Infusing Multicultural Content
into the Curriculum for Gifted Students
ERIC Identifier: ED449635
Publication Date: 2000-12-00
Author: Ford, Donna Y.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education Arlington VA.
As classrooms become more and more culturally diverse, the need to infuse
multicultural content into the curriculum becomes increasingly evident. This digest
presents an overview of strategies with practical examples to meet the needs of
students who are diverse in two ways -- by ability and by ethnicity. It offers suggestions
for promoting gifted education that is multicultural.
One way of integrating multicultural content into the curriculum involves four levels or
approaches (Banks and Banks, 1993).
MULTICULTURAL GIFTED EDUCATION: A FRAMEWORK
- The Contributions Approach (level 1) focuses on heroes, holidays, and discrete
elements and is the most extensively used approach to multiculturalism in the schools.
In this approach, the traditional ethnocentric curriculum remains unchanged in its basic
structure, goals, and salient characteristics. Cultural traditions, foods, music, and dance
may be discussed, but little or no attention is given to their meaning and significance to
- The Additive Approach (level 2) adds content, concepts, themes, and perspectives of
minority groups to the curriculum without changing its structure. For instance, teachers
may add a book, unit, or course to the curriculum that focuses on diverse groups or
topics. However, the students may not have the knowledge base to understand
multicultural concepts, issues, and groups. Minority students learn little of their own
history, and the rest of the students learn little of the history and contributions of other
racial and cultural groups to American society.
- The Transformational Approach (level three) involves changing the structure of the
curriculum to enable students to view concepts, issues, events, and themes from the
perspectives of minority groups. One now sees changes in the basic assumptions,
goals, nature, and structure of the curriculum. According to Banks and Banks (1993),
the curriculum should not focus on the ways that minority groups have contributed to
mainstream society and culture; instead, it must focus on how the common U.S. culture
and society emerged from a complex synthesis and interaction of the diverse cultural
elements that make up the United States.
- In the Social Action Approach (level four), students make decisions on important social
issues and take action to help solve them. Students feel empowered and are proactive;
they are provided with the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to participate in
social change. Student self-examination becomes central in this approach through value
analysis, decision making, problem solving, and social action experiences.
One strategy for creating multicultural gifted education is to blend the works of Banks
and Banks (1993) and Bloom (1956). This framework, described below, serves as a
guide for helping educators promote higher level thinking based on Bloom's cognitive
taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation)
and to promote multicultural thinking based on the four levels presented by Banks and
The lowest levels of both models (e.g., knowledge-contributions) involve fact-based
questions, statements, and activities that do not promote higher level thinking or
substantive multicultural experiences. Conversely, at the highest levels of both models
(e.g., evaluation-social action), students think critically about and take action on
multicultural topics, concepts, material, and events.
Here is an example of a lower level question contrasted with more complex multicultural
questions: "Name three songs that were popular during slavery"
(knowledge-contributions). In contrast, "Predict how our nation would have prospered
without slave labor. What other forms of labor could have been used?"
The following outline illustrates the blending of multicultural and gifted education at all
levels of Bloom's taxonomy, followed by an example of each type of student
assignment. This outline can help educators to develop questions and learning
experiences that are challenging, rigorous, and multicultural.
- CONTRIBUTIONS APPROACH
- Knowledge: Students are taught and know facts about cultural artifacts, events, groups,
and other cultural elements. Example: Name three songs that were popular among
- Comprehension: Students show an understanding of information about cultural artifacts,
groups, and other cultural elements. Example: Make an outline of events leading to the
- Application: Students are asked to and can apply information learned on cultural
artifacts, events, and other cultural elements. Example: Create a model of the
- Analysis: Students are taught to and can analyze (e.g., compare and contrast)
information about cultural artifacts, groups, and other cultural elements. Example:
Examine how stereotypes about minority groups might have contributed to slavery.
- Synthesis: Students are required to and can create a new product from the information
on cultural artifacts, groups, and other cultural elements. Example: Write a story about
the contribution of Hispanic Americans to the music industry.
- Evaluation: Students are taught to and can evaluate facts and information based on
cultural artifacts, groups, and other cultural elements. Example: Critique the work of a
famous American Indian artist.
- Knowledge: Students are taught and know concepts and themes about cultural groups.
Example: List three factors that contribute to prejudiced beliefs.
- Comprehension: Students are taught and can understand cultural concepts and
themes. Example: After reading a biography about a famous person of color,
summarize the racial barriers that the person faced.
- Application: Students are required to and can apply information learned about cultural
concepts and themes. Example: Find a book or song that discusses the problems of
racial prejudice in society.
- Analysis: Students are taught to and can analyze important cultural concepts and
themes. Example: Compare and contrast the writings of W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T.
Washington on issues of racial discrimination.
- Synthesis: Students are asked to and can synthesize important information on cultural
concepts and themes. Example: Write a play about the Spanish Inquisition.
- Evaluation: Students are taught to and can critique cultural concepts and themes.
Example: Write a paper explaining why you think it is important (or not important) to
learn about prejudice.
- Knowledge: Students are given information on important cultural elements, groups, and
other cultural elements, and can understand this information from different perspectives.
Example: Describe how slaves might have felt being held in captivity.
- Comprehension: Students are taught to understand and can demonstrate an
understanding of important cultural concepts and themes from different perspectives.
Example: Explain why American Indians use folk tales and storytelling as a means of
coping with oppression.
- Application: Students are asked to and can apply their understanding of important
concepts and themes from different perspectives. Example: Read the essay "What
America Means to Me." Write a paper showing how members of a minority group might
respond to this essay.
- Analysis: Students are taught to and can examine important cultural concepts and
themes from more than one perspective. Example: Predict how our nation would have
prospered without slave labor. What other forms of labor could have been used?
- Synthesis: Students are required to and can create a product based on their new
perspective or the perspective of another group. Example: Develop a survey regarding
students' experiences with prejudice in their school or their community.
- Evaluation: Students are taught to and can evaluate or judge important cultural
concepts and themes from different viewpoints (e.g., minority group). Example: Assume
the identity of a plantation owner or a slave. From that perspective, write a story
outlining the differences between your life and the ideal of liberty and justice for all.
SOCIAL ACTION APPROACH
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
- Knowledge: Based on information on cultural artifacts, etc., students make
recommendations for social action. Example: What would you have done during the
17th century to end slavery?
- Comprehension: Based on their understanding of important concepts and themes,
students make recommendations for social action. Example: List some ways that the
media contribute to our perceptions of minority groups. What can be done to improve
how the media portray minorities?
- Application: Students are asked to can apply their understanding of important social and
cultural issues; they make recommendations for and take action on these issues.
Example: Review three to five sources on affirmative action; then write and submit an
editorial to a newspaper describing your views on this topic.
- Analysis: Students are required to and can analyze social and cultural issues from
different perspectives; they take action on these issues. Example: Spend a day (or
more) observing and analyzing how minority groups are treated at the mall. Share the
results with storeowners.
- Synthesis: Students create a plan of action to address one or more social and cultural
issues; they seek important social change. Example: Form a school club whose goal is
to create a sense of community and respect in the school building.
- Evaluation: Students critique important social and cultural issues, and seek to make
national and/or international change.
Example: Examine school policies to see if democratic ideals are present. Write a new
school policy and share the findings and recommendations with administration.
Students need to be prepared to live effectively in a diverse society and to be effective
thinkers and problem solvers. Multicultural gifted education as outlined above promotes
ERIC Digests are in the public domain and may be freely reproduced and disseminated,
but please acknowledge your source. This digest was prepared with funding from the
Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U. S. Department of
Education (ED) under Contract No. ED-99-CO-0026. The opinions expressed in this
publication do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or ED.
Banks, J. A., and Banks, C. A. M. (Eds.) (1993, 2000). Multicultural education: Issues
and perspectives. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 800-666-9433.
Bloom, B. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives. Handbook I: Cognitive domain.
New York: Wiley, 800-225-5945.
Ford, D., and Harris, J. (1999). Multicultural gifted education. New York: Teachers
College Press, 800-575-6566.
Ford, D.Y., Howard, T.C., Harris III, J.J., & Tyson, C.A. (2000). Creating culturally
responsive classrooms for gifted minority students. Journal for the Education of the
Gifted, 23(4), 397-427.
Ford, D.Y. & Harris III, J.J. (2000). A framework for infusing multicultural curriculum into
gifted education. Roeper Review, 23(1),4-10.
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