Multicultural education was born of racial and ethnic minority groups’ struggles to have their experiences, cultures, and ways of life recognized in dominant institutions. In schools, it means teaching the cultures, histories, values, and perspectives of different cultural groups, especially those of historically marginalized peoples. Since this approach can take perniciously shallow forms, educators have sought to incorporate the ideals of critical pedagogy and antiracism to inform a practice of “critical multicultural education.” Critical pedagogy rejects claims that knowledge is politically neutral and posits education and teaching as political acts. Informed by critical theory, critical pedagogy seeks to awaken students to the social, cultural, political, and economic milieu in which dominant forms of knowledge are constructed and through which power functions. A goal of critical pedagogy is for students to understand the way that injustice manifests and is reproduced and, ideally, to engage in praxis—critical reflection and action—toward societal transformation. Antiracist scholarship has sought to switch discussion of race and racism away from minority groups and, instead, to analyze white racism and whiteness as integral features of dominant institutions. It connects to critical theory in several ways, foremost of which is the position that racism was born of capitalist social relations. Like critical pedagogy, antiracist education seeks to understand, reveal, and counter structural forms of oppression. As such, antiracist education can be more widely presented as anti-Xist education, that is, antisexist, antiableist, antiheterosexist, and so on. In other words, the importance of antiracist education, as informed by critical race theory, lies not only in centering issues of race and racism. Black feminist scholars, for example, also point to the concern of the “intersectionality” of race, class, gender, and other sites of oppression. Lastly, unschooling also links to critical theory to the extent that traditional schooling represents and promotes the opposite of freedom and critical self-reflection. From a Marxian standpoint, unschooling understands the material reality of schools as manipulative, not convivial, and as reproductive of the status quo, not transformational. Compulsory, competitive schooling, according to this view, undermines learning and, instead, focuses on production, consumption, and spectation. Unschooling, instead, puts the power, responsibility, and, importantly, freedom for learning in the hands of the learner. Born of and informed by a number of different social movements (civil rights movements; women’s liberation, gay, and lesbian rights movements; indigenous rights movements; etc.), critical multicultural education, then, stands as multiculturalism plus both collective and individual empowerment for responsible, critical engagement against structural forms of oppression.
John E. Petrovic and April Caddell
The issue of language is a fundamental factor for redressing social inequalities in education. Language is also central to policy measures and management reflections, on political events and social processes that are often not factored in education policy discussions in Angola. Critical stance affords a growing acceptance of teaching and learning as a complex situated social practice. Critical multiculturalism insights and perspectives on language rights enable theproblematization of the media of instruction policies and how existing education policies downplay the question of inequalities to access quality education based on social class and race in Angolan education. Language education policies in Angola represent colonial legacy. Lusotropicalism ideologies are often used to reinforce colonial social and cultural imaginaries that result in disenfranchised indigenous communities. Thus, in the context of globalization, in which immigration imposes rapid changes in the sociolinguistic landscape of the country, initiatives aiming to promote the use of African languages in education (acquisition planning) might provide an opportunity for people who viscerally suffer from the marginalization of these languages. However, the opportunity to carve out a space for candid debate on the issues of language, social class, and education are fraught with tensions due to the fact that the issue of language, education, and race remains a taboo that has not deserved any systematic attention on the part of the government and educationists in particular. Therefore, complementarity between literacy teaching in African languages and Portuguese might project African languages into the linguistic market, provide privileged planning opportunities, and develop an educational system toward bilingual and multilingual literacy. In the heyday of postnational ideologies, language diversity is an asset that needs to be harnessed through critical engagement and critical multicultural education, while recognizing the role that language plays in enabling and disabling both majority and minority groups to access social, cultural, and economic resources that are necessary for surviving in the increasingly commodified and globalized world.
Arts-based pedagogies hold incredible promise for education. Arts-based pedagogies provide unique, compelling pathways for teaching and learning that can permit entry to and support the success of all students regardless of gender, race, sexuality, religion, linguistic diversity, ability level, socioeconomic status, and other identity categories. Arts-based pedagogies can form the foundation of a transdisciplinary educational approach that centers contemporary understandings of multiple and multimodal literacies and meaning-making strategies useful to teachers across disciplines and in more integrated teaching and learning contexts. Crucially, when implemented through a critical framework, arts-based pedagogies can be equity-based pedagogies, allowing for the translation of research, teaching, and learning into awareness, understanding, creation, and activism.
Sunny Man Chu Lau
Critical approaches to English as a second language (ESL) education in Canada broadly fall under two intersecting orientations—inclusivity-focused and issue-focused. Inclusivity-focused education refers to critical approaches to ESL that valorize minoritized and/or Indigenous students’ voices, languages, and other semiotic resources in learning (in) English. This inclusive orientation aims to challenge systemic marginalization of multicultural voices and identities, destabilize static notions of languages and other modes of communication, and importantly, decolonize inequitable power structures inherent in academic and broader social setting. An issue-focused approach adopts an explicit critical agenda, using eco-social issues as the foci of curricular content to engage students in critical interrogation of social assumptions and participation in related class-based action research to simultaneously learn the language and enact change in broader communities. Recent trends in critical issue-focused inquiries also draw on posthumanist, socio-materialist, and Indigenous perspectives to offer more complex, interconnected, and distributed views of language learning and social change. These perspectives not only urge for alternative ways (cognitive, bodily, multi-sensory, affective, and spatial) of critical engagement but also a more human decentering perspective to understand the ethical interdependence of the human/non-human world.
Peer-led and youth-led sex education primarily involves young people teaching other young people about sex, sexuality, and sexual health. This approach gained in popularity during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s–1990s, as community organizations sought to address the unique sexual health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, many of whom had been underserved in traditional sex education spaces. Since then, peer-led and youth-led sex education pedagogies have been implemented by researchers, educators, and community organizations working across a range of sites around the globe. Peer-led and youth-led sex education generally draws on assumptions that young people are better situated than adults to talk to their peers about sexual health and/or to model positive sexual health behavior. However, some have noted that this perspective constructs young people as a homogenous group and ignores the ways in which sexuality and sexual health intersects with other social factors. Furthermore, there is a general lack of consensus across interventions around who constitutes a “peer” and what constitutes “peer-led” sex education, resulting in the development of interventions that at times tokenize young people, without engaging them in meaningful ways. As a result, evaluations of many peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies suggest that even as these pedagogies improve young people’s knowledge of sexual health-related topics, they often don’t result in long-term sexual health behavior change. However, many evaluations of peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies do suggest that acting as a peer educator is of immense benefit to those who take on this role, pointing to the need for program developers to reconsider what effective sex education pedagogy might look like. A “social ecology” or “systems thinking” approach to youth sexual health may provide alternative models for thinking about the future of peer-led and youth-led sex education. These approaches don’t task peer- and youth-led sex education with the sole responsibility of changing young people’s sexual health-related outcomes, but rather situate peer-led sex education as one potential node in the larger confluence of factors that shape and constrain young people’s sexual health.
Alexandra J. Reyes and Taylor A. Norman
Since the latter half of the 20th century, resource pedagogies have been encouraged in U.S. teacher education programs and promoted through in-service teacher professional development sessions. Resource pedagogies resist deficit perspectives by taking an asset-based perspective of cultural and linguistic difference. Asset-based perspectives differ from traditional, deficit-oriented schooling practice by viewing the rich cultural, linguistic, and literacy practices and knowledges of students from communities that have been historically marginalized by White middle-class normed policies as valuable assets. Major resource pedagogies have evolved since their emergence in response to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Specifically, educational researchers and practitioners have advanced multicultural education, culturally relevant pedagogy, culturally responsive teaching, and culturally sustaining pedagogies to address educational inequities and narrow the opportunity gap between students from dominant communities and those that have been historically marginalized. Although numerous researchers and classroom practitioners have demonstrated the power of these asset-based pedagogies to improve student engagement and academic achievement for students from historically marginalized communities, they are still not widely incorporated in practice. Controversies around the conceptualization, conflation, and implementation of the various asset-based approaches to teaching and learning push educational researchers and practitioners to continue to refine and transform education.