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Multicultural Education syllabus

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Education 260

Multicultural Education: Local and Global Perspectives

Spring 2014


Jody Cohen

Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program

Office: Bettws-Y-Coed 303 (BMC)

Meetings by appointment

Phone: 610-526-5214 (office)


Course Overview

An elective offered through the Education Program that counts towards the Bryn Mawr-Haverford minor in Educational Studies, state certification to teach at the secondary level, and the Tri-Co Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice Studies concentration, this course is designed for students interested in education as a cultural event that engages issues of identity, difference, and power.  Through considering several different and sometimes contradictory “takes” on multicultural education, also referred to as social justice education, diversity education, and intercultural education, we will re-view what goes on in classrooms and other education-related settings in terms of participants’ interior and shared experiences and the relationship of culture and identity to knowledge and power. 

The course is structured to recognize and explore a set of key tensions within and surrounding the contested areas of multicultural and peace and conflict education:

o        identity/sameness and diversity/difference

o        dialogue and silence

o        peace and conflict

o        culture and the individual psyche

We examine these tensions in terms of a range of conceptual frameworks which point to such matters as the issue of power in pedagogy and curriculum; the role and problematics of dialogue in teaching and learning; the claim for civic empowerment in schools; and the challenges of addressing conflict, e.g. ethnic and religious tensions, and promoting peace via education.  We apply theoretical constructs to broad as well as specific, localized situations — communities and schools that contend with significant challenges in terms of equity and where educators, students, and parents are trying out ways of educating for diversity and social justice.

The approach we take here is premised on the assumption that we all bring to the classroom our prior knowledge, diverse life experiences, and experiences as learners and teachers.  The goal of this seminar is to create a space in which, through discussions, activities, reading and writing, we enhance our awareness of the complexity of our own and others’ identities and of how we and others are embedded in socio-cultural and historical contexts, and to develop our imaginations and sense of efficacy as global citizens, educators, and learners.

 All students will complete a field experience that meets the interrelated purposes of deepening our understandings of multicultural education and addressing the expressed needs of an education-related organization.  The Praxis component of the course enables us to gain real life experiences with multicultural education in a range of contexts that will deepen our understanding of issues and implications in the field.  We will learn both from our individual field experiences and from sharing this dimension of the course with other members of the class. Since we will also use our resources to address felt needs of educators in the field, your work at your field placements will also allow you to contribute to teaching and learning in a real setting in which your efforts matter.

 We are fortunate to be working with the Bryn Mawr Praxis Office:  Anne Bradley, (610) 526-7803, Praxis Field Placement Coordinator,

This course is limited to 25 students.  Priority goes to students who are completing the teacher certification program, the minor in educational studies, or the concentration in Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice Studies.

Course Policies

·               I expect everyone to attend class consistently and punctually.  If the need arises for you to miss a class, be late or leave early, please call or email me ahead of time if possible.

·               If there is a reason why you cannot complete a paper by the due date, speak to me about an extension BEFORE the date that the paper is due.

·               Course papers may be revised and re-submitted for a new grade based on the revision.  Please consult with me on the revision process.

·               In all written assignments, please take care to edit and proofread your work so that needless errors do not distract readers from the strength of your thinking.


Students who think they may need accommodations in this course because of the impact of a disability are encouraged to meet with me privately early in the semester.  Students who attend Bryn Mawr should also contact Deborah Alder, Coordinator of Access Services, at or 610-526-7351, as soon as possible, to verify eligibility for reasonable accommodations.  Haverford Students should contact Rick Webb, Coordinator, Office of Disabilities Services, at or 610-896-1290.  


Assigned Texts (available at Bryn Mawr Bookstore and on reserve at Canaday):  Kevin Kumashiro, Against Common Sense; Molly Blackburn, Interrupting Hate


All other assigned readings will be available via our passwork-protected file of readings

Bring each day’s readings to class with you so that you can use them in our discussions (this includes articles from serendip and/or notes taken from the readings. It is very important that you annotate as you read and come to class ready to discuss).

Posting on serendip:  You’ll be posting weekly on serendip by Mon. at 5.  In the first 4 weeks of the course, you’ll be posting to your group in response to a series of prompts (see below).  After week 4, you’ll post weekly about your Praxis experiences and/or our readings.  Please be aware that serendip is a public site.  Also, you’ll always have the option to post privately, so that only our class will be able to view your post.  We’ll discuss this further in class.


Class Meetings and Assignments

All assignments are due on the day they are listed.

Section I: Putting multiple frameworks into play

Week 1:

Tuesday, January 21

·      Orienting to the course

·      Alexie

Thursday, Jan. 23

·      Gorski:

·      Amos


Week 2:

Ø  Write and post by Mon. at 5:  something that happened in your past (in school, neighborhood, family…) – you were part of it or witnessed or in some way had direct contact with – that troubled/s you, raises questions for you about culture/multiculturalisms/diversity/in relation to equity/in relation to power, even if you’re not exactly sure how.  Tell the story in terms of your perspective when it happened; then feel free to add any comments/questions from your perspective now. 

Tuesday, January 28

Reading due:

·      Tuck

·      Huang

·      Kromidas

Thursday, January 30:

Reading due:

·      Su

·      Cole, “The White Savior Industrial Complex”


Week 3:

Ø  Write and post by Mon. @ 5:  something that happened this year in/around the Bi-Co – you were part of it or witnessed or heard about it (in the air) – that troubled/s you, raises questions for you about culture/multiculturalisms/diversity/in relation to equity/in relation to power.  Tell the story in terms of your perspective when it happened; then feel free to add any comments/questions from your perspective now.

Tuesday, February 4

Reading due:

·      Hall 

Thursday, February 6: Praxis orientation


Week 4:

Ø  Write and post by Mon. @5:  something that happened this week in/around your life, including (but not limited to) the Bi-Co – you were part of it or witnessed or heard about it – that troubled/s you, raises questions for you about culture/multiculturalisms/diversity/in relation to equity/in relation to power.  Tell the story in terms of your perspective when it happened; then feel free to add any comments/questions from your perspective now.

 Tuesday, February 11

Reading due:

·      Berlak and Moyenda chapters from Taking It Personally (note that there are two Berlak chaps.; this one is from Taking It Personally)

Thursday, February 13

Readings due:

Boler, chaps. 4 & 7

·    R


Week 5:

Tuesday, February 18

Reading due:

Sleeter and Soriano; Gray


Post by Wed. @5: Response to one or both readings for Thurs.


Thursday, February 20

Reading Due:

·      Shor & Freire

·      Levinson, chap. 1


Week 6:

Post by Mon. @5: Describe your Praxis setting; so far, what do you see as possibilities and challenges?


Tuesday, February 25

Reading due:

·      Ellsworth

·      Berlak, Undoing Whiteness

Thursday, February 27

Reading due:

Enactment: Each group chooses a scenario to ‘perform’ in some way, e.g. to present in form of skit/storytelling.  Others in class take on roles/perspectives from authors we’ve been reading (could assign or choose these ahead of time) and during class they’ll offer interpretations from those perspectives.


Section II:  Looking at sites of practice in and out of school: Dilemmas and possibilities 

 Week 7:  

Due Sun. by 5 pm, posted on serendip:

Write:  Your cultural autobiography, addressing the question “How did I come to be who I am? And who am I becoming?” Consider the influence of broad factors such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, geographic location, as well as personal factors.  How have your experiences of diversity influenced your identity? To what extent have you experienced privileges of the dominant culture or marginalization based on some aspect of your identity? How have your cultural identity and experiences with differences such as race, culture, class, gender and sexual orientation influenced your learning and teaching? Use at least three theoretical perspectives to inform/illuminate, locate contradictions etc.  Finally, create a visual image of yourself culturally/your cultural identity.  This can be representational or not; feel free to use media of your choice.


Tuesday, March 4

·      Enactments continued

Inquiry project:  During this section of the course, you will select an area for further inquiry, e.g. a particular age group, population of students, and/or theme or issue within the field of multicultural ed/peace and conflict ed/social justice ed.  Research what education might look like in this area and create a final project that uses and displays what you’ve learned.  This might take the form of a curriculum, a research paper, a video or podcast…

Thursday, March 6

·      Enactments continued

Reading due:

·      Kumashiro, Against Common Sense


Spring Break


Week 8:  Theory and practice

Tuesday, March 18

Reading due:

·      Kumashiro, Forward, Introduction, Part I:  Movements toward Anti-Oppressive Education

By Wed. @ 5pm, post on serendip: Propose your area of inquiry (see above) and how you will approach this.


Thursday, March 20

Reading due:

·      Kumashiro, Part II


Week 9:  Theory and Practice; working with children

Post by Mon. @5: Response to reading(s) for Tues.

Tuesday, March 25

Reading Due:

·      Sleeter, chap. 6; Keenan; Napier


Thursday, March 27

Reading Due:

Sleeter, chap. 5; Sweeney and Feld


Week 10:  Practice: Working with children, adolescents, adults

Post by Tues. @5: Tell a story from your Praxis site and reflect on possible meanings and implications.

Tuesday, April 1:  Programs in and out of school

Panel of educators

Thursday, April 3

Reading Due:

·      Ceballo

·      Lee & Hawkins

·        Arriaza & Wagner


Week 11:  Practice: Working with adolescents and adults

Post by Mon. @5: Response to reading(s) for Tues.

Tuesday, April 8:   

Reading due:

Paris & Kirkland

·      Martin, chap. 2

·      Delpit, chaps. 4 and 9


Thursday, April 10

Reading due:


·      Blackburn, Part I

Week 12:  Practice:  Adolescents; higher ed

Tuesday, April 15

Reading Due:

·      Finish Blackburn

And you may want to check out these sites and follow up on some of the specific resources:




Thursday, April 17: 

Reading due:

·      Elbaz-Luwisch

·      Hoti

Inquiry Project due Fri. April 18 by 5pm: Your inquiry into an area of interest in multicultural/peace and conflict/social justice education.

Week 13: Inquiry projects

Tuesday, April 22

Review Hoti and Elbaz-Luwisch

Share inquiry projects

Thursday, April 24

Share inquiry projects

Reading Due?

(Not getting to ?: 

Seidl & Hancock

Jones and Moclom



Lamont Hill)

Week 14: Praxis

Tuesday, April 29

·      Praxis panels

Thursday, May 1

·      Praxis panels and Closing

Ed 260:  Multicultural Education

Final field-based paper


As your final paper for this class you will write an approx. 5-8 page paper in which you integrate what you have observed and learned in your experience with teachers and students in a Praxis setting with relevant readings and discussions of multicultural education.


The steps outlined below are intended to guide you through your final paper.


***Final field paper, option 1


Consider your focus/question for this paper:  What aspect(s) of your placement experience most intrigues you with regard to questions of multicultural education?


Final week(s) at your site.  You are in the final week(s) of your Praxis placement.  Take the opportunity during your final visits to collect any relevant site documents (e.g. copies of assignments or student work, photos, etc.) and to ask questions of teachers and students that will deepen your understanding of their perspectives.


Look at what you’ve been learning/documenting through the lens of your question/focus.  Read through your field notes, vignette, lesson plans, student writing, etc. from your site visits, keeping in mind your focus question for this paper.  Then read through a second time, taking notes on the incidents, comments, and so forth that speak to your question/focus.  Be open to the possibility that your experiences at the placement suggest contradictory “readings” of an issue, e.g. a teaching strategy that works in one instance doesn’t work in another.  It’s important to try to make sense of all the data that speaks to your focus, and this may well involve revising your way of understanding that issue. 


Locating sources.  Consider relevant literature in the field.  The purpose of using readings is to provide an interpretive context for understanding your field experience.  You may rely on the readings we’ve shared in class, look to your own or others’ inquiry projects, and/or pursue outside sources that illuminate your focus.  You may also consider your own experiences prior to this field experience as part of the context you bring to understanding your site.


Organizing your paper in terms of key themes in relation to your focus or question.  You might use one or several vignettes or a closer look at participants to show how these themes play out.


Drafting your paper

*You should introduce your site, giving relevant contextual information.  Then lay out the focus/question your paper will explore.

*Include a brief review of relevant literature and/or other experiences that set the context for your particular field focus. 

*The bulk of the paper should address the field experience itself through the lens of your question/focus.  You should use specifics from your placement, e.g. descriptions of incidents, quotes from conversations, etc., as well as interpretive commentary that indicates what sense you’re making of these descriptive pieces in light of your overall focus. 


Your paper should be clearly written and follow formal guidelines in terms of grammar, syntax and citations.  You may include appendices as needed.  Remember to use pseudonyms to protect confidentiality for institutions, programs, and individuals.



*** Final field paper, option 2: 

As in option 1, analyze your data searching for key themes that illuminate a question or focus.  Then use your findings as a springboard for a proposal or a recommendation for some change in your Praxis setting that addresses issues of multicultural education.  Include a rationale that explains the need or call for the change you recommend, and then outline your proposal/recommendations.  Name and discuss any challenges that you foresee. 


While option 1 emphasizes thick description, option 2 emphasizes recommendations for programmatic change.



In either option, make sure to use pseudonyms!


Please post your paper on serendip or email your paper to me at by:


Seniors: Fri. May 9 @ 5 pm

Everyone else:  Fri. May 16 @ 12:30 pm
















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