Multiculturalism is based on the belief that varying cultural dynamics are the fourth force–along with the psychodynamic, behavioral, and humanistic forces–explaining human behavior. Since the ability to recognize our own and others’ cultural lenses is essential to all learning, it must be taught, along with communication and thinking skills, as prerequisites to learning.

Basic Elements

The National Council for Social Studies, in its Curriculum Guidelines for Multicultural Education, lists the key functions of multicultural education as:

  1. Providing students with a sharp sense of self
  2. Helping students understand the experience of ethnic and cultural groups in history
  3. Helping students understand that conflict between ideals and reality exist in every human society
  4. Helping students develop decision-making, social participation, and citizenship skills
  5. Achieving full literacy in at least two languages

“Multicultural” is broadly understood to include experiences shaping perceptions common to age, gender, religion, socio-economic status, and exceptionality of any kind, as well as cultural, linguistic, and racial identities.

This controversial approach has stirred passionate critics, who contend that it aims to replace “Eurocentrism” with “othercentrisms.” Critics also allege that multiculturalism hinders the assimilation of various cultures into America’s greatest hallmark: the melting pot.

Please visit these Funderstanding posts for more specifics about multiculturalism;


Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, Banks, J.A. and Banks, C.M. (Eds). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

National Council on Social Studies Task Force on Ethnic Studies Curriculum Guidelines (1992). “Curriculum Guidelines for Multicultural Education,” Social Education, Volume 5, 274-292.

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One Response to Multiculturalism

  1. Norma Terrigno says:

    Multiculturalism does not hinder assimilation/adaptation into the American society. Those that hold this type of view simply do not understand the important role family upbringing, language, religion, and culture in general play in the formation of the thought processes of the human mind. It has been said that to be bilingual is to be two persons. An individual who has experienced two different worlds simply draws from past memories in either to explain the occurences of daily life. The brain will figure out a way to best cope with certain circumstances depending on what is appropriate according to the standards of separate information. The brain has a remarkable capacity to figure things out and make intelligent decisions and bilingualism/biculturalism is an asset—not a liability.

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