A Brief History Of Multicultural Education

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A Brief History of Multicultural Education from 1960 to Present
The United States (US) is considered a relatively “new” country when considering it in the historical context of the history of nation states. However, the idea of multicultural education (MCE) is certainly not new. Payne and Welsh (2008) posit that MCE originates from the results of struggles of humans throughout history, “from [the] Hammurabi Code to the Magna Carta, the British Bill of Rights, philosophers such as Locke and Montesquieu, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and various reform movements in different countries, such as Russia and China (Celik, 2012).” The challenges and changes in MCE, by the nature of what “culture” is considered to be, are difficult to
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And therein lies one of the problems of MCE. There is no single, all-encompassing, everyone-agrees definition. When reading articles and books on MCE and even the history and development of the field of what is known today as “multicultural education”, each author defines the concepts to his/her meaning for each publication. For instance, “…Levinson (2009) calls multicultural education a ‘conceptual mess’ (p. 428) since different thinkers have attached various values and meanings to the concept, which are not clarified by or derived from multicultural education itself.” Readers must understand the author behind the publication and his/her position on MCE before reading the publication to understand the framework in which the information is being presented. However, there is some standardization and typically accepted tenants of multicultural education. These are generally represented by an organization that is considered to be a leading resource in the field of MCE, called the National Association of Multicultural Education, or NAME for short. NAME, understandably, views the definition of multicultural education so vital that they spend an entire page of their website devoted to defining the term. NAME recognizes the variations in definition and goals by individuals and states that, “continuing debate is healthy (http://www.nameorg.org/name_history.php).”
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