Seven Ways to Embrace Multiculturalism in the Classroom

The UK today has a higher cultural diversity than ever, and London, in particular, is recognised as one of the most multicultural cities in the world. This means that many teachers today find themselves facing an increasingly multicultural classroom which can sometimes prove challenging when keeping an atmosphere of equality and respect within the classroom.

Despite these challenges, it is wonderful to have such diversity of culture within a class, as this variety of experience and background creates tolerance and mutual respect within the classroom that is transcribed into later life, and can even improve academic results.

To fully embrace multiculturalism, there needs to be school-wide effort and an implemented policy for all classrooms to follow. However, there are plenty of initiatives individual teachers can take to help their classes specifically. Some of these ideas we have listed below:

Celebrate different cultural festivals
An easy and enjoyable way to embrace different cultures, and also one that pupils will find the most fun. Recognising significant festivals across the world are important for educating your class in new cultures, as well as giving the opportunity for some creativity if you assign activities relating to the festival. It will also help build an inclusive atmosphere, making 1st generation immigrants feel more comfortable.

Attempt to learn a bit more about the different backgrounds of pupils in your class
This is particularly helpful for 1st generation immigrants. You can learn a little background to their culture or even go as far as to learn a bit of their language to demonstrate understanding. It may even be worth speaking to the parents of particular children who are struggling to integrate a bit more to best understand how to help them.

Include a variety of books in your classroom book collection
Including a variety of books from different cultures and backgrounds is a great way of introducing multiculturalism into the classroom. For children of different cultures, it can provide a bit of familiarity, and it allows other pupils the choice to read something different to what they would perhaps normally choose. It also indicates that different texts have a place in western culture and education.

Hold a food fair to celebrate different dishes from around the world
This idea could be a full day event or an occasional monthly occurrence. Each pupil could bring in a dish that is commonly eaten in their culture for others to try. They could talk a bit about the history of the dish, or if it is made for a special event or festival. This idea might be particularly good for a food technology class.

Set presentation projects for students on a culture or nation
For this, you could either get a pupil to write about their own culture and present to the class or you could get pupils to look at a culture other than their own to present on. It might be good to do this in pairs so they can be a bit more confident presenting. This sort of project can add to your curriculum by tying in topics the pupils are currently studying.

Host a culture day 
This could be a day for pupils to share their cultural identities with others, whilst also learning about other students. There could be a variety of things to include in this day, maybe bring in certain foods, and make posters with visual information for each pupil to talk about. Encourage pupils to ask questions and give each one a chance to discuss their cultural heritage.

Hold events with guests and motivational speakers from different backgrounds
It is quite common for schools to hire speakers and guests from various industries and workplaces to inspire students or share an important message. When doing this it could be an idea to have a good variety of guests that represent different parts of the society, as it can be more motivational for pupils to have role models then can relate to. It will show that no matter what you gender, physical ability or cultural heritage, you can succeed in life.

The tips above are just a few of the measures you can take to embracing all cultural backgrounds in your class, there’s still a multitude of ways for you to celebrate multiculturalism in the classroom. The efforts are certainly worth it, as supporting multicultural understanding between pupils creates mutual respect, a positive working environment and it prepares students for an active role in this diverse world we live in.

Hannah Scott, Teachers Register