Multicultural Homeschooling

14

August 19, 2007 by multiracialsky

We finally made the commitment last week to homeschool Jaja and Rico for kindergarten next year. We have two primary reasons:

  • Our district is focused on academic performance and test scores (as are most public schools nowadays). This translates into full-day kindergarten (6+ hours a day, 5 days a week) with a significant amount of ‘seat work’. They have art 1 day a week, music 1 day a week, P.E. 3 days a week, and brief recess 1-2 times each day. In the name of traditional academic proficiency, these five-year-olds sit quietly at tables for hours each school day. (As my husband says, “Kindergarten should be half art and half gym.”)

  • Our district does not believe they have enough ‘minority’ students to warrant cultural competency training for their teachers and staff. (I previously wrote about my conversations with district administrators and my problems with the kindergarten’s Africa unit.)

I received the paperwork we need to fill out from our state education office, and now I am figuring out how to represent our educational values and worldview while fulfilling the state curriculum requirements. For example, American History: Our family gives equal (or greater) weight to the perspectives of Native Americans (the history of this place called the United States did not begin when Columbus landed), African Americans (there is so much more to Black American history than MLK and slavery; don’t get me started), women (we have always been doing more than raising children, cooking meals, and washing clothes–a lot more), and other populations underrepresented in traditional historical narratives and texts. My children are surrounded by the predominant White male perspective and history that tries to pass itself off as “American culture” and “American history”. But that’s not my family’s culture, and it’s not my family’s total history.

In searching online for examples of elementary-level multicultural curriculum, I came across a comprehensive educational resource: EdChange. Their philosophy reads (in part):

EdChange is dedicated to diversity and equity in ourselves, our schools, and our society. We act to shape schools and communities in which all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, (dis)ability, language, or religion, have equitable opportunities to achieve to their fullest and to be safe, valued, affirmed, and empowered.

On the EdChange site, I found the document Key Characteristics of a Multicultural Curriculum. I read this awesome list (designed for teachers at all levels) and found myself nodding, yes, yes, yes. (I don’t agree with other people’s philosophies of any kind very often.) This is exactly what I want for my children’s educational philosophy, (and curriculum and teacher-perspective when they attend more traditional school, which I assume they will for many years). The author, Paul Gorski, covers seven main topics, a few of which I have highlighted below:

  • From CONTENT: Avoid tokenism. Weave content about under-represented groups (People of Color, Women, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People, People with Disabilities, etc.) seamlessly with that about traditionally over-represented groups.
    • Do you present under-represented groups as “the other”?
    • Do you address these groups only through special units and lesson plans (“African American Scientists”; “Poetry by Women”) or within the context of the larger curriculum?
  • From PERSPECTIVE: Content must be presented from a variety of perspectives and angles, not only that of majority groups, in order to be accurate and complete.
    • How do we define “classic literature” or “great books” or “the classics” and from whose perspective?
    • From whose perspective do we tell history? When is “westward expansion” the same as “genocide”? When are champions of “liberty” the same as slave owners?
  • From CRITICAL INCLUSIVITY: Bring the perspectives and experiences of the students themselves to the fore in the learning experience. Encourage students to ask critical questions about all information they receive from you and curricular materials, and model this type of critical thinking for them.
    • Who wrote or edited that textbook?
    • Who created that Web site?
    • Whose voice am I hearing and whose voice am I not hearing?

Show me the school that embraces this multicultural educational philosophy–and my kids will be there. For now, this list gives us a strong framework to continue our children’s life and academic education, starting with that homeschool curriculum I need to submit next week.

I’ve been searching for a homeschooling or unschooling online group or a homeschooling website that is philosophically non-Eurocentric and that ‘accepts’ multiracial families. There are several African American homeschooling groups, but they are not welcoming of our kind of multiracial family (a couple of the groups seem open to families where only one of the homeschooler’s parents is Black). Moreover, our family’s educational/homeschooling style is not Afrocentric. Our educational perspective is consciously multiracial and multicultural, with a current focus on African American and Native American cultures (present-day and historical).

I’m thinking about starting a new Yahoo group for families who have a multiracial and/or multicultural approach to their homeschooling (in all my spare time . . . ) Anybody interested in joining?

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14 thoughts on “Multicultural Homeschooling

  1. Jess says:

    I would join! My daughter is also being homeschooled for kindergarten this year, and though our family is not multiracial and we live, quite honestly, in a really white area of the country, I don’t want my daughter to get a Eurocentric history.

    I will look forward to seeing how you are homeschooling, and I will be sure to check out the links you posted.

  2. chughes says:

    i hope the best for you and your children in this endeavor. Not only will your children excel academically, they will also enter the world with stronger senses of self and confidence than schooled their schooled peers. As they get older, it will be easier for them to resist peer pressure and trust in themselves.

    Very awesome.

  3. Michelle says:

    Good for you, and your children! I homeschooled my son for kindergarten and first grade, out of self-defense; the school district we lived in was not at all where I wanted him to begin his education for a variety of reasons. He is now 14, about to enter public high school (after excelling at his charter middle school), in all honors courses. He has a strong sense of self, confidence in his abilities, and an eagerness to learn; due, in large part, I believe, to my laying the foundation in “Mommy and Jordan School” so many years ago.

  4. christine says:

    I’m in!

    My youngest child is AA. The rest of us are Caucasian. We are now living in a tiny, northern Oklahoma town. When it comes to cultural issues and experiences, I sure miss the city!

  5. Karl Jackson says:

    Great content on your blog. I was homeschooled as a child and was inspired to help other children all of my life. Keep up the Great work.

  6. margaret says:

    My prayer is that we can homeschool our kids someday (they are only 2 and 3 at this point) and I certainly would like to use the kind of curriculum you plan to use!

  7. Angela says:

    I tried starting a group where I live in Colorado – hoping to find other families and I was personally attacked (via emails and postings) calling ME a racist by many people. I ended up just giving up with the group thing, but continue to try and educate my childrent this way.

  8. Lauren says:

    I would absolutely join. I’m just married, but we are already in constant discussion about how we want to educate our children. As another multicultural and multiracial family, I think its important our childrens education reflect similar ideals.

  9. Sara says:

    I would definitely be interested!

  10. Connie Romero says:

    Wow! This is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for. Please tell me more about your daily curriculum. I’d love to learn about what you do/teach with your kids. Our daughter is in a public preschool program right now, run by the state, but I have been contemplating very hardly at homeschooling her when she gets to be kindergarten age. And, more specifically, I am interested in homeschooling her from a native perspective. My husband is hispanic/native-american and I am Asian/Caucasian so as you can see, we have a very multi-cultural family. I was ecstatic to find this website and read about what you are doing with your children. I think it’s fantastic. Keep up the outstanding work!

  11. Peach says:

    I am interested in knowing what materials you use to supplement your history lessons to include the African American people who helped to shape our country and world since they are so obviously left out of our country’s text books.

  12. Peach says:

    And yes, I would join!

  13. palstead says:

    I don’t see any recent posts on this thread. Did you succeed in establishing a crib? I am keenly interested in this topic because I have just started a PhD program in education research and one of my areas of interest is multicultural education in the homeschooling environment. Congratulations on locating EdChange. I think they are an excellent resource.

  14. palstead says:

    Sorry for the typo – that should be “group”!!

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© 2007-2014 All rights reserved by Natasha Sky. Posts, essays, photographs, and art may not be republished, reprinted, or repurposed without permission.
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