The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer questions regarding the extent to which elements of multicultural education are being conveyed in a middle school social studies curriculum. I pursued three questions in this research: 1) What information, concepts and perspectives were presented by the teacher as means of facilitating their learning from a multicultural perspective?, 2) What particular teaching strategies used by the teacher contributed to a multicultural learning environment? and 3) How effective were such elements in contributing to the overall goal of multicultural education? Based on the definition of multicultural education as proposed by the leading expert in the field, James A. Banks, I focused on the extent to which such aspects of the classroom environment provide an equitable and appropriate learning experience in which all students can achieve (1997). This study took place in an eighth grade core classroom at an urban middle school in Portland, Oregon. I gathered information through direct observation of the classroom dynamics, interviews with the teacher and the students, written surveys, and student products. As the
teacher presented issues and perspectives in American history, I collected data to interpret to what extent this teacher presented the students with a multicultural learning experience through the content of the curriculum and the use of specific teaching methods. In analyzing the results of my observations, surveys and interviews, I recognized that though this eighth grade curriculum did address a variety of pertinent cultural perspectives in American history, the curriculum content focused predominantly on the Anglo experience. My research revealed, however, that multicultural perspectives were addressed more extensively
through the teacher's use of particular strategies such as literature-based studies, interactive pedagogy and active, cooperative learning activities. Finally, I interpreted that while elements of this course curriculum warrant progress in meeting the goals of multicultural education, students in this class were certainly provided the opportunity to interact with a learning environment that allowed for diversity and supported a variety of interests, ideas and viewpoints.
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