Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Janaki Natarajan


School grounds are a playground for the intersectionality of people’s struggles against the many forms of social and economic oppression. Education is an essential space where educators’ analyses of oppression shape what we teach children and the curriculum. As such, education can be a major form of resistance to oppressive structures. Multicultural education has been a historical field that attempts to change the dominant narratives. Yet, like education, multiculturalism is shaped by our analyses of economic and political structures. This research explores the many faces of multicultural education as seen by elementary teachers and theorists alike. As an educational pedagogy, multiculturalism can be used to either perpetuate or dismantle oppressive structures. The first part of this study addresses the history, types, and definitions of multicultural education. Major themes that arose were culture, difference, colorblindness, Whiteness, social inequalities, and capitalism. The second part investigates the perspectives of teachers in an elementary case study. Twenty educators participated in a school-wide survey regarding their implementation of multicultural curriculum and education. Four teachers elected to participate in a follow-up interview. A qualitative analysis of the data reveals tenuous connections between multicultural education and anti-racism on the part of educators. In general, participants and literature reviewed presented a limited analysis of education within the system of capitalism. The literature introduces important ideas for moving from superficial descriptions of multiculturalism to a more critical analysis, which is further addressed in the discussion. Suggestions are provided regarding how educators can align their theory and practice.


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Elementary Education and Teaching | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology of Culture