This emphasis will build culturally sensitive curriculum. (Oakes, Quartz, Ryan & Lipton, 2000, p. 77) Though the importance of cultural identity, and even the dreaded sources of nationalism, such as independent cultural identity and linguistic heritage must not be ignored in an attempt to universalize education. With some of the world's most influential organizations in a serious bid to establish universal education the goals of the economists may be essentially answered, but educators must take care to make sure that universalization does not include an element of whitewashing that reduces the importance of individual cultural/linguistic heritage.
A directly related to the world's economic needs. Education and the global economy are envisioned as having an interdependent relationship. Competition in the global economy is dependent on the quality of education, whereas the goals of education are dependent on the economy. Under these circumstances, education changes as the requirements of the economy change. As a result, human capital theory now dominates discussions of education for the global economy. Under human capital theory, education is a social investment that, in the most efficient manner, prepares human resources (students) to contribute to economic growth. (Spring, 1998, p. 6)
The World Bank acknowledges the need to emphasize the importance of "global education" as the first step in the developmental goals of many nations seeking and resisting global economic improvement.
Education is central to development and a key to attaining the Millennium Development Goals. It is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and lays a foundation for sustained economic growth. (World Bank Education website at (http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,menuPK:282391~pagePK:149018~piPK:149093~theSitePK:282386,00.html)
Though there are many who agree with the overall need of nations to adopt global education policy the emphasis must not overshadow the strengths of the individual nations involved. All individuals must seek to explore education in an environment that teaches them what they need to know without killing their own culture by default.
Low- and middle-income countries agree that they cannot succeed unless they strengthen their education systems to tackle simultaneously the twin challenges of poverty reduction and the creation of modern, dynamic, and cohesive economies and societies. (World Bank Education Website at (http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,contentMDK:20275629~menuPK:2644043~pagePK:64020865~piPK:51164185~theSitePK:282386,00.html)
International interests must make strategic choices that do not create a system that is a watered down or whitewashed cultural expression of education, as a process of "temporary" necessity. The manner in which this is possible will likely be the process of allowing the voices of educators previously considered subversive to dominate discussions about the inclusion of culturally important information as well as economically important information.
Characteristics of Culturally Sensitive Teachers
The foundations of parenting run very deep, as they are the core of an individuals' being in the case of being parents and being parented by them. Culture is one of the most significant aspects of this dynamic. The difficulties that arise when an individual or family has a culture that is different than the dominant culture can be significant for parents to navigate through. The debates about multiculturalism, in education create a sounding board that facilitates communication about cultural issues that might otherwise not be voiced. Therefore regardless of opinion, either in favor of multicultural classrooms or against multicultural classrooms the debates create an opening for discussion that can facilitate a better relationship with parents of diverse children. Those teachers who have their pulse on cultural sensitivity are also aware that the parent's of diverse individuals within the classroom are a consummate link to cultural sensitively. (Smith, 2006, p. 58)
One of the most important issues with regard to parent relationships as they affect the classroom is that it is crucial to remember that the parent is a teacher and in many cases the first teacher. It is for this reason that developing a strong relationship between teacher, community, school, classroom and parents is essential and even more so if diversity is a part of the equation. Teachers seeking this strong relationship and achieving it are remarkably more prepared than others to respond to cultural sensitivity in curriculum and activity. (Smith, 2006, p. 58) Educators and administrators must be aware of this potential disconnect and foster relationships between the school community, teachers and parents of diverse students as they may be one of the greatest resources for true understanding of diversity on a core level, rather than on a superficial level often employed by schools and educators. (Meyer & Rhodes, 2006)
In a work describing the importance of parent involvement in schools, one group developed a set of learning modules that stresses the need for culturally diverse adults to make every effort to develop open communication and be involved in the schooling of their children. The work demonstrates a significant missing link in the situation, as immigrant parents often feel intimidated by the culture of schools and some must have guidance to help lead them toward inclusion in their children's learning. One module in the work specifically stresses the importance of the immigrant parent realizing their role as their children's first teacher and helping guide them through activities that foster this relationship. (Peacoraro & Magnuson 2001, pp.34-52)
The work also stresses that the social and cultural stresses of immigration and the feeling of being an outsider often drive the diverse parent away from school interactions and teaching, as they feel that the school in this new foreign culture has more to teach their children than they themselves do. The work, developed by the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, stresses that diverse parents must be reminded that their cultural origin is equally important as new learning to their children as is being a part of the child's development of self-esteem, and English proficiency is irrelevant to such learning. (Peacoraro & Magnuson 2001, p.38) Creating bridge between the parent and the culture and community of schools through a stress on a mutual learning exchange can be an exemplary opportunity, and can also help newcomers feel more welcome in their new home. Debates regarding multicultural education, and the feelings, of immigrants about such debates could potentially be an opening to help educators reach out to diverse communites and develop bonds of communication that foster the development of children and the system, even in cases where the multicultural classroom and/or curriculum are rejected.
In fact it has been argued that these important core principles, self-esteem, cultural pride and self-awareness can sometimes not be learned at school, in a setting where diversity is not recognized as valuable and students, especially the very young, tend to seek sameness, even though their diversity is apparent. Though debates of multiculturalism often discourage inclusion of cultural subject matter into classrooms, for various reasons the need to express culture at home is still crucial, teachers who acknowledge and support this are responding to cultural sensitivity, especially when they are flexible enough to let it creep into the classroom, even when it is barred. In one work an experimental multi-cultural curriculum was tried, in a LA suburban kindergarten class. The authors stress that the program helped students learn to be open in communications about fear of prejudice. The program was said to have helped children to have; "gained power to choose how they think and feel about each other. They learned to no longer base their friendships, let alone their perceptions, on who most looks like them." (Anicich & Kirk, 1999, p.2) Through such experimentation, the debate can be answered effectively, as classroom communities become more diverse cultural expression must not be stifled but in fact made a part of the foundation of curriculum, so as to allow open communication about fears and concerns and allow students to recognize internal value, rather than basing perceptions on outward appearance, perceived educational difficulties, and/or perceived cultural differences.
In one work on multiculturalism in schools it is pointed out that according to the National Center for Education Statistics 2005; "As of 2003, minority students made up 42% of the public school population." (Meyer & Rhodes, 2006, p.83) With this demographic change, occurring in a more saturated fashion in some regions than in others, there must be some universal acknowledgement of broad concern for curriculum development which reflects change. The authors stress throughout the work the importance of educators having a greater knowledge of culture and that simply employing the old standards of including foreign, food, dance and folklore in curriculum is not fully effective and must be expanded to include real cultural diversity issues, including race relations as part of the subject matter. (Meyer & Rhodes, 2006) one way in which this can occur is by the inclusion of parents in the plan, going right to the source of cultural diversity, diverse parents can be a resource that is currently not being utilized to its fullest potential. (Peacoraro & Magnuson, 2001)
Experimentation, such as that done in this classroom…