History of Multicultural Education, Volume 3: Instruction and Assessment
reviewed by Christopher D. Yawn - December 01, 2009
Title: History of Multicultural Education, Volume 3: Instruction and Assessment
Author(s): Carl A. Grant and Thandeka K. Chapman
Publisher: Routledge, New York
ISBN: 0805854398, Pages: 338, Year: 2008
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From its inception in the 1960s, the intent of the multicultural education movement was to empower all students through education reform. The movement worked towards reconstructing education so that it would be the vehicle for eradicating social injustice. Furthermore, the multicultural education movement highlighted the necessity to radically change education so that value is placed on the contributions to knowledge brought forth from culturally diverse populations. Over the years, multicultural education has broadened its focus to incorporate the voices of all marginalized groups in our ever-changing society. Although its focus population has broadened, the aim of multicultural education has remained.
Reviewing the work of those in the field reveals that inclusive knowledge construction, equity, and academic success are the persistent themes of multicultural education. As indicated by Grant and Chapman, it is difficult to identify a consistent definition of multicultural education. However, the collection of articles spanning the six volume set of the History of Multicultural Education consistently embraces the themes of multicultural education.
In volume three, Instruction and Assessment, the aforementioned themes of multicultural education are reflected in 22 articles that have been conveniently divided into four parts: (1) state, local, and classroom assessment; (2) instruction; (3) examples of practice; and (4) grade specific/subject specific applications of multicultural education. Though the themes of multicultural education are reflected in all four parts, each part has a theme emphasis. That is, part one has a greater emphasis on inclusive knowledge construction, part two has a greater emphasis on equity, and parts three and four have a greater emphasis on teacher practices that contribute to students academic success.
The articles within part one raise critical issues about assessments in general and specifically, what the content and outcomes of those assessments communicate to the students, parents, education professionals, and other stakeholders. Despite the fact that all of the articles within part one have been published almost a decade ago or more, the issues raised, such as inappropriate student tracking and placement and the achievement gap, are just as relevant today as they were then. The selected articles remind the reader that test validity, particularly for students from diverse backgrounds, has for quite some time been problematic. As the articles in Part 1 demonstrate, standardized testing is indeed very subjective, from development and content to outcomes. After reading Part 1, the intuitive message presented is that culture needs to be infused in the assessment process. Furthermore, the boundaries of assessment need to be pushed so that we are not confined to standardized tests as the only means for ascertaining what students know.
The articles selected by the editors for part two meet two interrelated objectives: (a) students from diverse backgrounds must be taught in a manner that is responsive to their needs; and (b) equitable education does not mean all students are taught the same. Part two is particularly useful for teacher educators because it communicates pedagogy that essentially blends theory and practice. Furthermore, a point that can be taken away from the selected articles within part two is that effectively programming instruction that is multicultural can help increase the likelihood that students from diverse backgrounds will have a strengthened cultural identity and be within a school community that fosters academic and social success.
Part three provides examples of observed multicultural education in action, and part four provides grade and content specific guidelines of what multicultural education would look like. In both parts, the articles relay the message that students from diverse backgrounds bring with them significant experiences that can be utilized and shared for all to learn from including the teacher. Furthermore, the articles highlight that teachers are agents of change. That is, they consistently challenge all students to (a) embrace differences, (b) challenge stereotypes and social inequities, and (c) meet the high academic expectations placed upon them.
The articles in this collection are organized in such a manner that the reader can easily transition from articles that present the problem or situation to articles that provide solutions or future steps. The sequencing of the parts was very systematic, and I would agree with the editors that separating the volume into four parts provided breadth and depth. Moreover, dividing the volume into four parts facilitated a more focused read.
The intent of Instruction and Assessment, was to examine teachers content, pedagogy, and assessment choices in multicultural education. Overall, I would agree with Grant and Chapmans assessment that they chose many of the seminal articles needed to meet their intent. Indeed, there are additional articles by James A. Banks, Geneva Gay, and Gloria Ladson-Billings that could have been included in volume three. Likewise, articles from scholars such as A. Wade Boykin, Sonia Nieto, and Jaqueline Jordan Irvine could have also been included. However, in defense of the editors, a full disclosure about the article selection process and difficulties including additional articles were made.
Grant and Chapman, provide the following to clarify what the purpose of the project was:
The purpose of this set of volumes on the history of multicultural education is to locate, document, and give voice to the body of research and scholarship in the field. Through published articles spanning thirty years, this set of books provides readers with a means for knowing, understanding, and envisioning the ways in which multicultural education has developed; been implemented and resisted; and been interpreted in educational settings. (p. xi)
In sum, volume three, Instruction and Assessment, was clearly aligned with the stated purpose of the project but not without shortcomings.
A limitation of this volume is the lack of articles that provided examples or guidelines for multicultural education in special education settings. Though the title implies differently, the article by Chinn (1964)1 only loosely aligns itself with special education and in actuality presents issues and recommendations that are pertinent to all students from diverse backgrounds. The disproportionate representation of culturally diverse groups in special education has been well documented (Osher, Woodruff, & Sims, 2002) and highlights the need for multicultural education in these settings. Indeed, the number of historical articles that discuss the application of multicultural education in special education is scant, however, if the editors felt compelled to incorporate recent articles (see Obiakor, 2007) it would have been understood. The dissemination of such articles is crucial because the instructional emphasis for this population is typically restricted to remediation and basic skills development.
Another limitation is the absence of articles that discuss the application of multicultural education at the higher education level. I found that surprising because there are ample articles with such information. Specifically, many articles pertaining to teacher training highlight examples of multicultural education in practice and would have been found extremely valuable for teacher educators.
Overall, volume three of the History of Multicultural Education is extremely important, relevant, and can be utilized by many. Furthermore, with guidance from the teacher educator, the selected articles can be used to help pre-service teachers develop the necessary skills and dispositions for working with the highly diverse student population that they will likely encounter.
1. This was incorrectly dated by the editors. The actual publication date of this article was 1979.
Obiakor, F. E. (2007). Multicultural special education: Effective intervention for todays schools. Intervention in School and Clinic, 42(3), 148-155.
Osher, D., Woodruff, D., & Sims, A.E. (2002). Schools make a difference: The overrepresentation of African American youth in special education and the juvenile justice system. In D.J. Losen, & G. Orfield (Eds.) Racial inequity in special education (pp. 93-116). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.