Dr. James Banks on Multicultural Education

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As we proceed further into the 21st century, multiculturalism becomes more relevant to obtaining a truly global society. Dr. James A. Banks defines the meaning of multicultural education and its potential impact on society when it is truly integrated into American classrooms. In his lecture, Democracy, Diversity and Social Justice: Education in a Global Age, Banks (2006) defines the five dimensions of multicultural education that serve as a guide to school reform when trying to implement multicultural education (Banks 2010). The goal of multicultural education is to encourage students to value their own cultures and the diverse cultures of those around them without politicizing their differences but rather, as Banks passionately explains in his lecture, “to actualize the ideals stated in the Constitution” (2006) forming “civil, moral, and just communities.”

The first of the five dimensions of multicultural education is content integration. Teachers can identify exemplary people and information from diverse cultures and integrate it in a nontrivial into the curriculum so students can learn the effects of all cultures on the content they are studying. At the beginning of the school year in my Algebra class, I do a brief activity on the history of numbers. The students learn that we currently use the Arabic number system but there were many other number systems that existed in the history of numbers. We explore and try to represent quantities using various number systems such as Roman, Mayan, Chinese, and Egyptian number systems. The students are able to see the contributions made by people of diverse cultures to mathematics.

The knowledge construction process, the second dimension of multicultural education, requires t...

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... and administrators alike—must unite in a common plan to weave into all aspects of student life the recognition of diverse cultures and social groups. Dr. Banks (2010) explains the latent curriculum being “defined as the one that no teacher explicitly teaches but that all students learn.” These are the lessons that students remember long after they have left the school system.


Banks, J.A. (2006). Democracy, Diversity and Social Justice: Education in a Global Age. University Faculty Lecturers Podcast. Retrieved May 9, 2012, from http://www.uwtv.org/video/player.aspx?mediaid=1580263790

Banks, J.A., & McGee Banks, C.A. (2010). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. (7th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Rothstein-Fisch, C., & Trumbull, E. (2008). Cultures in Harmony. Educational Leadership, 6 (1), 63-66.

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