Students get exposed to implementing multiculturalism in the classroom

With a focus on helping students foster multiculturalism in the classroom, California State University, Monterey Bay (MAESTRO’s Project hosted an informative event via Zoom on March 9. 

According to College of Education officials, there can be a love for multicultural children’s literature because it lends itself a place to talk about social inequities. 

“When it combines with process drama, it lends itself to encouraging young children to think critically and develops cross-cultural awareness within the classroom,” said meeting host, Suzanne Garcia-Mateus. 

Garcia-Mateus, a College of Education associate professor, introduced herself with some background and gave a brief topic foundation.

“My main presentation goal is to share how multicultural and multilanguage children’s literature offers an amazing opportunity for teachers to talk about social inequities,” said Garcia-Mateus. 

Not only does Garcia-Mateus talk about children’s books, but she wrote one called “Vitamin C for Cultura.”

She asked open-ended questions such as “out of everyone here, if you speak more than one language, use the heart emoji. If you speak Spanish, can you use another emoji?” 

About 27 out of 44 students were bilingual and about half spoke Spanish. Most students were interested in being bilingual teachers in the future. 

This presentation helped attendees understand what goes into being a bilingual teacher and how to find the best curriculum for students to thrive and succeed in the classroom. 

It also helped most students relate to the host of this event and encouraged them to navigate every pathway to get where they needed to be, no matter the hurdles. 

When acknowledging the source of how to get through to students, which can be through picture books, you can then go into dissecting these books.

Some books can perpetuate negativity, which is when you have to take a deep dive into the book to make sure it’s appropriate and also showcases the point you want to get across.

“Which member of society has the most representation in children’s books? What is the storyline about and who’s the main character?” Garcia-Mateus said. “You want to make sure to look at the illustrations because there is a lot of multicultural children’s literature that isn’t of high quality.”

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