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Responding to diversity: How should multiculturalism be taught in the classroom?

An initial investigation into multicultural education in Jewish schools in the United Kingdom

Geoffrey Short

This investigation into the teaching of multiculturalism in Jewish schools sets out to study the approach of senior management and governors in regard to multicultural education, how this is treated in school prospectuses, and its impact upon, and the views of, children attending Jewish day schools.

The report - which represents an initial investigation into the issues, rather than a comprehensive survey of all Jewish day schools - reveals great diversity. Some schools are treating multiculturalism with seriousness and provide models of good practice, while others consider it to be low down on their list of priorities. The report reveals the pressure that state schools are under because of the national curriculum and, following on from this, the unwillingness of some to undertake (as they see it) additional teaching requirements. This is especially relevant given the limited amount of dedicated time that many Jewish schools have for Judaic subjects (which can be as little as two hours a week).

The report also reveals general misunderstandings about what the term 'multiculturalism' actually means and, therefore, how it should be taught in the classroom.

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