Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cognitive and Attitudinal objectives of Multicultural Education in the classroom – My Reflections

At admission, we normally divide our students into batches, with each Batch of 8 – 12 students making up one class.

Among the criteria considered when dividing the class into classes is Diversity. Each class is made up of students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths. As for the girls, if they are between 1 and 3; they are placed in the same class. But if they are more than 4, they are divided into different classes, at least 2 per class. This eliminates a situation where you have a single female in an all male classroom.

Right from the start of the programme, we ensure the learners are made to understand that they are fellow travellers in their quest for ICT skills at the school.

The importance of cooperation is stressed during the initial orientation with special emphasis on getting the learners to understand each person is gifted with his/her unique skills and personality traits and that it is only by seeing each other as brothers and sisters, they can work together and thus learn together and from one another.

Though most of the orientation sessions are lecture-style classes; the teacher’s main objective during this period is to actually to get the students to know each other, loosen up, and feel free in the new school environment.

When coordinating the orientation classes, one of my styles is to get every student to stand up and introduce him/herself, telling the class his/her names, town of origin and his best local food! It is usually the last part that loosens up the atmosphere in the class. When someone tells the class about the local food s/he loves most, many times, you have the class erupting into laughter or thunderous handclapping. At such a point, I usually come in and chip in that while people’s choices of likes may differ from ours, that doesn’t make them into ‘aliens’. And such we should not ridicule or look down at them on the basis of this or any other reason.

When the classes proper begin, the classes are further divided into groups of 2 – 3. which is how they’d progress through the course.

Coming from a multicultural background myself, I am able to convincingly guide the students to accept each other as one, no matter their differences.

Our learning materials are designed to be used in integrated thematic approaches. Our learning activities allow students share their stories in the class. For example, our last graduands learnt Ms PowerPoint using materials they collected themselves about the local foods and clothing styles of different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Each group researched into, and got materials from 5 ethnic groups, which were now used to create a 6 – slide Presentation made up of pictures of clothing styles and foods from the different regions.

The above and many other like it helps the students learn about cultures other than theirs.

We, the instructors are always ready to answer questions on cultural misconceptions and if we don’t have the answer, the question becomes is usually used a class-wide homework assignment, and by the next class, we mostly have more information they we needed

Personally, I think the teacher has a very important role to play in determining if the students work and learn in a discrimination free environment or not.

If the teacher is prejudiced himself, it will reflect in his teaching styles and thus transfer to the students’ attitudes. But if the teacher is actually seen to be tolerant, understanding and respectful towards the students’ diverse cultures and faiths, there is great hope that the students will also adopt these ideals.

By having students research into other cultures and use the information gathered for their ICT classes, they are able to see the similarities and/or differences and it also helps them understand the reasons for some peculiarities of some tribes or cultures.

In my classes, I usually allow free question period when students are able to ask general questions about the society even if the questions are not ICT related.

Sometimes when a question comes up which I think a student could answer (Maybe it is about his culture or faith), I ask the student to give us an answer before coming in to make additions or clarifications


  1. Ibrahim,

    It seems to me that your students are very lucky to be able to study in your school. They are getting so much more than an ICT education. I hope other schools are looking to yours as a role model.

  2. Even in discussions with other teachers, I always emphasize they integrate ideas that will teach the kids respect for diversity and understanding.
    Like i said in the post it may be a slow process, but, the community will surely change with time.


Creative Commons License
This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi (mallamibro@gmail.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.