One of the most important aspects of multicultural education is the curriculum. I cannot stress this enough. In today’s standards-based (or obsessed) curriculum it is crucial to implement multiple perspectives across ALL disciplines. One of the main goals in choosing a curriculum for a multicultural approach is to make sure what you are teaching is ACCURATE and COMPLETE. We are doing our students a great disservice by not presenting the curriculum in this manner. Our student’s ability to develop critical thinking skills is severely diminished when these components are overlooked. Too often we settle for the “safe” approach and truth loses out. One example of this is how we (still) teach Christopher Columbus (among many others). Many of the views surrounding the history of Columbus come from a very Eurocentric and one-sided perspective. In multicultural education, we must examine events from multiple perspectives in order to get a clearer picture of what took place. We should not only use the perspective of Columbus but the perspectives of the Taino people that succumbed to this “discovery.” When we ask questions like: How did their people view this “discovery?” How did it affect them? What was the result of this discovery? Why do people say Columbus “discovered” America when there were already people living there? When we ask these kinds of questions we are engaging our students in critical thinking. When students are given multiple lenses in which to view information (instead of told what to think) they can then begin to use critical thinking, problem-solving, and other higher order thinking skills in order to make sense of the world around them.
Challenge: How can you begin to make your teachings about Columbus more accurate and complete?
Check out this helpful teacher resource! Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow