Class Spotlight: Multicultural Studies

Class Spotlight: Multicultural Studies

Alexandra Marum, Junior Class Editor

Among the many disadvantages and frustrations of online school, one rarely cited is the loss of daily class gossip. No longer can you rave (or rant) about a particular class during the lunch period or your extracurriculars. Asking your friend about their favorite classes has become less casual and more cumbersome. Like academics, social interaction has been stripped to the bone in this online environment. Some might argue this as a benefit of online school, and in some ways it is. A lot of negativity is avoided; however, this social isolation has also made class selection a metaphorical minefield for one simple reason–word-of-mouth class suggestions are scarce. 

This article closes the social gap created by the online environment regarding class selection, and offers a so-called “word-of-mouth,” or perhaps better phrased “word-of-screen,” suggestion to rising high schoolers. One of my favorite classes of this school year, successfully affecting my world view and changing how I approach my education, is Mr. McDonald’s Multicultural Studies class–a course I chose on a whim. 

Despite it being intuition or luck that landed me a (virtual) seat, my only regret, over halfway through the course, is that I didn’t understand the implications of registering for the class. Every course has its value, but not everyone finds value in a course. However, Multicultural Studies is an elective with the innate and universal value of a class in the core curriculum.

It enhances core education:

Multicultural Studies works in tandem with your history classes; it provides context and perspective to approach English essays and discussions; it grants insight into the implicit biases that exist from institutions of government to STEM organizations. Many topics explored throughout the course, from the Jewish diaspora to the United States to the dubious origins of “race,” have led many students to question why the origins and role of various racial groups have been overlooked by our curriculum. Multicultural Studies works to fill the gaps in American History, literature, and technology that we didn’t know existed. 

It prepares students for college and adult life:

For most students, college will be the first experience of leaving home and entering an unknown environment filled to the brim with people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures. Multicultural Studies will not teach you everything you need to know about any given cultural group in America, but it will give you the perspective to realize that. This class allows you to view groups not through preconceived stereotypes, but through rich culture and a deep history closely entwined and responsible for the America we know today.

This is especially valuable when approaching school and work-life as you venture into the world and meet individuals whose experiences and perspectives differ from and even challenge your own. The readiness to learn, understanding of unconscious bias, and awareness of stereotypes that Multicultural Studies provides will allow for better and more productive friendships and professional relationships to develop. 

The classroom environment is engaging:

One benefit of Jordan High School’s Multicultural Studies class stems not from the content itself, but the class environment created by Mr. McDonald. Often we explore history through class and group discussions. Mr. McDonald provides students a platform to vocalize their ideas, experiences, and beliefs and contextualize them with the experiences of their peers and the historical context of American immigrants. 

Junior Ben Chesser says about Mr. McDonald, “Having us discuss the topics in a Socratic seminar-type fashion allows us to figure out the information ourselves. When we do that, we can reach better and more meaningful answers. Mr. McDonald provides us a guiding hand to those answers.” This method of peer feedback and teacher guidance creates an environment where the conclusions we reach always feel like well-earned discoveries.

Multicultural Studies is valuable:

While the course offers many benefits, the opinions of students truly determine the measure of a classes’ value. Asha Coltrane, a diligent and engaged student who unfailingly takes part in class, believes that “the class is important because it exposes students to a different level of understanding of cultures and the experiences of other communities that we don’t discuss in other classes or in other parts of society.”

Ben Chesser praises Mr. McDonald as a teacher particularly suitable for conveying the sensitive and crucial information within the course. “He is obviously knowledgeable about the content and presents all the information in an engaging and scholarly way.”

Personally, Multicultural Studies has been a class that I look forward to every period. Being given the resources to explore cultures and contributions that often go forgotten provides for very interesting class and homework content, particularly for students interested in history. Overall, it is a valuable class that will affect the quality of your education and potentially the rest of your life.