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Multicultural education in South Korean public elementary schools: An analysis of teachers' experiences and perspectives and school curriculum

Dissertation
Author: Jungmin Lee
Abstract:
Multicultural education is a growing interest in South Korea and is viewed as a way to respond to the multicultural challenges resulting from the recently increasing number of foreign migrants and international marriages. The primary purpose of this study was to explore how multicultural education is contextualized in South Korea. For this purpose, I explored how the Korean public school education system is responding to the educational challenges posed by its newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity and how multicultural education has been implemented in South Korean schools, by (1) investigating the experiences and perspectives of teachers who were implementing multicultural education and interacting with ethnically and racially diverse children; and (2) examining the government policies and school curriculum that were created in response to the current multicultural challenges in South Korea. I then applied US multicultural education theories to the South Korean situation in order to heighten the analysis and interpretation of the findings. Using narrative inquiry and phenomenology, I conducted a qualitative multiple case study through which I gained an in-depth understanding of particular cases, focusing on each case individually, and then discovering the similarities and differences among the cases. I used in-depth individual interviews with ten elementary school teachers and one policy maker as well as document analysis for the key data. Five teachers from five schools were the key cases in this study, while the other six participants provided supplemental evidence. I found that most teachers viewed multicultural education as addressing issues of social justice and inequality and ensuring educational equity for minority groups, as increasing cultural awareness and developing positive racial and ethnic attitudes, and as enhancing global citizenship education and promoting global connections. This study provides an in-depth understanding of the current status of multicultural education practices in South Korea through the lived stories of the participants as well as a global, international understanding of multicultural education.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................ix

LIST OF FIGURES............................................................................................................x

ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................xi

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION.................................................................................1 Need for the Study..........................................................................................................4 Purpose of the Study.......................................................................................................5 Overview of the Study....................................................................................................6

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW...................................................................11 The Multicultural Context of South Korea...................................................................12 Increasing Ethnic and Racial Diversity.....................................................................12 Children of Foreign Migrant Workers..................................................................12 Children of International Marriages......................................................................15 Multicultural Education Policies...............................................................................19 Educational Support Plan for Children from Multicultural Families...................19 Aid Plans for Multicultural Families Supported by Government Departments...24 Theoretical Foundation.................................................................................................25 Definitional Categories of Multicultural Education.................................................27 Multicultural Education as a Concept...................................................................27 Multicultural Education as a Reform Movement..................................................28 Multicultural Education as a Process....................................................................29 Controversial Issues in Multicultural Education.......................................................31 Approach to Multicultural Education...................................................................31 Critical Multiculturalism.......................................................................................35 Curriculum for Multicultural Education...................................................................37 Explicit, Hidden, and Null Curricula........................................................................42 Explicit Curriculum..............................................................................................43 Hidden Curriculum...............................................................................................44 Null Curriculum....................................................................................................47

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY.........................................................................50 Purpose Statement.........................................................................................................50

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Page Qualitative Theoretical Frameworks.............................................................................51 Narrative Inquiry.......................................................................................................52 Phenomenology.........................................................................................................53 Research Design............................................................................................................54 Qualitative Case Study..............................................................................................54 Description of Sites and Participants........................................................................55 Near Industrial Areas: Children of Undocumented Foreign Migrant Workers....61 Rural Areas: Children with a Korean Father and a Foreign Mother.....................64 Special Tourist Zone: Children of Documented Foreign Migrants and Children of International Marriages.........................................................................................66 The Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.............67 Data Sources and Collection Method.......................................................................67 Interviews..............................................................................................................68 Document Analysis...............................................................................................70 Observations and Field Notes...............................................................................71 Data Analysis and Interpretation..............................................................................73 Coding Data and Identifying Themes...................................................................73 Translation Issue...................................................................................................74 Triangulation.........................................................................................................74 Researcher Role........................................................................................................75

CHAPTER FOUR: TEACHERS IN SCHOOLS NEAR INDUSTRIAL AREAS..........78 Ms. Hong.......................................................................................................................79 Ms. Hong and Her School.........................................................................................79 Identification of Multicultural Conditions................................................................80 Ms. Hong’s Conception of Multicultural Education.................................................81 Multicultural Education and Related Curriculum in Ms. Hong’s Classroom...........83 Special Class for Children of Foreign Workers....................................................83 Program for Students’ Cross Cultural Awareness................................................87 Ms. Hong’s Key Experiences in Doing Multicultural Education.............................90 Legal Issue............................................................................................................90 Promotion to Middle School.................................................................................93 Identity Confusion................................................................................................96 Different Food in Different Cultures....................................................................97 Ms. Sim.........................................................................................................................98 Ms. Sim and Her School...........................................................................................98 Identification of Multicultural Conditions................................................................98 Ms. Sim’s Conception of Multicultural Education...................................................99 Multicultural Education and Related Curriculum in Ms. Sim’s Classroom...........101 Special Class for Children of Foreign Workers..................................................101 Ms. Sim’s Key Experiences in Doing Multicultural Education.............................105 Promotion to Middle School...............................................................................105 Identity Issues.....................................................................................................107 Different Food in Different Cultures..................................................................109

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Page Analysis of the Cases..................................................................................................111

CHAPTER FIVE: TEACHERS IN SCHOOLS IN RURAL AREAS...........................115 Ms. Cha.......................................................................................................................116 Ms. Cha and Her School.........................................................................................116 Identification of Multicultural Conditions..............................................................117 Ms. Cha’s Conception of Multicultural Education.................................................117 Multicultural Education and Related Curriculum in Ms. Cha’s Classroom...........119 One-to-one Relationship.....................................................................................120 Korean Language Class......................................................................................121 Computer class....................................................................................................124 Culture Field Trip...............................................................................................125 Ms. Cha’s Key Experiences in Doing Multicultural Education.............................125 Language Development and School Learning....................................................125 Interpersonal Relationships.................................................................................128 Mothers’ Heritage Culture..................................................................................129 Mr. Won......................................................................................................................131 Mr. Won and His School........................................................................................131 Identification of Multicultural Conditions..............................................................131 Mr. Won’s Conception of Multicultural Education................................................132 Multicultural Education and Related Curriculum in Mr. Won’s Classroom..........133 One-to-one Relationship.....................................................................................134 Computer class....................................................................................................135 Culture Field Trip...............................................................................................138 Multicultural Curriculum for All........................................................................139 Mr. Won’s Key Experiences in Doing Multicultural Education............................144 Language Development and School Learning....................................................144 Interpersonal Relationships.................................................................................146 Mothers’ Heritage Culture..................................................................................147 Analysis of the Cases..................................................................................................148

CHAPTER SIX: TEACHERS IN A SCHOOL IN THE SPECIAL TOURIST ZONE.151 Ms. Yoon.....................................................................................................................151 Ms. Yoon and Her School.......................................................................................151 Identification of Multicultural Conditions..............................................................152 Ms. Yoon’s Conception of Multicultural Education...............................................153 Multicultural Education and Related Curriculum in Ms. Yoon’s Classroom.........155 Korean Culture Field Trips.................................................................................155 After-school programs........................................................................................156 Multicultural Curriculum for All: Prejudice Reduction......................................157 Ms. Yoon’s Key Experiences in Doing Multicultural Education...........................161 Mothers’ Heritage Culture..................................................................................161 Identity Issues.....................................................................................................163 Analysis of the Cases..................................................................................................164

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Page CHAPTER SEVEN: DISCUSSION...............................................................................168 Identification of Multicultural Conditions..................................................................169 Conceptions of Multicultural Education in the South Korean Context......................173 Multicultural Education for Minority Groups.........................................................174 Ensuring Educational Equity..............................................................................174 Multicultural Education for All..............................................................................176 Increasing Cultural Awareness...........................................................................177 Developing Positive Racial and Ethnic Attitudes...............................................178 Enhancing Global Citizenship Education...........................................................179 Multicultural Education and Related Curriculum in South Korean Public Elementary Schools........................................................................................................................181 The Teachers’ Perceptions on the Children’s Identity and Related Curriculum....183 Cultural Diversity Issues and Related Curriculum.................................................187 Cultural Issues Related to Foreign Children’s Culture and Language...............187 Cultural Issues Related to Children of International Marriages and Their Foreign Mothers...............................................................................................................191 Multicultural Curriculum Content..........................................................................192 Key Experiences in Doing Multicultural Education...................................................196 Dilemmas Between Policy and School Practice.....................................................197 Legal Issues.........................................................................................................197 Discrepancies Between Policy and School Practice...............................................200 Language Development and School Learning....................................................200 Interpersonal Relationships and Identity Formation...........................................202 Teachers’ Perceptions of Students......................................................................204 Type of International Marriages.........................................................................205 Regional Context................................................................................................206 Different Physical Appearance: Skin Color........................................................207

CHAPTER EIGHT: IMPLICATIONS...........................................................................211 Summary of the Study................................................................................................211 Educational Implications of This Study......................................................................213 Implications for Research.......................................................................................213 Implications for Teacher Education........................................................................218 Limitations and Recommendations for Future Research........................................220

LIST OF REFERENCES................................................................................................225

APPENDIX.....................................................................................................................237

VITA...............................................................................................................................241

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LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

Table 1. International Marriages in South Korea.............................................................16 Table 2. The Composition of International Marriages in South Korea...........................17 Table 3. Description of the Research Sites and Participants...........................................60 Table 4. School Practices...............................................................................................181

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

Figure 1. Increase in international marriages in South Korea..........................................16 Figure 2. The location of the five schools.........................................................................59

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ABSTRACT

Lee, Jungmin, Ph. D., Purdue University, December 2008. Multicultural Education in South Korean Public Elementary Schools: An Analysis of Teachers’ Experiences and Perspectives and School Curriculum. Major Professor: JoAnn I. Phillion.

Multicultural education is a growing interest in South Korea and is viewed as a way to respond to the multicultural challenges resulting from the recently increasing number of foreign migrants and international marriages. The primary purpose of this study was to explore how multicultural education is contextualized in South Korea. For this purpose, I explored how the Korean public school education system is responding to the educational challenges posed by its newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity and how multicultural education has been implemented in South Korean schools, by 1) investigating the experiences and perspectives of teachers who were implementing multicultural education and interacting with ethnically and racially diverse children; and 2) examining the government policies and school curriculum that were created in response to the current multicultural challenges in South Korea. I then applied US multicultural education theories to the South Korean situation in order to heighten the analysis and interpretation of the findings. Using narrative inquiry and phenomenology, I conducted a qualitative multiple case study through which I gained an in-depth understanding of particular cases, focusing on each case individually, and then discovering the similarities and differences

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among the cases. I used in-depth individual interviews with ten elementary school teachers and one policy maker as well as document analysis for the key data. Five teachers from five schools were the key cases in this study, while the other six participants provided supplemental evidence. I found that most teachers viewed multicultural education as addressing issues of social justice and inequality and ensuring educational equity for minority groups, as increasing cultural awareness and developing positive racial and ethnic attitudes, and as enhancing global citizenship education and promoting global connections. This study provides an in-depth understanding of the current status of multicultural education practices in South Korea through the lived stories of the participants as well as a global, international understanding of multicultural education.

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

A global understanding of multicultural education is becoming increasingly recognized as a significant educational issue (Grant & Lei, 2001; Kalantzis & Cope, 1992). Banks (2008) and others (Grant & Lei, 2001) argued that multicultural citizens need to develop a global identification beyond cultural borders because of the rich diversity throughout the world resulting from the large migrations of populations. Multicultural education has primarily been developed in Western countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia (Banks, 2001c). In the United States, a wide array of practices and theories in the field of multicultural education have been developed since the time of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s when multicultural education was first developed (Banks, 2001c). Recently, however, Asian countries such as India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea have shown a growing interest in multicultural education (Chakravarty, 2001; He, 2002a; Huang, 2001; Oh, 2005; Phillion, 2008). But this type of education is still new in Asian countries as compared to Western countries. In South Korea, which has traditionally been considered a single-ethnic-group nation, multicultural education has rarely been discussed (Han, 2006; Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, 2007a). However, in 2006, multicultural education began to be addressed in the Korean public education system in response to the multicultural challenges resulting from the newly emerging racial and ethnic diversity in

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Korea (Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, 2006a). As Gay (1992) indicated, the major goals of multicultural education apply in all settings, but the practices should be appropriately contextualized in each setting. In other words, the development and implementation of multicultural education in each country should be examined within its own unique historical, social, cultural, and political background. Therefore, the ultimate goal of this study is to explore how multicultural education is being contextualized in South Korea and how the major goals of multicultural education are being applied to the needs of the South Korean educational system. This inquiry grew out of a course in multicultural education (EDCI 585, “Multicultural Education”) that I took in 2004. At first, I was not interested in the course because I was not familiar with the field of multicultural education. I also thought that it was not relevant for me since I am from South Korea, an ethnically and racially homogeneous nation in which multicultural education is hardly an issue. But while studying multicultural education, it began to attract me. I learned that multicultural education is not just ethnic or race specific; in fact, it covers a wider range of cultural characteristics and issues (Banks, 1993). Although multicultural education in the U.S. originated from ethnic and racial issues, it now includes broader concepts of cultural diversity. I began to recognize that, in addition to ethnicity and race, there are many multicultural issues relating to socio- economic class, regionalism, gender, religion, academic achievement, and exceptionality/nonexceptionality. All of these had been ignored but should be discussed especially in South Korea, where ethnic and racial characteristics are not diverse. From a viewpoint that broadly affirmed a broader dimension of diversity besides ethnic and

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racial diversity, I developed a literature review in 2005 for this study through a preliminary examination. I then conducted a pilot study in May and June 2006, the findings of which directly impacted what I planned and developed in this study. To identify what multicultural issues exist in South Korean schools and to investigate what Korean teachers think about multicultural education, in the initial stage of the pilot study, I conducted individual interviews with three secondary social studies teachers. They indicated that they felt new to multicultural education and recognized no distinct and serious cultural diversity in their classrooms. I also reviewed the literature, newspapers, and government announcements. During the pilot study, I recognized the newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity in South Korean public elementary schools and the multicultural issues this diversity created. Recently, there have been significant increases in foreign migrant workers and international marriages in South Korea (Korean National Statistical Office, 2006). With the recent increase in foreign labor and international marriages, children of foreign migrant workers and children from international marriages have been enrolling in South Korean schools, especially in public elementary schools (Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, 2006a). As a response to the children of foreign migrant workers and the children from international marriages, since 2006, multicultural education has been a growing interest in the South Korean education system, especially in the Korean Ministry of Education and in elementary schools and local education offices located in some areas where such populations have suddenly increased. I contacted elementary teachers who are now faced with multicultural conditions because their classes contain the children of foreign migrant workers or children from international marriages. I also consulted a policy maker in the

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Korean Ministry of Education to identify the South Korean multicultural conditions and examine the multicultural education that was being practiced at the school level and at the policy making level. Through the findings from this pilot study, I planned this study that focused on linking multicultural education with the unique South Korean context resulting from the presence of these two groups of children.

Need for the Study As mentioned earlier, before 2006, multicultural education was rarely discussed in South Korea, and in that year, policies and practices were set up prior to academic discussions on this issue. Thus, there was not much literature on multicultural education in South Korea, even though there was a small body of research on the demographics of the ethnically and racially diverse populations (Oh, 2005; Seol, 2005). Also, there was very little research linking the multicultural issues of ethnic and racial diversity with multicultural education in public education. Therefore, research data, theoretical frameworks, and investigations that could guide the multicultural education policies and practices were not available. The teachers and a policy maker in the pilot study indicated that there was no direction for school practices and policy making on multicultural education; thus, no consistency was found in the different policies and practices because of lack of reliable data and academic discussions, and because of the news media’s scattered, fragmentary reports/viewpoints. To respond to this situation, I recognized that there was a need for field studies providing some cases and philosophical frameworks on multicultural education in South

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Korea. South Korea is becoming a multicultural society. Thus, it is the right time for a study that explores the current multicultural phenomena and the ways in which multicultural education practices are being conducted. Also, this research will be richly informative for South Korean public education, which is facing urgent problems that await solutions regarding the newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity. In addition, this study will contribute to the growing body of knowledge on multicultural education worldwide (Banks 2008; Chakravarty, 2001; Grant & Lei, 2001; He, 2002a; Huang, 2001; Phillion, 2008; Kalantzis & Cope, 1992).

Purpose of the Study To address this need, I explored multicultural education as contextualized in South Korea by examining how the Korean public education system is currently responding to the multicultural challenges posed by its new ethnic and racial diversity. For this research purpose, the experiences and perspectives of teachers and the policies and curricula were analyzed in three respects: the explicit curriculum (Posner, 1992; Schubert, 1986), the hidden curriculum, and the null curriculum (Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Gatto, 1992; Illich, 1971; Jackson, 1968). Specifically, the study examined three levels because the educational responses to multicultural conditions are polyphonic at many levels: educational policies and curriculum, school teaching practices, and theory application. First, I explored, through interviews and document analysis, the educational policies and curricula that were created in response to the current multicultural challenges and multicultural education programs created and conducted by schools and teachers.

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Second, I examined, through interview data, the experiences and perspectives of teachers who were doing multicultural education and who were interacting with ethnically and racially diverse students. Third, I applied well-established theories of US multicultural education, such as those developed by Banks (2008), Nieto (Nieto & Bode, 2008), Gay (2000), Sleeter (Sleeter & Grant, 2006) and Ladson-Billings (1994), to the South Korean phenomenon. It is my expectation that the application of US theories to the South Korean phenomenon will heighten an understanding of both the potential and the limitations of these theories.

Overview of the Study According to the purpose of my research, each chapter was organized as follows. In Chapter One, I discussed the need for informative research on South Korean multicultural education that would be helpful for policy makers and educators in understanding multicultural conditions in the South Korean context and in developing and conducting multicultural curricula and teaching ethnically and racially diverse students. I also presented the purpose of this study—to explore how multicultural education is contextualized in South Korea by examining how the South Korean public school education system is currently responding to the multicultural challenges posed by its newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity and to apply already-established theories of US multicultural education to an analysis of South Korean multicultural education. In Chapter Two, I explained the multicultural context of South Korea and the theoretical foundation that constitutes the literature review of this study. In the section on

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the South Korean multicultural context, I introduced the newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity in South Korea and the recent interest of Korean education in multicultural education in response to the increasing diversity. The theoretical foundation begins with an explanation of the main perspectives from US multicultural education theories that I chose to guide my inquiry and support my analysis and interpretations. I then reviewed curriculum theories with a focus on the literature of the explicit curriculum, the hidden curriculum, and the null curriculum. I assumed that the effects of these three curricula are important and are intertwined in the culture and structure that the South Korean education system and schools embrace. I also investigated the implications of these three curricula in the South Korean multicultural context. Therefore, in this chapter, I examined the definition and significance of the explicit, hidden, and null curricula as described in the literature. Chapter Three presents the methodology of this study, including the qualitative research frameworks, research design, data collection methods and procedures, participants and research fields, and data analysis and interpretation. To address the research purpose, which is how multicultural education is being implemented in the South Korean public education system in response to multicultural situations created by its newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity, I conducted a qualitative multiple case study to investigate several cases jointly (Merriam, 1998; Stake, 2005) using individual in-depth interview data for the key data. I interviewed ten elementary teachers and one policy maker, all of whom are doing multicultural education, and did document analysis on the policies and curricula on multicultural education. In addition, I provided the theoretical foundation of two qualitative research frameworks, narrative inquiry (Phillion,

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2008) and phenomenology (Van Manen, 1996) within which I worked for my analysis and interpretation. I argued that a key strength of these qualitative frameworks for this research is that they provide a way to describe, analyze, and interpret how the participants experience and make sense of the multicultural phenomena and what the policy and curriculum documents include. In Chapters Four, Five, and Six, I present the findings from the interviews with the ten teachers and one policy maker and the document analysis of the policy and curricula. These chapters consist of five cases that focus on the experiences and perspectives of each of the five teachers as key participants in the study. They were from five schools with different multicultural conditions: 1) two schools near industrial complexes that had children of undocumented foreign migrant workers, 2) two schools in agricultural areas that had children from international marriages whose father was Korean and mother was from another Asian country, and 3) one school that had children of documented foreign migrant workers as well as children from international marriages both between a Korean man and a foreign woman and between a foreign man and a Korean woman. The other five teachers’ and one policy maker’s experiences and perspectives were used as supplemental data. In these three chapters, I explored how multicultural education has been contextualized and implemented in the South Korean education system in response to the newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity by describing: 1) the teachers’ perspectives and conceptions of multicultural education, 2) the government policies and the school curricula on multicultural education, and 3) the teachers’ experiences and perspectives while they were implementing multicultural education. First, I explored multicultural education as conceptualized in each setting—in

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the South Korean context— through teachers’ narratives about their experiences and perspectives on multicultural education. Second, I examined the school curricula using the curriculum materials created by the schools and the data from the interviews with the teachers. I also discussed government policies using the policy documents developed by the Ministry of Education and the local government, and the interview data with the policy maker. Third, I described the teachers’ stories that encompassed their experiences and perspectives situated in a multicultural context, theme by theme, through actual teachers’ narratives and through my own interpretations. The themes included several multicultural issues such as educational equity and social justice issues, identity issues, language issues, cultural conflict, academic achievement, and social and emotional development. Chapter Seven is the most highly interpretive portion of the research study. In this chapter, I integrated and compared the cases described in the three previous chapters, and I explored the commonalities and differences found in the participants’ cases. I identified, interpreted, and discussed several multicultural issues and themes derived from the teachers’ cases using US theories of multicultural education and through the lenses of the explicit, hidden, and null curricula. The discussions in this chapter are related to the following topics: multicultural conditions in South Korea, conceptions of multicultural education in the South Korean context, multicultural education and related curricula in South Korean public elementary schools, and the key experiences of the teachers. When dealing with these topics, I discussed educational equity issues, cultural diversity issues, multicultural curriculum content, legal issues as dilemmas between policy and school practices related to children of undocumented migrant workers, and identity issues as

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discrepancies between policy assumptions and teachers’ perceptions related to children from international marriages. In Chapter Eight, I provided the summary of the study and explored several implications and contributions of this research study. This chapter includes implications of this study as richly informative research for South Korean public education, which is facing urgent problems that await solutions regarding the new ethnic/racial diversity and as an application of US multicultural education theories to the Korean phenomenon as a way of promoting an understanding of the potential and the limitations of South Korean multicultural education. The implications also include the study’s contributions to the theoretical literature examining the interaction of ethnic/racial diversity and school curricula and exploring multicultural education that focuses on international issues. This chapter also contains the limitations of this study and suggestions for further research on multicultural education. The chapter indicates limitations such as loss in translation from Korean into English and suggests both qualitative and quantitative research on multicultural education as contextualized in each setting.

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CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

The purpose of this study was to explore how multicultural education is contextualized in South Korean public education. For this research purpose, the experiences and perspectives of the teachers doing multicultural education and interacting with the children of foreign migrants and children of international marriages, and the policies and school curriculum on multicultural education have been explored. Specifically, I examined the teachers’ perspectives on multicultural education, their school curriculum and teaching approaches to multicultural education, and the experiences they encountered while implementing multicultural education, using US multicultural theories and the lenses of three curricula: the explicit curriculum (Posner, 1992; Schubert, 1986), the hidden curriculum, and the null curriculum (Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Eisner, 2002; Gatto, 1992; Illich, 1971; Jackson, 1968). Therefore, in the first section of this chapter, I reviewed the multicultural context of South Korea by examining the increasing ethnic and racial diversity in South Korean schools as well as the policies on multicultural education of the South Korean Ministry of Education and the local education offices. In the second section, I reviewed the main perspectives of multicultural education theories in the US and the curriculum theories related to the explicit, hidden, and null curricula that guided this inquiry and supported my data analysis and interpretations.

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The Multicultural Context of South Korea South Korea, which has been traditionally thought of as a single ethnic-group nation, is becoming an ethnically and racially diverse society due to the significant increase in foreign migrant workers and in international marriages. As a response to the multicultural issues resulting from the recently emerging racial and ethnic diversity in South Korea, multicultural education has become a growing interest in South Korean public education. Specifically, in 2006, the Ministry of Education and the local education offices took an interest in the ethnically and racially diverse student population, and they began to develop policies and support plans to address the new needs. Educational researchers also became interested in multicultural education. In addition, some public schools with ethnically and racially diverse student populations began to develop curricula for multicultural education according to their needs.

Increasing Ethnic and Racial Diversity

Children of Foreign Migrant Workers An increasing number of foreign laborers have migrated to South Korea. Foreign migrant workers numbered 6,409 in 1987; in 2005, however, the number was estimated at 345,679, of which 180,792 (52.3%) were undocumented (Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, 2006a). The Chinese, including Korean Chinese (35.4%), make up the majority of foreign laborers, followed by Filipinos (9.0%), Thais

Full document contains 262 pages
Abstract: Multicultural education is a growing interest in South Korea and is viewed as a way to respond to the multicultural challenges resulting from the recently increasing number of foreign migrants and international marriages. The primary purpose of this study was to explore how multicultural education is contextualized in South Korea. For this purpose, I explored how the Korean public school education system is responding to the educational challenges posed by its newly emerging ethnic and racial diversity and how multicultural education has been implemented in South Korean schools, by (1) investigating the experiences and perspectives of teachers who were implementing multicultural education and interacting with ethnically and racially diverse children; and (2) examining the government policies and school curriculum that were created in response to the current multicultural challenges in South Korea. I then applied US multicultural education theories to the South Korean situation in order to heighten the analysis and interpretation of the findings. Using narrative inquiry and phenomenology, I conducted a qualitative multiple case study through which I gained an in-depth understanding of particular cases, focusing on each case individually, and then discovering the similarities and differences among the cases. I used in-depth individual interviews with ten elementary school teachers and one policy maker as well as document analysis for the key data. Five teachers from five schools were the key cases in this study, while the other six participants provided supplemental evidence. I found that most teachers viewed multicultural education as addressing issues of social justice and inequality and ensuring educational equity for minority groups, as increasing cultural awareness and developing positive racial and ethnic attitudes, and as enhancing global citizenship education and promoting global connections. This study provides an in-depth understanding of the current status of multicultural education practices in South Korea through the lived stories of the participants as well as a global, international understanding of multicultural education.