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Lessons Learned: Pedagogical Tensions and Struggles with Instruction on Multiculturalism in Social Work Education Programs

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While the importance of multiculturalism to social work education and practice has been extensively theorized in the social work literature, very little empirical attention has been paid to the concrete experiences of social work students within the classroom. The socializing influence of pedagogy is one aspect of the professionalization process that must be considered in addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in graduate education programs. This article addresses this gap by describing and analyzing the narratives of 15 minority graduate social work students. It examines their perception and experiences with instruction on multiculturalism with the graduate curriculum and the meaning they assign to these experiences. Their narratives illuminate the myriad ways that the curriculum excludes minority students and reproduces social inequality. Social work education has a responsibility to eliminate racism and inequality from the content of its courses and in its teaching methods. The identification of these negative socializing messages may assist educators in structuring curricular and pedagogical practices that can facilitate the academic success of all students.
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Keywords: Inequality; Minority Students; Multicultural Education; Pedagogical Practices; Social Stratification

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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