Teachers’ Awareness of Multicultural Education and Diversity in School Settings

Betul TONBULOGLU*, Dolgun ASLAN**, Hasan AYDIN***
*Ministry of Education, Istanbul.
**Dr.– The Ministry of Education.
***Dr. Yildiz Technical University, College of Education, Curriculum and Instruction Dept., Istanbul.
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2016.64.1


Problem Statement: The concept of multiculturalism was generally perceived in terms of ethnic backgrounds or differences in race and so brought forth negative viewpoints and apprehensions with regard to the issue. It is undoubtedly of great importance to provide comprehensive educational systems in which individuals in multicultural societies can live together in peace. Therefore, the attempt to determine the perceptions of teachers towards multiculturalism is essential, as they are responsible for the organization of class learning environments. Likewise, it is important to analyze the degree to which educational programs actually carry or incorporate these multicultural principles with the view of ensuring an education that will include all students and ensure they are raised in a way that embraces peace. Nevertheless, the number of studies conducted in Turkey on this topic to date remains very small.

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceptions of teachers with regard to multicultural education and diversity and to highlight the awareness of teachers concerning this issue.

Method: A qualitative case research design was employed for this study. Within the study, there was an attempt to present the thoughts of teachers with regard to multicultural education, and at the same time, examine yearly plans to determine the degree to which multicultural education had been incorporated into the teaching process. In order to determine the study group, a purposeful sampling technique was used. The research group consisted of six teachers employed during the 2012–2013 academic year at a primary school situated in the province of Istanbul, Turkey. The data of the study were collected by means of semi-constructed interviews, observations and document analyses, and interview questions. An observation form and yearly plans were used as data collection tools. The data obtained were then evaluated in accordance with the content analysis technique.

Findings and Results: On analysis of the results, it was discovered that the actual knowledge of the teachers, with regard to multicultural education and diversity, was found to be adequate, and their opinions towards multicultural education were observed to be largely positive. Nevertheless, there was serious confusion and prejudice with regard to certain concepts connected to multicultural education; teachers were seen to suffer from certain inadequacies with these issues. Furthermore, analysis of the yearly plans revealed that the number of attainment goals and activities, as well as types of assessment and evaluation tools that were included to emphasize multiculturalism and diversification, were insufficient.

Conclusions and Recommendations: In order for teachers to understand the importance and necessity of multicultural education—and for teachers to be able to transfer this into practice in the educational environment itself— the implementation of educational reforms that recognize equal opportunities in learning is a pressing priority. For this reason, it is suggested that teachers need to adopt multicultural educational principles and include these in their teaching programs, while the training opportunities available to teachers and academic studies conducted on this topic need to increase.

Keywords: Multiculturalism, multicultural education, opinions of teachers.