Dr. James A. Banks Prepares Educators and Students for a Changing World

March 2013

As our global society grows ever more diverse, the challenge of effectively educating students to participate is greater than ever. Last week, Dr. James A. Banks addressed this challenge with educators and administrators at the11th annual Northwest Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) conference in his hands-on workshop, “Educating Students for Diversity and Global Times.”

“Conflict can lead to creativity,” Dr. Banks told the crowded hotel ballroom, referring to classroom conflicts that can occur within a diverse student body and faculty. Dealing with these issues head on by implementing proven strategies like content integration—where students learn using material from a variety of sources that represent their multicultural backgrounds —and an empowering school culture where all people are respected can lead to better outcomes for every student. Banks reminded workshop attendees that when it comes to preparing students for a multicultural world, “No teacher is off the hook!”

After a morning lecture adapted from the Dimensions of Multicultural Education series, participants watched a portion of Mighty Times: The Children’s March, an Oscar-winning documentary about the students who risked violence and imprisonment during the Birmingham civil rights marches of 1963. Below is an excerpt of the film, which can be obtained through the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Workshop attendees then formed groups to discuss the film and the ways it could have an impact on students in their regions and districts. They also shared strategies that have worked to address race- sex- and ethnicity-based discrimination in their schools, like teaching courses in multiple languages or featuring the foods of students’ countries of origin in the school cafeteria. During an all-group debriefing session, participants discussed how incorporating media like The Children’s March, which presents history from the perspective of those who experienced it, can work to eliminate prejudices in the classroom and broaden students’—and educators’—horizons.

“Educating Students for Diversity and Global Times” was a featured workshop of “Hands Across the Water: Providing Support to Children, Students, Families & Educators,” and was co-sponsored by Education Northwest’s Region X Equity Assistance Center and the NorthWest PBIS Network. The Equity Assistance Center helps public schools and their communities incorporate educational equity into policies, procedures, and classroom practices to ensure that all students receive what they need to succeed academically.