Posted: March 9th, 2022

Multiculturalism in a World Community

Multiculturalism in a World Community


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Each day brings the world closer together in a world community. A world community is the concept of countries without borders, where the populations and governments of individual countries join forces to overcome the problems and to face together the challenges preventing humanity from achieving its highest goal, highest reward, through ultimate maximization of the quality of life. That is, to ensure that all people, globally, have access to shelter, healthcare, nutrition, and education in order to be productive and proactive partners and participants in the world community. A world community involves, too, the concept of celebrating cultural diversity and traditions. A multicultural world community makes incumbent upon its members the responsibility to provide multicultural instruction to the various communities within the individual countries to help those members move beyond the ethnocentrism of its own borders, and to become friends and neighbors of people who look different, speak different languages, and who hold different religious and moral philosophies from their own. Moreover, that they do so without resentment or prejudice, which might otherwise manifest itself in ways harmful to the greater community at large.


Multicultural Instruction


Key to understanding the cultural and traditional ways of others is education on the diversity of the world community. In today’s world, we often find classrooms consisting of multicultural students, however a diverse student body does not ensure that instruction on multiculturalism is being taught. Joann Phillon, in her book titled Narrative Inquiry in a Multicultural Landscape: Multicultural Teaching and Learning talks about the experiences that led her to multicultural teaching.


Her own experiences as a foreigner in Japan teaching English as a second language, and because her son was going to school there during that period; Joann’s interest became focused on the problems facing foreigners in countries and settings where they were expected to grasp the language and the cultural traditions within which the society moved about them on a daily basis. Phillon’s experiences gave her ideas that served her in the multicultural teaching environment of Bay Street School. Phillon writes:


Connections from learning from travel overlap and are entangled with connections from learning from teaching and learning from research. I have come to believe that there are strong connections between being the kind of teacher I was able to be because of the circumstances of my life and career, and the way I felt had to go about engaging inquiry.”


In order to teach multiculturalism, the instructor needs to have a sense of the multicultural environment of their students, and that of their individual students. That sense, if you’re less traveled than Phillon, can be gained through literature. In an article written by Marilyn E. Structhens, she talks about the use of literature in teaching multicultural children – and their parents – about the world into which they have immigrated to. This same concept has been found successful for wide variety of subjects, but comes in especially useful when teaching on the subject of multiculturalism. Strutchens writes:


As the story is read, the facilitator asks family members to compare their customs and beliefs with those of Sadako’s family. Families become very involved in the story. Many of the children and parents are sad and in deep thought by the end of the book. They often state that the story reminds them of loved ones who have died of cancer. The story can also lead into a deep discussion about history and the dangers of nuclear warfare”


Teaching through literature, the pedagogical approach, has been successful in teaching history, even more complex subjects at the university level. In teaching multiculturalism, it is possible to select literature that deals with the complexity of subjects and materials that help students gain a sense of the culture and traditions of those students whom they might not otherwise know in these ways, and whom they might not fully understand because of the cultural differences that separate them. The goal in teaching in a multicultural setting or teaching the subject of multiculturalism is to cover the cultural differences and traditions that make people different from one another in such a way as to help others develop an appreciation, rather than a bias for the other cultures and traditions. Literature offers an endless selection of materials for accomplishing this, and for covering important and sensitive issues like genocide and holocaust, social adjustments facing immigrants, and other aspects impacting the lives of people in their own lives and in the lives of others. Having information about other cultures will help each of us be more understanding and accepting of other cultures.


Important to teaching multiculturalism through literature is the time devoted to discussion of the literature. Each student will read the material, and, as a result, especially in a culturally diverse student body, will have a different and interesting interpretation of the material. In addition to the discussions, students can write essays on their interpretations, and this provides the instructor with the output to measure the student’s course progress, and to allow the student to explore the concepts of the literature at a creative level through their own writing on the material and subject. The combination of reading and writing helps the students focus on the text, gives it structure, which helps the student in their own thinking processes. It also helps the student gain the sense that “art imposes a meaningful order onto the chaos which characterizes the world.” This leads to an understanding that people, as humans, share in common certain emotional experiences and responses to those experiences. This should serve to bridge gaps of understanding that will help students move towards one another, crossing the cultural bridges that separate them and their communities. Discussion and writing will serve to expose the students to the ideas and responses of one another, and give the students an opportunity to ask questions that they might be reluctant or unsure of how to ask someone of a different ethnic background. Multicultural instruction presents students the opportunities to have answered for them questions by others of different backgrounds about whom and which they have long been curious, but for whatever reason have not taken steps to answer for them selves.


Introducing literature as a learning tool is also giving the students access to an unending resource of materials that can take them directly into the cultural experience about which they might be learning. The works of authors like Salman Rushdie, whose works explore the colonial and post colonial periods of the British Empire in India, and specifically the human emotions and elements in multi and cross-cultural settings and situations. Rushdie’s literary style, in works like Midnight’s Children, are easy to read, engage the reader and yield valuable lessons and insights about mixed cultural experiences.


In addition to literature, film serves as a useful instructional tool in teaching about multiculturalism. Films, like Out of Africa, encompass a multitude of themes to be explored in a classroom setting. In this film, there is a convergence of cultures in a colonial setting in Kenya, in Africa. The British are farming the rich Kenyan green-lands, while Muslims act as house servants and interpreters to the British settlers. The Muslims are the link between the British and the various indigenous tribal groups. There is the mixing of Christianity, Islam, and tribal paganism. The film offers the opportunity to contrast British colonialism imposing civilization on the harsh and resistant African landscape. There are a multitude of themes to be discussed, written about, in this film alone.


In film, as with literature, there is the opportunity to examine, discuss and understand the multi-faceted world of other cultures, and to explore topics like the holocaust, mixed marriages and families, immigration, genocide, war and peace.


Multiculturalism in Work Places much greater challenge than teaching multiculturalism in an academic setting is teaching multiculturalism in the work place. In the work setting, people have come together to perform work that facilitates the mission and goals of a corporation. Some work places, such as those that deliver a high level of technology to the public, as in medicine or law; might be better educated to handle the diversity of a multicultural work environment; while factories and settings that require less higher education – thus, employ people with less multicultural exposure – might be greater challenges for creating or assimilating a multicultural workforce. The latter setting presents problems and challenges that require a creative and determined. Still, issues that separate employees in a multicultural workforce can be overcome.


Employers can offer employees opportunities to come together and get to know one another at social mixers, company sponsored events, like picnics, where employees can bring their families and spend the day together in a family setting. These events give employees the opportunity to observe one another, to talk to one another, and if the company arranges events like baseball, to play together in ways that are supportive and interacting. “With the increasingly multicultural workforce, companies are implementing programs to address diversity.”


Research has identified “the crux of multiculturalism as the problematic sharing of power and the valuing of difference.” In the workforce, this means creating a spirit of cooperation and sharing to get the designated work done and of a quantity and quality that facilitates the company’s goals. “Thus, the new workplace structures – in response to the increasingly multicultural workforce – should focus on cooperation and team goals rather than on individual change. Further, communication plays a key role in working with others to achieve company goals, and thus, in the successful corporate shift to a multicultural, cooperative philosophy.”


However, a lot of companies are now counting on the diversity of the emerging new world order to be addressed at the academic level, before people emerge into the workforce as adults. “Multiculturalism in education attempts to resolve the conflict between “mainstream” and “other” by preserving individual identity rather than erasing it. Most educational theorists agree that multiculturalism incorporates two features: the promotion of mutual understanding and respect for ethnic, religious, gender, class, language, and age differences; and the achievement of equal access to economic power.”


Power struggles amongst workforce teams can jeopardize the goals of the organization, and impact its bottom line. No matter what the school of thought is on social, political, religious or other cultural traditions or customs, within the workforce the organization’s overall goals must be made the focus by all employees within the organization. “Affective or interpersonal conflict can destroy a team; however, proper resolution of substantive procedural issues lessens interpersonal friction. It is important to tackle interpersonal problems head on and attempt to sort out the sources differences.”


While there is still a long road ahead of us, the world generally seems to embrace the idea that we live together in a multicultural and diverse world, and we celebrate that in many ways. However, there continues to be resistance to the emergence of a new world order that would strive for economic and social and political opportunities for all people. Education is, again, the key to bringing about the much needed changes will resolve the differences that keep us from celebrating one another’s cultural and traditional differences. We must continue to provide the resources and opportunities to emerging third world nations to help them grow into the environments within which they find themselves moving as the bridges that connect us continue to be built. Again, education is the key to resolving multicultural differences.




Elzinga, K., (2001). Southern Economic Journal. Fifteen Theses on Classroom


Teaching, Vol. 68, p. 249.


Schreiber, E.J. (1996). Muddles and Huddles: Facilitating a Multicultural Workforce through Team Management Theory. The Journal of Business Communication, 33(4), 459+. Retrieved February 27, 2007, from Questia database:


Pollak, S., (Director) (1985). Out of Africa, Motion Picture, Universal Studios. America.


Robertson, a., and Smith, B., (1999). Teaching in the 21st Century: Adapting Writing


Pedagogies to the College Curriculum, Falmer Press, (p. 225).


Rushdie, Salman, (2006). Midnight’s Children, Random House Publishing Group, New


York, New York.


Strutchens, M. (April, 2002). Teaching Children Mathematic.


Multicultural Literature as a Context for Problem Solving: Children and Parents Learning Together.


Vol. 8/8. (p. 448).


Phillon, J., (2002). Narrative Inquiry in a Multicultural Landscape: Multicultural Teaching and Learning, Ablex Publishing (pp. 1-17).


Ibid. (pp. 1-17).


Ibid., (p. 7).


Strutchens, M. (April, 2002). Teaching Children Mathematic.


Multicultural Literature as a Context for Problem Solving: Children and Parents Learning Together.


Vol. 8/8. (p. 448).


Ibid., (p. 448).


Elzinga, K., (2001). Southern Economic Journal. Fifteen Theses on Classroom Teaching, Vol. 68, p. 249.


Robertson, a., and Smith, B., (1999). Teaching in the 21st Century: Adapting Writing Pedagogies to the College Curriculum, Falmer Press, (p. 225).


Ibid., (p. 225).


Ibid., (p. 99).


Rushdie, Salman, (2006). Midnight’s Children, Random House Publishing Group, New York, New York.


Pollak, S., (Director) (1985). Out of Africa, Motion Picture, Universal Studios. America.


Schreiber, E.J., (1996). The Journal of Business Communication, “Muddles and Huddles: Facilitating a Multicultural Workforce through Team Management Theory,” Vol. 33, (p. 459).


Ibid., (p. 459).

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