Please update your web browser or disable Compatibility View.

IV. Ensure Pluralistic Thinking

          A review of the literature on models of educational diversity indicates that approaches which ignore the necessity for a major shift in thinking about self and others in relationship to race and culture are likely to yield disappointing and superficial results.  Banks (1993) and McIntosh (1990) suggest that in the absence of a cognitive shift toward more pluralistic thinking, multi-cultural curricula tend to stagnate at the level of "holidays and heroes" and, in fact, may do a disservice to those who are subjected to them. Such curricula may remain mired, for example, in what Banks called an "additive approach" in which minority figures with exemplary achievements are acknowledged. The resulting implication is that the extraordinary individuals from diverse backgrounds are seen by some students as exceptions in their cultures. Celebration of the major holidays of a culture is also potentially problematic in that those holidays may be "de-contextualized" if they are presented outside of the cultural context in which they are normally embedded.

          Another disadvantage to the additive approach as illustrated with these two examples is that it may lead its designers to the erroneous conclusion that they have "done" diversity. It is clear, then, that the diversity challenge requires change.  "Doing" diversity is not palatable; diversity must be lived. The challenge for the Education Department is to ensure that thinking pluralistically occurs systematically in the program and that students learn to think at a level of complexity commensurate with the complexity of the issues that multi-cultural educational efforts present.

          While complex/pluralistic thinking is addressed in many of our classes, an ongoing effort must be made to deliberately integrate current multicultural education into all appropriate program courses. We have set several goals to focus our candidates' continuing progress toward pluralistic thinking.  

Goal 1: Ensure that teacher candidates have exposure to models of pluralistic thinking throughout the curriculum.

          We will continue our efforts toward this goal, already pursued with vigor in many parts of our teacher preparation program. In Spring 2010, a focused review of Education Department Program took place in a faculty and staff two-day retreat.  One of the outcomes of that event was the formation of a "Foundations Committee" and a "Pedagogy Committee."  The Foundation Committee, formed from all faculty who teach foundations courses as reflected in Tier One (See Attachment A of College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University Education Department Diversity Report and Plan). The Pedagogy Committee is comprised of all faculty who teach methods courses and student teaching. Since the spring retreat, the Foundations Committee met on September 15, 2010 and October 25, 2010 to review where and how the INTASC-based Minnesota Standard of Effective Practice are met, including Standard Three: Diverse Learners. During this review the Foundations committee specifically discussed diversity initiatives throughout the curriculum and responded to perceived gaps and overlaps.

          Furthermore, a review of Spring 2011 syllabi indicates that faculty now seem to be addressing diversity in a noticeably more intentional and comprehensive way. For example, at least five courses are specially aimed at developing understanding of diversity and intercultural issues from an educational perspective. These five include EDUC 111 Introduction to Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World; EDUC 212 Diversity Clinical: K-8; EDUC 213 Diversity Clinical Secondary and K-12 licensure; EDUC 203 Human Development: Typical and Exceptional; and EDUC 390 Ethics in Human Relations.

          Those teaching the introductory course for those beginning their preparation to teach, EDUC 111, shifted its focus to look specifically at gender and diversity issues in education.  The development course EDUC 203 shifted to include exceptionalities and disabilities. EDUC 212 and EDUC 213 were developed to ensure intercultural experience and focused reflection for all teacher candidates. EDUC 390 has been part of the curriculum for many years and focuses on educational issues for diverse groups including ethic, racial, gender, sexual preference and disabilities. The summarized comments below are more descriptive of these and other courses in the curriculum.

          Theories of multicultural education/pluralistic thinking are addressed in several courses. Julie Landsman (A White Teacher Talks about Race), Ruby Payne, James Banks, Peggy McIntosh, Gender Equity theorists and intercultural competence, for example, are introduced in EDUC 111, Introduction to Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World. These theories were revisited in EDUC 310 (Educational Psychology), and EDUC 390 (Human Relations). Intercultural experience and competence are more deeply addressed in EDUC 212 and 213. These courses were approved to meet the institutional intercultural requirement in 2010. In other courses, students were expected to apply their understandings of those theories, as in Human Relations (EDUC 390).

          Finally, student teachers are expected to demonstrate their pluralistic thinking about the population of students they are serving as they plan, implement, assess, and reflect on their performance. It is quite clear from our review of the activities included in these courses and experiences that theories of multicultural education are introduced and recalled with greater detail on each of several occasions, spiraling throughout our licensure programs.

           The Pedagogy committee also met several times in 2010 and 2011.  Their review of how pluralistic thinking is encouraged and supported in our pedagogy courses appears in a later section of this plan (Goal 6).