In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Multiculturalism and Education

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks on Multicultural Education
  • Collections of Essays and Research Articles
  • Journals
  • Historical and Conceptual Background of Multiculturalism in Schools
  • Issues in Multiculturalism and Equity in Schools
  • Teacher Development, Teacher Prejudice, and Prejudice Reduction
  • Professional Development about Multiculturalism in Schools and Society
  • Culture and Learning

Childhood Studies Multiculturalism and Education
Jose Luis Alvarado, Valerie Ooka Pang, Melissa Naranjo
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0108


This article presents major pieces within the field of multiculturalism relating to children, youth, teachers, and schooling. In particular, the research has examined much of the work that forms the foundation of multicultural education. Though the area primarily arose from the civil rights movement in the United States, Britain, Australia, and other nations throughout the world, the push for equality in society and schools became a more powerful force after World War II when discussions of race relations developed. The field is vast and includes characteristics of children, youth, and adults such as race, ethnicity, culture, class, gender, disabilities, language, exceptionalities, sexual orientation, and religion. The resources that are cited include foundational and conceptual research and contemporary analyses. There has been controversy about the use of the terms multiculturalism and multicultural education. Some scholars believe that the expressions are dated and should be replaced. This is viewed as being more inclusive and general in nature; thus, terms have changed over time. For example, in the 1970s the field was identified as “multiethnic education.” As the field of education became more inclusive, the term was changed from “multiethnic education” to “multiculturalism.” Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a move toward the use of expressions such as cultural diversity or cultural and linguistic diversity. For the purpose of this bibliography, we present resources that are about multiculturalism within the contexts of student identity development, cognition, linguistic development, the learning process, teaching methods, and educational policies. This will include references that discuss the maturation of children and students, descriptions of theoretical frameworks, examination of conceptual models, and presentation of culturally relevant content. Since multicultural education is the major avenue for the inclusion of cultural and linguistic diversity in schools, we begin with the major textbooks in the field.

Textbooks on Multicultural Education

There are a variety of textbooks on multicultural education which have been published since the 1970s. Initially, textbooks such as Banks 2002 and Banks 2008 were written from the perspective of ethnic studies and reinforced the term “multiethnic education.” However, as the field progressed, more emphasis was placed on multiculturalism. As the discipline evolved, other work such as Bennett 2003 developed a strong orientation toward curriculum development and instructional delivery. Later Nieto 2000 contributed the inclusion of critical theory into the philosophical core of multicultural education. Presently, there is a greater focus on the need to identify theories that form the philosophical and educational psychology foundation of the field, which can be found in Pang 2018. The references in this section present different viewpoints about how the field should influence and shape schooling. McLaren 1989 is unique in that it describes examples of what the author experienced as a teacher about how inequalities are readily reproduced in schools. The author of Warner 1986 describes her work with indigenous Maori students, which was an early narrative of how multiculturalism could be integrated into schooling. Gay 2010, by one of the founders of the field of multicultural education, expands on the principles she believes are at the core of the disciplines. The authors in multicultural education have different orientations from a progressive stand to one embracing critical theory.

  • Banks, James A. An Introduction to Multicultural Education. 5th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.

    This book gives readers a forward-reaching look toward increasing their understanding of what multicultural education means for teaching in contemporary classrooms. The author explores the concepts, principles, theories, and practices of multicultural education in such key areas as the goals and misconceptions of multicultural education, citizenship education and diversity in a global age, curriculum transformation, curriculum reform, and school reform and intergroup education.

  • Banks, James A. Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2008.

    This was a popular textbook in multicultural education when the field was developing. It was based on the importance of teaching educators the history of underrepresented groups in the United States. For example, separate chapters were included on Asian Americans, black Americans, Jews, Native Americans, Latinos, and women.

  • Bennett, Christine I. Comprehensive Multicultural Education Theory and Practice. 5th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2003.

    This text assists teachers in how to become competent educators in a nation that has extensive student cultural and racial diversity. Four areas of focus are curriculum reform, equity pedagogy, multicultural competence, and teaching toward social justice. Strategies about how to eliminate prejudice and lessons on equity are included.

  • Gay, Geneva. Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research and Practice. 2d ed. New York: Teachers College, 2010.

    Culturally responsive teaching can be integrated into schools to challenge academic failure of students of color and address the achievement gap. The text provides important theory, research, and practice along with case studies and other examples of how teachers can implement education that is meaningful to students.

  • McLaren, Peter L. Life in Schools: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy in the Foundations of Education. New York: Longman, 1989.

    This book calls into question the role of teachers as reproducers of inequality. McLaren challenges educators to resist imperialistic pedagogy, which creates an unfair society. The author believes critical pedagogy should be adopted as the foundation for transformative education and describes his own experiences as a classroom teacher.

  • Nieto, Sonia. Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education. New York: Longman, 2000.

    This text is based upon critical theory and the work of Paulo Freire, which calls for education that is based on the values of social justice and equality. Discrimination and power inequities are the two major themes throughout the text.

  • Pang, Valerie Ooka. Diversity and Equity in the Classroom. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2018.

    This text describes a comprehensive theoretical framework for multicultural education called Caring-centered Education. The framework is comprised of the ethic of care as developed by Noddings, the sociocultural theory of learning established by Vygotsky, and education for democracy cultivated by Dewey. This framework has an educational psychological foundation and includes a section on culturally relevant teaching.

  • Warner, Sylvia Ashton. Teacher. New York: Touchstone, 1986.

    Warner chronicles her teaching with Maori children. She believed in her students and her teaching methodology arose from the interests and knowledge of her students. She used what would be now called an experiential learning and culturally relevant education. She built the curriculum on the culture of her children.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.