by Claire Miller
Most educators have heard the term “multiculturalism,” whether in their collegiate preparation programs or in their local school systems.
Accrediting agencies encourage universities to incorporate multicultural content into their curriculum but often leave the content creation and implementation up to individual institutions, according to Craig Frisby, associate professor in the Educational, School and Counseling Psychology Department in the College of Education at the University of Missouri.
“Each training program is different in how it conceptualizes this idea of multiculturalism and how they translate that into training,” Frisby told College of Education students, faculty and staff at the Nov. 2 Research Wednesdays. “This is a very idiosyncratic concept that isn’t standardized across training programs.”
And with the wide variety of distinct ethnic, racial and language groups in the U.S., it can be difficult to prepare pre-service teachers for the variety of students they’ll work with in their careers.
To address this challenge, Frisby suggests teachers focus on a few key issues that affect students from all walks of life, including socioeconomic status, cognitive ability, school context and district resources.
“Even if students could take 10 years in your training programs to learn about all of these cultures, that would have little influence on developing their skills to effectively serve their school settings,” he said. “There’s a smaller number of key concepts and issues that cross-cut these different groups that would give educators a solid idea of how all kids develop at home and at school.”
The Research Wednesdays Speaker Series is designed to fulfill three goals: to provide a platform for explorations of new ways of conducting and disseminating educational research, to discuss new methods of mentoring doctoral students in an effort to enhance their development as researchers, and to fill a professional development need by providing access to cutting edge researchers at the state and national levels.
For more information on Frisby and the Research Wednesdays Speaker Series, visit http://education.gsu.edu/main/coe_events.htm.