 (Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), which established programs for children whose first language was not English; Title IX of the Education Amendments (1972), prohibiting sex discrimination against students and employees of educational institutions; and the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (1975), requiring schools to assume the responsibility for educating all children in the least restrictive environment possible. It was, in the words of one partisan observer, a period of “intensity of concern and commitment to do something about the problems in America stemming from the continued growth of its pluralistic character” (Hunter, 1975, p. 17).
In education the chief concerns were for access and equity: access to public education for excluded groups and a guarantee that such education would be equitable, that is, that it would be commensurate with the best that public education could offer. All these efforts rested on the belief that previously excluded groups had an inherent right to educational equity. Why was it important to emphasize the rights of racial and ethnic minorities, women, and persons with disabilities? Why was it important to enact legislation that protects their rights? Quite simply, because these rights had not been recognized in the past, and large numbers of people had experienced discrimination and unequal opportunity in a society that rests on the principle that all citizens are equal under the law. The civil rights movement was a reaffirmation of beliefs that form the very basis of American society and an insistence that we live up to our ideals in education as well as in other aspects of social life. Specifically, Spanish-speaking Americans in the Southwest, Puerto Ricans on the East Coast, Asian Americans on the West Coast, Native Americans on reservations and in urban settlements, and African Americans throughout the United States began to seek their fair share of what America had to offer and demand that the nation live up to the ideals it professed. The powerful buildup of unrest and frustration born of the discrepancy between American ideals and American practices sought an outlet.
The start of these events is usually marked by the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. This landmark decision stated that segregated schools were inherently unequal and that state laws that allowed separate schools for Black and white students were unconstitutional.
In 1967, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was established primarily to investigate complaints alleging the denial of people’s right to vote by reason of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. About the same time (1966), the National Education Association issued a study supporting the teaching of Spanish to Mexican Americans in Tucson and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education produced a policy statement on pluralism entitled, “No One Model American.” These and other investigative, judicial, and legislative moves were directed toward ending educational discrimination and the comfortable middle-class perceptions about cultural assimilation that supported discrimination. Together, these reports and judicial proceedings began to make clear the many reasons for the failure of the melting pot idea.
In the 12-year period from 1963 to 1975, private and government studies and hearings and a series of lawsuits regarding rights to native language instruction, placement of children with disabilities, and desegregation produced many mandates for the schooling of minority students. Concurrently, new educational strategies and curricula, especially in bilingual and bicultural education, appeared in districts across the nation.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for public schools that received federal or state funds to assign students to schools based on their color, race, religion, or country of origin. The Bilingual Education Act was passed in 1968 as Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. President Lyndon Johnson clarified the intent of this law in the following words:
This bill authorizes a new effort to prevent dropouts; new programs for handicapped children; new planning help for rural schools. It also contains a special provision establishing bilingual education programs for children whose first language is not English. Thousands of children of Latin descent, young Indians, and others will get a better start—a better chance—in school (Tiedt & Tiedt, 1990, p. 9).
In 1970, the Office of Civil Rights Guidelines tried to make special training for non–English-speaking students a requirement for public schools that receive federal aid. The office stated:
Where inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national origin-minority group children from effective participation in the education program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students (Tiedt & Tiedt, 1990, p. 9).
Also during the 1960s and early 1970s, members of the women’s movement began to pressure Congress to enact legislation that would guarantee equitable educational experience for girls and women. The result was Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Intending to prohibit discrimination in elementary and secondary schools on the basis of sex, the preamble to this statute reads, in part:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance (U.S. Department of Education, Title IX, 2015).
It was not until 1975, however, that the rules and regulations enforcing Title IX were published and sent to state departments of education and to school districts. In the interim, there was heated controversy, as well as 10,000 written comments from citizens (Carelli, 1988, p. 85).
Similarly, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-142) became the basis for the educational rights of children and youth with disabilities. Like other educational equity efforts, P.L. 94-142 was not enacted in a vacuum but was the culmination of a long-lived movement. In 1948, for example, prior to the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Congress prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities by the U.S. Civil Service Commission. In 1968, the Architectural Barriers Act prohibited the use of government funds to construct facilities that were inaccessible to the handicapped. With enactment of amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112) and amended by P.L. 93-516, even more far-reaching policies were established. The most familiar part of this legislation, Section 504, specifically prohibits any form of discrimination against persons with disabilities on the part of any agency receiving government funds. Enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 extended that prohibition to the private sector.
In the 45 years since the enactment of these laws, the political and ideological battle between those who cling to a vision of a white, middle class America and those whose vision encompasses the reality of our pluralist population has continued unabated. It is clear today that the assimilationists have made inroads. Voter suppression laws have increased in many states, largely affecting African American voters; the Bilingual Education Act has been amended to the extent that it now primarily focuses on English language acquisition, without the supports that originally made such acquisition reasonably possible; the Equal Pay Act is not enforced—women still earn less than men for doing the same work; and many of our schools are more segregated than they ever were, still based on where a student lives.
Since the start of the Trump administration, and through quiet regulatory action under the direction of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, numerous regulations and federal laws that were designed to ensure that all students are treated fairly and receive a high-quality education have been delayed, watered down, or outright eliminated. One example includes actions taken by the administration that are designed to delay, weaken, or eliminate protections related to student groups’ placement in special education services. The over- and underrepresentation of some student groups in special education, such as low-income and African American students, for instance, may in some cases be explained by these communities’ higher rates of factors such as inadequate access to health care and screenings as well as exposure to dangerous environmental factors that cause disabilities—many of which are associated with poverty (Gordon, 2017). Educators were advised to pay attention to district rates of groups’ placement into special education in order to ensure that placements are educationally warranted and not due to racial bias or income status. Some groups, such as autistic girls of color, for instance, are significantly under identified, and as a result, these students do not receive access to accommodations that would affect their long-term academic growth as well as to the civil rights protections that accompany these accommodations. In 2016, the Obama administration issued a rule governing the Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities program and the Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that required states to review and address any racial disparities in special education. DeVos, however, delayed implementing the final rules, saying that her department needed to study them more thoroughly to ensure that they did not compel the setting of quotas for special education placement. In March 2019, a federal judge ruled that her actions violated the law (Harper, 2019).
* (Shared to a mother of one of the authors of this textbook).
The Emergence of Global Education in the United States
In the case study at the beginning of this chapter, Julianna, in Germany, and Becky, in the United States, are having different, yet related, experiences. Julianna is confronting a sudden influx of students from widely different countries as a result of decisions made by her government to accept refugees fleeing war-torn regions in North Africa and the Middle East. Their presence, thus, makes Julianna’s classroom a multicultural one, something that is new to her as well as to her colleagues, students, and community-at-large. Page 55
Global education, thus, involves learning about those problems and issues that cut across national boundaries as well as the interconnectedness of systems—ecological, cultural, economic, political, and technological. Global education involves perspective taking—seeing things through the eyes and minds of others—and it means the realization that while individuals and groups may view life differently, they also have common needs and wants (Tye, 1991, p. 5).
Comparing these definitions offers some insights into the field.
First, global education is interdisciplinary; that is, its content can come from all or nearly all disciplines. But the global perspective can also be applied to all or nearly all disciplines.
Second, it is an approach (hopefully, a creative one); that is, it is not a subject area like mathematics or foreign language, but rather it is an approach to teaching and curriculum design based on an idea. Yet, the global perspective can be used in many disciplines—mathematics, foreign language, chemistry, and history.
Third, it is meant to both participate in and direct change in societies through perspective taking (what it means to walk in another’s shoes)—learning about other people and places and their histories, problems, attitudes, and values.
Fourth, it tries to solve problems through stressing inclusiveness, tolerance, justice, cooperation, interconnectedness, and nonviolence.
Rationales for global education vary, as do definitions.
In 2006, the U.S. Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) issued a Global Education Policy Statement in which it said:
CCSSO and its members believe that in order to address the challenges of the 21st century, our education system must reflect knowledge and understanding of global perspectives and dimensions as well as the multifaceted perspectives within our own country; therefore, we believe certain core areas must be addressed in order for American students to thrive in and contribute to the global society. Our students must learn about many cultures as an integrated part of their study of literature, history, social studies, natural sciences, the arts, and other courses throughout the curriculum. Only by learning about other cultures, faiths, and ways of living will they be able to better their understanding of the various perspectives that frame our world and the people who inhabit it. More than ever before, students from around the globe are learning to adapt to change and to capitalize on expanding opportunities to become multilingual and learn to use mathematics, science, and technological skills in ways that meet or exceed the levels of current American students. We must take a constructive, positive, and innovative approach to preparing our children in a similar fashion, increasing the rigor of our academic standards, and thereby ensuring that all students are prepared to succeed in a global society (CCSSO, 2006; Peters, 2009, p. 35).
In 2016, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Board of Directors wrote:
Global education and international education are important because the day-to-day lives of average citizens around the world are influenced by burgeoning international connections. The goods we buy, the work we do, the cross-cultural links we have in our own communities and outside of them, and increased worldwide communication capabilities all contribute to an imperative that responsible citizens understand global and international issues (McJimsey, Ross, & Young, 2016).
As the world has gotten smaller, through technology, travel, and international cooperation and competition, the world has also found itself with shared issues and problems. The securing of human rights and social justice are some of these problems. Others have been listed by the National Council for the Social Studies as evidence of the global nature of societies today:
the technical developments of global systems of communication and transportation;
the change from local, regional, and national economies into a global economy;
the increased interaction among societies, resulting in a need for understanding the distinctiveness as well as commonalities of world cultures that coexist with an array of local, national, and regional cultures;
the worldwide political interdependence that is altering traditional boundaries between domestic and international politics;
the impact of human activity upon the planet’s ecosystem and the constraints on human activity imposed by limits of the system;
the power of art and popular culture to communicate common affective and cognitive experiences around the globe;
the perspective consciousness that expands our daily awareness that we are members of the global human species, with the world as our community; and
the changes in land use (McJimsey, Ross, & Young, 2016).
And we can add evidence of the rapid speed with which disease can spread as we witnessed the global spread of COVID-19 in late 2019 and early 2020. Global education has emerged as one response to these issues.
Multicultural and Global Education: Differences and Similarities
As both multicultural and global education developed, over time they have often been compared and sometimes even used each other’s terminology. It is important to note, however, that they have major differences. First, they have different legal and philosophical justifications (Kirkwood-Tucker, 2009). Multicultural education, for instance, is rooted in democratic theory and thus can be mandated by law. As Heilman (2009) wrote:
Multicultural education is justified as necessary to assure justice, liberty, and freedom of expression, which are foundational to democracies and central to individual lives and micropolitics. Because democracy requires the just distribution of public goods and opportunities and equal treatment under the law, multiculturalism and diversity are perennial issues in our debates about our largest policy concerns (p. 28).
Global education, on the other hand, does not ordinarily have the legal grounding that multicultural education has, but must depend for its justification on ethical arguments and organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and others (Kirkwood-Tucker, 2009). Indeed, the Paris Agreement of 175 nations to reduce carbon emissions, signed in New York in April 2016, represented a milestone of global cooperation on the issue of climate change (it should be noted that although the United States formally announced its intention to withdraw on November 4, 2019, it will not actually be able to do so until the day after the 2020 election in November 2020). All of these organizations have plans for advancing global outlooks and collaboration through education.
Another way in which multicultural and global education differs is that they have different constituencies, different supporters, different antagonists, and different scope. Although both movements find support in progressivism and challengers among conservatives and nationalists, because multicultural education has a basis in a series of laws and court decisions, its work is often the product of public debate. It, thus, has a high profile. Global education, on the other hand, does not. According to Heilman (2009),
Global education tends to engage in issues in nations that are external to a student’s country of residence; thus, it lacks a public focus on understanding and problematizing cultural diversity and national multiculturalism (p. 3.2).
While these differences are important, they are also becoming less and less sharp, especially as global issues such as climate change, water shortages, migration, food insecurity, health crises, and war grow more critical. Both multicultural and global education are interested in helping students understand other people and other cultures; both focus on equity; both desire to improve students’ sense of civic responsibility and citizenship; and both work toward the goal of solving problems.
Approaches to teaching in these fields are also held in common, particularly insofar as they are learner-centered, participatory, reflective, experiential, and empowering. They share values of tolerance, solidarity, justice, empathy, equality, responsibility, cooperation, inclusion, and diversity (Global Education Network, 2009). The American Council on Education’s (ACE) publication, At Home in the World (Olson, Evans, & Shoenberg, 2007), while asserting the differences between multicultural and global education programs, also cited Cortés (1998) in making a strong statement on ways in which they can work together:
Multicultural education becomes enriched when it consciously incorporates global perspectives into the examination of American multiculturalism, as well as comparing multiculturalism in the United States with multiculturalism in other societies. Similarly, global education reveals more when it consciously includes the consideration of racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and other kinds of diversity as critical elements of the global experience.
With much in common, and proponents of both looking to build bridges between them, the future for multicultural and global education continues to look promising.
Challenges to Multicultural and Global Education in American Schools
Nevertheless, there are significant challenges to the work of both multicultural and global education. A number of shifts in contemporary thinking around the world pose difficulties for education systems that have been or are thinking of becoming engaged in work requiring changes in the way we think about each other and the broader world around us. Three of these are the difficulty of change itself, as presented in Chapter 1; the ideological assumptions about schooling and identity that create resistance to change; and the worldwide shift in governmental politics from liberal to conservative. Page 58
The Difficulties of Change
As noted above, there is a very strong element of social change in the definitions and rationale for both multicultural and global education. At the same time, institutions within societies, such as schooling, are composed of what some call “deep structures,” values and assumptions widely shared and expected by members of the society (Tye & Tye, 1992, p. 8). Deep structures do not change easily; indeed they only change when the society in which they are embedded changes, demanding new directions for schools and other institutions. Thus, for example, the one-room schoolhouse of early Massachusetts became the large building modeled on a factory under the influence of industrialization. Similarly, science entered the curriculum in the late 19th century, as curricular materials based on Protestant Christianity faded away. As more and more children went to school in the 20th century, schooling became mandatory usually up to the age of 16, the curriculum grew, students were organized into grades by age, and we began to divide students by what we defined as ability. Tye and Tye (1992) described some of the deep structures of schooling in existence at the end of the 20th century this way:
A classroom means a space approximately thirty feet by thirty feet, with four walls, windows, rows of individual desks, blackboards, etc. Curriculum consists of separate subjects, taught in little or no relationship to each other. The school day is divided into six or eight approximately equal periods of time. The teacher is in charge. … There are other regularities which have to do with the norms of the teaching profession, the role of parents and community members, and the hierarchical nature of the educational bureaucracy. These are the characteristics of schooling. … which are assumed to be right and thus seldom seriously questioned (p. 8).
In the second decade of the 21st century, largely as a result of the digital revolution in the larger society, we have added technology to our classrooms (though unevenly); we have tweaked the number of and length of class schedules to some degree—one semester courses instead of those lasting a whole year, double periods during the day; courses offered on only 2 or 3 days a week. But in general, if someone who went to school in 1930 visited any of our schools today, he or she would probably feel at home; he or she would know where the Principal’s office might be, recognize the bathrooms, and know where the teacher usually stood in the classroom. These are some of the regularities of schooling.
However, there is more to it than that. While each school reflects the deep structures of schooling in any society, individual schools have unique personalities of their own, based on who their students are, who teaches there, who leads the school, who the parents are, and, sometimes, where the school is located. Schools have histories, as well, and these differences help give each school its own identity within the school system in which it exists. Because each school is to some degree unique, changes can happen more easily in some schools than in others.
Ideological Resistance to Broader Perspectives
At the same time, however, no school can become too different from its home school system unless the system as a whole also changes. It is important to understand the challenges those who undertake change toward a more global education may face:
With some exceptions, educators and policymakers concerned with education, however well-meaning, have not themselves had the opportunity to think much about education for a truly global era. Even if they have, their own education has rarely prepared them to undertake such education seriously and effectively.
Despite scattered calls for 21st-century skills and knowledge, there is no deep desire for such innovative education on the part of all families, or some citizens. We have nearly all been to school, we think we know what it should be like, and school approaches that appear markedly different from the “known” rarely find a favorable response in the community. At most, innovations are tolerated as long as they lead to adequate performance on traditional measures.
Even when there is both the desire and the policy for a 21st-century education, our assessments are almost all geared for the classical subject matter knowledge and almost never offer the means to assess the flexible, cooperative thinking that is the hallmark of interdisciplinary thought.
Perhaps most perniciously in the United States—but alas, not only in the United States—there is a deep distrust of education that attempts to transcend borders and to take seriously the customs, values, and priorities of nations and regions very different from one’s own. Such provincialism and exceptionalism grows more fervent in times of crisis and seems increasingly evident in many nations as we enter the 2020s.
Hill Street Studios/Brand X Pictures/Blend Images
Despite the negative tone of these words, it really is the case that all national schooling is designed to raise up the next generation of people to “belong” to their own society. Thus, schooling has a socialization function—to make U.S. Americans, or Brazilians, or Chinese, or Russians, or Nigerians out of its children and youth. Today, we find ourselves in the same peculiar position as did the people living in the United States at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th: how to identify as belonging to the nation rather than a state or region of the country. Remember that during the Civil War, soldiers tended to belong to units like the Connecticut Volunteers, the Indiana Swamp Hogs, the Scandinavian Regiment from Wisconsin, General Turner Ashby’s Cavalry from Virginia, or General C. R. Wheat’s Louisiana Tigers. This is because, as soldiers, they identified with their ethnic backgrounds or their states, or sometimes, their leaders. Even the two major armies were often thought of regionally as the northern or southern armies. To think of oneself first as an American was not the norm.
At present, while we have come to think of ourselves both regionally and nationally, we are just beginning to think of ourselves as citizens of the world (Grimley, 2016). Indeed, a familiar question is, “How do I become a global citizen while remaining an American?” This question underlies another challenge to broader thinking and that is the belief that experience in multicultural or global classrooms will result in social conflict and the loss of national unity. Indeed, the very notion of “America First,” which is a major slogan today, reflects this belief.
One clear example of this challenge is the case of the current debate on immigration: who gets in, how many should be admitted and on what basis, who is rejected, again on what basis, are there paths to citizenship, and, if so what are they, and not least, what is the role of schooling in their education? Writing in USA Today, Alan Gomez (2019) has summarized 10 key immigration issues currently before the public. Each of these has clear “sides” that represent “America First” on one hand, and what might be called “America in the World” on the other. The 10 key immigration issues are:
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known informally as the “dreamers.” These are those who were brought to the United States as children of undocumented immigrants. Begun in 2012, this program temporarily protects such immigrants from deportation proceedings; the status lasts for 2 years and may be renewed. It is granted on a case-by-case basis and does not provide lawful status. One side believes that immigration must be carefully controlled, that “too many” people of color are coming into our society, and that we cannot “afford” to bring in people who might end up on welfare rolls. The other side takes a more optimistic view, believing that diversity always creates a stronger society, that difference does not mean deficit, and that we are, whether we want to be or not, part of the greater World.
2. Temporary protected status
Those who are here because of natural disasters, armed conflict in their home countries, or on a medical deferment for life-saving treatment. In this case, the sides seem to be split between those who see the larger immigration problem as a legal question or as a humanitarian one. Those on the “legal” side argue that this status has always been temporary, and that most of the countries from which these folks have come have recovered from their disasters or wars and should be ready to receive their citizens back. The “humanitarian” argument is that there is not much evidence of national recovery and we can use more workers. In terms of those (mostly children) who are here for life-saving medical treatment, the Trump administration tried to deport many of them and caused such an outraged response from the public that the attempt failed.
3. 11 million undocumented immigrants
A number that has been steadily falling since 2007, in part because of prior deportations and the fact that the economy of Mexico has, in fact, improved and many applicants have gone home. There has been no path to citizenship provided for these immigrants, which is another issue in the debate. So far, one side is arguing that to provide a path to citizenship would be amnesty and completely wrong because they have broken the law, while the other side argues that providing opportunities for citizenship to this group would be the right thing to do because it would bring them out of the shadows and strengthen our society. Page 61
4. Family separations
Justified as of this writing by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy implemented in the spring and early summer of 2018, in which children were separated from more than 2,800 migrant families that had crossed the southern border, most seeking asylum. Public outrage again caused the President to issue an executive order ending the practice, but border agents are still separating families, although in smaller numbers. In this case, the motivating factor seems to have been making crossing the border so onerous that no one would do it. And again, that was clearly not the result. Rather, children surrounded by chain link fences appeared on television screens all over the country, which placed those with humanitarian arguments in a strong position.
5. Asylum and refuge in the United States
An immigrant can seek asylum or refugee status if they fear persecution in their home country based on their religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular group. The difference between asylum and refugee status is that applicants for asylum apply after they cross the U.S. border, and refugees apply from their homes. Here, one side argues fundamentally that we do not want any more poor, uneducated, desperate people entering our country, and the suggested “fix” is that they all apply from their home countries. Indeed, the number of refugees admitted to the United States has declined precipitously in the past 3 years. Interestingly, much of that decline is accounted for by a decline in the Muslim population being admitted. The number of refugees to be taken into this country is set annually by the President: for 2020 the ceiling is set at 18,000. The decline in U.S. refugee admissions comes at a time when the number of refugees worldwide has reached the highest levels since World War II (Pew Research Center, 2019).
6. Treatment of migrants in detention
Difficulties in housing the large number of migrants in the last few years is due to a shortage of judges to hear asylum cases, an insistence on the part of the U.S. government that they not be sent on to sponsors while they await hearings, a belief on the part of the administration that severe treatment will reduce the number of new applicants (clearly not the case), and continued chaos in their home countries. Migrants are being housed in border patrol stations, ICE detention centers, tent cities in several states, and under a highway pass in El Paso, Texas. At least six migrant children have died in these conditions. The argument here by one side is that these people are criminals, have or are breaking the law, and we cannot let them in. In one instance, the President reflected the “America First” mindset by saying, “We are full … America is full” (The New York Times, 2019).
7. Aid to Central America
Funding for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to help these countries combat extreme poverty, food insecurity, and political instability has been first withdrawn and then reinstated over the past 3 years. The Trump administration remains opposed to the funding until these countries do more to prevent their people from trying to come to the United States. In the meantime, many asylum-seekers are being held in Mexico, waiting for their cases to be heard, or prevented from coming into Mexico at the Guatemalan border. The argument from one side is that “we are full!” The argument from the other side is that our workforce is aging and that we need more workers, especially in agriculture.
8. Merit-based immigration
Legal immigration to the United States is primarily based on family connections to those already here. In contrast, one side proposes to limit those connections to spouses and minor children. Instead, they argue, there should be a merit-based point system including credit for education, English proficiency, and standing job offers. Critics claim that such a system would destroy America’s reputation as a haven for the poor and the oppressed.
9. Immigration and customs enforcement (ICE)
ICE is currently directed to target any undocumented immigrant they come across or are told about, rather than concentrating on those with criminal records, as has been the case in the past. The argument for the current policy is that all undocumented immigrants have broken the law and should not be immune from deportation. One side insists that we need to rid ourselves of this group of “criminal” undocumented immigrants. The other side looks to the rest of the world and wonders what kind of impression we are making on them.
10. Sanctuary cities
Beginning in the 1980s, the idea of sanctuary cities challenged the U.S. government’s refusal to grant asylum to certain Central Americans, largely from El Salvador and Guatemala. By 2018, upwards of 560 cities, states, and counties thought of themselves as sanctuaries—safe places where local law enforcement would not cooperate with efforts to capture, hold, and deport undocumented immigrants. A number of court cases have been adjudicated in this matter, and none has resulted in findings against the movement. The debate in this case is largely about immigration and crime. Although statistics show that immigrants commit far fewer crimes than native born Americans, one side insists that this is not so. The other side argues that if local police lose the trust of local residents, they will not be available to report local crimes.
Clearly, the immigration debate discloses deep and serious ideological differences among Americans that provide difficulties for those interested in multicultural and global education as a way of helping us become ready to be part of the reality of a global world.
Ideological Shifts in Governmental Politics from Liberal to Conservative
A third challenge to both multicultural and global education in the United States today is the governmental shift in political attitudes from liberal to conservative. This is not confined to the United States; it is, in fact, a worldwide phenomenon. Owing largely to anxieties brought about by the very same phenomena that created the rationales for multicultural and global education—that is, rapid social, economic, technological, cultural, and religious change—many people are responding by wanting to “go back” to a time when they felt safer, more “at home,” more able to negotiate their lives. In the West, this generally means a belief in individual rights, free markets, private property, and limited government. Although conservative ideas do not necessarily lead to antagonism toward the ideas of multiculturalism and globalism, in practice today there is also a sharper distinction between “us” and “them,” as well as a distrust of anything perceived to be “un-American.”
We have experienced these shifts before. The “Know-Nothing” Party in the 1850s was the result of strong anti-immigrant feelings in the country, as well as antipathy toward Roman Catholics that emerged in the 1840s during the Irish immigration following the Great Famine in Ireland. In the 1930s, an isolationist “America First” movement opposed intervention in World War II, called for a buildup of American military, and defended the anti-Semitic priest, Father Charles Edward Coughlin, who had a huge following on his weekly radio program. The “America First” group also defended fascists and supporters of Nazi Germany. This movement lasted until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and then vanished. Again, in the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy initiated what some would call a “witch hunt” to discover hidden Communists in government, popular culture (notably movies), the military, and even education. McCarthyism is defined as the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of pro-Communist activity, in many instances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence, or the practice of making unfair allegations, or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism (Dictionary.com). In this particular era, individuals, including teachers and professors, were often required to sign pledges that they were not, nor had ever been members of the Communist party. The House Un-American Activities Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under J. Edgar Hoover, also sought to find “closet” Communists, largely in the movie industry; many were blacklisted, unable to get work, and their lives ruined. Eventually, Senator McCarthy went after the military, many of them heroes of World War II, and the country turned against him. Even so, including subsequent Supreme Court cases, the movement lasted for most of the 1950s.
The political environment, at least under the Trump administration, mirrors some of this thinking evidenced by its frequent categorization of information it does not like to hear as fake news, democratic plot, or the acts of “lying media.” Suffice it to say that it may not be the most conducive climate in which to make progress in either multicultural or global education. Recent changes in state and federal ideas about the nature of schooling, particularly those involving academic achievement as nearly the sole purpose of school-based education, also present certain challenges. Quite often, one is more likely to hear a discussion of assessment in a teacher’s meeting than the fact that some Illinois eighth graders, under the auspices of the Pulitzer Center, are investigating hope, courage, and resilience in “fractured lands” (Pulitzer Center, 2017). However, many challenges there are to the adopting of global as well as multicultural perspectives, these areas of teaching and learning are here to stay. It is incumbent upon those who are leading the way toward new ways of grappling with widely shared human problems to know the challenges and work to overcome them.
Internationalization in Higher Education
Having an international or global component in colleges and universities is not a new phenomenon. Study abroad programs, cross-cultural experiences of various kinds for students, curriculum enrichment, strengthened foreign language instruction, and encouraging international students to enroll on campus all have been part of what Altbach and Knight (2007) call “traditional internationalization.” It is the case, however, that internationalizing higher education has expanded widely in the past 20 years or so for many of the same reasons that global perspectives have burgeoned in schools and elsewhere. The term most often used in higher education for these activities is internationalization.
There has come to be a steady stream of students from many countries on all continents who desire an international academic and/or cultural experience and satisfy that desire by enrolling in institutions of higher education in a country other than their own. American colleges and universities are perhaps the largest host institutions, but certainly not the only ones . Page 64
Another popular imperative for planners in higher education is the development of international knowledge and experiences for American students on their own campuses. One way of doing that is to internationalize the entire college or university curriculum. The American Council on Education (ACE, 2020) refers to comprehensive internationalization as a strategic and coordinated process that aims to align and integrate policies, programs, and initiatives so that colleges and universities are more globally oriented and internationally connected. ACE identifies six interconnected areas designed to address campus internationalization:
1. Articulated institutional commitment
Strategic planning involving key stakeholders articulates an institution’s commitment to internationalization and provides a roadmap for implementation. Formal assessment mechanisms reinforce this commitment by framing explicit goals and holding the institution accountable for accomplishing them.
2. Administrative leadership, structure, and staffing
The involvement of top leaders, and appropriate administrative and reporting structures, form an essential framework for implementing internationalization.
3. Curriculum, co-curriculum, and learning outcomes
Internationalized curriculum and co-curriculum ensure that all students are exposed to international perspectives and build global competence. Globally focused student learning outcomes can be addressed through a variety of means, from general education requirements, (e.g., foreign language, regional studies, and global issues courses), internationalized courses in the disciplines, co-curriculum programs and activities that address global issues, etc.
4. Faculty policies and practices
Faculty are key drivers in campus internationalization, and thus should have ample opportunities to develop international competence in order to maximize the impact of these experiences on student learning.
5. Student mobility
Student mobility refers to both opportunities for education abroad experience and the recruitment and integration of international students to study at U.S. campuses.
6. Collaboration and partnerships
Successful collaborations and partnerships can extend the reach and impact of internationalization activities by facilitating international and cross-cultural experiences for students and faculty, enhancing the curriculum, generating revenue, and raising the visibility of institutions at home and around the world.
While many colleges and universities are internationalizing their campuses slowly rather than comprehensively, it is the case that more and more opportunities for global/international education will be available in the coming years. More and more undergraduate students have had experiences abroad in high school or with families, and these students will look forward to integrating more such experiences into their college education. Also, as the world continues to shrink, increasing numbers of jobs and professions will include international work, thus making international/global education experiences and knowledge a growing part of a large number of college majors. Indeed, it is probably not too much to say that:
As the context is increasingly characterized by global competition in which knowledge is a prime factor for economic growth, internationalization has also become more market oriented, aiming to attract talented students and highly skilled workers as key resources for the knowledge economy (van der Wende, 2011).
Intercultural Education and the Preparation of Teachers in Higher Education
One area of higher education in which attention to internationalization is gaining momentum is the professional preparation of K-12 teachers. The vehicle, or type of teaching-learning relationship often used in this regard is intercultural education, a set of ideas that falls somewhere in between multicultural and global education. Like multicultural education, it has its place in the classroom, and is concerned with day-to-day interactions among people with different cultural backgrounds. Like global education, it is also concerned with larger issues such as the universality of human rights and justice in the context of cultural difference. And the need is strong. As Cushner (2018) notes:
Teachers, today, must be able to develop a new set of interculturally grounded knowledge, skills, and dispositions in their students. Thus, teachers and teacher educators alike must not only enhance their own intercultural competence, but must also understand the concepts as well as nuances of intercultural interaction sufficiently so they can transfer this through a range of curricular experiences to the students in their charge. Ironically, all these skills are grounded in concepts of intercultural understanding and communication (p. 1386).
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Center for Global Education at Asia Society have worked with academics, educators, and stakeholders in the global education field over several years to define global competence for primary and secondary education (OECD/Asia Society, 2018). They recognize that global competence is multifaceted and includes cognitive development, socioemotional skills, and civic learning. With this in mind, they define global competence as the capacity to examine local, global, and intercultural issues; to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others; to engage in open, appropriate, and effective interactions with people from different cultures; and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development. The first dimension addresses the capacity to critically examine issues such as poverty, trade, migration, inequality, environmental justice, conflict, cultural differences, and stereotypes. The second dimension looks at the capacity to understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views. The third dimension refers to the ability to interact positively with people of different national, social, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, as well as those of different genders. The fourth dimension builds on the first three and stresses peoples’ willingness and ability to act constructively to address issues of sustainability and well-being. It is these four overlapping dimensions that students will need to develop to interact successfully with people face-to-face as well as virtually in their communities and in other regions and nations. Skills in these dimensions are needed to both examine and work toward the resolution of issues with local and global significance.
Currently, there is increasing interest in international elements of K-16 education in the United States. A number of policy documents have been released from various professional education associations that are designed to guide this effort. Such organizations include NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the Asia Society, and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in Ireland (NCCA). The Asia Society/EdSteps book, Education for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World stressing global competence has been well received in the field. In addition, the nation has seen the rapid growth of International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in public schools. The Longview Foundation has produced a document called Teacher Preparation for the Global Age: The Imperative for Change, and AACTE: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education has created an international TAG (Topical Action Group) (see Chapter 7 for more on these and other international initiatives).
The Impact of Global Perspectives on American Education
Regardless of the issue, problem, site, or nature of the teaching and learning, it is clear that multicultural and global perspectives have gained a foothold in the American school and college curricula, as well as in professional associations here and abroad. It is also clear that its proponents are currently better equipped to deliver it and that the need for it continues to expand. As noted by The National Center on Education and the Economy (2007):
The best employers the world over will be looking for the most competent, most creative, and most innovative people on the face of the earth and will be willing to pay them top dollar for their services. … Beyond [strong skills in English, mathematics, technology, and science), candidates will have to be comfortable with ideas and abstractions, good at both analysis and synthesis, creative and innovative, self-disciplined and well organized, able to learn very quickly and work well as a member of a team and have the flexibility to adapt quickly to frequent changes in the labor market as the shifts in the economy become ever faster and more dramatic (pp. 7-8).
Those students who have had the benefit of multicultural and global education will be well prepared to qualify for the work of the 21st century. The characteristic elements of innovation, collaboration, flexibility, diversity, empathy, and inclusion that are the hallmarks of this kind of education will serve them well—in a new economy and a more just and sustainable society.
The history of multicultural education has its roots in a debate between those who think that American schooling should provide a common education to all children based on the history and culture of European Americans and Western civilization, and those who think that American schooling must recognize and affirm the rich historical and cultural backgrounds and perspectives of a population that has always been diverse and is becoming ever more so. Global/international education developed at nearly the same time as multicultural education, but in a different track, from different sources, and with different purposes and scope. Nevertheless, multicultural and global education have enough commonality that they can profitably enhance one another in order to provide answers to common problems faced by all the world’s peoples. Page 67
Additional Active Exercises are available online at www.mhhe.com/cushner/10e.
Family Tree: Tracing One’s Roots and Family Experiences
Purpose: To discover your family’s experiences in past generations and compare them to immigrants and refugees today.
Instructions: Most people in the United States, except for our Native people, can trace their family history, or roots, to someplace other than where they currently reside. Speak with family members and look through old family photographs (if you have any) to trace your family’s heritage as far back as possible. If you are adopted or do not know your ancestors, respond in terms of an adoptive or foster family, or one to which you closely identify. If your ancestors were among those who were part of a forced migration who came to this country on slave ships, what do you know of this experience? Respond to the following questions as best you can, and share your responses with others.
From what parts of the world did your family (or families) originate?
What motivated your ancestors to leave their homeland for a new world? When did they leave? If your ancestors were always in North America, what was their life like prior to European contact?
What hardships did your ancestors face in previous generations, either when they first arrived or soon after they made contact? What did they do to overcome any hardships? Do they recall any prejudice that was experienced?
What did your ancestors do in the previous two to three generations? How did this influence what the family does today?
What languages did your ancestors speak? What has happened to these languages in your family today?
What family traditions or practices have been carried out over the years that are special or unique to your family?
What do you know of the meaning behind your family name? How, if at all, has it changed over the years? Do you know the reason for any changes?
How are the experiences of your family similar to, or different from, those faced by various immigrants or refugees today?
In what ways was this exercise easy or difficult for you to do? Under what circumstances might an exercise like this be difficult for a student to do? What might you do as a teacher to modify it in special circumstances?
Reflective Questions (only questions 1 – 3) PLEAse reference the book)
1. This chapter suggests that the experiences encountered during the civil rights movement remain in the public mind. Do you agree that this is, in fact, the case? If so, why? If not, why?
2. This chapter presents the histories of both multicultural and global education. How do you think those histories are similar and how are they different? What are some similarities between the objectives and after practices in multicultural and global education? What commonalities can you identify? What might be an advantage of looking for similarities between the two types of education?
3. If major societal changes in the 19th century such as industrialization and immigration changed the “deep structures” of our society, what deep changes have occurred in recent decades that seem to call for a more global education?
4. What challenges—geographical, cultural, religious, political, or economic—do we face as we attempt to incorporate a global perspective into the curriculum of public education? What do you think are possible outcomes if we succeed? Or, if we fail?
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