Polycultural Education: Overview and Reflection

The problem of enhancement of education belongs to a number of those pedagogical problems which don’t lose the relevance eventually. The modern situation in modern society is characterized by the growth of the local ethnic conflicts. Tasks of preserving safety in modern society require continuous work on studying the nature of the conflicts between representatives of various ethnic groups, their influences on the social and economic life of society, and also search of ways of their overcoming. All this sets serious problems for education which can’t but react to the taking place events in society. The experience of foreign countries, in particular, the USA, shows that educational institutions are the main structures where the purposeful uniting and peacekeeping policy is pursued. Therefore, education can help society to bring up youth in the spirit of the humane attitude towards representatives of other cultures and to find effective methods of a decrease in international hostility which can be applicable in a social environment in one hand and in another hand can help to improve students’ grades. Nowadays, researchers propose a theory of culturally focused pedagogy that might be considered in the reformation of teacher education. According to Lopez, (2016), “some researchers assert that culturally responsive teaching (CRT) improves academic achievement because it views students’ culture and language as strengths.” All schools have their ratings, and parents usually want to send their children to that school where the ratings are very high. Also, parents look for schools where their children can feel themselves comfortable in other words, in their “plates”. As an educational leader, I would like to incorporate cultural pedagogies at my school. According to that place where teachers will work, we should prepare future teachers with following requisite teacher beliefs. They are high expectations, cultural knowledge, cultural content integration, and of course language.

Firstly, I would like to speak about high expectations. There are so many cultures, which are mixed in every country during the globalization and the role of all teachers be closer to their students helping them to overcome any academicals issues which they will face. According to Villegas and Lucas (2002) state, “Teachers’ attitudes toward students significantly shape the expectations they hold for student learning, their treatment of students, and what students ultimately learn” (p. 23). It means that all teachers are responsible for their students’ performance. Teachers should make standards-based content and curricula accessible to students and teach in a way that students can understand using aspects of their cultures. Once students feel comfortable with how a teacher talks and discusses academic material, they will feel comfortable enough to focus and try to learn the content. For example, in my country when I became a class teacher, I had a class with bad ratings. There were many children from problematic families. I mean, not full families, where they don’t have father or mother or both of them. Children were psychologically closed in their inner world. All teachers didn’t want to go and teach them because children didn’t take a part in discussion or activities during the lesson. And of course, their marks were really bad. It was for me very hard to understand those children, but I did. I started to spend more time with them, and every time I told them you are the best and you can change the world. I encouraged them with sports and they won sports competition at the school. They were very happy. Next, my step was to improve their knowledge. I told them that they won sports Olympiad at the school and it means they are not bad. If they could do it, they can do the best in their subjects too. And they did. I was very satisfied when all my children started to show good results at school.

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The second, in my opinion, is much important to have cultural knowledge. To know how to teach them using their cultures, traditions and teaching styles. I mean how to behave yourself. New teachers should know all about students’ culture and the books which they will use in their classes should have included famous and well-known people from local culture. It will keep students’ attention during the class in one hand and in another hand they will learn many interesting facts which they didn’t know before. The treatment of differences as traits, however, may be in part due to the emphasis on differences in ways students learn, and how these merit considerations by teachers. Gay (2002), for example, states that “Culture encompasses many things, some of which are more important to know than others because they have direct implications for teaching and learning. Among these are ethnic groups’ cultural values, traditions, communication, learning styles, contributions, and relational patterns” (p.107). The CRT literature is consistent in the need to validate students’ cultural experiences as knowledge. Avoiding the reduction of cultural experiences as traits, cultural knowledge is also represented in constructivist views of learning, where “learners use their prior knowledge and beliefs . . . to make sense of the new input” (Villegas & Lucas, 2002, p. 25). Ladson-Billings (1995a) shares the constructivist view in her conceptions of self and others, where teachers “believed in a Freirean notion of ‘teaching as mining’ or pulling knowledge out” (p. 479), as well as the “use of student culture as a vehicle for learning” (Ladson-Billings, 1995b, p. 161). According to Crystal Kuykendall, a former executive director of the National Alliance of Black School Educators, “culture determines how children perceive life and their relationship to the world. Because culture also influences how and what children learn, educators can use culture to improve self-image and achievement. Not only must teachers show an appreciation of cultural diversity, they must also incorporate teaching strategies that are congruent with the learning styles of their students” (1989, pp. 32-33). The ways culture has been represented in practice, however, have proven to be problematic, as reflected by Ladson-Billings (2014) in her statement, “Many practitioners, and those who claim to translate research to practice, seem stuck in very limited and superficial notions of culture” (p.77). She elaborates, “The idea that adding some books about people of color, having a classroom Kwanzaa celebration, or posting ‘diverse’ images makes one ‘culturally relevant’ seem to be what the pedagogy has been reduced to” (Ladson-Billings, 2014, p.82). The teacher is the person who has to create a bridge between students’ home and school lives. So, they should learn students’ culture from them and their families.

The third significant role is playing cultural content integration. To represent students’ culture as a way to create new knowledge, teachers have to add to the educational process cultural information, resources, and materials reflected in all subjects taught in schools. “What information should be included in the curriculum, how it should be integrated into the existing curriculum, and its location within the curriculum”, this content integration was described by Banks (1993). And the CRT scholars explain that incorporating students’ culture into the curriculum affirms “the legitimacy of cultural heritages of different ethnic groups, both as legacies that affect students’ dispositions, attitudes, and approaches to learning and as worthy content to be taught in the formal curriculum” (Gay, 2000, p. 29). This is also one of the element to increase students’ cultural attitudes, which also will be positively reflected on their knowledge.

The last one and very important is language. It is not enough to be an attractive teacher after the teacher should follow his or her followers. That’s why the teacher should know students native language. Teachers may not know a 100% of that language but should understand and sometimes use it to explain some kind of hard theme in students’ language. If the teacher will know students’ language it will give the opportunity to respect him or her. It is always good to understand each other when the student didn’t understand some materials from the book. González (2001) states, “to speak of language is to speak of our “selves.” Language is at the heart, literally and metaphorically, of who we are, how we present ourselves, and how others see us. . . . The ineffable link of language to emotion, to the very core of our being, is one of the ties that bind children to a sense of heritage.” (p. xix). Look into blends have reliably supported methodologies that support understudies in their local dialect (e.g., August & Shanahan, 2008; Salazar, 1998; Slavin & Cheung, 2005), and the advantages of utilizing students’ non-English local dialects as a part of direction are not restricted to psychological advantages (e.g., Peal & Lambert, 1962). The matter of examining language and its role in achievement trajectories, however, is not simply a conceptualization that applies to non-EL students. As described by García (2009): In cases when bilingualism is developed after the language practices of a community have been suppressed, the development of the community’s mother tongue is not a simple addition that starts from a monolingual point. . . . Therefore, bilingualism is not simply additive, but recursive. (p. 52). Consistent with the view of language as not being limited to ELs, Darder (2012) asserts, “It is critical that educators recognize the role language plays as one of the most powerful transmitters of culture, and as such, its central role in both intellectual formation and the survival of subordinate cultural populations” (p. 36). For instance, when I was teaching, in my class were many children from other nationality. There were Uzbeks, Tatar, Turkish, Russian and other. I tried to speak using all these languages. And you know what, my children tried to correct me if I were wrong. In this way, we could be close to each other. When a teacher knows students’ language, students usually start to respect their teacher. And this is fact.

To conclude, polyculture education is the special mentality based on the ideas of freedom, justice, equality; the educational reform aimed at transformation of traditional educational systems so that they corresponded to interests, educational needs and opportunities of pupils irrespective of racial, ethnic, language, social, gender, religious, cultural origin; the cross-disciplinary process penetrating the content of all disciplines of the training program, but not separate courses, methods and the strategy of training, relationship between all participants of the teaching and educational environment; process of familiarizing of pupils with richness of world culture through consecutive assimilation of knowledge of native and national cultures, arms of pupils ability to critically analyze any information in order to avoid fallacies, and also formations of the tolerant attitude towards cultural distinctions – the qualities necessary for life in the multicultural world.


Anderson, L. M., & Stillman, J. A. (2013). Student teaching’s contribution to preservice teacher development: A review of research focused on the preparation of teachers for urban and high-needs contexts. Review of Educational Research, 83(1), 3-69.

Antrop-González, R., Vélez, W., & Garrett, T. (2004). Challenging the academic (MIS) categorization of urban youth: Building a case for Puerto Rican high achievers. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 7(2), 16-32.

Antrop-González, R., Vélez, W., & Garrett, T. (2008). Examining familial-based academic success factors in urban high school students: The case of Puerto Rican female high achievers. Marriage & Family Review, 43(1-2), 140-163. 

Banks, J. A. (1993). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. Review of Research in Education, 19(1), 3-49. 

Darder, A. (2012). Culture and power in the classroom: A critical foundation for the education of bicultural students. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press. 

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106-116. 

Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. 

Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. 

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995a). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491. 

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995b). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory Into Practice 34(3), 159-165. 

Ladson-Billings, G. (2014). Culturally relevant pedagogy 2.0: aka the remix. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 74-84.

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