Should Teachers Be Colorblind? How Multicultural and Egalitarian Beliefs Differentially Relate to Aspects of Teachers' Professional Competence for Teaching in Diverse Classrooms

May, 2015

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 48 (2015) 44-55
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors examine how cultural beliefs relate to aspects of professional competence. Specifically, the authors focused on multiculturalism and colorblindness.

The participants were 433 German beginning teachers taking part in the COACTIV-R study, which was conducted to assess professional competence and development during the induction phase. All participants in this induction phase were placed in schools.
The beginning teachers were asked to answer the questionnaires, which examined beginning teachers' knowledge, beliefs, socio-demographic data, and information on the teacher training program. The participants were also invited to a testing session in which mathematical knowledge was assessed.

The authors used the Teacher Cultural Beliefs Scale (TCBS, Hachfeld et al., 2011) to assess participants' endorsement of multicultural and colorblind beliefs.

The findings reveal that colorblindness showed a significant negative relationship with willingness to adapt teaching to a culturally diverse student body.
The authors explain that if teachers are not willing to consider the cultural diversity in their class, they are less likely to provide adequate support for immigrant students, or to assess and evaluate immigrant students' performance accurately, all of which can lead to systematic discrimination. In contrast, teachers with high agreement with multicultural beliefs reported more willingness to consider the cultural background of their students; for example, one can see when they reported about choosing their learning materials.

The authors also found that multicultural beliefs were related to higher self-efficacy and higher enthusiasm for teaching immigrant students, to less agreement with negative stereotypes about immigrant students' motivation and backgrounds, and to having chosen the teaching profession specifically as a means to foster integration of immigrants in Germany.
The authors also found that colorblind beliefs showed no relationships to the former constructs and were negatively related to reported willingness to adapt teaching to culturally diverse students.

The authors conclude that these findings suggest that multicultural beliefs are more beneficial for teaching in culturally diverse settings than colorblind beliefs.

Implications for teacher education
The authors suggest that these findings have implications for preparation of teachers for cultural diversity.

The authors argue that teacher education programs should actively encourage teacher candidates to be open to the cultural backgrounds of their students.
They also suggest that teacher education programs should include teaching strategies that successfully integrate students of all cultural backgrounds.
The programs should also include adaptive curriculum changes reflecting students' backgrounds, a great variety of different teaching methods, team work and small groups, and high expectations for all students.
They argue that a necessary prerequisite for using these strategies is the ability and the willingness of a teacher to critically reflect on his/her teaching strategies on the one hand and the learning context on the other.

Hachfeld, A., Hahn, A., Schroeder, S., Anders, Y., Stanat, P., & Kunter, M. (2011). Assessing teachers' multicultural and egalitarian beliefs: The Teacher Cultural Beliefs Scale. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 986-996. 

Updated: Aug. 14, 2018