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The Debate Over Multicultural Education in America
America has long been called "The Melting Pot" due to the fact
that it is made up of a varied mix of races, cultures, and ethnicities. As more
and more immigrants come to America searching for a better life, the
population naturally becomes more diverse. This has, in turn, spun a great
debate over multiculturalism. Some of the issues under fire are who is
benefiting from the education, and how to present the material in a way so as
to offend the least amount of people. There are many variations on these
themes as will be discussed later in this paper.
In the 1930's several educators called for programs of cultural diversity
that encouraged ethnic and minority students to study their respective
heritages. This is not a simple feat due to the fact that there is much diversity
within individual cultures. A look at a 1990 census shows that the American
population has changed more noticeably in the last ten years than in any other
time in the twentieth century, with one out of every four Americans
identifying themselves as black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, or
American Indian (Gould 198). The number of foreign born residents also
reached an all time high of twenty million, easily passing the 1980 record of
fourteen million. Most people, from educators to philosophers, agree that an
important first step in successfully joining multiple cultures is to develop an
understanding of each othe...