ENGL 390- Cora Agatucci

[ Syllabus | Course Plan | Assignments | AsianLinks: China, India, Japan |
AsianTimelines: China, India, Japan]

English390Term ProjectsSpring1998


It all started with a fortune cookie.

[An excerpt unsigned by student request]
10 JUNE 1998

The challenge to implementing multicultural education is to create an interest in learning about people whose culture may be made up of different values, laws, rules, social structures, and beliefs from your own. This is not an all inclusive list, but represents many of the psychological hurdles a learner must clear prior to embarking on a multicultural journey of enlightenment. For learners to recognize that their culture has some common ground with other cultures, helps breakdown the ethnocentric barrier that inhibits the ability of one to learn with an open mind. This realization that all cultures possess perceived bizarre approaches to life based on another cultures perspective will help diminish "the belief that one’s own culture is superior in all ways to every other culture" (Havilland qtd. in Agatucci, Eng 390 pack 24).

"A key goal is to stimulate the reader’s curiosity about other cultures, not to possess or control the text from the position of the expert. Instead, students and teachers should cross cultures as learners, as needing and wanting to learn about other cultures, their literatures and verbal arts; initially, we choose to become more knowledgeable; gradually, we become more informed and overcome the sense of remoteness and strangeness of others' differences across time and culture" (Agatucci, Eng 390 pack 18). This statement is important to present as it supports my theory and vision of how cross-cultural education should be approached. The quote serves as a more eloquent and thorough expression of strategies that need addressed to pique interest in cultures that are not your own. The theory is quite simple: identify the subject matter that evokes questions, share potential ethnocentric prejudices about topic, discuss any similarities that might exist between culture’s topic, dispel any misconceptions that may accompany it, and finally get the facts that are available. If this approach starts with an aspect of another culture that seems trivial or unimportant to an exterior audience, patience needs to be applied to see if a spark can be started for future enjoyment of multicultural education.

This cross-cultural learning experience begins by exploring what learners already think they know about a specific culture: in other words, what comes to mind when they are asked about a culture different than their own. This question was posed to a group of seventh graders (four boys and one girl) to investigate their perceptions, curiosities, and images evoked by the people of China. The mission is to find out what they associate with China and whether those associations stimulate an interest in knowing more. Curiosity in potential myths, ideologies, stereotypes, and misconceptions associated with this culture became the catalyst to a journey into cross-cultural education, regardless of how trivial it may seem.

The student’s responses to China were naive, yet mature and well thought out. They associated the following with China: too many products made in China, very intelligent, most populated country in the world, China dolls and plates, martial arts, Chinese labor to build the U.S. railroad system, Buddha, chopsticks, Confucius, fortune cookies, good swimmers and gymnasts, communist country, rice growers, and the Great Wall of China. All of the examples were expressed in their own words. In most cases they did elaborate on each beyond the description provided. They were then asked if any of the topics provoked a yearning for more information. This was the wrong question to ask, because each association expressed, summoned a myriad of questions. The problem with many of their topics, is that they do not directly relate to multicultural literature, which is the emphasis of this lesson. It was, however, encouraging to find that there is a genuine interest in other cultures if the students are included in the topic selection. This exercise with the students was performed to support my theory that an interest in other cultures can be achieved if we start with the topics that are most intriguing to the learner. This stage can be closely related to Geneva Gay’s "deconstruction stage," which "directs teaching and learning toward grooming students to be healthy skeptics who are constantly questioning existing claims to social and academic truths and accuracy in search of new explanations" (Gay ctd. in Agatucci Hum 210 pack 8). It is important to note that this is the third step of Gay’s four major developmental stages of multicultural education. It is my suggestion that as long as the four stages are accomplished it may not matter in which order they are achieved.

Next, it is important to choose a topic of interest to the student, and then dispel any myths or misconceptions that may prohibit the learner from advancing to the next level of multicultural awareness. This level can encompass the "inclusion stage," characterized as "the isolated , fragmentary, rather haphazard and /or additive ways in which information is frequently presented which may diminish its impact, generate inaccuracies and distortions, and reinforce stereotypes" (Gay cited in Agatucci Engl 390 pack 7); and the "infusion stage," since it has an "emphasis on systematically integrating multicultural content, contexts, and in this case examples into the curriculum" (Gay cited in Agatucci Engl 390 pack 7). My topic choice became fortune cookies. The questions that the students asked included: Why do they give them to Americans who eat in Chinese/American restaurants? Do the Chinese really believe that the fortune will come true? Who is responsible for writing the fortune in the cookie? Why do they believe in this kind of stuff? Did Confucius invent the fortune cookie? Did the Chinese railroad builders bring the fortune cookie with them? Prior to investigating these inquiries, it is important for the learners to unload some of the ethnocentric baggage that may impede their acceptance and interest in their investigation. This baggage took the shape of how the students perceived Chinese people as being superstitious and non-religious. Their assumption was that it is ridiculous for people to believe that something written on a piece of paper inside a cookie will come true. It became important at this point to discuss any "ridiculous" beliefs that might have similarities to fortune cookies that U.S. citizens might believe in. Dismissing that these are the crazy people in the U.S., not the normal people, some parallel beliefs were uncovered: psychic network, palm readers, and horoscopes to name a few. Now that the playing field has become somewhat evened out, and we have established common cultural ground, the learning can begin.

At this point the learners are able to apply Royster’s code of behavior: respectful, reciprocal, and responsible learning (cited in Agatucci, Engl 390 pack 17). It’s time to learn about the fortune cookie. The reality is that fortune cookies have no direct history with China in the way they are presented in the United States. There is evidence that the fortune cookie does share some elements that might have originated in China. This evidence will be shared later. The practice originated in America. Where in America is a matter of debate. There are disputed claims to the origin of this novelty. The conventional wisdom says that they first appeared in Los Angeles a little over 90 years ago. It is said that a Cantonese immigrant named David Jung thought the homeless Chinese people near his bakery could use an uplifting message (fortune). He is said to have taken scraps of dough left over and created cookies in which he inserted positive thinking messages. He lifted the spirits of the people and accomplished feeding the hungry. In dispute of this claim, San Francisco historians contend that by 1907, Makota Hagwara, a caretaker of the Japanese Garden in San Francisco around the turn of the century, had created thank you notes, which helped in a dispute with the city’s mayor. Further, they say, he displayed his invention at the 1915 Panama Exhibition (Discovery Channel Online). The question of who holds claim to the legacy of the fortune cookie is for you to decide, but the point is that mainland China was not the true origin of the fortune cookies. There is a distant tie between the American fortune cookie and China. "It is said as long ago as the 12th century, Chinese monks fighting the Mongols fueled their rebellion through plans hidden in moon cakes" (Discovery Channel Online).

The original messages were Chinese proverbs or bits of scripture. By the 1930’s English variations of Confucian logic were used (Discovery Channel Online). Prior to 1960 the cookies were made by hand, but then the Lotus Fortune Cookie Company in San Francisco built a machine that could mass produce the cookie. Combine the cookie with the fortune cookie message produced by companies like United Automation Technology in Massachusetts, and you have Chinese fortune cookies in most the Chinese restaurants in the United States (Discovery Channel Online).

While the American messages are nothing more than feel-good tidbits like, "Your sparkling eyes give a healing light to those you meet," the Chinese message is more deep and philosophical like, "The only way to catch a tiger cub is to go into the tiger’s den" (Discovery Channel Online). Don’t be mislead, these cookies are from the United States and are advertised in China as "Genuine American Fortune Cookies" (Discovery Channel Online). However, remember that one of the first claims to the fortune cookie is that it originated from a Chinese immigrant in Los Angeles, which incites the question about the Chinese belief in the fortune itself.

There are a host of different methods of fortune-telling in the Chinese world. The main types are: Astrology based on the date of a person’s birth; The I Ching, an ancient fortune-telling classic which is supposed to reveal the laws governing all developments that occur in the universe; Physiognomy, the art of reading a person’s character and fate from the shape of a person’s body, or lines on their palm (Beijing Now - Chinese Fortune telling); Feng Shui, which looks at the harmonious arrangements of rooms, furniture, and fixtures (What is Feng Shui). Even today, the 1.2 billion people of China proper have a residual belief in such things, in spite of the effort of the Communist party to banish all religious beliefs and superstitions from their minds (Beijing Now).

Chinese methods of fortune telling has a longer history than any other culture. Few Chinese would completely deny the existence of fate, fortune, and destiny. One argument goes like this: two people who are equally capable and hard-working are not necessarily equally successful. The factor that makes the difference is – fate (Beijing Now). Further evidence of fate playing a part of Chinese life exists in poetry and film. The poem "Be Utterly Humble," (Agatucci, Chinese Poetry handout) refers to destiny as an important part of life:

"But fatalism is the acceptance of destiny
And to accept destiny is to face life with open eyes,
Whereas not to accept destiny is to face death blindfolded."

In the film To Live (1994), the characters throughout refer to fate and fortune as responsible for their lives. "Fugei’s mother survives the Wu family’s dramatic change of Fortune" (Agatucci, Hum 210 pack 178). "Chunsheng is behind the wheel of the jeep which rams into the wall behind which the ill-fated Youqing is sleeping" (Agatucci, Hum 210 pack 179). The point is that even in China’s modern movies, fate and fortune seem to be an important ingredient as to why things happen to people.

. . . .Works Cited

Agatucci, Cora, Ed. Chinese poetry handout. English 390: Multicultural Literature. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR. Spring 1998.

---, Ed. English 390: Multicultural Literature Course Pack [unpubl.]. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR. Spring 1998.

---, Ed. Humanities 210: Culture and Literature of Asia Course Pack [unpubl.]. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR. Spring 1998

Anderson, Eugene. Ecologies of the Heart: Emotion, Belief, and the Environment . New York : Oxford UP, 1996.

Beijing Now - Chinese Fortune Telling. 1998. Online.internet, n.pag. http://www.beijingnow.com/fortune/ft-intro.htm [accessed: May 1998].

Discovery Channel Online: You Should Have Been There. 1996. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://iracus.online.discovery.com...thday/birthday081996/birthday.html [Accessed: May 1998].

Driedger, Sharon Doyle. "Promise of Prosperity: Fad or Fact, Feng Shui Is All the Rage." Maclean’s April 1997: 56 .

Feng Shui Association - Some Hints and Tips. 1996. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://www.mistral.co.uk/fengshui/tips.htm [Accessed; May 1998].

Feng Shui Chinese Geomancy. 1995. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://users.deltanet.com/~wcassidy/astro/fengshuifaq.html [Accessed; May 1998].

I Ching: About the I Ching. 1997. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://www1.power-press.com/wuwei/about.html [Accessed: May 1998].

I Ching: An Introduction to I Ching. 1997. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://www1.power-press.com/wuwei/intro.html

I Ching: Interpreting the I Ching. 1997. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://www1.power-press.com/wuwei/interpreting.html [Accessed: May 1998].

I Ching: A Brief History of the I Ching. 1997. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://www1.power-press.com/wuwei/history.html {Accessed: May 1998].

Seligman, Daniel. "Mystical Moments in Columbus Circle." Fortune May 1996: 208 .

Stone, Gene. "Take Two Mirrors and Call Me in the Morning." Esquire March 1996: 66 .

What Is Feng Shui - Ancient Chinese Remedies for Good Health and Prosperity. 1998. Online. Internet, n.pag. http://www.feng-shui.com/what_is.htm [Accessed: May 1998]

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Elementary Education: Japanese Unit

[Unsigned by student request]
ENG 390, Multicultural Literature
Prof. Cora Agatucci
June 9, 1998

June 8th, 1998

Dear Fellow Teachers,

This letter is intended to follow up on the multiculture seminar that we have recently attended. I have included some of the important points and ideas that I would like to share with you in "how to share multiculture with our students at Buckingham Elementary School."

As we learned in the seminar there is an explosion of interest in Asia taking place in the United States today. More Americans are becoming aware of the richness of Asian culture now than ever before. Japan is one of the countries within the region of Asia. "Japan is the wealthiest nation in Asia and a leader among the world’s industrialized nations"(Schwartz, Hammond, and Ruggiero iii). Americans also know that some of the countries of Asia have great economic power and that this affects the everyday decisions consumers make in the United States. Our future students may also need intercultural skills to deal with the Japanese in the area of business and our multicultural world. Therefore, it is time to educate our students about Japan.

As a teacher I want to educate my students about the elementary education program in Japan. I feel that it is important for students to explore different aspects of other students their own age in another country because it allows them to build bridges across different cultures. I feel that it is important to develop in our elementary students the foundation of understanding cultural differences through the connection of age. Learning multiculture is an alternate to traditional "monocultural" usually practiced in the United States. When people learn about other countries they are less apt to be ethnocentric. It is important to build the student’s knowledge about differences in order to gain mutual respect for all peoples and cultures. When students gain knowledge about other cultures that can help to prevent stereotypes, inaccurate beliefs, and prejudices that create negative feelings towards other cultures.

I will integrate interesting facts, lessons, culture, values, structures, perspectives, and contributions of many peoples into the curriculum. This will build "a richer, more accurate knowledge of the human condition within and across particular contexts of time, place, and culture" (Agatucci 6). I will answer general questions about the Japanese students and their elementary school, that are of interest to American second and third grade students. Multicultural education will introduce other cultures such as Japan, in a way that will allow students to examine their own culture. Introducing Japan in a way that relates to them will increase an interest in learning. If I were to stay within the parameters of one text book, I would be limiting the information to one specific source of biased information. Through my research, I have found a variety of information about the Japanese elementary school. I have also had the opportunity to talk with a Japanese college student for additional information.

I choose to reinforce the enthusiasm of learning about others and their cultures in a fun and challenging way. I want to encourage the students to have an open mind throughout the learning of multiculture. Through the process of infusion, I will convey to the minority and majority that "diverse cultural perspectives are valued in society and necessary for a more complete understanding of the human conditions"(Agatucci 8). Retention of the information shared about Japan will be easier if the students are interested in the presented information. I encourage your support for your students and their multicultural education lessons.

Thank you.

. . . .In order to reach our elementary students I will introduce a unit on Japan by asking the students what they would like to know about the Japanese elementary education students. I will try to provide the answers to the students' questions as they ask them. The students will be able to make a connection between the Japanese culture and their own culture by studying students their own age. I will also include in my unit hands on lessons to demonstrate some of the differences in the Japanese culture which will include a lesson on the Japanese brush painting and some of the different characters that the Japanese students learn. The following could be used as a guideline of the information that I will use as a bases for my students to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between themselves and the Japanese students of their age.

The authors Gen and Katayama say that most children in Japan go to nursery school at the age of three years. When the children reach the age of six, they start school. The school year in Japan begins April 1, and ends March 31. Japanese students attend six years of elementary school, three years of junior high, three years of high school and four years of college. In Japan, there is a law that says children must attend school until the age of 15.

Japanese students go to school six days a week. Going to school in Japan is very serious. Their parents try to enroll them in the schools with the best reputations. The young children have to take writing tests to compete for positions at the different schools. Competition for the best education does not end when a child becomes accepted to a good elementary school. The average class size is 30-44 students. The students call their teacher sensei which means teacher, according to Elkin.

Elkin tells us that the students start school at 8:30 a.m. and school ends at 3:20pm. When school is out, there is more work to be completed. The students take turns cleaning up the school. In Japan it is the student's job to keep the school clean. They clean the rooms, halls, toilets, and yards of their own school.

The children are not allowed to learn at their own pace. All of the Japanese students must learn the same material at the same level. This can be difficult for some students because not all students learn at the same speed. Some of the students go to cram schools where tutors (called crammers) drill them until they have learned all their lessons. There is a lot of competition to get into the upper grade schools (high school) (Ashby).

What are school lunches like?

Elkin and Kalman share the fact that Japanese children enjoy healthy nutritious meals that are prepared by the school or by a local "school lunch center." The children help serve the school lunches. They wear white masks so that they will not breathe the germs over the food they are serving. If a child has a cold they are asked to wear a mask to school. There is a designated class leader that sits at the teacher’s desk. "He has to say "itadakimasu," which means "I humbly receive," before the class can start" (Elkin 10) eating. The students usually eat in their classrooms. A traditional lunch is served on a tray and consists of a glass of milk, rice balls, pickled vegetables, and sushi. Some of the varieties of lunches include a range of meats, fishes, vegetables, and sea plants. A typical lunch consists of stew or curry, boiled vegetables, a sandwich, and salad. The consumption of milk is a necessity at lunch. There is usually a dessert, such as gelatin, ice cream, and fruit. When lunch is finished the students have a twenty five minute break. After the break, the students are responsible for cleaning up the area by sweeping the classroom and hallway to get rid of all the crumbs and mess from lunch.

What do students wear to school?

Most of the students in Japan wear uniforms and matching hats to school according to Greene. The students’ uniforms consist of blue shirts, and skirts for the girls and blue or black pants for the boys. The students wear different colors of hats to represent their school group. The hats also make it easier for the busy streets to see the children. When students are not in school they wear T-shirts, jeans, polo shirts, and sweat suits. They wear kimonos on special festivals such as the Boys Festival and the Girls Festival of Dolls.

What do students in Japan study?

Gen and Katayama consider the Japanese school subjects to be similar to those studied in the United States. The subjects include Japanese, reading, arithmetic, science, social studies, physical education, music, home economics (to learn simple cooking and sewing skills) and art. Recently, the number of schools using computers has increased, and some have access to the Internet. TV programs are used within the classroom to help explain difficult science and social studies problems. A classroom may also watch a TV drama that makes you think about what is right and wrong, which could then be discussed by students. Elementary students incorporate many field trips as a part of their social studies and science courses. Parents and teachers encourage students to participate in the following: gymnastics, swimming, golfing, baseball, piano, dancing, photography lessons, volleyball, Japanese music and other extracurricular lessons after regular school hours. There are sports that are native in Japan that includes: kendo (a form of fencing using bamboo poles), sumo wrestling, and judo. Physical fitness and sports education are considered important parts of the Japanese schooling. The students start the school day with group exercises that are performed outside the school in their uniforms and hats.

What kind of games do Japanese kids play?

Japanese students play games like other children in the world. They play games like hide-and-seek, jump-rope, and baseball, just as western children do. Children in Japan do play traditional Japanese games such as: majan and go. Majan and go originated in China, but it has been played in Japan for centuries (Kalman).

According to Gen the most popular game among Japanese boys now is soccer, which they play in school yards or local parks after school. Baseball and basketball are also popular sports. Boys and girls play dodge-ball and ride around on their bicycles. Japanese kids play games like children in the United States such as: tag, jump rope and hide-and-seek. The Japanese students play other traditional Japanese games, such as "Darumasan ga koronda," that is a game like "red light, green light." During the game everyone freezes when the person who is "it" turns to see them after singing the game’s name. Another game called "Hana ichimonme," is similar to "red rover," where two teams try to get members of the other team to come over to their side.

How do they learn kanji (sino-Japanese characters)?

Gen’s studies have shown that one of the hardest things that the elementary students have to learn is the written Japanese language. The elementary students spend a majority of their time in school learning to write. They have to learn two sets of forty-eight letter alphabets called the hiragana and the katakana. They must learn hundreds of kanji and kana characters. The students must learn the characters by heart. The students have to learn how to write the Japanese kanji characters a very particular way, in the right order, and in the right direction. They use special ink and a bamboo brush. They learn the characters by tracing invisible letters in the air with their fingers. As they get older, they are taught the delicate brushstrokes of calligraphy.

The Japanese adopted Chinese characters for their written language. "The Chinese have evolved their use of the brush ever since as early as 4000 B.C."(Agatucci 1). "Painting has played an important part in China throughout the dynastics"(Agatucci 1). The characters or symbols are called Kanji. The Chinese characters were simplified and used phonetically to represent Japanese syllables. The syllabary is known as kana. There are approximately 1,850 characters that are used daily. The students are expected to learn 1,006 kanji while in elementary school. They have to learn not only the correct stroke order, but must also master the different readings of kanji. When a new kanji comes up in a textbook, students memorize it by practicing writing it dozens of times in their notebooks (Schwartz, Hammond and Ruggiero).

According to Kalman there is a festival called Kakizome that encourages Japanese students to show off their first handwriting of the new year. Another festival that enhances the student's handwriting is called Tanabata where students decorate trees or bamboo branches with their best handwriting samples. Each student makes a wish that his handwriting will be beautiful. (See appendix for sample lessons.)

The students are asked to write a number of writing exams and these written exams begin in the elementary school. The students are constantly in the process of preparing for the difficult written exams they will face in high school. In the final year of high school the students call the experience, "examination hell" (Kalman 18).

What kinds of homework do the students do, and how long do they study each day?

Elementary school pupils get homework nearly every day. They have to do math drills and learn kanji, which is an important part of the Japanese language. Students get homework over summer and winter vacations. They frequently undertake a project of their own choosing, like studying the growth of plants or researching the history of their community, and write compositions on the books read. (Ashby, and Baines)

The Japanese parents are involved in keeping their kids current with their school work. All of the Japanese parents are required to visit the school five times a year. The teacher has to visit the student’s home once a year. The mothers of students are known as, "education moms." The mothers take courses so they can help their children with their homework. If the student misses class because he is ill, his mother goes to class for him. It is not unusual for the students to have two hours of homework each day. (Baines)

What sort of school is a juku?

According to Greene, Juku is a private tutoring school that children begin attending at the age of 10. Students attend Juku after school to go over subjects that were difficult to understand. Juku allows the students to apply what they have learned to understand and to apply what one has just learned to solve more advanced problems. Many students attend juku to keep up with their school work and to prepare for entrance exams to middle school and high school. Students attend Juku two to three times a week for about an hour and half to three hours each time. They work on math drills, other exercises where they learn how to solve problems and take practice exams when admission tests approach. Some students attend juku during summer, spring, and winter vacations.

How do kids get to and from school?

Children that go to the public schools in Japan go to a school in their local school district. A majority of the kids walk to and from school. It normally takes the students five minutes to fifteen minutes to walk to school. When children are walking to school, they learn to raise their hands to let cars see them at crossings. If students live in the city they do not take a bus, nor do their parents take them to school. In the rural areas where the population is small, children may have to spend an hour or more getting to school, on foot, train or by bus. The students that attend the private schools commute along with the adults during rush hour, using crowded buses and trains. (Elkin, Kalman)

When are school vacations? How long do they last?

The public elementary schools close on national holidays, Sundays, and the second and fourth Saturday of every month. On the other Saturdays, only morning classes are held. In Japan, the schools have three semesters, separated by vacations. The majority of the school’s summer vacations covers the 40 days from July 20 to August 31. The Japanese student's winter and spring vacation last approximately 10 days, which is from December 26 to around January 6 and March 25 to around April 5. The new school year starts in April, at the end of spring vacation. The Japanese students have fewer holidays than kids in France and the United States according to a report issued by the Ministry of Education. (Gen, Katayama).

Throughout the school year there are many school events. There is a field day known as undokai that is held in Autumn. On this field day the students compete in tug-of war and relay races, and short distance runs. Students go on excursions to historical sites of significance, and arts and culture festivals featuring skits and other performances by children. There are also three to four day trips to culturally important cities like Kyoto and Nara, ski resorts, and elsewhere for students in the highest grades of elementary school. Events in Japan may vary a little from the United States, but do have some similarities (Greene).

The Japanese unit will entice my young students in learning different aspects of the Japanese culture. Questions of concern and interest will be covered in order to build the enthusiasm of learning about the culture of Japan. Through information and hands on experiences I hope to build and encourage an open mind toward human kind in other cultures. The unit is designed to engage an interest in learning about the Japanese people whom they may encounter or work with some day. I hope that in teaching my unit to my young students I will promote a positive experience in sharing the differences and similarities between the two cultures. The experience will encourage the students to continue to have a positive attitude for all human being’s cultures and their own culture.

Works Cited

Agatucci, Cora. English 390: Multicultural Literature Course Pack [unpubl.]. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, Spring 1998.

Agatucci, Cora, ed. Introduction: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy [English 390 handout]. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, Spring 1998.

Ashby, Gwynneth. Take A Trip To Japan. London: Franklin Watts, 1980.

Baines, John. Country Fact Files Japan. Austin: Rainttree Steck-Vaughn, 1994.

Elkin, Judith. A Family in Japan. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1987.

Gen, Itasaka. 100 Tough Questions for Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd., 1996.

Graff, Edward, Harold E. Hammond. SOUTHEAST ASIA. New York: Globe Book Company, 1981.

Greene, Carol. Enchantment of the world JAPAN. Chicago: Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises, 1983.

Kalman, Bobbie. Japan the people. Toronto: Crabtree Publishing Company, 1989.

Katayama, Patricia Mari. Talking About Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd., 1996.

Oto, Keiji. Personal Interview. May 27 & 30, 1998.

Pearl, Barbara. Math In Motion. Newport Beach: Barbara Pearl, 1996.

Schwartz, Rudolph, Harold E. Hammond, and Adriane Ruggiero. JAPAN KOREA TAIWAN. New York: Globe Book Company, 1981.

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[A Bibliography of Children's Literature]

[An excerpt unsigned by team request]
5 JUNE 1998

. . . .We believe that stories have the power to bring life’s issues into the world of the child in ways that sometimes adults cannot do. Below is a list of children’s literature that we consider appropriate to develop not only children’s awareness about the value of diversity, but that will also help in empowering them to live in a culturally diverse society.

Ackerman, K. 1988. Song and dance man. New York: Scholastic Books.

Adoff, A. 1973. Black is brown is tan. New York: Harper and Row.

Agard, J. 1989. Calypso alphabet. New York: Holt.

Arnold, C. 1992. The ancient cliff dwellers of Mesa Verde. New York: Clarion Books.

Berry, J. 1991. A jeeman and his son. New York: HarperCollins.

Brenner, B. 1970. Faces. New York: Dutton Press

Bunting, E. 1988. How many days to America. New York: Clarion Books.

Coerr, E. 1993. Sadako. New York: Putnam’s Sons.

Cowen-Fletcher, J. 1994. It takes a village. New York: Scholastic Books.

Davidson, M. 1986. I have a dream. The story of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Scholastic Books.

Dorros, A. 1991. Abuela. New York: Dutton.

Feelings, M. 1974. Jambo means hello. New York: Dail.

Griego, M., Gilbert, B., and Kimball, S. 1981. Tortillas para mama and other nursery rhymes. New York: Holt, Reinhardt, & Winston.

Hansen, J. 1986. Which way to freedom. New York: Walker

Klein, N. 1973. Girls can be anything. New York: Dutton Press.

Kroll, V. 1992. Masai and I. New York: Four Winds.

Levine, E. 1989. I hate English ! . New York: Scholastic.

Manjo, N. 1970. The drinking gourd. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Harper & Row.

Mendelez, P. 1990. The black snowman. New York: Scholastic Books.

Mundoz, P. 1994. One hundred is a family. New York: Hyperion Books.

O’Kelley, M. 1991. Moving to town. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co.

Ringgold, F. 1993. Aunt Harriet’s underground railroad. New York: Crown Books.

Sakai, K. 1990. Sachiko means happiness. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Company.

Say, A. 1994. Grandfather’s journey. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Scott. A. 1972. On mother’s lap. New York: McGraw-Hill

Stanek, M. 1990. I speak English for my mother. Chicago: Albert Whitman & Company.

Strickland, D., & Strickland, M. 1994. Families: Poems celebrating the African-American experience. PA: Boyds Mills Press.

Taylor, S. 1980. Danny loves a holiday. New York: Scholastic Books.

Tuyet, T. 1987. The little weaver of Thai Yen village. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.

Williams, K. 1991. When Africa was home. New York: Orchard Press.

Wolf, B. 1974. Don’t feel sorry for Paul. New York: Harper & Row.

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[An excerpt unsigned by team request]
Spring 1998

Dear Reader,
This informational summary and lesson plan is a work sample of one of the nine curriculum areas covered in our unit. The remaining eight curriculum areas contain similar summaries and lesson plans corresponding with the remaining curriculum areas: Language Arts, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Math, Science, PE/Health, Music, Art (as shown). We hope this expands your curiosity to explore China further for your classroom.

--English 390 group project

. . . .Before beginning this unit we would like to clearly state our philosophy.

As a teacher we recognize that the world is a smaller place these days, and children in our classrooms are from many cultures. This unit is working towards the goal of mutual respect among children of different backgrounds. The unit offers an integrated curriculum with whole class lessons, cooperative group and individual activities for the primary grades.

Included before each lesson is a informational summary that relates the unit to the learning objectives of Eng. 390, which we consider to be our goals for this project. The unit will include background summaries to enlighten elementary educators about the knowledge necessary for teaching each lesson plan in a way that will lead to a cross-cultural synthesis. This will meet our goal of intergrating China into our educational curriculm. This is a beginning base for the lessons that can be developed and researched further based on student’s interest and the amount of time a teacher would like to spend on each section. Following each summary will be the individual lessons written with their own learning objectives.

We recognize that we are new learners about Chinese culture and are aware of the wealth of information available that could not possibly be included in a one week lesson. We hope that this unit will stimulate curiosity and the desire for students and teachers alike to learn more. Included in the unit is all the research material we used, plus supplemental materials.

Not only to make this unit a useful tool for learning about China, but to set the stage for multicultural awareness in all areas, we encourage the instructor to comply with the following:

1. When presenting this unit the instructor should "encourage students to think for themselves and create their own interpretations of the Asian cultures" (Agatucci, English 390 Course Pack 30).

2. The instructor should challenge the students to "develop or reinforce positive attitudes toward the value of such cross-cultural study, with special attention to identifying and correcting misinformation and negative stereotypes about Asian cultures and literatures" (Agatucci, English 390 Course Pack 30).

3. Encourage students to "develop and articulate an appreciation of the benefits of learning more about cultures very different from students’ own. Strengthen students’ ability to understand and deal constructively with cultural differences" (Agatucci, English 390 Course Pack 30).

We hope you find this unit interesting and helpful as you embark on a journey towards multicultural awareness.

. . . .Lantern Festival of the Chinese New Year
(Art Lesson Plan)

Learning Objective: (TLWDA)
-The learner will demonstrate the ability to understand a basic meaning of the Chinese New Year and the significance of the lanterns during this holiday.


Materials: 4 small white paper plates for each child, 8 pieces of red yarn (4 about 8" long and 4 about 12" long) per child, scissors, glue, hole punch, stapler, materials for decorating the plates (tissue paper, crepe paper, cellophane, sequins, markers, gold wrapping paper), cassette tape of Chinese music.

-Begin the lesson by explaining to the students that they are going to be following an ancient Chinese Tradition today by making Chinese lanterns. Briefly explain that the lanterns are in celebration of the Chinese New Year. ASK: "Can anyone tell me what traditions we have during our New Year?" After the students respond, ASK: "Why do we celebrate the New Year?" "What does a New Year's celebration mean?" "When do we celebrate the New Year?" Next explain the answers to the students, along with the answers they provide. Then SAY: "The Chinese don't celebrate the New Year on the same day as we do. They celebrate New Year's sometime in middle January or middle February. This may seem strange to you, but the Chinese base their year on a lunar calendar. We on the other hand, always celebrate New Year's on January 1st. The date the New Year is on in China changes because of the lunar calendar. This means that the Chinese bring in the New Year on the first day of the lunar calendar (or on the first full moon of the New Year). The Chinese call their New Year celebration the Spring Festival." Explain that a lunar calendar is based on the moon.

ASK: "What do you think the Chinese do to bring in the New Year? Think about some of the things you do for the New Year." Wait for the students responses. SAY: "The children of China celebrate the New Year in similar ways that you do. They have parades, eat special food, and gather with friends and family. One thing the Chinese kids that we don't normally do, is make lanterns." Explain to the students that on the 15th day of the Spring Festival, the Chinese celebrate with a lantern festival. The children parade with brightly lit lanterns through the streets and light up the night by hanging lanterns everywhere.

-After giving a brief introduction into the Chinese New Year, give the students the instructions for making the Chinese lanterns. SAY: "We are going to make Chinese Lanterns to hang all around the classroom. So, do your best job because the whole school may want to stop by to see the lanterns you have made. To set the mood, we are going to listen to some Chinese music." Begin playing the music after the students have gotten their instructions.

-Instructions: First, give each student four small paper plates. Tell the students that they are to decorate the four plates with the materials provided at the back of the classroom. ASK: "What are some decorating ideas for our lanterns?" After students have responded, tell them the choices they have for decorating their lanterns. Show an example of a Chinese Lantern that has already been made. Tell the students that when they finish decorating the plates, they are going to staple the sides of the plates together (as shown). Then, they need to whole punch the top and bottom of each plate. Last, they will tie the yarn through the punched holes and we will hang the lanterns all around the room.

Check For Understanding:
- After the students are finished working, ASK: "Can anyone tell me what interesting things we learned today?" "What are the lanterns used for in China?" "What similar things do the Chinese do to celebrate the New Year that you might do?" Continue asking the students questions about what they learned and ask the students to share and compare their lantern with other students in the class.

Guided Practice:
- Write out the question on the chalkboard while students are working: "What interesting thing did you learn about the Chinese New Year?" Have the students write their answer to this question in their suitcase journals.

- ASK: "Now that we have learned some things about the Chinese New Year, I also want you to write in your suitcase journal a list of the similar activities that we share when celebrating the New Year." Explain to the students that they have just learned a sample of the traditions of the Chinese during the New Year.

- Assess the students understanding of the Chinese New Year by reading their responses in the suitcase journals. The majority of the class should be able to have a basic understanding of the Chinese New Year and the significance of the lanterns.

Informational Summary

The Chinese New Year is interesting because it is celebrated in middle January or middle February, depending on the lunar calendar. The celebration begins on the first day of the lunar calendar and lasts 15 days (Sullivan 10). This type of calendar is incredibly interesting when discussing the Chinese culture. "Traditionally, the Chinese calendar was based on a cycle of sixty years, calculated by combining the Ten Heavenly Stems with the Twelve Earthly Branches in sequence" (Agatucci 123). This calculation of the Chinese calendar was formed during the Ming Dynasty and has provided the basis for the date of the Chinese New Year celebration. The Chinese culture is also unique in that it designates each year to correspond with the Chinese horoscope. For example, the year 1997 was designated "dingchou" , or the year of the ox (Agatucci 123). It is believed in the Chinese culture that a person born under the year of a particular animal will inherit the personality characteristics of the animal of that year (Sullivan 30). The 12 animals of the Chinese horoscope repeat every 12 years according to the Chinese calendar. Also, the date of the Chinese New Year varies according to the Chinese calendar.

During this time, the New Year celebration is fairly similar to the celebration here in the US. Families and friends gather for parades, food, and fireworks displays. Many Chinese communities join in this tradition and it has become part of the culture of China. In preparation for the New Year celebration, the colors that represents joy in the Chinese culture, red and orange, are seen everywhere (Levin 78). One other tradition familiar to the Chinese culture during the New Year celebration is the Lantern Festival. On the fifteenth day of the New Year festival, the Chinese celebrate with a lantern festival in which the children parade through the streets with brightly colored lanterns (Sullivan 10). Some of the lanterns are held on the ends of bamboo poles, while others are displayed in doorways of shops and homes (Franco 33). The lanterns are such a huge part of the celebration and culture that some are made so elaborately, they even use mechanical elements that make the lanterns move. Others are made of blocks of ice or glass (Franco 33). The lantern festival day is celebrated as part of the New Year's festivities. The Chinese call this 'Sin Nian'.

Works Cited

Agatucci, Cora, ed. Humanities 210: Culture and Literature of Asia Course Pack [unpubl.]. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, Spring 1998.

Franco, Betsy. China: A Literature Based Multicultural Unit. Monterey, CA: Evan-Moor Corp., 1993.

Levin, Ina M. Celebrating Diversity. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, Inc., 1993.

Sullivan, Dianna J. Multicultural Educational Services: Discovering China. Pittsburgh, PA: Hayes Publishing Co., Inc., 1995.

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10 JUNE 1998

This project is not fully developed. It is a paper designed to introduce cultures through music into the curriculum, but it is a bigger topic than I am prepared to handle at this time. Therefore, I describe my interest in music education, provide some supporting evidence for music being one of seven multiple intelligences, a question and answer section, a brief outline of activities that involve music in the classroom, and five music activities for students that focus on the Japanese culture. Also, I put together a tape cassette of some recordings of Japanese music. I have listed the selections within the Works Cited at the end of this project.

Personal Introduction

It is important to introduce cultures to elementary school aged children through the realm of music. Music in the classroom can create an environment that most children might never experience at home. They can hear the elements that are within different types of music that will give them a sense of culture. For example, most children will never go to Africa, but they can get a sense of one of its cultures by hearing music that features African drumming.

I have grown up with exposure to instrumental and vocal music all my life, and it is the one thing that has kept me going in school. As I prepare to become a teacher, I strongly feel that music opens the door for understanding another culture. Music creates emotions within people, and these emotions carry across cultures. Children can understand a culture through its music because the music will create an atmosphere for the children. I know that some children have emotional disorders and may not be able to relate emotions and music, but with time and exposure to musical experiences, I believe that children will discover unique elements within the music that they can identify with. In this case, introducing students to a culture different from their own can be accomplished by exposure to singing, listening, and performing some music of that culture.

Also, I am a firm believer in music and the ways that it helps students succeed in other aspects of the curriculum like math, literature, and science. The concentration that it takes a person to sing or play an instrument prepares the mind for concentrating on other homework and classroom activities. "A study of musical intelligence may help us understand the special flavor of music and at the same time illuminate its relation to other forms of human intellect" (Gardner 99). For example, the development of rhythm in music helps students coordinate their physical movement in sports activities. Music education enhances the student’s learning development across the curriculum because of the neurological and emotional stability that it creates.

I have selected this topic of using music from other cultures in the classroom because I intend to structure my classroom with lots of musical elements. This paper specifically deals with including Japanese music into the classroom, but the techniques that I will be using to introduce Japan, aided by music, can and will also work for other cultures as well.

Support for Music Education

"Of all the gifts with which individuals may be endowed,
none emerges earlier than musical talent" (Gardner 99).

The quotation above is from Howard Gardner’s book on multiple intelligences called Frames Of Mind. Musical activity is the only activity known so far that uses "approximately 90 percent of the brain," according to a study done by neurologist Frank Wilson cited in "Why Music And Arts Education Is Important" (Black 1). I am reminded of sitting in the band in seventh grade, hearing my band director tell parents the night of our first concert, that playing a musical instrument is the only activity that utilizes our vision to see the notes, our ears for listening to our pitch, moving our fingers to make sure we finger the right notes, keeping our mouths on the ambasure so we could blow through the instrument, positioning our posture so that we could sit comfortably with support, and counting in our head to keep the beat. I have always kept this thought in the back of my mind until now, when I realize how beneficial music is to the body and mind. "Songs are linguistic; rhythm is logical; dance and fingering manipulation on the instruments is body kinesthetic; musical interpretation is interpersonal, and the connection between musician and instrument or composer and composition can be intrapersonal. Thus, by being involved in music, a child becomes in tune with many aspects of the self" (Black 1).

"Education has a greater impact on one’s musical perception than is generally believed, and we should expand instruction to include a wider range of musical experiences" (Colwell 56).

Think back over your childhood. Where was it that you learned to sing songs or chant nursery rhymes? Unless parents pay out fairly large sums of money for their children to study the piano or violin lessons, the majority of students only experience music at school. This is why it is so crucial that music education be taught. The benefits that music has on learning need to be established at an early age in school and continued throughout the curriculum for the entirety of that child’s education.

One benefit of music is that it helps children identify with moods and emotions. Including music of other cultures into the classroom will not only help students understand the mood of the music, but it will enable them to relate to the culture associated with the music. An example that comes to mind in using the Japanese song titled "Echigojishi" or The Echigo Lion produced by David Lewiston. This song can be used to introduce the students to the geography of the region. Students might be interested to know that Japan has lions or jungles or forests. Nevertheless, music conveys meaning and emotion and it is a good way to communicate across cultures when we do not all speak the same languages. At least we can understand the language of music.

The quotation below confirms the importance that music has on being able to communicate with others through its form.

"Yet hardly anyone who has been intimately associated with music can forbear to mention its emotional implications: the effects it has upon individuals; the sometimes deliberate attempts by composers (or performers) to mimic or communicate certain emotions; or, to put it in its most sophisticated terms, the claim that, if music does not in itself convey emotions or affects, it captures the forms of these emotions" (Gardner 105-106).

Music is beneficial to people who are of all ages, but it "occupies a relatively low niche in our culture, and so musical illiteracy is acceptable" (Gardner 109). Why does it occupy a low level of importance in our culture? Music education in continuously being cut, but look around at all of the events that people go to that involve music. There are operas, symphonies, concerts of all sorts, dances, sporting events, parades, talent show competitions, etc. . . Often times, people get caught up in going to all of these things that they do not realize all of the effort that it takes to support these programs. Everyone needs to have an understanding of music and music education needs to be supported. "Some claim that music, because it is such a part of our lives and is common to all cultures, may not need instruction time as part of the school curriculum" (Colwell 59). Music is common to all cultures, but there are too many benefits that music has for it to be looked down upon in the curriculum. People just need to be informed about them. Like the saying goes, people are afraid of what they don’t know. Especially in the classroom, the more the students know about the music of other cultures, the more they will understand about other cultures.

In addition to music being a means to communicate across cultures, it has numerous personal benefits that will help students succeed in school. There are many schools that incorporate music into their schedule and negative outcomes are not a result. The schools that have "music ensembles can promote the goals of self-motivation, empathy, and self-awareness, reducing dropouts, violence, and the negatives that arise from boredom and a lack of positive peer interaction" (Colwell 59). These benefits are goals that schools want to achieve and the use of music included in the curriculum will help them achieve these goals.

Music is fun for students when they are encouraged to give it a try. It is easier for those who have been exposed to it for longer periods of time, but that all has to do with the learning process. It is like learning a foreign language; the earlier it is learned, the longer it is remembered. Music is the same way. Being exposed to music, as a child, of other cultures like the Japanese culture, will clear a pathway for understanding that culture as one gets older.

One thing is for certain, schools need to prepare teachers to be culturally aware of the different levels of intelligences that vary across cultures. "Culture significantly influences the development of learners’ intelligences by defining what is valued for every individual" (Reiff "Multiple Intelligences" 302). It is difficult to judge that what is right in one culture is right in another. All we know is that educators have a great responsibility to make sure that all students are succeeding in school. One way to ease the tension of language barriers and learning difficulties is to have students use music as a means to communicate or express their thoughts. What I am thinking of is if I have a student from Japan who speaks very little English and is very shy, I could ask him to listen to some music and tell me or show me which one he likes best. If he picks out an upbeat song, then I can get a sense that he might be happy. If he picks out a blues song, I might think that he is sad, or maybe he just likes the sound of it! In any case, it is a start towards understanding. Below is a quotation that lists several options for offering a fair way of monitoring the learning of students who might be from a different culture. There are some good suggestions like having portfolios and journals.

"When a student’s cultural style differs from the school culture, cultural incompatibility, or dissonance, often occurs. . . . Teachers should rely on intelligence-fair and curriculum-embedded assessments, including process folios, portfolios, observations, journals, performance-based projects, open-ended questions and domain-related projects" (Reiff "Multiple Intelligences" 302).

. . . .Taiko Drums are a part of the performing arts in Japan. They are used in ensembles of musicians to set the scene and the mood for the performances. The drums range in all sizes from hand held ones to some that are seven feet tall and seven hundred pounds!
GOAL: Students will make a taiko drum and practice playing rhythms and making sounds of nature.Students could also use these drums to accompany their BUNRAKU PUPPET THEATER SHOWS.
MATERIALS: construction paper, scissors, tape or glue, markers & crayons, and empty containers with lids like Oatmeal or Coffee cans
THE LESSON: Play some examples of Japanese music that have drumming in them for the students. Tell them that they are going to be making some taiko drums. While music is playing, have students start to design the covering for their drums. They are encouraged to use Japanese symbols for nature or pictures. As they finish drawing, have them select the canister that they wish. They will cover it with their decorated paper by taping or gluing the paper. After they are finished, have them practice making sounds like raindrops or animals running, or patterns that sound like dancing wind (Keller 31).
Musume Dojoji (The Maiden at the Dojo Temple) (Lewiston) and Satto (Wind Dance) (Lewiston).

. . . .Works Cited

Black, Shari. "Why Music and Arts Education Is Important." Washington D.C. Local #161-710. Minneapolis: Nobel Peace Conference, 1993-1994.

Colwell, Richard. "Musical Intelligence and the Benefits of Music Education." NASSP Bulletin 80 (Nov. 1996): 55-65.

Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1983.

Keller, Mary Jo. Japan Activity Book. Dana Point, CA: Edupress, 1994.

Kinko, Kurosawa, trans. Hoshun (Springtime). Aiko Hasegawa, koto; and Richard Stagg, shakuhachi. ARC Music Productions EUCD 1364, 1996.

---. Ryukyu Minyo ni yoru Kumikyoku (Folksongs from Okinawa). Richard Stagg, shakuhachi. ARC Music Productions EUCD 1364, 1996.

---. Tsuru no Sugomori (Tenderness of Cranes). Kikuko Satoh , koto; Makoto Hasegawa, koto; Aiko Hasegawa, jushichigen; Richard Stagg, shakuhachi. ARC Music Productions EUCD 1364, 1996.

Lewiston, David, prod. Echigojishi (The Eshigo Lion). Ensemble Nipponia. Nonesuch Records H-72084, 1980, 1995.

---. Musume Dojoji (The Maiden at the Dojo Temple). Ensemble Nipponia. Nonesuch Records H-72084, 1980, 1995.

---. Satto (Wind Dance). Ensemble Nipponia. Nonesuch Records H-72084, 1980, 1995.

Ogura, Ro, arr. "Hotaru Koi (Ho, Firefly)." Cascade Chorale Women's Chorus. Theodore Presser Co, 312-41520, 1979, 1987.

Reiff, Judith C. "Multiple Intelligences, Culture and Equitable Learning." Childhood Education 73 (Annual 1997): 301-305.

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[An excerpt unsigned by team request]
Spring 1998


1. The students will experience another culture in a safe and open classroom.

2. The students will be able to begin to articulate definitions and perspectives of their own culture in comparison and or contrast to Japanese culture.

3. The students will be encouraged to think and interpret for themselves their views through the informative lesson plans.

4. The students will be able to generate these feelings and understandings of Japan through a teacher who presents complete and accurate material. They will also be encouraged to ask any questions that they have.

5. The students will also develop and or reinforce positive attitudes towards the value of such cross-cultural study. There will also be emphasis on identifying and correcting misinformation and negative stereotypes that they may have for the Japanese culture.

6. The students will also gain and develop an appreciation of the benefits of learning more about other cultures that are very different from their own.

7. Students' ability to understand and deal constructively with cultural differences will be enhanced.

8. Students' learning will be reinforced with hands-on project activities that are culturally appropriate to the Japanese people. . . .



1 Sue-da-ray (bamboo rolling mat)
1 package sea weed paper
3 cups cooked short grain sticky rice
1 cucumber sliced in long index finger shaped pieces (peeled)
(optional, instead of the cucumber you can substitute almost anything, ex tuna, other fish, and vegetables)

Once the rice is cooked and you have the cucumber sliced take one piece of seaweed paper and tear it in half. Next lay the paper on the Sue-da-ray (bamboo mat) and smear rice all across the paper. Then lay 1 cucumber slice in the middle of the rice. Now using the Bamboo mat roll it like you would cinnamon rolls. Once it is rolled you may slice it to make about 8 small round sections. It is now ready to eat.

Recipe from Yasuko Gooding


A seashell
Is a Japanese poem
Or seventeen syllables—
Small and formal in shape
But containing an ocean
Of thoughts.

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8 JUNE 1998

The American classroom is ever changing: the American public education system is a continual work in process. These changes are due in part to new educational philosophies and advancements in understanding how children learn. As we learn more about learning, educators try to implement programs into the classroom atmosphere to better enhance each child’s opportunity to succeed. Although teaching advancements have a major influence on the way we educate our children today, there is another factor which is just as important as the way we educate: America’s belief in using the educational system to socialize our children. With each generation, our society’s social needs change bringing about subsequent changes in our schools. Some people feel that our schools should only teach three basic cognitive skills: reading, writing and math. These people feel schools should leave personal and social values out of the curriculum. The appeal for the "good old days" when schools just taught basics is not rational. These "good old days" never existed. American schools have always taught some type of community values and beliefs. Up until the Civil Rights Movement, the school system had been used to assimilate immigrant groups into an "American melting pot." Differences were considered weaknesses and were swept away with a new national identity. Schools gave a sense of what it meant to be American to children. It was this type of assimilation the schools were expected to foster, if not be the catalysts for. Our educational system seemed to have done an excellent job, especially with the European immigrants, but in our attempts to assimilate any new culture added to our population, minority groups have been ran rough shod over. However, since the Civil Rights Movement, there has been a change in attitudes toward assimilation. We now see our differences as a strengths of our society, not as a weakness. With this change, a new attitude has developed toward multicultural curricula, and cultural diversity in our schools. We now have an emphasis on recognizing and celebrating our differences and a desire to learn more about them. This is the biggest challenge facing the new generation of educators entering the teaching profession.

"You need to be multiculturally aware." This is what we, as future teachers, hear nearly everyday from our advisors, mentors, and professors. Multicultural awareness, as defined by George S. Morrison, means that we have the "ability to perceive and acknowledge cultural differences among people without making value judgments about those differences."1 In order to integrate multicultural education into our curricula, which is the goal of current school reforms, we need to be as bias-free as possible. However, in our attempt to become multiculturally aware, we are left with a burning question: what is multicultural education? We could ask fifty teachers around Central Oregon to define it for us, and we would get fifty different definitions. We, thus, consider it imperative to research multicultural education and determine what our own definition is.

Multicultural education was first implemented in American schools in the 1960s "as a response to the long-standing policy of assimilating immigrants into the melting pot of our dominant culture."2 However, after the failure of the American "melting pot," the definition of multicultural education was revised. It is now seen as a way of doing away with "Eurocentric and ‘mainstream’ U.S. biases, its ‘universalist’ depiction of Euro-U.S. culture, and its woeful inadequacy in addressing multiethnic America, as well as of the global community."3 For too long, our education has been solely based on D.W.E.M. (Dead White European Males) and their achievements. The works of women and ethnic groups were unjustly put aside being void of any educational value. Little by little, it was admitted that minority groups could not find any sense of identity in what they were studying in the schools. So curricula were revised to try and implement the achievements and contributions of women and people of color. Still, no one has found the true definition of multicultural education. Some researchers and teachers still struggle deciding whether they should only advocate teaching about minority groups in the U.S. or looking at the achievements of foreign peoples. We wondered how hard it would be to implement multicultural education into our curricula when no one can accurately define it. For the purpose of this paper and as a starting point for our future experience as teachers, we decided to determine our own definition of multicultural education. In order to do that, we first had to reflect on what we think is the main goal of multicultural education. What would we like our students to do? What kind of people would we like them to become? What would we like them to get out of our lessons? In this light, we agreed that one of the main goals of multicultural education was to promote "greater sensitivity to cultural differences in an attempt to reduce bias/racism."4 We, then, determined our definition to be as follows: multicultural education is a process of integrating the achievements and contributions of peoples of different cultures and genders into the whole-school curriculum in an effort to promote "mutual respect for all peoples and culture," reduce bias, and "seek to understand particular cultures and peoples in their own contexts."5 We would like our future students to embrace other cultures and be aware of their many contributions to the building of our nation as well as the world.

Once we found a definition for multicultural education that we believed we could work with, we began to look through the different approaches to multicultural education and figured out which one(s) would fit our purpose in the most effective way. We are confronted, once again, with a dilemma. It seems there are as many approaches to multicultural education as there are definitions of it. However, three main theories seem to emerge. The first one was developed in 1988 by Christine Sleeter and Carl Grant who saw five approaches to multicultural education: teaching the exceptionally and culturally different, human relations, single group studies, multicultural education, and education that is multicultural and social reconstructionist.6 James Banks’ multicultural curriculum reform contains four parts: contribution approach, additive approach, transformation approach, and social action approach.7 Along the same lines, Geneva Gay identified four particular stages. The inclusion stage is the first step. It focuses on "teaching factual content about the histories, heritages, and contributions of groups traditionally excluded and underrepresented in the educational curriculum."8 Although it seems to be a step in the right direction, inclusion is usually set up as an "add-on" program: it is not part of the regular curriculum. Some researchers have criticized this model for furthering biases toward other cultures. According to E. R. Ognibene, such programs "emphasize differences to the exclusion of commonalties across cultures, further marginalize the underrepresented groups that inclusion curriculum are intended to center and reinforce the conclusion that the dominant epistemology is best."9 Gay’s second stage is infusion. Through infusion, the achievements and contributions of different cultures "become an explicit part of the curriculum throughout all the content areas."10 This model is superior to inclusion in that it allows students to be exposed to different viewpoints and works from various cultures, within all aspects of the curriculum. However, this stage is not the final step in a multicultural curriculum. The next two stages, deconstruction and transformation, focus on inviting the students to reflect on what they have learned and apply that learning to social issues. The deconstruction stage which is "often referred to as critique, interrogation, and knowledge reconstruction."11 helps students to become critical thinkers. Through deconstruction, students can look at a particular problem from different perspectives and reflect on it. Still, the overall goal of multicultural education is to achieve transformation. In this stage, students are encouraged to think critically about "important social issues and take action to help solve them."12 Students are not passive learners anymore. They are able to understand issues and problems from different points of view and actively work toward possible solutions.

We have decided that our approach to multicultural education should follow the transformation model. In this model, students are empowered to "make a difference." Biases are reduced by critical thinking and exposure to texts dealing with prejudice and racism. Students are invited to think for themselves.

However, even though we have determined what our definition of multicultural education is, as well as what approach seems to be the most effective in implementing it, we have not dealt with all of the problems associated with multicultural education.

As America heads into the 21st century, the type of education we are giving our children will continue to be a volatile issue, especially when it comes to multicultural education. Many questions exist in schools and communities regarding the need for a culturally pluralistic curriculum; how to teach it, and what its outcomes should be are only the tip of the iceberg. Other challenges range from resistance by experienced teachers, administrators, students, and communities, as well as the sympathetic teacher’s lack of exposure to multicultural thinking and cross-cultural knowledge.

One of the problems we researched focused on teachers, their attitudes toward multicultural education and their lack of training in teaching it. Even when teachers believe in a multicultural approach, "unlike the current enrollees in teacher education programs, most have not been exposed to instruction during their teacher preparation that included topics on racism or multicultural education."13 These teachers are often limited to brief workshop efforts at professional development. Most of these efforts "are not successful in altering either the teachers’ beliefs or classroom practice."14 It becomes evident that a teacher must be truly motivated to change long-held practices. Some of the best teachers with the most honest desires to expand their students’ horizons fall into the trap of doing what they have always done in the past because it is comfortable and still works. There are many teaching practices that do not need altering, but some of them just will not work effectively. An example of this would be the tendency to call on boys twice as often as on girls. Even if the subject matter is multiculturally diverse, some of the students in the class are still kept from being active participants and interacting with the material. Since new multicultural education models are being developed, almost everyday it would seem, current teachers are having a difficult time determining what the best approach is. What is the best workshop or conference to go to? "The last conference I went to contradicted the previous conference. Who’s right?" According to Lawrence, "Since multicultural education is more a philosophy than a set of practices, there is not one but many ways to put theoretical principles into practice."15 Because of this, many educators do not know what good multicultural education looks like. There are too many questions, asked by experienced teachers, which are left unanswered. The lack of original training handicaps these experienced teachers’ ability to lead. It is these experienced teachers who make decisions concerning the direction of their specific department in their schools. Until schools can get sufficient training for those teachers, the new teachers who have just graduated will have to do the best they can to make a difference before gaining political power. In this situation, it is not uncommon for "teachers who do try to implement multicultural teaching practices [too] often encounter many cultural and political obstacles from within their own schools and communities."16 Political obstacles set up by schools and communities are immense. Many of these problems are based on disagreement, or should we say, lack of agreement, as to what education is supposed to be or do. Many experienced teachers and parents have resisted the implementation of multicultural education because they don’t know what it is. As we have seen previously, this is a reaction to the problem of no single definition of multicultural education. It is not reasonable to assume that parents are going to accept at face value our word about the importance of teaching cultural diversity when there is so much apparent confusion as to what it really is.

Many of the teachers and parents who oppose multicultural education are white, and they see it as an attack upon their culture. Unfortunately, this feeling of being attacked has anecdotal support. Andrea Fishman reflects upon one such experience at a conference: "Both of these teachers were black. As part of her presentation, one chose to admonish as well as inform the audience. Look around at the group here gathered, she suggested, and reflect, perhaps with shame, on the meaning of such limited black representation in the leadership ranks of this organization."17 Even though Fishman describes herself as a liberal and someone who supports multicultural education practices, she was challenged by the very nature of multicultural education. She concluded: "Reducing choices to black or white, rural or urban, oversimplifies the world in which we and our students live. It leaves no room for those who fit neither or more than one."18 Prior to this conference, Fishman was a gung-ho supporter of multicultural education. However, it is these types of encounters that parents and teachers have had with educators who endorse multicultural education, which create walls instead of build bridges: "Many people claim multicultural education is divisive, and that it creates ethnocentric curricula, segregation and alternative histories. Most books that address multicultural education portray a power conflict between whites and people of color."19 In their enthusiasm to support multicultural curricula, advocates have, at times, alienated the real power structures within schools and communities that can help bring about change. We can not underestimate the natural urge in human nature to resist change, especially when it appears to be attacking traditional values.

Another major challenge facing teachers is overcoming student resistance to multicultural education. If anything has become clear in the minds of educators it is the realization that the curriculum has to be relevant to the students. Students will quickly reject or lose interest in a text or subject that has no relevance to their current social experience. This does not appear to be as big a problem within schools that have a culturally diverse student population. It is a problem however in schools with little or no racial or ethnic diversity. It is not difficult to look on the roll sheet and find a student with a last name that shows Latino, Jewish or some other minority or ethnic ancestry. Some teachers can use this as a way of showing class diversity. Even so, people do not always share the culture of their ancestors as much as they share the culture of their communities. As minority educators have pointed out, students must be engaged in the culture of their educational experience in order to grow. If minority students do not have some type of connection to the curriculum imposed on them, they will lose interest. This is equally true for others. When white students realize that their curriculum has no connection whatsoever with their lives and experiences, they tune out just like minority students. It is only natural for students to ask for some connection with the subject to get involved in the learning process. White students resist multicultural education just as minorities have struggled with traditional curricula. Teachers must recognize the need to present alternative points of view in order for both minorities and whites to benefit from a culturally diverse curriculum.

As we have discussed earlier, traditional models of multicultural education have many shortcomings. In some of these models, children are viewed as products of their racial or ethnic cultures. Some people truly believe that all blacks share common viewpoints as do all Native Americans, etc. We reject this view. Wardle notes, "research shows that positive self-esteem is more likely to be based on how the child sees himself as an individual, not how he sees himself in reference to racial groups."20 She goes on to say that "we should focus on recognizing the unique set of experiences each child brings to school, and learn how to utilize these experiences to help him or her achieve the utmost self-esteem and academic success."21 As teachers, we must recognize the differences in experiences of our students, and not fall into the trap of stereotyping them. Within this context, the curriculum needs to be presented in a way that all students, regardless of race or background, can interact with it.

Within the Language Arts classroom, we have an opportunity to involve our students in ways that possibly other subjects cannot do. According to MacPhee, "Literature invites students into sociocultural contexts as sympathetic listeners or sharers and not observers."22 The goal for literature then becomes discourse, not just reading fodder. MacPhee uses reader response theory to create a "lived through experience" for her students in which she utilized the "transformation approach." The transformation approach shapes instructional material, teaching techniques and the students’ learning experience.23 This approach goes beyond just exposing students to multicultural literature to getting them involved with the text itself. The students’ involvement comes in the form of dialogue amongst themselves or/and the teacher. From MacPhee’s experiences, this interaction with the text "produces greater empathy for others and an understanding of the evils of discrimination."24 This approach must, by every day integration, continue to connect the students constantly to the curriculum. This leads to another misconception about multicultural education that we need to be aware of.

The misconception that "diversity issues and multicultural concerns are to be taken separately from what a teacher is already doing in the classroom"25 gets at the core of inadequate attempts to teach culturally diverse curriculum. In order for any teaching to be effective, it must be an integral part of the larger whole teachers are striving for. Multicultural education is no different. Teachers who segment cultural diversity either do not know the differences or are not committed to diversity anyway. Effective teaching will integrate all forms of literature into the larger educational picture.

Having furthered our knowledge of multicultural education, we need to explore ways of implementing it in a high school Language Arts classroom. This is by far the most difficult stage. Many teachers fail in keeping their students interested, which we have stated before, is a of the major problems with multicultural education. Thus, to be successful, we need to know our students, and "relate teaching content to the cultural backgrounds of [our] students."26 This is the first step in implementing multicultural material in our classroom because "teaching that ignores student norms of behavior and communication provokes student resistance, while teaching that is responsive prompts students involvement."27 We, thus, need to find out where our students come from, not just what their racial or ethnic backgrounds are. We should try and find out what their hobbies are, what they like or dislike, etc. The better we know our students, the easier we can choose texts that will keep them interested and challenged. We, then, can hopefully choose material from authors from various backgrounds which best deals with who our students are. We also need to keep in mind our ultimate goal of multicultural education, which is to increase sensitivity to different cultures and reduce bias/prejudice. Some teachers have been very successful at introducing the issue of prejudice in the classroom and follow the transformation model. For example, Diane, a high school English teacher in a racially diverse inner-city setting "adapted her study of "To Kill a Mockingbird" with a 2-week unit on stereotyping and prejudice. She sent her ninth graders out on a "prejudice watch" to uncover the stereotyping they found around them all day long. Then she exposed her students to stereotyping in film. The students used what they learned about stereotyping and prejudice to critically evaluate character development and context in Harper Lee’s work."28 This is a perfect example of a teacher integrating her curriculum to fit the larger educational goals. This teacher was also able to accomplish this goal through a traditional piece of literature, which, at times, will be all that is available. Although using diverse racial and ethnic authors is desirable, it does not mean a teacher cannot find ways to use what is available to teach multicultural values. Harper Lee is white, but she is a woman, another class which has been overlooked in the past. Through her book, students are exposed to gender issues as well. Diane, the English teacher, has, in the words of Bennett, "transformed the mainstream curriculum," and "engaged students in the process of attaining knowledge."29 This process goes beyond handing out information for students to recite back on exams, and has moved that information into real life. The students are engaged, and interacting with the curriculum, and the multicultural facet of the classroom is integrated into general educational goals. According to Harrington, "by engaging in dialogue with individuals with different views, they [students] find their views and beliefs challenged. In the process, students think more complexly, and inclusively about multicultural education."30 Any subject must involve interaction with the students to be successful.

Another example of integration of multicultural education programs in the whole-school curriculum is that of the Palm Beach County (Florida) School District which decided in 1993 to make its curriculum more multicultural. The school district infused multicultural content in middle and high school social studies and science classes with curriculum units such as Jewish contributions to American society, women Air Force pilots in World War II, and Daniel Hale Williams: African-American Surgeon. They had decided to focus on "two broad categories: material that was unlikely to be found in textbooks and material that texts might mention but for which the units provided additional detail or perspectives."31 Other teachers have also focused on what does not appear in textbooks. For example, Barbara, a sixth-grade teacher in an upper-middle-class neighborhood school decided to do away with the Eurocentric approach she had used for so long in teaching the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, when she realized they were "devoid of the conflicts and exclusions of women and people of color."32 She refocused her lessons and "invigorated the unit by examining these documents from multiple perspectives."33

In our own application of multicultural education in the Language Arts classroom, we would integrate texts exploring the different viewpoints of minorities as well as white authors. For example, in a unit on slavery, we would include works from white authors such as Benjamin Franklin as well as works from African Americans such as Frederick Douglass, Phyllis Wheatley, Harriett Jacobs, Sojourner Truth, etc. A unit could be devoted to the "Middle Passage" or to slave ships with a study of Equiano’s works. In order to integrate works other than texts, we could show films, such as the movie "Amistad."

The author, Eileen Iscoff Oliver, has noticed that some books are now encompassing culturally diverse authors. For example, the Heath Anthology of American Literature includes works from the "canon" as well as from Native American, African American, Latinos, etc. authors. She points out that this is "an example of how one very excellent anthology successfully handles the issues of multiculturalism while maintaining traditional chronological survey approach."34 However, she deplores the fact that many school districts cannot afford such anthologies. Still, she says, "they can at least begin to consider them, and teachers can prepare to negotiate with each other, administrators, and school boards for these much needed volumes."35

Most public schools develop multicultural education programs as "inclusion" programs because this is the easiest way to introduce diverse curricula. This "inclusion" approach is also the least effective way to reach students. In this respect, multicultural education is struggling in most American schools where monocultural student populations exist. They still have not accepted the need for incorporating multicultural education into the larger whole of the education process, but are just going through the motions to fulfill current political pressures. Schools, teachers, communities, and students, must go through a process in which they begin to recognize the value of multicultural education. This process has differing stages of progress. Generally, most people start in a state of ethnocentrism, in which one’s own culture is the only "right" one. With exposure to diverse viewpoints and through better teaching methods students and teachers will begin to change and grow. Finally, there is a change in attitudes towards differences in which the person accepts, adapts and integrates differences from other cultures. 36 Without this development as a person, the educator who is attempting to implement multicultural education will continually struggle. We hope to be a positive influence on our students and in our schools amongst our teaching peers to bring about some level of change in our schools. We recognize the need for ourselves to continue to grow and adapt to the current needs of our society, so that we can be examples to those students who will be looking at us for guidance. We don’t believe that American schools, in general, are very close to ideal when it comes to multicultural education, but we see ourselves as tools that will help our schools in the right direction.


1.George S. Morrison, Teaching in America (Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1997), 531.
2. T. Sobol, "Understanding Diversity," Educational Leadership 48 no.3 (1990): 27-30.
3. Cora Agatucci, "Mapping Theories of Multicultural Education," Multicultural Literature Course Pack, ENG 390 (Spring 1998): 6.
4. Rita Dunn, "The Goals and Track Record of Multicultural Education," Educational Leadership 54 no. 7 (1997): 74.
5. Agatucci, "Mapping Theories of Multicultural Education," 6.
6. Sandra M. Lawrence and Heather E. Krause, "Multicultural Teaching in a Monocultural School: One Cooperating Teacher’s Personal and Political Challenges," Equity & Excellence in Education 29 no. 2 ( September 1996): 30.
7. Dunn, 75.
8. Agatucci, 8.
9. Ibid, 7.
10. Morrison, 530.
11. Agatucci, 8.
12. Ibid, 9.
13. Lawrence & Krause, 30.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid, 33.
16. Ibid, 30.
17. Andrea Fishman, "One Person’s Opinion," English Journal. November 1996: 13-14.
18. Ibid, 14.
19. Francis Wardle, "Proposal: an Anti-bias and Ecological Model for Multicultural Education," Childhood Education 72 no. 3 (Spring 1996):153.
20. Ibid, 153.
21. Ibid, 154.
22. Joyce S. MacPhee, "That’s Not Fair!": A White Teachers Report on White First Graders’ Responses to Multicultural Literature," Language Arts 74 (January 1997): 22.
23. Ibid, 34.
24. Ibid, 39.
25. Deborah Eldridge, "When the Shoe Won’t Fit: Sizing up Teachers’ Concerns about and Responses to Diversity in the Language Arts Classroom," Language Arts 73 (September 1996): 299.
26. Raymond J. Wlodkowski and Margery B. Ginsberg, "A Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching," Educational Leadership 53 no. 1 ( September 1995): 17.
27. Ibid.
28. Eldridge, 301.
29. Christine I. Bennett, "Preparing Teachers for Cultural Diversity and National Standards of Academic Excellence," Journal of Teacher Education 46 (September-October 1995): 259-265
30. Helen L. Harrington and Russel S. Hathaway, "Illuminating Beliefs About Diversity," Journal of Teacher Education 46 (September-October 1995): 278.
31. Morrison, 133.
32. Eldridge, 299.
33. Ibid.
34. Eileen Iscoff Oliver, "Approaches to Teaching Multicultural Literature," Crossing the Mainstream: Multicultural Perspectives in Teaching Literature (Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1994), 181.
35. Ibid.
36. Agatucci.


Agatucci, Cora. "Mapping Theories of Multicultural Education," Multicultural Literature Course Pack, ENG 390 (Spring 1998): 6-9.

Bennett, Christine. "Preparing Teachers for Cultural Diversity and National Standards of Academic Excellence," Journal of Teacher Education 46 no. 4 September-October 1995: 259-265.

Dunn, Rita. "The Goals and Track Record of Multicultural Education," Educational Leadership 54 no. 7 (1997): 74-78.

Eldridge, Deborah. "When the Shoe Won’t Fit: Sizing up Teachers’ Concerns about and Responses to Diversity in the Language Arts Classroom," Language Arts 73 September 1996: 298-304.

Fishman, Andrea. "One Person’s Opinion," English Journal. November 1996: 13-14.

Harrington, Helen L. And Russel S. Hathaway. "Illuminating Beliefs about Diversity," Journal of Teacher Education 46 no. 4 September-October 1995: 275-284

Lawrence, Sandra M. and Heather E. Krause. "Multicultural Teaching in a Monocultural School: One Cooperating Teacher’s Personal and Political Challenges," Equity & Excellence in Education 29 no. 2, September 1996: 30-36.

MacPhee, Joyce S. "That’s Not Fair!": A White Teachers Report on White First Graders’ Responses to Multicultural Literature," Language Arts 74 January 1997: 33-40

Morrison, George S., Teaching in America. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1997: 531.

Oliver, Eileen Iscoff. "Approaches to Teaching Multicultural Literature," Crossing the Mainstream: Multicultural Perspectives in Teaching Literature. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1994: 177-193.

Sobol, T. "Understanding Diversity," Educational Leadership 48 no.3 (1990): 27-30.

Wardle, Francis. "Proposal: an Anti-bias and Ecological Model for Multicultural Education," Childhood Education 72 no. 3 Spring 1996: 152-157

Wlodkowski, Raymond J. and Margery B. Ginsberg. "A Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching," Educational Leadership 53 no. 1, September 1995: 17-22.

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