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Edna Mitchell: Transformations in Pluralism in America: Challenge And Crisis For Education

This article, by an American visiting Fulbright Professor at József Attila University in Szeged, addresses the current controversy revolving around immigrants and illegal aliens in American schools and society. The author provides an historical background, describing several waves of immigrants entering the United States from the Colonial Period through the present day. The central theme of this paper is that newcomers in the United States have experienced varying degrees of acceptance from outright hostility, exploitation of labor, denial of rights to a more receptive welcome in the „land of opportunity.” The current social climate, with recent legislation in California establishing a trend, is that of a conservative back-lash against illegal aliens; a back-lash that often extends to legal immigrants and refugees who appear „foreign” or who have limited English speaking skills. The multicultural reality of American society has dramatic implications for schools, curricula, and for educators. It is essential that children learn and develop in a healthy school atmosphere. This requires the education and training of teachers who are knowledgeable about, and sensitive to, language and cultural differences. Children need to be taught in their own language in order to develop a strong foundation of skills and concepts; teachers must work with parents as partners in the education of children. The training of teachers now includes multicultural education as well as learning about how to teach English as a second language. The curriculum is also changing to reflect the changing ethnicity of the society. However, this is a controversial situation with policy debates raging and emotions flaring. The voices of immigrant children are heard in the article as they tell of their poignant experiences in entering schools as strangers from another land. Much about this current debate and the social problems surrounding it, can be understood in Hungary and Central Europe today where ethnic traditions and treatment of minorities is also a policy concern.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 95. Number 1-2. 5-18. (1995)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Edna Mitchell, Mills College 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94613


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia