Realities and Challenges of Multicultural Education Seen in the Field

Realities and challenges of multicultural education seen in the field

                                                                                                      Park Young-geum (Multicultural Education Team, Korea Migrant Human Rights Center)

I will never forget the day my eldest son burst out in tears 7 years ago. One evening when my eldest son was about 6 years old, a child who had been to daycare struggled not to go to daycare again. It was a daycare center where I started attending from a young age and attended for about 6 years without any problems, but I was surprised to suddenly bring up such a story. My pitiful son, who struggled with his small body trembling and trembling, gave me even greater despair at the words of my poor son. “It’s all because of my dad. Do my friends keep making fun of me because I look like my dad?” I wondered what it felt like the sky was falling. You look like your dad In other words, it was ‘I’m like this because of my dad’s black face’. My heart ached.

It was then that my husband and I felt that something was firmly wrong. Living with a migrant husband amidst the prejudices of Korean society, it was difficult, but I was just working hard to build a foundation for my life, and I felt that it was a luxury to give my children a sweet and warm hug, and even to have time to play hand in hand on holidays. Because it was the time, it was even more difficult to accept the wounds the child had received. But I couldn’t just be surprised. I couldn’t just make money with ease. My son was clamoring to protect me so that other children wouldn’t make fun of me, and all I could think of was if I, as a mother, had to do something. So I went to the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center, which is currently active. At that time, mothers of immigrant spouses, who had the same concerns as husbands, gathered one by one to form an international marriage community called ‘Heavenly Heart’. At that time, our concern was the stable residence visa of my husband, who came to Korea as a migrant worker, but the most difficult thing for parents before school age was that their children did not have a smooth peer relationship because the children around them made fun of them because of their different appearances due to their skin color or appearance. It was a big worry.

So, the parents came together to do something together, so they met regularly to build friendships, study, and start educational meetings. ‘Human rights education with a beautiful difference’ was started after a lot of trouble. It means that you can get to know each other and discover the beauty of other things in them. Immigrants, fathers of children, become educators and attend local study rooms, kindergartens, and elementary schools to teach and experience the cultures of each Asian country. Together with the difficulties faced by migrants and migrant workers, human rights and equality, and harmony of diverse cultures We also talked about the beautiful world we are creating.

The effect of education with migrants was beyond imagination. The children nodded their heads and were able to confirm that ‘there is nothing wrong with being different’ as they encountered regional characteristics that are inevitably different from other countries and unfamiliar cultures from Korea. He would come over to hug the instructor as he left the classroom after finishing. Immigrant instructors also met with children of their own age in classrooms, met and taught them directly at the educational site what their children could not tell them, and their pride was growing that they were working out on their own so that the things they were uncomfortable with about other things did not become a vicious cycle leading to discrimination. . Not being fluent in Korean was not a big problem.

At some point since then, my son says he is the coolest and proudest father in the world, who works hard for second-generation immigrants like himself. I think my father is not a foreigner who speaks poor Korean, but another Korean and a global citizen. There are still shortcomings in our society amid these changes, and we are working with the belief that it is up to us to inform and solve them. What started as a concern of a few people has now become a bigger issue, and now it is a task that our society as a whole must solve together and the most important task in preparing for the future of Korean society.

Multicultural Education Center affiliated with the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center. It is an organization that has been running a multicultural education program called ‘Human Rights Classroom with Beautiful Differences’ for about 5 years. Now, by expanding the countries of origin of migrant instructors, they are nurtured as multicultural human rights instructors, and they are actively visiting elementary and secondary schools for education. I have been running this organization’s multicultural education program directly since 2007.

I realize that the classroom scene at school, which is encountered while conducting multicultural education, is changing a lot compared to the past. Looking at the students, from children with parents from Southwest Asian countries with distinct appearances, children with parents from Southeast Asia who are reluctant to disclose because they do not have much difference in appearance, children from Europe such as the United States, children from North Korea, children of North Korean defectors, or parents in the middle. It is not difficult to see a wide variety of children studying in one classroom, including children who migrated with their parents after attending school in Korea, and children of migrant workers working in Korea. I believe that this reality heralds many changes in educational policies and orientations in the school field. I think the teachers will have a lot of difficulties in coping with them when they are not prepared. In line with these changes, the government is proposing various multicultural policies. Multicultural activities that are recently encountered in school education are also becoming more diverse. However, as a parent and activist of a multicultural family who thinks about the importance of multicultural education, dreaming of a ‘beautiful world where we live together and create together’, it is not very pleasant to see the school scene.

 Recently, with the low birth rate and aging population, a growing sense of crisis of a decrease in the working-age population, the rapid increase in international marriages and the remarkably increase in the number of their children brought about social changes such as the diversification of the population became visible. ‘ and implemented numerous policies. As the Multicultural Family Support Act came into force just two or three years ago, the word ‘multicultural’ became popular. Multicultural family support centers were established in each region of the country, and special programs such as ‘after-school multicultural classes’ were created at each level of school. It operates programs such as Korean language education and traditional culture tours for children and their children. In Incheon, a total of 39 multicultural-focused schools, including 5 kindergartens, 30 elementary schools and 4 middle schools, have been designated, and similar programs are being conducted under the support of the government.

Many changes have been made as a result of these government policies. In the past, even if migrants wanted to learn Hangul, they had nowhere to go other than language schools, which charge expensive tuition, and centers where migrant workers consult. On the one hand, you can give a positive evaluation that you are lucky and that you are taking a multi-faceted approach. But it’s something to think about.

International marriage families, which did not even exist until only two or three years ago, are now called ‘multicultural families’, and their children are called ‘children of multicultural families’ and are given meaning in themselves because they are receiving attention from government policy. because it can’t be done. In many cases, schools at each level designate a ‘multicultural class’ to provide after-school supplementary education such as Korean language education, saying that they faithfully carry out the government’s multicultural education policy. This behavior may be interpreted as a special support that has never been seen before, but on the other hand, it is worth thinking about whether it is another kind of ‘separation’. What is the reason why a child who does not have a complete understanding of Hangeul has to take Hangeul classes because they are classified as ‘multicultural’, and moreover, they have to stay after school and participate in a separate program called a multicultural class to study to supplement their studies. Why do you have to be forced (?) to be uncomfortable?

The absurd situation in which frontline teachers’ ignorance and prejudice are combing through is even more problematic. For example, when the Dokdo issue arose between Japan and Japan, the mother and the child of a multicultural family whose mother is Japanese. I’ve never heard of a story about how the child and parents were hurt beyond words by the school’s homeroom teacher pointing out the child and asking, ‘Do you also think Dokdo is Japanese territory?’ have. It is a question to think about what qualities are required of teachers who guide children at the forefront of the multicultural era.

I remember what a friend said during multicultural education. “There was a dark-skinned migrant worker in my father’s company, but after meeting him a few times, it’s not awkward anymore.” said If you ask how often you meet migrants around you, you can see that about one or two relatives in a class have multicultural families, and that friend feels relatively close to migrants than other friends. In the case of children who encounter migrants or multicultural families in their daily life, it was found that they recognized each other based on their mutual relationship rather than unilaterally biased in their position. In other words, it can be seen that children who have a normal relationship with their counterparts, migrants or multicultural families, feel close to them, feel ‘meaningful’ in their relationship with them, and are no longer awkward. It can be said that it is important to feel as living together in everyday life, rather than feeling migrants and multicultural families by ‘separating’ them as beings that are irrelevant to them or something different.

As long as multicultural families are separated and classified as multicultural families and special management in the name of ‘support’ is made, I think there is a lot of room to instill the prejudice that the group is a problem group with many shortcomings. Many of the programs that TV and media media show these days as they talk about the ‘global era’ show multicultural families as weak and pitiful weaklings, and it is also wrong to portray them as beings in need of ‘support’ or ‘help’. to have Considering the experience of living in harmony with other people from different cultures in the long historical experience and the atmosphere of Korean society that lacks understanding of it, this one-sided atmosphere infringes on the identity and self-esteem of children of multicultural families. It is highly probable that not only will it do so, but it will ultimately have a negative impact on our society as well.

So, what should multicultural education look like for a ‘beautiful world where we live together and create together’? I would like to draw my own alternatives by introducing a special experience I had in a multicultural education course conducted at a school.

It happened at the end of last year when I went to an elementary school for multicultural education. Before entering the class, the class teacher told me in advance what I wanted to refer to before class. I have a classmate and a friend with a developmental disability in the class, and he said that he wouldn’t need to pay special attention to walking around in class or doing some sudden behavior. I was worried, but I went straight to class, and after a while the child suddenly got up and walked around, touching a friend’s head and saying something incomprehensible. Strangely, the classmates even held the hand of the friend who passed by without any sign of discomfort. Just then, the friend’s partner got up from his seat, took the friend’s hand and told him to sit down, and the friend sat down again. It felt good to see the warmth of the classmates who sent them to a child throughout the class. At the end of the class, I learned a lot from my classmates. The atmosphere of unhurried harmony that the whole class showed about their friends in situations different from those of other normal children who are physically or mentally uncomfortable was surprising, and the homeroom teacher plays the role of creating this atmosphere naturally knew that there was No one in the class was uncomfortable or questioned about being different, and no one else was treated special.

I think that creating such sensitivity is the beginning of true multicultural education. ‘Multicultural’ literally means ‘the coexistence and harmony of various cultures’. Different but coming together… This is multiculturalism. There is no true multiculturalism in Korean society as long as it is used as a term to refer to a family formed by marrying foreigners or their children. A truly multicultural society is a society in which clearly different and clearly the same people freely acknowledge each other without hesitation and naturally fill each other’s shortcomings while living together, and education that strives to realize it is truly multicultural education.

At the same time, for the realization of such education, I would like to emphasize that the role of the teacher who is in charge of education on the front line and draws a picture of the future of our society through children is the most important. As I have been conducting multicultural education with migrants in a private organization for a long time, I have come to believe that only teachers who have the perception that ‘differences are differences and should not be discriminated against’ can raise children into true ‘multicultural society’ leaders. I think you can pay In addition, it is necessary to convey such sensibility to children in the daily curriculum, which is conducted regularly every day, and to nurture correct perceptions together. A true multicultural society in which all migrants, including all multicultural families, and indigenous Koreans live together, is not objectification through ‘separation’ or ‘special management’ in the name of ‘support’, but by creating the world together as ‘equal members of society’. I think that the banal but natural proposition of a thin society can blossom on the basis of such sensitivity and recognition.

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