Human diversity has a thousand varying cultures, beliefs, traditions and systems. Every nation represents a part of the greater whole. Specific differences within a group of nations can be seen as unique characteristics of different people.
Disparities in skills, status and race are some of the conflicting issues that most nations worldwide are currently working on toward global cooperation and multicultural understanding. Without such eagerness to learn the foundation of every nation’s backgrounds, communication lines in all fields of endeavor are somewhat suppressed. In this case, education of multicultural differences is a must and must be integrated in the school curricula. People should know that they do not live by themselves but rather they need to live as they coexist with the other individuals around the globe. In one way or another, there is a correlation of human activities that bind every nation toward a goal of survival and exploring the possibilities of human race.
In relation to this, schools serve a very crucial role in undertaking the understanding of multiculturalism. The basic information on global behavior and systematized cultural bodies of knowledge can be abridged through formalized structure of teaching. From the schools, the students are taught about the issues on conflicts, cultures, beliefs, conceptual origins and diversity of human heritage.
The topic on multicultural education being incorporated in history classes encompass a certain level of deepening one’s horizon of what it really meant. Defining its truest sense even creates debates among historians, experts and researchers and this paper is intended to provide some important insights on how multicultural education can be fused in school curriculum and in practical ways. Available sources were gathered to give a conceptual framework of what the topic is all about and the pertinent details that will give a deeper meaning of the scope and targets of the subject matter.
This paper will present the varied views on the impacts and implications of multicultural education as a whole as it assimilates the concepts to the higher learning of multiculturalism in every endeavor, particularly in the way it is taught in a diversified manner in high school history classes. This paper will look closely into the different dimensions of why it is essential to learn multiculturalism and benefits of teaching its core values to the students.
Although many notions can easily be derived from the topic, this paper will scrutinize the real value of multicultural education in practical ways through its integration in the history curriculum.
Conceptual Background on Multicultural Education
Whenever multicultural education is mentioned, a number of concepts seep into the minds of different people. The most often provided definitions are more of semantics rather than substantial content. Scrutiny of its core meanings may give a different perspective than anyone who just thinks what it is all about.
Multicultural education is a more general topic that consists of ethnic diversity and cultural plurality. Discussing its dimensions is so diverse that sometimes advocates of different fields of study such as psychology, philosophy, economics, and politics are only focusing in one perspective, which is just a part of what its entirety.
Generally, it has four characteristics. First, concepts relating to multicultural education have a common set of assumptions. Second, they all pertain and revolve around particular and common concerns. Third, they head toward a set of guidelines that need to be addressed for a number course of action. Fourth, they intend to integrate cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity as integral values of the education process (Bennett, 1990, 4).
Assimilating school programs with multicultural education, varying definitions must be addressed. Instead of merely focusing on one concrete definition, other working definitions must be expressed since its veracity contains value benefits reflecting different levels of understanding among decision-makers in the school program processes (Bennett, 1990, 4).
Varying Definitions of Multicultural Education: A Literature Review
In better understanding of the scope of multicultural education, many definitions can be taken from different studies. Some available definitions focus on cultural aspect of the diversity of groups of people. Others dealt with the social global problems related to hunger, oppression, politics and allocation of resources. In some, they restricted their definition to race and color and others cited the major groups compared to American’s origin.
All these definitions are part of restructuring the working definition of multicultural education in the reformation of ideas as weapons to combat racism, societal differences and promotion of cultural fairness, acceptance and equal opportunities in relation to antiracist educational system.
Whenever multicultural education is discussed, there are several definitions that usually come out. It is an idea, an educational reform movement, and a process intended to change the structure of educational institutions so that all students have an equal chance to achieve academic success (Banks 1). It may be referred to as a philosophy that emphasizes the importance, legitimacy, and vitality of ethnic and cultural diversity in shaping the lives of individuals or groups of nations. Some may think it as a reformative program that introduces an innovation in the composition of educational enterprise, along with its values, rules, reference materials, syllabi, structure and policies reflecting pluralism culturally.
Banks and Banks (1999, p. 5) defined it as a continuing process that can be done with a long-term investment of time, effort, careful planning and monitoring actions. Meanwhile, Baptiste (1979, 6) said the philosophy of cultural pluralism can be institutionalized within the educational system that is firmly grounded in the principles of equality, mutual respect, acceptance and understanding, and social justice. Multicultural education can be viewed as structuring educational priorities, commitments, and processes to reflect the cultural pluralism of the U.S. and ensuring the survival of heritages that comprise society, in response to the American democratic ideals (AACTE; Hunter). It may be in the form of education without biases and has the freedom to explore other possibilities, perspectives and culture. It is also one way of teaching the children to be sensitive to the behavior or ways of other people to do various modes of determining ideas and endeavors and looking at things in their own historical value (Parekh).
Such field of study may be understood as a human concept based on diversity, human rights, social justice, and lifestyles for all people. It is something significant in achieving quality education and efforts must be put in to create a full range of available cultures to the students. It serves as a positive force in learning differences as tools to better understand the society worldwide (Grant, 3).
Bennett viewed it as an approach in studying by relying on democratic values that lead to cultural pluralism. By so doing, it forms a commitment to have equality in the access to education and providing curricula that include ethnic groups and fight back practices that may be oppressive in nature to minorities. It may be a form of education that deals with different groups in the U.S. society who have been victims of discrimination and assaults based on their unique cultural characteristics (ethnic, racial, linguistic, gender, etc.). It involves key concepts such as prejudice, identity, conflicts, and alienation, and modifying school practices and policies that reflect an appreciation for ethnic diversity in the U.S. (Banks, 1979, p.5).
For Sizemore, it is the acquisition of information among groups or organizations that condone oppressive activities and exploitative practices through courses that teach about the artifacts and ideas taken from the lessons learned in the exerted efforts.
Multicultural education may discuss about policies and practices showing respect for cultural diversity through educational philosophy, staffing composition and hierarchy, instructional materials, curricula, and evaluation procedures (Frazier; Grant, p. 25). It may also consist of programs that lead to comprehensive school reforms and basic education strategies for all students that challenge many forms of discrimination, instruction and interpersonal relations in classroom setting and the advancement of democratic principles of social justice (Nieto, p.49).
All these definitions boil down to certain commonalities. In simple terms, programs for multicultural education are intended for ethnic groups; plurality of cultural diversity; understanding of the unequal distribution of resources; and long-standing oppression issues that may have social and political impacts. The definitions provided by the experts may have contextual variation, but in its essence, multicultural education is a philosophy, a methodology for educational reform, and a set of specific content areas within instructional programs. Being a multiculturally educated individual, it means learning to understand the need for acquiring skills and widening one’s horizon by diversifying the possibilities of working with other cultures without prejudice or discrimination and treating everyone as coequal.
According to the History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools which was adopted in the late 1990s, a multicultural curriculum is essential in ensuring the students with a world-class education. The expansion of both the national and international arenas together with the complexity of geopolitics reinforces this commitment.
The different changes experienced by historical trends, economic conditions, cultural exchanges and demographics have called for a better understanding of this county’s ideas and philosophy by which it is founded. Students are encouraged and prepared to play a greater participation in the different events at the local, state, national and international levels. Because of this, educators places greater importance on giving the children a solid background in the history of their country (O’Connell & Green, 2005).
Multicultural Education, according to Mary Stone Hanley is an idea which has already reached its time. The idea started in the 1960s which continued on to the 1970s wherein the country experienced a period of a social change. During this time, the Americans were obligated to reexamine their cultural education. In doing so, the 1990s saw the emergence of multicultural education that catered to the educational needs of the society that is still struggling with the realization that they have that its society is made up of different cultures. It somehow ended the Americans’ belief of the superiority of their culture which others have to bow down to. This imbalance has created the dominant and subjugated cultures which were responsible for centuries of aggression, antagonism and resistance. Because of this, the concepts that these cultural differences put forward are being accepted by the society as the suppression of the other cultures that lead to the weaknesses the society.
The acknowledgment of other cultures was not just the focus of multicultural education. Ethnic minorities and women were also included in the curriculum. Sleeter (1996) provides five approaches used in multicultural education, these are:
1. Teaching the Culturally Different. This approach attempts to raise the achievements of students of color through the provision of culturally relevant instructions.
2. Human Relations Approach. This approach teaches students about the commonalities of all people through understanding their social and cultural differences, not just the differences in institutional and economic power.
3. Single Group Studies. This particular approach focuses on the histories and the issues in modern times which concern the oppression of the colored people, women, low socioeconomic groups and the members of the third sex.
4. Multicultural Education. This approach promotes the transformation of the educational processes that will reflect the ideals of democracy in a pluralistic society. In this approach, students are being taught using methods that places value on cultural knowledge and differences.
Brief History of Multicultural Education in the United States
Necessity for Multicultural Education in U.S. History Curriculum
The U.S., as one of the countries in the world that has imbibed cultural diversity as more foreigners from all walks of life become acquainted with its culture and practices and embrace the American values as part of their system, should have a curricula about multiculturalism for several reasons: (1) to adopt to the social realities of the U.S. society; (2) to understand the influence of culture and ethnicity on human growth and development; and (3) to get attuned to the effective methods of teaching and learning dependent on the needs of the students globally. These reasons are essentially in relation to their unique roles of justifying parameters that will be used to emphasize content management of how curriculum should be taught to the students.
Realities of U.S. Society
According to Time magazine, dated April 9, 1990, the U.S. is extremely culturally pluralistic, socially stratified, and racially divided when the growing percentage of racial discrimination was examined in the U.S. population. In its November 1993 special edition, it explored the effects of immigration on the “changing face of America.” It was found that diversity of race, culture, ethnicity, social class, religion, language, and national origin is a fundamental feature of interpersonal interactions and community structures.
But what seems to be dominating in the formal aspects of society is the prevalence of institutional policies, practices, and power allocation, Anglocentric and middleclass cultural values. This can be seen as how organizations and mainstream schools structure cultural conceptions of law, order, reason and rationality. The predominance of Anglocentric, middleclass culture is present in displaying power positions in politics and economics where cultural background has a big weight. Even intimate relationships are influenced by cultural barriers established along ethnic, racial, and social lines in the U.S. In choosing partners and religious groups, these two as intimate considerations in interpersonal relations, most American citizens are ethnic in their choices by usually practicing cross-cultural marriages.
Certainly, the pluralism in the U.S. society is diverse, but it can be noticed that people of the same race socially and culturally live in communal distance to one another, creating a single representation of ethnic group geographicclusters, such as Anglo suburb, Hispanic barrio, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Little Japan, Filipino community, etc. Although it still bound by social status among the economic lines as members of the middle, upper and lower social classes within and across ethnic groups are clustered and generally do not interact with one another on substantive levels. This division between the groups has a rising proportion instead of diminishing.
Disparity along racial and economic lines is apparent in the U.S. even in regions that appear to have racially mixed residential areas. Such scenario is also seen in school organizations as students group themselves as majority and minority groups. Because of this, multicultural education is necessary to help reverse these trends and attitudes by teaching youth about culturally different groups and providing them opportunities from diverse backgrounds to learn, live, and work together without preconceived biases or hesitation.
American laws by nature exist to disallow discrimination on race, color, gender, age, and creed, but the unwritten practices of the U.S. society or of any rich nation continue to be on the rise by displaying attitudes and behaviors that are hostile to some ethnic, cultural, and social groups, and preferential to others. Thus, instances of inequality continue, manifesting itself in racism, ethnocentrism, prejudices, favoritism, discrimination, cultural appropriation, and cultural hegemony.
Issues of inequality are visible everywhere as frequently reported in headline stories. In other cases, there are few chances of some ethnic groups such as Native Americans and Latinos in leadership positions and their less exposure in the national pop culture.
Most American families still believe that how they were brought up is the only and right way to live and behave as human beings. The standards set are solely their bases for determining what is appropriate for the mainstream culture. Anyone who does different from the standard is a minority and may be subjected to discrimination, and should not be given equal access to institutional opportunities, political rights, economic rewards, and respect for their human dignity. In response to this, multicultural education is a corrective means to teach the students of these distortions and inequities.
With the ongoing social racism in the U.S. against “hate groups” such as neo-Nazis, many mainstreamers are in the mode of introducing racial hostility even in schools by doing boo-boo activities directed toward African-Americans, Korean-Americans, and Mexican-Americans; cross burnings in African-American neighborhoods, attacking ethnic youths of other minority groups. This can also be seen on the recent police reports showing brutality against African-Americans in Los Angeles and Detroit. These instances are glaring situations that call for multicultural education so that Americans will learn to understand, respect, and value diversity.
Stereotyping has been the problem ever since as indication of social deficiency toward ethnic groups. Smith reported that negative perceptions of groups of color, especially African-Americans and Hispanics, are common in contemporary society. Because of these, these groups are usually labeled as less hardworking, more violent, less smart, and unpatriotic than Anglos.
Based on Spencer researches, for example African-American children get high scores on personality tests; society gives preference for whites and is blinded to give attributes to people with dark skin. They are usually fond of attributing positive traits to whites and have negative impression to blacks (Spencer, 1988, 116)
This happens to young students as well, as they see the prevalent practice of the separation of their personal identities and self-esteem from knowledge about racial groups in society. They have an instantaneous “feel good” attitude toward themselves and have negative attitudes toward their racial and ethnic group counterparts. As these things happen in the small corners of the classroom, these much more can be seen in real-life, where practical situations present discrimination as it corrupts systems of social respect and dignity.
Social discrimination and racism are evident in the patterns of unemployment, justice, imprisonment, poor healthcare, and educational opportunities, where just mere skin color is the basis. With these attitudes and behaviors, they contradict the U.S. ideals of freedom, equality, and justice for everyone.
These are the instances that multicultural education programs can help the students learn to value and celebrate diversity and engage in social action to institutionalize these values in helping society live up to real intentions of democratic ideals.
Because of this, the increasing ethnic diversity of the U.S. citizens makes multicultural education for all students imperative in the fulfillment of the basic functions of being meaningful, socially relevant, culturally accurate, and pedagogically sound. Demographic analyses of the population distribution of U.S. citizens indicate that Hispanics and African-Americans account for the highest percentage of population growth.
Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education showed the total population of students of different race grew between 1980 and 1988 to almost 30 percent, as compared to 24 percent in the 1970s. The trends are expected to rise continuously in the years to come.
The diversity of the number of students is further increased by the high rate of African-American and Hispanic poor youths and the growing number of immigrant students from Latin- American and Asian countries whose are not native English speakers and home cultures are not based on Western model.
Another factor being considered relevant for the promotion of the multicultural education is the ongoing involvement of most nations in global affairs, increasing worldwide interdependence, and the shifting of international balance of power. Recent global developments that have direct impact for the continuous leadership of the U.S. in world affairs are the challenges related to Washington dominance in the world’s marketplace as it partners with Japan, Germany, and Korea; including such issues in Iraq, military crises in the Middle East that affect the oil supply and reserves; the U.S. fiscal resource allocations between military and social services expenses; government instability in South and Central America, which places incredible demands on support from U.S. military and foreign loan capacity and immigration issues; famine and droughts in Africa and Asia that require U.S. support in healthcare and food supplies; increasing birth rates and epidemic illnesses; human rights issues around the world; and growing investments in the U.S. markets (Bennett).
Human behavior, attitudes, and values are being shaped by culture. Socialization molds human behavior and takes place within cultural and ethnic environments (Kallen, 46; Novak, 25; Pa, 27). There exist similarities in the basic practices of human survival for everyone, but the patterns, structures, organizations, and learning strategies are specific (Kimball, 94).
Every citizen as a social being carries within himself his individualism, along with his biological and psychological traits as well as the legacies of his ethnicity based on where his historical background, collective heritage, and cultural experiences are rooted.
Realizing what multicultural education is all about, educators should treat all children like human beings, regardless of ethnic identity, cultural background, or economic status. They should acknowledge that a person’s individualism cannot be isolated or taken from his or her culture or ethnicity. One cannot be human without culture and ethnicity, and one cannot have culture and ethnicity without being human.
Delpit said that if one does not see color, one does not really see children. Therefore, in recognizing and respecting one another, it is necessary to have mutual appreciation based on cultural understanding (Gay, 132; Spindler, 89).
Instilling the value of culture and ethnicity are established in early childhood and progressing in human growth and development, and they prevail toward maturity. Reinforcing the elements of culture can be modified over time and through experience, but the core features continue to be the mainstay of a person’s sense of being and identity throughout life.
Kallen observed that cultural socialization becomes difficult to enforce when the school system firstly operates on a model that focuses on just one aspect and excludes all others, or when children from different cultural backgrounds are expected to behave in a particular mode setting aside all their cultural habits in order to embrace the school’s existing culture. This demand is unreasonable and far ahead to achieve. If school administrators will mandatory do that, compliance may lead to cultural adaptation, marginality, alienation, and isolation. But in the long in exception of adaptation, these responses are not conducive to reaching human well-being and academic excellence of students since they are not given to move freely and act the way they are based on their cultural background.
The incompatibilities among the existing cultures of the students with the school and those of different ethnic groups need to be looked upon as major issues in analyzing the best regulations that must be adopted in the decision-making about educational programs and practices in promoting cultural diversity (Spindler, 92). These are important in the better understanding of various human behavior that has direct influence and may affect teaching and learning such as values orientation, interpersonal relations, communication styles, time usage, performance styles, procedural rules, and systems of problem solving and cognitive processing (Kochman, 15; Shade, 225).
It is significant to note that the disparities between mainstream culture that may be included in the school curricula and the cultures of various ethnic groups usually strike the subconscious level and without any immediate deliberate intention. These occur when people behave naturally, because their behavior is strongly influenced by cultural conditioning. Responsible education decision-making in a pluralistic society cannot result if school officials function without being conscious of how culture shapes their own and their students’ well-being. Awareness of the products of their cultures and living patterns within a given value and symbol systems reflect this condition where educators can have freedom from the tyranny of their own cultures and protect the children from the damaging effects of premature, inaccurate, and prejudiced interpretations of their culturally induced behavior (Spindler).
Cultures need to be more clearly understood to make learning more accessible and equitable for a variety of students. This can be achieved by analyzing education from multiple cultural perspectives and reducing barriers imposed on education by the dominant cultural experience (Spindler, 52).
As LaBelle (p.8) said schools are the foundation of mainstream society. In the normative procedures, behaviorial codes, structural arrangements, power distribution, privilege, and responsibility mirror their cultural values. Just as classroom teachers, school administrators, and policymakers carry their cultural experiences and perspectives into their educational decision-making processes and actions, students from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds do likewise in their learning attitudes and behaviors. The inevitable result when these different systems encounter each other in pluralistic classrooms is cultural conflict and when this is not properly mediated can be cause of ineffectiveness in the instructional process. Educational activities and processes that are not analyzed for their cultural content and implications can result in giving preferential treatment to students whose cultural backgrounds are most the same with the school cultural norms. These can be seen how the teacher responds to student’s behavior in making subtle differentiation between the sexes, using of classroom control mechanisms, choosing subject matter for classroom study, making schedule of activities based on the amount of time devoted to particular aspects of the school day, classroom arrangement, and giving out of rewards and punishments which are cultural in nature in reinforcing certain student behaviors and discouraging others (La Belle 73).
School administrators work on the wrong notion that their values, beliefs, and actions are the norms for everyone, exist beyond any cultural constraints, or are culturally neutral. They assume that what they know and how it can best be taught and learned are entirely acceptable by general principles of good pedagogy, which has nothing to do with any specific culture. But this is not true. Culture has a greater impact on all dimensions of the learning and teaching processes adopted in schools. What we have been taught becomes a norm to us but does not necessarily follow that it is a norm to everyone.
Schools have been entrusted to promote cultural socialization, transmission, and self-perpetuation, and teach academic skills. Every decision that they enforce is culturally bound even if unintentional since every action is an assimilation of the concepts learned through theory and practice. Effective understanding of the educational process in a pluralistic society such as the U.S. requires that teaching and learning be viewed as aspects of various cultural dimensions (Kimball 64).
Lacking recognition of ethnic and cultural diversity in U.S. society, especially when this is not seen in educational curricula and practices, schools become out of bounds with the attainment of targets that they should impose to the students. This discontinuity exists most often when schools are controlled by individuals from the dominant culture who use only their standards to guide actions, but the population that they serve does not practice similar cultural standards (La Belle 75).
Failure to understand the cultural style of some African-Americans, for instance, may cause teachers to mistakenly conclude that these students have limited critical thinking and reasoning abilities. The reluctance of American-Indian children to experience a tightly controlled time schedule and engage in highly individualistic and competitive activities may be viewed as poor initiative, no motivation, and irresponsibility. Consequently, results may be in the form of teachers engaging in misguiding practices as they fail to identify the cultural aspects of their ethnically, racially, socially, and linguistically diverse students.
Scope and Targets of Multicultural Education
As mentioned earlier, multicultural education represents an idea, an educational reform movement, or a process (Banks 45). As an idea, it seeks to create equal opportunities for all students from different racial, ethnic, and social class backgrounds. This is done by changing the school environment to reflect the diverse cultures and groups within a society and within the sphere of classroom setting. At the same time, it is a process since there are targets that teachers and school officials should strive to achieve by opening doors to the modalities of the diverse cultural backgrounds of the students.
Banks has set five dimensions in multicultural education such as content integration, knowledge construction process, prejudice reduction, an equity pedagogy, and empowering school culture and social structure.
Content integration relates the teacher’s use of examples and content when discussing different cultures to identify key concepts, generalizations, and issues within the scope of subject areas or disciplines. The knowledge construction process deals with how teachers help students in understanding, investigating and determining the biases, frames of mind, and perspectives within a particular discipline that affect how knowledge is constructed within it (Banks 54). It is also a way of teaching the students how to learn by themselves using this dimension.
Prejudice reduction is all about lessons and activities used by teachers that help students develop positive attitudes toward different racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Based on previous study, children usually when they come to school they have many negative attitudes and misconceptions about different racial and ethnic groups (Phinney and Rotheram 124). Some studies indicate that lessons, units, and teaching materials that discuss content about different racial and ethnic groups can boost the students’ morale in developing more positive intergroup attitudes if certain positive conditions exist in the teaching situation (Banks 56). These conditions are positive notions of the ethnic groups in the reference materials and the use of multiethnic tools in a consistent and chronological way. In this case, teachers are a good influence to the students’ behavior whether or not other racial groups will be appealing as subject matter.
A good teaching strategy is used when teachers are able to modify their techniques that will facilitate the academic performance of students from diverse racial, cultural, and social class groups (Banks and Banks, 152). Studies showed that African-American and Mexican-American students do well in school when cooperative teaching activities and instruction are reinforced rather than trying to compete with their other classmates (Aronson and Gonzalez 54). In doing so, cooperative learning strategies also develop the students’ attitude, including middleclass White students, to have more friendly and positive racial attitudes. But in order to achieve these positive outcomes, learning activities must have several significant characteristics (Allport 65). Students should feel that they are of equal footing with the rest of the other students of different racial and ethnic groups in group dynamics, where teachers and administrators should not show biases and must value and support cross-racial interactions. The teachers should encourage the students to work together with different racial groups in pursuing common goals.
Empowerment in school structure is made when the school organization is directed toward enabling the students from diverse backgrounds (race, culture, gender) to have equality and equal status in the classroom and their opinions matter. Implementing the needs reformation in the school environment encompass the attitudes, beliefs, and how teachers and administrators think about the students’ welfare as a whole, including the curriculum and course of study, assessment and testing procedures, and how to govern the teachers’ styles and strategies.
The five dimensions of multicultural education are interrelated, but each requires attention and focus in putting them to action.
CA Department of Education: History Standards
As recognized by the California State Board Education, based on the framework developed by the History-Social Science Curriculum Framework and Criteria Committee and adopted on October 11, 2000, there are several skills that every grade level should possess in relation to multicultural education.
For grades 9 to 12, there are historical and social sciences analysis skills that they should have aside from intellectual, reasoning, reflection, and research skills. First, there is the chronological and spatial thinking were students (1) compare the present with the past by evaluating the consequences of previous events and decisions and determine the lessons learned; (2) analyze the changes that occur in the historical events, understand why some things change while others remain constant and to identify that change is inevitable as it affects the advent of technology, decision-making in politics and personal values and beliefs; (3) use a number of maps and documents in understanding human movement such patterns of domestic and international migration, ever-changing environmental preferences and settlement patterns, conflicts and frictions that develop between populations, and fusion of ideas, modern advancements, and goods; and (4) relate current events and recent events to the physical and human descriptions of places and regions.
Second, there is historical research, evidence, and point of view. In this case, the students determine the validity of arguments from fallacious arguments in previous interpretations. They are asked to look upon biases and prejudices in historical presentations. They examine debates among historians about alternative interpretations of the past or the recent analysis of authors providing evidence and the difference between sound generalizations and misleading simplifications. At the same time, students conduct and test hypotheses by collecting, evaluating, and employing data gathering from multiple primary and secondary sources and reporting their findings orally and in written forms.
Third, there is historical interpretation where students exemplify connections, causes and effects logical thinking, including events in history and an understanding of the social, economic, and political trends and developments. They recognize the complexities of causes and effects of past events as well as its limitations. They interpret historical events and issues within the logical context as how events take place in relation to the current norms and values. They discuss the real essence, implications, and impacts of historical events and why events have led to other directions. They analyze changes in human landscapes and identify the resulting environmental policy issues. Also, students make cost-benefit analyses and apply the basic economic indicators in analyzing the economic behavior of the U.S. economy.
Wrong Notions of Multicultural Education in Schools
Although adopting multicultural education has gained momentum over the past 20 years, still U.S. schools or any other schools with foreign students need to look more closely to what medium of instruction must be set in accommodating intercultural education without any prejudice, bias or discrimination to anyone and teachers should first and foremost be informed about the veracity of a multicultural setup. There are a number of basic generalities limiting the essence of what multicultural education is all about.
Some think that groups of people from the same nation or geographic area, or those who have the same language, share a common culture. The Southerners in the U.S, alone, they have at least seven unique dialects and cultures (Cross and Aldridge). It is possible that Latinos share a common language, but it does not necessarily mean they have one ethnic group sharing a similar culture. Differences in history, race, and culture must be recognized (Banks and Banks). Even the cultures of Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Argentines are uniquely different from one another, even though they use the same language.
In Asia, particularly in the islands of Indonesia, many people use Bahasa Indonesia as their language. But they also use other hundreds of languages and dialects and have a number of diverse cultures. Indonesia has Sudanese, Bataks, Minang, Javanese, Balinese, Dayak, Toraja, and the many other ethnic or tribal languages and Irian Jaya culture. Malaysia has a share of multicultural origins such as Malays, Chinese, East Indians, and the Sarawak tribal groups. To say that these countries employ monocultural origin is erroneous, and it is inappropriate to teach students that people in the same place are equally the same on how they live.
Others may think that families from the same culture have similar values. This is not true particularly for nondominant cultures residing in the U.S. states. Lynch and Hanson said there are four different ways family members from other countries “live out” their cultural practices in the U.S. They may be grouped as mainstreamers, bicultural individuals, culturally different individuals, and culturally marginal individuals (19). Grandparents may be mainstreamers and have grandchildren that have bicultural beliefs.
Implementing Multicultural Views in History Classes
Teachers might have notions that multicultural education is simply limited to ethnic or racial issues. But in reality, they are just part of multicultural education, gender and socioeconomic diversity. Children may come from many different home setups, some may have lesbian or gay parents. In some cases, some families come from marginalized environments that have more than one racial or ethnic heritage compared to higher income level nations (Strevy and Aldridge, 46).
One book that is helpful to dispel this myth is Teaching with a Multicultural Perspective: A Practical Guide (Davidman and Davidman). Sleeter and Grant have written accounts about goals in school curriculum about multicultural education. They have included promoting equal opportunities in school, cultural pluralism, alternative life styles, and respect for those who differ and support for power equity among groups (171).
Gollnick and Chinn suggested five goals for multicultural education that go beyond the boundaries of ethnic or racial issues such as promotion of strength and value of cultural diversity; emphasis on human rights and respect for other cultures, and acceptance of optional life choices for people; promotion of social justice and recognizing equality for all humanity; and giving emphasis on distribution of equal power and resources among groups.
Some are using tour and detour approaches that are appropriate for teaching multicultural education. Derman-Sparks used the phrase “tourist-multiculturalism” in identifying approaches that merely provide a glimpse of a culture. This approach involves a simple curriculum that is influenced by months or seasons of the year. Just like having a simple review to study Native Americans in November, when Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the U.S. At the same time, Black History Month is being studied when children study African-American leaders or read books written by Black authors.
Others believe that multicultural education should be taught as a separate subject, but it is more appropriate to integrate it in every subject matter where it is suitable. Making multicultural education a separate topic would simply be an added burden to the teachers’ load and there is no assurance that it will be discussed in detail.
Multicultural education is already part of the curriculum. This fact is far from truth. Current efforts are underway in some schools in eliminating multicultural education. In the same way, popular media dislike the adoption of multicultural education (Limbaugh). Ross Perot exemplified the use of “melting pot” in his presidential campaigns. It is a better way to look at the U.S. as a salad bowl (Aldridge, 20). Uniquely as possible, global cultures contribute to the whole country, as a tomato or celery is added to the savory taste of a salad.
Other misconceptions include multiculturalism is divisive, which denies the multiple diversities that have existed and have been existing throughout the U.S. (Swiniarski, Breitborde, and Murphy, 52).
Some believe that predominantly with monocultural or bicultural societies, there is no need to study other cultures. This myth is pervasive. With an increasingly diversified society, bicultural and monocultural areas especially need to learn about cultures to which they are interrelated in the future (Greenfield and Cocking, 14). Some think multicultural education should only be reserved for older children who are less ethnocentric. Lynch and Hanson said that cultural understanding in one’s first culture occurs at an early age and is typically established by age 5 (24) and children learn new cultural patterns more easily than adults (25).
Another misconception is when multicultural education is used, the commonality of thinking is lost. (Swiniarski, Breitborde, and Murphy, 54). Although conflicts are normal due to misunderstandings, multicultural education assists society to be more tolerant, inclusive, and fair in recognizing the world with many differing cultures (Ravitch, 13).
Some teachers might be thinking that students do need multicultural education because the U.S. already has diverse cultural origin. Those who agree with this statement are merely thinking that Martin Luther King’s birthday and Black History Month are widely celebrated. This is exactly what we mean by a tour or detour approach, which is often more divisive than transformative (Derman-Sparks, 24).
Historical accuracy is changed when multicultural education is used. Proponents of this statement have observed that there may be subject matter that promote that Cleopatra was Black and that Western Civilization started in Egypt instead of Greece. If students are taught to be skeptics at an early age, they will have the eagerness to question discrepancies in historical literature (Greenfield and Cocking, 8).
Some may think that children do not practice stereotyping and that they have a unique cultural heritage. In this case, multicultural education should check intrapersonal cultural diversity with the interpersonal to refrain from social and cultural conflicts.
There are insufficient resources available regarding multicultural education. This is not true since a number of sources have emerged focusing on cultural diversity in the last 20 years.
In discussing the History of the American people, focusing on the south, especially the experiences of the slaves in the South, it is but proper to include the views of the students who are members of different cultures with regard to the topic. In a class where most students are white, teachers should not hold other students’ opinions with regard to the topic at hand, especially with those that shall be focusing on the situation between the African Americans and Americans during the time of the plantations.
In doing so, the curricula and texts that shall be used in teaching history should not just be focused on the cultural traditions and values from the European continent that have been incorporated into the American culture. Thus, the students should learn from the contributions of minority groups, the ‘colored’ cultures. It is said that these cultures have contributed greatly to the American culture.
Education serves as the path of understanding the different races and creates a society that respects cultural diversity and a framework of sharing democratic values relating to gender issues, ethnic variations and cultural diversity. These are the major points that this paper will address. Analyses of previous studies will be presented as bases for making arguments in the necessity of multicultural education in the school curriculum. Suggestions of introductory approaches will be outlined so that teachers who will be using this paper will have a guide where to start in the preparation of materials for multicultural instruction.
Lessons in Adopting Multicultural Education
The goals of multicultural education are primarily to teach and help the students in acquiring knowledge about cultural diversity and showing respect to race, color and gender and put them into practice. Students are expected to learn the commitment needed in making reflective decisions in undertaking personal, social and civic action toward promoting democracy and experiencing democratic living. Being involved in action plans of gaining a wider perspective of the cultural differences, students are able to make sound changes in the community where they live.
Teacher’s role and the mode of instruction employing multicultural education are crucial steps in enlightening the students toward the real essence of respect for humanity and for their neighbors. Cultural conflicts are normal, but these can be settled by a deeper understanding of diversity of mankind as a whole.
Activities and projects should be in conjunction to the moral and social levels’ needs of the students. Topics should be attainable with practical applications that are feasible and easily discernible. Simple disciplining the students whenever cracking ethnical jokes to a classmate may be a way of informing them about the seriousness of multicultural education so that they will understand the subject matter.
Integration in whatever way may be imposed to the classes so that the practicality of multicultural education is appreciated. It should not just be concept-based of just memorizing how people behave in the other side of the globe but realizing the existence of cultural differences and respecting why they behave that way.
Students of various cultural backgrounds must have equal opportunities in showing their skills, talents and intelligence. Regardless of their origin, if they deserve to be praised, teachers should give what is due to them and have the proper motivation of letting them fulfill their goals.
When students learn to be sensitive to their surroundings, especially to the other people and nations around the world, it would be easy for them to gain a greater perspective of diversity in its truest sense and create the desire to participate in shaping historical and contemporary events that have a binding relationship with other cultures. Through these, civic actions for citizens in a democratic pluralistic society are achieved.
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The multicultural curriculum that shall be adopted in teaching the history of Southern United States aims to give its students a better understanding of the history of the country by recognizing the contributions made by the members of other cultures. In addition, it aims to give its students a better knowledge with regard to the problems and challenges faced by these cultures during the period (1800-1850) and how it has contributed to the present situations being experienced by the United States of America.
The first day would be devoted to discussing slavery in Southern America. Together with this, it would look into the disparities that lie between slavery in American colonies from that in the Caribbean. Also, it would look into the reasons why American slaves have a higher life expectancy, being the reason why slavery was continued even after the federal law passed by the United States Congress that prohibited slave trade (Perry, M., 1987, p. 345). This would not only look into the African-Americans in this period but of also the Mexicans and other people belonging to the different ethnicities who were also victims of slavery.
For slaves who are either African-Americans or Mexicans, life during the early 1800s was brutal. Each day promises threats or punishment and even the possibility of being sold away from beloved family members and friends. Unfortunately, even the slaves who had not been complaining with their work and were fortunate enough for getting lighter duties and kinder owners were not safe from experiencing living their own lives (Mackenzie, n.d.). Slaves during the 1800s are transported from one part of the country to another, bound with ropes. Upon reaching the market place, future owners assess the physical capabilities and their psychological makeup. During these assessments, slaves usually experience a lot of difficulties as they had to endure these kinds of assessment before the traders and buyers (Mackenzie, n.d., p.1).
The first day shall also be devoted to the discussion of the changes brought about by revolutions in transportation, industry, and agriculture in the United States. It was in the early 1800s when transportation and infrastructure developed. In the same manner, this particular period ushered in the development of machineries, transportation, commerce and travel.
The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs shall be used as a primary source for the discussions.
About the time that I reentered the Bruce family, an event occurred of disastrous import to the colored people. The slave Hamlin, the first fugitive slave that came under the new law, was given up by the bloodhounds of the north to the bloodhounds of the south. It was the beginning of a reign of terror to the colored population. The great city rushed on in its whirl of excitement, taking no note of the “short and simple annals of the poor.” But while fashionables were listening to the thrilling voice of Jenny Lind in Metropolitan Hall, the thrilling voices of poor hunted colored people went up, in an agony of supplication, to the Lord, from Zion’s church. Many families, who had lived in the city for twenty years, fled from it now. Many a poor washerwoman, who, by hard labor, had made herself a comfortable home, was obliged to sacrifice her furniture, bid a hurried farewell to friends, and seek her fortune among strangers in Canada. Many a wife discovered a secret she had never known before — that her husband was a fugitive, and must leave her to insure his own safety. Worse still, many a husband discovered that his wife had fled from slavery years ago, and as “the child follows the condition of its mother,” the children of his love were liable to be seized and carried into slavery. Every where, in those humble homes, there was consternation and anguish. But what cared the legislators of the “dominant race” for the blood they were crushing out of trampled hearts? (Jacobs, 1861, p. 3).
The second day would focus on the difference between North and South America. Whilst puritanical republicanism dominated the North with leaders like Alexander Hamilton and John Adams leading the particular region, agrarian republicanism became the sole foundation of the political culture prevailing in the South. Both the North and South preserved their way of lives to preserve their union, their strategies were quite different. The Northern region focused on making the people a whole lot better and the survival of democracy (Library of Congress, 2002, p.2). On the other hand, Southerners focused on the betterment of their conditions. Through this, the instructor would then focus on the development of the agrarian economy in the South, identify the location of cotton-producing states together with the significance of these cotton gins (Perry, M., 1987, p. 346).
Agriculture was an important industry for the southern states. They usually grow cash crops using slave labor on both big plantations and small farms throughout the region. Cotton, tobacco, rice and Indian corn were grown but cotton was by far the most profitable (Lakwete, 2003). It is because of this that the cotton gins were invented. Cotton gins are devices invented by Eli Whitney that are used to separate cotton fibers from seedpods and sometimes, sticky seeds. This particular invention increased the quantity of cotton that can be produced in one day. Thus, this development in the cotton industry demanded for more slaves (Bellis, n.d., p. 1).
The third day would then focus on the plantation slavery in the Americas and its effects on the economic and social development of the region. It would just continue on from where the discussion in Day Two left off. It would once again look into the benefits the South received from their plantations and how it helped trigger the economic development in that particular region (Library of Congress, 2002, p. 2).
Slavery had a very significant impact on the economy of the south. It was through this that they were able to produce cash crops that were exported not just to the North but to other foreign countries as well. The production of cotton is said to be labor intensive and it is only through slavery that they southern states were able to get their source of labor. In the same manner, slavery also became very important to the social order. It has provided the social stratification in the south (Lakwete, 2003, p.4). The slaves were of course found at the bottom, followed by the so-called nonslaveholding yeoman farmers, small slaveholders, and finally the plantation owners. Slavery then became very important even to those who do not own slaves as slavery, which was prevalent at that time contributed so much to their economy. Autobiographies of slaves who recount their experiences shall be used as primary sources. An example of these is George Rawick’s The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography.
The fourth day shall focus on the treatment of slaves in the plantations. On these plantations, the overseers were allowed to maltreat and brutalize the slaves who fail to comply. Slave codes that have been drafted allowed the use of violence for those that could not comply with the rules and regulations set by the plantation owners. Slaves and free blacks were regulated by Black Codes and slave patrols are there to monitor their own activities. Together with this physical abuse, day four would focus on the slave trade, how the slaves lose the other members of their families just when their owners decide to sell them for more profit, for punishment and as payment for the debts that are still unpaid. It would look not only into the slave trade happening as more and more Africans are being brought into the US but also the internal trade happening. How the northern region would sell their slaves to the south. In addition to these, slaves often experience sexual abuse from the plantation owners. It would also focus on how the slaves retaliated. The actions they have done in order to avenge the family members they have lost due to the slave trade that has been made legal. Slaves murder owners, overseers, burned barns, killed horses, and tried slowing down their work (Tocqueville and Beaumont on Slavery and the Indian Problem, n.d, p. 2).
In the same manner, antebellum slavery shall be discussed from the point of view of the slaves. For them, the biggest drawbacks were: little or no privacy, little or no free time, little chance for normal family life as they were not allowed to marry, they were vulnerable to rape and children were usually sold. In contrast, they had relative benefits which include better housing, food and clothing. There were even some who earned cash and there was more freedom of movement and more chances to escape. The book Harden than Hardscrabble: Oral Recollections of the Farming Life from the Edge of the Texas Hill Country, edited by Thad Sitton shall be used as a primary source in discussing the life of the slaves in Southern America.
Days five to seven shall be devoted to the discussion of the spirit of reform that were very popular in the United States during the 1800s. Known as the Second Great Awakening, this particular period tried to rekindle the Americans’ commitment to religion. it resulted to the emergence of literatures and individuals who continuously fight for what they believed in. In the same manner, it also sparked the formation of the different movements for social reforms. Women began expanding their roles in addressing the societal problems. This was also the reason why the call for the abolishment of slavery gained popularity. Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison were one of the individuals who called for the abolition of slavery as well as the freedom of enslaved African Americans. For these days, the book Slave Trade by James Walvin, which contains primary sources regarding the different abolitionist movements shall be used.
Day five shall be devoted to the strategies that were devised to overturn the situation. Nat Turner would be one of the main focal points of the discussion. Nat Turner, a literate slave led the so-called Nat Turner’s Rebellion or the Southampton Insurrection. The goal of this rebellion was to free him and others. In doing so, in order to reach his goals, Turner and his followers killed men, women, and children. Eventually, however, the white militia was able to put a stop to this rebellion. Because of this, the infamous leader and many of his followers have been put to death. As a result of the rebellion led by Nat Turner, laws have been made to further reduce the limited rights of African Americans. Among these laws was the very popular Virginia law which prohibited the education of slaves, free blacks, and even the children of whites and blacks (Tocqueville and Beaumont on Slavery and the Indian Problem, n.d., p.1).
Nat Turner was a slave owned by Joseph Travis of Southampton, Virginia, believing that he was called by God to lead a slave rebellion; he and other slaves killed his master and his family, together with other whites in August 21, 1831. To discuss the Turner Rebellion, the primary source The Confessions of Nat Turner shall be used.
The sixth day would focus on the reactions of religious groups to slavery. It was in 1830 when a religious movement, led by William Lloyd Garrison protested, saying that slavery was a personal sin. Because of these, they are demanding owners to repent and abolish slavery at once. This day would also discuss the biography of the said leader, being the editor of the newspaper, The Liberator and one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society (Perry, M., 1987, p. 355).
In discussing William Lloyd Garrison, the anti-slavery newspaper entitled the Liberator shall be used. William Lloyd Garrison was only 25 when he joined the Abolitionist movement. At the same time, he became a very important member of the American Colonization Society, an organization known for its belief that the free blacks should go back to their homeland in the west coast of Africa. At first, it seems that this organization aims to grant the freedom of the slaves. However, it turned out that this particular organization encouraged the granting of freedom to ensure that the free blacks wouldn’t prevent the preservation of the institution of slavery (pbs.org, n.d., p.1). Garrison was one of the advocates of abolishing the institution of slavery, and he speaks his views regarding the matter in his newspaper, the Liberator.
On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. (Garrison, 1831).
The seventh day shall look into the other movements that have arisen due to slavery. It would look into the other abolition movements that used different kinds of means to criticize what is happening in this part of the country. Among these are: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, etc. It would also focus on the slave uprisings that used armed force that includes Gabriel’s Rebellion in Virginia in 1800, Louisiana Territory Slave Rebellion led by Charles Deslandes in 1811, the George Boxley Rebellion in 1815 in Virginia, Denmark Vessey Uprising in South Carolina in 1822 and the Amistad Seizure in 1839. The main primary source to be used in this discussion is the novel Uncle’s Tom Cabin which is one of the most important documents of the abolitionist movement.
The said movements are said to be very effective in abolishing slavery in the United States. Their efficiency and effectiveness is said to have been caused by their effects to the society’s unity. It has been said that these movements threatened to destroy the unity of the nation even before the Constitutional Convention. Abolitionist movements would not just focus on the clamor to end slavery but also to the demands of black Americans for racial equality and justice (Perry, 1987, p. 400).
Days Eight and Nine
The Eighth and Ninth days shall be devoted to the characteristics of southern white society and the conditions that led to the civil war.
In the early days of the United States, loyalty to one’s state often took precedence over loyalty to one’s country. A New Yorker or a Virginian would refer to his state as “my country.” The Union was considered a “voluntary compact” entered into by independent, sovereign states for as long as it served their purpose to be so joined. In the nation’s early years, neither North nor South had any strong sense of the permanence of the Union. New England, for example, once thought of seceding, or leaving the Union, because the War of 1812 cut off trade with England.
As Northern and Southern patterns of living diverged, their political ideas also developed marked differences. The North needed a central government to build an infrastructure of roads and railways, protect its complex trading and financial interests, and control the national currency. The South depended much less on the federal government than did other regions, and Southerners therefore felt no need to strengthen it. In addition, Southern patriots feared that a strong central government might interfere with slavery (MSN Encarta, 2007).
In the late 1800s, most American states have already abolished slavery, the northern states. However, it would look into how the African Americans remained to be slaves through the internal trade. Because the northern region already banned slavery, they transferred the African Americans to the South, and from there, be traded off as slaves once again (Tocqueville and Beaumont on Slavery and the Indian Problem, n.d., p.2). Basically, the primary cause why the civil war erupted was slavery. The eleven southern states are said to be dependent upon slavery in order to support their economy. They have used their slaves to produce crops especially cotton. In contrast, slavery has been branded as illegal in the Northern states. However, only a small proportion of Northerners opposed it. The civil war then started with the debate between the Northern and Southern states on whether slavery should be allowed in the Western territories which the country acquired during the Mexican War. Basically, those who are against slavery were concerned with the expansion since they were not in favor in competing with slave labor (Perry, 1987, p. 402).
During the first half of the 19th century, economic differences between the regions also increased. By 1860 cotton was the chief crop of the South, and it represented 57 percent of all U.S. exports. The profitability of cotton, known as King Cotton, completed the South’s dependence on the plantation system and its essential component, slavery (MSN Encarta, 2007).
These days shall also discuss why the South was devastated socially and economically. Why it did not continue to be the wealthiest part of the United States. It would look into the effects of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act as well as the effect of secessionist movements that aim to abolish slavery in many parts of the country. Autobiographies, such as Frederick Douglass’ My Bondage and Freedom shall be used in the discussion.
Day Ten shall look into differences between the free African Americans in the South and the north. Whilst the freed Southern African Americans still suffer from limited human rights, freed Northern African Americans are being transferred to the South to be included in the slave trade. In addition, this day shall be devoted to summarize everything discussed from the first day to the last (Tocqueville and Beaumont on Slavery and the Indian Problem, n.d., p4). In discussing the differences that exist between them, the nonfiction book entitled From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans by John Hope Franklin shall be used.
Freed African Americans used their slave experience to take prominent roles in the abolitionist movement. The Northern response to abolition ranged from support to indifference. Southern leaders, however, rushed to defend slavery –the institution that was the foundation of their economy (Lakwete, 2003).
In Virginia, slavery was not a simple issue. Conflict grew between the eastern counties that relied on slavery and the western counties that favored abolition of slavery. In some parts of the state, like the Shenandoah Valley, neighbors had different views about the issue. In these areas there were some slave owners, but others who did not rely on slaves.
These differences eventually led to the secession of the southern states from the union, the formation of the Confederate States of America, and the great Civil War. In Virginia, the disagreements led to the formation of West Virginia. Like the country, the state became divided. (Mackenzie, n.d.)
Curricula should not be imposed in a strict manner, but rather be flexible to the needs of the children in the community. Cultural learning styles and characteristics must be attuned to the cultural beliefs of the students and reflect the natural means of understanding concepts and methodologies. Cooperative techniques, and not competitive, should be used particularly in African-American and Hispanic students so that their learning capabilities are enhanced (Aronson and Gonzalez).
The multicultural curriculum should be emphasized with motivating opportunities of developing the students’ understanding of cultural differences and the uniqueness of their inner self so that they can easily relate to other kids who seem to act differently to the things they do. Students should be given the background of the overview of the ethnic and cultural groups existing in the U.S. School officials must guide the students about the imperfection of the world and conflicts are norms between differing ideals and realities. But with multicultural education, it is a means of bridging the gap of assimilating different frames of mind and respecting the differences within themselves.
As students learn the existence of diversity, they should not merely “know” what it is all about but also act on it by supporting nation-building measures and capacity-network strengthening as members of the different groups working on the goals of unity, cooperation and friendship. Through these, the national culture is built in having a unified thinking. Doing all these things develops the students’ skills in promoting effective interpersonal, interethnic and intercultural group interactions. As a whole, it has an impact to the global holistic interactions of understanding each other and creating a better world.
The development of the American society should not just be credited to the white Americans. The contributions of the different minority groups should be taken into consideration. The slaves in particular fuelled the American economy during this period which has affected the strength and power of the said country even in recent times. Basically, these minority groups played a very important role even though they constitute a small part of the society.
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