ENHANCING MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION OF TEACHER EDUCATION STUDENTS, THROUGH HIGHER EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS, FACULTY EXCHANGES, AND STUDENT STUDY ABROAD OPPORTUNITIES
Metropolitan State University of Denver (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract: As our country, state and community become more diverse based on race, ethnicity, national origin gender, religion, and socioeconomic status it become imperative that today's teachers become well versed in being culturally responsive to the students in their classrooms. Issues in multicultural education is one of the essential course students in our teacher preparation program take, whether they plan to teach at the elementary, middle school or high school level. Today’s teachers in Denver, Colorado have experienced an influx of students from all over the world. We have school districts in the metropolitan area that have specific elementary, middle school and high schools that have been designated as newcomer schools or schools addressing the needs of recent immigrant students and their families. In order for teachers to meet the needs of their students they too need to learn about culture and culturally responsive teaching. One of the opportunities Metropolitan State University of Denver offers to students interested in learning about the Education, Culture, and Politics: A Puerto Rican Perspective is a study abroad class. Allowing students to see and experience firsthand how the similar and not so similar requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act unfolds in a United States Commonwealth.
What began as faculty exchange and partnership between Metropolitan State University of Denver and the University of Puerto Rico, Rios Piedras and a research project on multicultural education has evolved into a study abroad class. The research project assessed the perceptions of students at both institutions on issues of diversity.
For students from the Denver metropolitan area many have not ventured outside of the continental forty-eight state area of the country, let alone to one of the US Commonwealth’s. Puerto Rico is one of the most exceptional places our student can go and experience a country and culture like no other. For one travel in a relative sense is still easy for United State citizens to travel to Puerto Rico as we do not need to show our passports and we use the same currency. The students begin to see and experience a difference sense of history and time, Puerto Rico being over 500 years old compared to the United States that is just over 200 years old and how this fits with the historical perspective. Also on this island, there is influence of three distinct cultures, Tiano Indians, Spanish, and African that makes Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico. Spanish is the first language of most people in Puerto Rico and many speak English, as it is part of the curriculum taught in school. What makes our experience to Puerto Rico come alive for our students is to see students who have moved back to Puerto Rico from the United States who now need to learn Spanish or improve their current Spanish skills. The teacher education students from Colorado are very familiar with students whose first language is Spanish who now need to learn English. Essentially, they see the reverse happing in schools in Puerto Rico. From visits to schools across the island, our students begin to see and experience culture and education from a different perspective. The value of experiential learning cannot be disputed as an effective methodology for our teacher education students.
Keywords: Multicultural education.