Monday, December 04, 2006

How multiculturalism enriches schools

Sunday's New York Times carried an article that's particularly relevant for a school like JIS, which enjoys several significant national groups among its student body: "Surge in Asian Enrollment Alters Schools," by Winnie Hu.

The upshot: the vast majority of the "altering" is for the better.

"School officials, teachers and parents say the expanding Asian population has strengthened their schools, not only by raising test scores but also by promoting diversity and tolerance," according to Hu. One superintendent notes that "....the impact can be seen in everyday classroom discussions that have grown deeper, richer and more personal as students from other countries share their experiences. “Whether it’s a piece of artwork or a piece of literature,” he said, “you all gain something from seeing it from different perspectives.

Hu also points out the challenges that can confront schools as their demographics change, particularly when it comes to encouraging different student groups to mix instead of clinging together as separate units:

"To help address such concerns, [one] school’s guidance department sponsors a 'Mix It Up' day every month, when students are required at lunch to sit outside their usual cliques, whether that means Koreans, jocks or neighborhood youths. 'We’re telling them, "These are kids in your grade, get to know them,"' said [the school's] principal."

This is a very interesting article -- definitely worth your time.


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