Sunday, September 9, 2012

Potential: Multicultural Education & Instructional Technology

Recovery of Meaning (a summary of Diaz) 
Multicultural education’s primary aim is equitable educational opportunity for all.  Basic assumptions must be challenged and reform of current policies and practices must occur. Multicultural education must also educate all students to become successful members of society. A basic assumption of the author is that a democratic nation cannot survive without a populace capable of striving in pluralism (Diaz, 2001, p. 13). Multicultural education benefits everyone. Interventions focused on improving the performance of minority populations are also good practices for all students. Critique is changing the twentieth century’s Anglo-centric curriculum.
Challenging multicultural education is the fear of a monolithic insurgency against Anglo American culture. Ironically, those who have always held the power most fear subjugation. Language is subverted to maintain the dominance of those in power. Their interests are the common good while marginalized groups are special interests. This terminology allows the dominant discourse to further marginalize their experiences. Curriculum must be reformed to allow space for the voices that challenge this status quo.
A transformative approach to curriculum change allows for multiple perspectives and fundamental reorganization of normative assumptions. As opposed to the contribution or the additive approach, which employ broad representative examples, the transformative approach allows for genuine exploration of multiple ways of knowing. The decision-making and social-action approach allows space for students to extend understanding.

Reconstruction of Meaning (a reading of Diaz) 
In certain disciplines where rhetoric is more highly conducive to practice, such as literature, philosophy, or anthropology, multicultural education is enacted in classroom practice with easily identifiable effects. However, in other disciplines, those that might be considered more pragmatic in nature such as instructional technology, it is sometimes less evident how to actively honor multiple ways of knowing. I do not intend to imply that the potential is limited, only that the ties are perhaps not as overt.
Banks emphasizes that multicultural education should do two primary things: (1) promote equity and (2) develop awareness of plurality in order to promote successful democratic citizenship. I would contend if the goal is Nussbaumian ideals of democratic participation, instructional technology is a primary discipline for reaching that goal. The potential of technology is rich, pluralistic understandings and more equitable access.

Reading at the Edges (connections) 
            In her presidential address to AERA, Gloria Ladson-Billings (2006) developed the metaphor of educational debt instead of the achievement gap. Her metaphor allows for the articulation of responsibility and methods for repaying it. In instructional technology another gap exists, the digital divide. It describes the inequity of access to technology for all students. Instructional technology has a great power for supporting multicultural education but it faces the challenge of a “technology debt,” if I may transfer Ladson-Billings’ metaphor. The infrastructure in the United States is improving. The latest FCC report on broadband data (August 2012) stated that access to the most current broadband has risen from 20% to 82% since 2009 in American households. Unfortunately, access is often limited by financial concerns. As long as broadband and electronics remain prohibitively expensive for many marginalized American families, the same inequities plague our system. Ladson-Billings spoke to the responsibility of the community to support education. It is also our responsibility to support access to the tools that can power that education. While progress is being made through grants and other means, much will always need to be done to struggle toward bridging the digital divide.

Diaz, Carlos F. (2001). Multicultural Education in the 21st Century. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc. (Chapter 2- Multicultural Education: Goals, Possibilities, and Challenges, p. 11-22).
Ladson-Billings, G. J. (2006, April 9). From the achievement gap to the education debt: Understanding achievement in U. S. schools. In AERA Awards Presentation and Presidential Address. Retrieved September 8, 2012, from
Rapaport, R. (2009, October 27). The new literacy: Scenes from the digital divide 2.0. Edutopia. Retrieved September 8, 2012, from
United States, Federal Communications Commission, Chief, International Bureau. (2012, August 13). International broadband data report. Washington, D.C.: Federal Communication Commision. Retrieved September 8, 2012, from