Our day to day experiences today are shaped by our history. All of the knowledge we hold as truths today, have been assessed and negotiated by scholars with their own perspectives and histories. Teachers must center this complexity, so that students begin to develop 21st century skills like critical thinking and complex problem solving. Incorporating multicultural content and perspectives is one way teachers can ensure students learn to ask questions and seek answers about the world around them. Exposing them to multicultural content will lead them to question everyday things they might take for granted. This can be done in all subject areas, like reading, math, writing, science, and social studies.
At my school, we intentionally focus on communities that have been historically marginalized. We tell their stories, so that students learn how real world problems can affect communities differently. For example, in the third grade “Right to Read” expedition third graders read about the many people who fought or are currently fighting for the rights of others to gain access to reading and education. These communities include African Americans, Latinos, people who are blind, women and girls, and people living in rural areas. In writing, they write informational pieces-biographies- of one of these “literacy heroes”. In this scenario, social studies and reading are intertwined. In science, students could examine who discovered the scientific theories or phenomenon being studied, while questioning who was granted access in the scientific community at the time. One can also study how scientific phenomenon affect different communities.
When teachers implement multicultural curriculum, students will begin to talk about issues of race, class, gender, etc. on their own. You will hear them make connections to their own lives or the lives of their friends. They will question and confront peers when they hear bias. Additionally, students will display their development of cultural competence when they seek to do something about social inequities in their communities.