Multicultural Early Childhood Education
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
Ethel King-Shaw is a professor emeritus of curriculum and instruction at
the University of Calgary.
The editor and ten contributors have written a book on multiculturalism in Canada for day-care workers, kindergarten teachers, community workers, and parents.
McLeod states that since there is no ethnic majority group in Canada, we are all members of a minority group. Educators, therefore, must understand the backgrounds, traditions, and values of cultural and racial boundaries beyond their own. To develop a sense of individualism and choice he suggests that children be taught similarities and differences concurrently and be given the opportunity to deal with differences within the context of choice.
In describing a developmental rationale for multicultural education, Mock builds on the theories of Piaget, White, Maslow, Bandura, Elkind, Weikart, and Werner. She concludes that children from diverse cultural backgrounds learn more readily when the curriculum builds on their own experiences and includes a variety of multicultural experiences in early childhood education. Then, multiculturalism becomes an integral part of life.
Three examples of units with appropriate multicultural learning activities are presented: Me; Me and My Family; and Me, My School, and My Community. The specific lesson plans include objectives, materials/resources, procedure/methods, and outcomes/evaluation. Additional suggestions are provided for using community resources, visits, displays, festivals and celebrations, cooking, and stories.
Lowe advises that parents “start their children out in their ancestral culture and if, later, they are in doubt about where to strike the balance they should err on the side of their own culture rather than on the side of mainstream culture” (p.145).
The family and teacher of the child of the eighties need to focus more attention on developing attitudes, values, and the learning potential for those under age six, according to Polowy. To accomplish this goal, the pre-service and in-service education of teachers needs revision. Teachers need to know themselves and their cultural heritage, in addition to having opportunities to interact directly with other cultures. A multicultural program for pre-school children should emphasize sympathy, understanding, caring, and other human values.
Multicultural Early Childhood Education is a significant addition to a growing field of literature in the general area. Its unique contribution is the focus on young children. The book is highly recommended for practitioners because teaching suggestions are developed from contemporary theories widely accepted for the education of all children. The sensitivity and caring suggested for teaching in a multicultural society is exemplified throughout by the authors.