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PLATFORM : Future Basic

<i> Training children to handle diversity is not an extracurricular activity, argues Carlos E. Cortes, a professor of history at UC Riverside who specializes multiethnic relations. He told The Times</i>

Everyone learns to deal with diversity. Even slave owners dealt with diversity, although not positively. Schools need to have the capacity to help students learn to deal with diversity in a positive and constructive and thoughtful manner--going beyond stereotypes, getting beyond tensions and rivalries and negative perceptions.

Students must learn about the multi-cultural nature of American society. They have to go out and function in communities that are increasingly multiethnic. They must develop multicultural understanding.

It’s a future basic.

If you are reading literature, you can read literature that expresses different ethnic and cultural points of view. You learn to read, but you also get the bonus of something else: intercultural insights.

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As you think about what should be part of the school curriculum, what will enrich their lives for the future, it doesn’t do a lot of good to educate students to live in the 19th Century.

The future is difficult to predict. But one thing you can predict is that the United States is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic. Also, the reality of the shrinking globe is that people who have intercultural knowledge and skills and wisdom and understanding will be able to work more effectively with folks who are different, and they are going to have a huge advantage.


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