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Education 260

Multicultural Education: Local and Global Perspectives

Spring 2015



Jody Cohen

Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program

Office: Bettws-Y-Coed 303 (BMC)

Meetings by appointment

Phone: 610-526-5214 (office), 215-206-6832 (cell)


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:


  • identity/sameness and diversity/difference


  • dialogue and silence


  • peace and conflict


  • 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 cultures 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:  Nell Anderson, (610) 526-5031, Praxis Field Placement Coordinator,


As a writing intensive course, this course is limited to 22 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.  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 Patty Rawlings at the Office of Disabilities Services, 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 serendip site.

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).


Class Meetings and Assignments

All assignments are due on the day they are listed.


Posting on serendip:  You’ll be posting weekly on serendip by Sun., Mon., or Wed. @ 5pm.  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.


Week 1:  Putting multiple frameworks into play

Tuesday, January 20

  • Orienting and disorienting


Thursday, Jan. 22

Praxis introduction


Week 2: Multiple frameworks

  • Write and post by Sun. 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 27

Reading due:

  • Tuck
  • Huang
  • Kromidas


Thursday, January 29:

Reading due:


Week 3: Multiple frameworks

  • Write and post by Sun. @ 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 3

Reading due:

  • Hall 
  • Alexander


Thursday, February 5:

Reading Due:

  • Berlak, Taking It Personally
  • Moyenda


Week 4: Multiple frameworks

Tuesday, February 10

  • Praxis orientation

 ** Write and post by Wed. @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.

Thursday, February 12

Reading due:

  • Boler, chaps. 4 & 7


Week 5: Multiple frameworks

  • Post by Mon. @5: Open response to any or all of the readings: Boler, chap. 7, Shor & Freire, Levinson.  This  can be brief and informal - just a way to get us thinking together about these readings.

Tuesday, February 17

Reading due:

Thursday, February 19

Reading Due:

  • Berlak, Undoing Whiteness

Week 6: Enacting change

  • Post by Sun. @5: Describe your Praxis setting; so far, what do you see as possibilities and challenges?  USE PRIVATE POST AND PSEUDONYMS!!


Tuesday, February 24

Reading due:

  • Ellsworth
  • Sweeney, M., Introduction to The Story within Us (available as e-book through BMC and HC)


Thursday, February 26

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.


Week 7:  Enacting change

  • Due Sun. by 11:59 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 3

  • 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 5

  • Enactments continued


Spring Break


Week 8:  Theory and practice

Tuesday, March 17

Reading due:

  • Enactments continued

Thursday, March 19

Post by Wed. @5: Response to reading for Thurs.

Reading due:

  • Kumashiro, Against Common Sense, Introductions and Part I (chaps. 1-5)

Week 9:  Theory into practice

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

Tuesday, March 24

Reading Due:

  • Kumashiro, Part II (chaps. 6-11 and Conclusion)
  • Delpit, chap. 9

Thursday, March 26

Reading Due:

  • Sleeter, chap. 5
  • Napier
  • Sweeney and Feld


Week 10:  Theory into practice cont.

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

Tuesday, March 31: Panel on teaching in prison


Thursday, April 2

Reading Due:

  • Medin and Bang
  • Santiago
  • Cattanach
  • Naiditch

Week 11:  Theory into practice cont.

Post by Mon. @5: Response to reading(s):  Feel free to comment on the readings for last Thurs. (which we are still discussing) and/or the readings for Tues.  Optional prompt:  How do these readings help us think about Sleeter's (chap. 6) idea of "students as curriculum"?

Tuesday, April 7:   

Reading due:

  • Sleeter, chaps. 6
  • Keenan
  • Paris & Kirkland
  • Martin, chap. 2

Thursday, April 9

Reading due:

  • Blackburn, Interrupting Hate


Week 12:  Theory into practice cont.

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

Tuesday, April 14

Reading Due:

  • Blackburn, Interrupting Hate

And check out these sites and follow up on some of the specific resources:


Thursday, April 16: 

Reading due:

  • Nurenberg
  • Ceballo
  • Lee and Hawkins


Week 13: Practice:  Adolescents; higher ed

  • Inquiry Project due Sun. April 19 by 11:59pm: Your inquiry into an area of interest in multicultural/peace and conflict/social justice education.

Tuesday, April 21

Reading due:

  • El-haj, “The Beauty…”
  • Elbaz-Luwisch
  • Hoti

 Thursday, April 23

Reading due:

    • Ladson-Billings


Week 14: Praxis

Tuesday, April 28

Reading due:

  • Elbaz-Luwisch, "How is education possible..."


  • Praxis panels


Thursday, April 30

  • Praxis panels and Closing


DUE at end of finals period: Field-based paper and final portfolio, to be discussed during the semester.