Abby Emerson on Multicultural Education

What does Multicultural Education Mean to You?

To be a multicultural educator, to me, means that I’m going to as a teacher as an educator start with the identities and the backgrounds and cultures of my students and using that as the jumping off point for all that we’re doing. But also at the same time thinking about that idea of windows and mirrors. And so wanting to make sure that I’m giving them an opportunity to see themselves in the curriculum in what we’re doing so it’s a mirror back to them  but also making sure that they are seeing windows into other worlds and other cultures as well.

And the critical piece about being a critical multicultural educator to me, that has to do with the idea that we’re going to be aware of social issues in the world and so we’re not going to necessarily think “ok, yes, we’re all different and that’s  it, that’s great, beautiful” but we’re going to talk about issues that come up because of those cultures and differences- that the world is not gonna to treat everybody the same we need to be aware of that and how figure out how we’re going to handle it.

One of the things I think that I do that makes me an anti-racist or critical educator is a lot of revision. Revision of ways that schooling is supposed to be. Revising the ways I think a teacher is supposed to be and the ways students are supposed to be. And revising the way the curriculum is set up and delivered to students.

And so I always want to be making changes to kind of that traditional structure traditional content so that centers the students’ voices and who they are and so on a day-to-day basis that could mean I’m looking at a unit and saying, “Hmm, I’m supposed to be teaching XYZ but that really has nothing to do with my students’ lives and what they’re going through and what they see in the world and so how can I change that so show exactly who they are and how can they bring their stories into what we’re talking about."