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Creating a Multicultural Classroom Environment

As the world is turning into a smaller place, diversity of culture becomes an integral part of today's society. Everyone is everywhere! You will find Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, Hispanics etc., all together under a single roof in schools, universities and work places.

Accepting a multicultural environment can be easily inculcated in today's youth through their classrooms. It is the best and most important place to teach about different cultures, as that's where you'll find kids from diverse cultures growing up and learning together. If children are exposed to a multicultural environment right from their academic years, it will be really easy for them to get along with children from other cultures. It will also cultivate in them the value of respecting other cultures and religions.

The responsibility of creating a multicultural environment in a classroom, lies mainly in the hands of the teachers and the management of the school. It is important that the school authorities and teachers themselves believe in a healthy multicultural environment which treats everyone as equals. There should be no sort of bias based on cast, creed, color, race, etc. It is easy to identify who comes from which culture, just by their appearance, though accepting them as they are is what needs to be taught to the young ones.


What A School Can Do

Language
A school should facilitate its students with an option of choosing a second language, which could be their native language. Children may not be well-versed with English but with other languages like Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, etc. Therefore, students should have an option of learning and studying in their own language too. It is certain, that if they were tested in their native language, they could do equally well.

Library
A library should have books and other study material for children from all cultures. Translation books and dictionaries should be made easily accessible in the library. It will certainly be difficult for a kid to read, write and speak in English, when he/she has used Spanish as his/her first language all his/her life.

Celebrate and Familiarize with Different Cultures
Every culture has some unique features and practices. Schools should celebrate the main festivals of students coming from different cultures in a small way. This can be done by asking students to describe their festivals to the class and to showcase the staple things that belong to their culture. In this way, children from different cultures will feel important, other children will get an opportunity to understand different cultures, and the overall interaction of the kids will increase.

Strict Action Against Racism
Racist comments are very common in schools, especially for children of different races. Strict action should be taken against anyone who is found making racist comments or acts. A racist act on anyone in the form of an action or words can be very hurtful and demoralizing for the victim. Giving punishments to the wrong-doer will bring a sense of security to the new students and will teach students to take responsibility of their own actions.

Academic Curriculum

The academic curriculum will have to be structured in a way, that it does not focus or brag about any one particular culture or community. To make a multicultural classroom environment, a little bit from every culture should be embedded in the academic curriculum. This way, a multicultural view and perspective will dwell in the minds of children.

Variety of Instructional Approaches
Children coming from different cultures will have different understanding levels and grasping capacities for different teaching methods. It is very important to improvise the way children are taught and instructed. Use of PPTs, movies, audio clips etc., should be made to describe and explain different concepts and things. For, if one has not seen or known one particular thing, then merely reading up on it will not make him/her understand it. Many times a visual or an audio clip helps in understanding a concept better.

Keep a Variety of Activities
There should be a variety in the activities performed in school because, children can be good at different activities. By adding a variety, kids are exposed to all sorts of activities which enhances their overall development. Therefore all sorts of activities like sports, drama, singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, etc., should be inculcated in the curriculum. Varied activities bring children together leaving behind their differences. In this way, children with similar interests will come together, creating a healthy multicultural environment.

What Teachers Can Do

To bring a multicultural environment into a classroom, it's not just the structure of the academic curriculum and the activities organized that need to be changed, but also the approach of the teachers toward the students. A teacher plays an important role in the upbringing of the children and in bridging the cultural gaps in them. It can also be difficult for the teacher to adjust with kids from different cultures, as they behave in a different way, and can be considered as rude or harsh. Here's what teachers can do to build a healthy multicultural environment in the classroom.

Learn About Different Cultures
As the first step to create a multicultural environment, teachers should first learn about different cultures. Once they have understood how people from different cultures behave, it will be easier for them to understand what a child is trying to communicate. Also after teachers know how children are, he/she will not get offended by their opinions and reactions.

Appreciate the Differences
As a teacher, they can learn to appreciate the differences that pertain in children coming from different regions. They can have a different tone and diction while talking, and expressing themselves. Also, how they perceive the term 'school' or 'a teacher' can also be different. Many students blindly believe their teachers, assuming that everything that they say is correct. A teacher should show gestures of appreciation and understanding in front of the class, so that other students can see it and learn the same.

Variety in Teaching Technique
There should be a variety in the techniques used by the teacher while teaching. This is because many children will not be able to understand everything taught through speech or reading. It is essential that video, audio clips, and other means of technology are used whenever possible. These methods increase the understanding of whatever children learn in class.

A Teacher Should Choose the Project Partner
It is obvious that a student will choose his/her friend when a project or a group assignment is assigned to him/her. But what a teacher can do is, instead of giving this option to the students, she/he can pair students coming from different backgrounds. Even if they initially refrain or look hesitant in communicating and approaching each other, soon they will get talking and will try to explain things to each other. This will definitely increase the interaction and the understanding between the kids. The teacher meanwhile should observe how children are behaving and reacting, and then make changes accordingly to help them out.

There are many benefits associated with creating a multicultural environment in a classroom. It encourages cooperative social skills in children, and creates the feeling and understanding of unity in diversity. It also helps the children coming from different walks of life to feel comfortable with other children and have a boosted self-esteem. All of this in turn only does good to the society on a whole, as tomorrow these children are going to be the citizens of the world. Read More

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