The shift in demographics in the United States is rapidly increasing towards racial and ethnic populations of varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The US Census, 2020 has projected the population in the US to increase by more than 50% by the year 2050. With the population in the US on the rise and an increase in diversity apparent, the need for cultural awareness, sensitivity, and inclusive practices are apparent. Yet, in the US, the current educational system operates on minimal inclusive practices regarding cultural representation, especially in textbooks. The United States has one of the largest and diverse populations in the entire world. So why does our education system lack a varied authentic representation of culture?
Culture and Education
In recent years the conversation on culture and education was a conversation that sparked various emotions, including but not limited to anger, hurt, and resentment. The concept of culture had been seen as a separate entity separate from school environments. There people unaware of their own cultural identity, given that they derive from families who have not had the privilege of being educated about their roots or derived from low socioeconomic environments where their identity was either hidden or erased from their existence. Separating a students' cultural identity from their education sends the message that it is not worth studying, including or even acknowledging.Early childhood education is the beginning stage of a students' experience within an educational setting, and students attending a childcare or preschool have different opportunities for growth and development. The current issues regarding early education is the lack of culture represented or infused in the current curricula. As curriculums are varied and ever-developing, we have not seen a curriculum that addresses culture to represent the vast population of students, specifically minority students, African Americans, Latino, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Curriculum infused with culture ties the learner and the learning opportunity together through culturally represented content that sparks positive educational outcomes.
Confronting the Dominant Order
The concept is rarely made explicit, but one of the most distinguishing features of schools in a cultural minority setting is their overwhelming press toward assimilation into mainstream cultural patterns. Even though accommodations are made to include ethnic studies or early language literacy (ELL) into the curriculum content. The structure method and processes through which the content is organized and transmitted are usually reflective of mainstream patterns and exert a dominant influence on the student based on teacher identity, not student identity. The dominant order in early childhood education would be policymakers, teachers, principals, and administrators directly related to the decision and policy creation. When you confront the dominant order, you are speaking out against anything that violates the personal rights of self or others, processes that do not work for all within an establishment, social injustice, and violations of educational practices. Villaverde, 2003 stated that confronting the dominant order is "a theoretical framework that regards curriculum as a site of true possibility for self and social transformation" (pg. 88). So how do we help infuse culture into an early childhood classroom?