In Search of Metaphors for Diversity
Special to Planet Gnosis
Sunday, February 24, 2013
MC Issues is one of the final pedagogy courses in your intensive journey toward becoming an emerging professional in education. In this course we will explore the definitions, values, and interpersonal dynamics of culture, multiculturalism, and multicultural education. We will also consider diversity and social justice. This website provides resources related to your studies, including contributions from your classmates.
The mini-semester begins with an examination of who we are. After we identify the many facets of self, we turn to our students, the school, and the community. You will have the opportunity to share who you are by writing a poem as part of the ABC Who Are We? assignment. You will also have the chance to reflect on the demographics of your students by creating a graphic representation of their characteristics.
Since we are on a shorter schedule, you will be choosing one of your assessments from the “MC Menu,” a collection of 15 assignments with different values and themes. You can choose any number of assignments, but they must all total 100. Values begin at 25 points, so you can choose four assignments at 25 each, or two at 25 and one at 50, two at 50 each, or one for 100. Each category progresses from a basic level of performance (at 25 points) to a higher level at 100.
You will also read articles related to diversity education, but you will choose one for the EDOK (Expert Distiller of Knowledge) assignment. The EDOK is a summary format used to synthesize information from the article. The format also requires you to reflect on the importance of the article to you as an emerging education professional and to connect the article to the Danielson professional evaluation model.
Your last assignment will be an in-class reflection based on the information and experiences you have had in and out of class. Reflection is a critical component of transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991 / 1997) as learners, particularly adult learners, ”assess and evaluate new information, and in some cases, reframe their world-view through the incorporation of new knowledge or information into their world-view or belief system” (retrieved from http://transformativelearningtheory.com/, 2013).
So, the journey through your study of Multicultural Issues begins and ends with you. By course's end, you will have gained a better understanding of multiculturalism and why this sometimes controversial and always important facet of today's classrooms is an important topic for teacher professionals to master.
In my reflections on this semester's goals, I sought a metaphor or visual image to express my understanding of the concept multicultural. I drifted back to my childhood and the summer vacations I spent with my father's mother, Tacy Farmer Alexander. She was a quilter who carried a white shirt box with her whenever she visited. Every female "worth their salt" at that time had a sewing machine and knew how to use a needle and thread, so most of our clothes were designed and crafted by mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers. As a result, lots of scraps of material were saved and reused — most often "pieced" together to make a quilt.
Granny created wonderful quilt tops from her family's scraps. I could look at a pattern and see my dad's housecoat, my brother's pajamas, a blouse sewn by my aunt, a dress from my mama's machine. Granny crafted pieces of newspaper into patterns, pinned them meticulously onto the colorful remnants of our former wardrobes, and hand-stitched these pieces into stars and flowers and cabins.
After she finished the quilt top, she gave it to her kids. The tops were taken to a quilter for the final stage of production — with cotton batting added for warmth and a cotton "backing" applied to secure the batting, with the edges bound using bias tape. Voila! Working together, we created little domestic works of art, each reflective of our family's resourcefulness, reminiscences, creativity, and love.
So, for me, my grandmother's quilt tops reflect my definition of multicultural: creating something beautiful, useful, and durable from a diverse and eclectic collection of individual pieces of cloth, gathered from hither and yon, and then assembled with love, creativity, and patience.
As you step into another 21st century classroom, ask yourself: What metaphor can I create to represent the diversity I see before me? Your answer will put you on track toward a fuller understanding of the fascinating thing called multicultural.
Freddie A. Bowles, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Foreign Language Education
Curriculum and Instruction
College of Education and Health Professions
Faculty Advisor: Native American Student Association
University of Arkansas
312 Peabody Hall
Fayetteville, AR 72701