Interview With Janine Jones, Editor of The Psychology of Multiculturalism in the Schools: A Primer for Training, Practice, and Research
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Dan Florell: Welcome to another NASP podcast. The topic today is going to be on multiculturalism, and we will be interviewing Janine Jones, who is editing "The Psychology of Multiculturalism in the Schools". I'll let Janine talk a little bit about her background in multiculturalism. Janine?
Janine Jones: Well, thank you. Thank you for having me. I am excited to be able to talk about this book. We've been working on it for 18 months so it is very exciting to see it in its final form at this point. I am Dr. Janine Jones. I am a licensed psychologist, and I'm also a professor at the University of Washington. I train school psychologists and work with children. I also have a private practice that I have been doing since 2000 with children and adolescents. I have been serving them in the capacity as a counselor doing assessments. I have also been doing consultation with schools.
I would say my expertise has developed in multiculturalism over the past 15 years because the predominant population that I serve is African‑American. In more recent years, I have been serving more Latino‑Americans and some Arab‑Americans as well.
Dan: Well, good. That kind of leads me into our first question. Just in general, what is multiculturalism?
Janine: I would say multiculturalism is a social and a political movement that really allows us to recognize differences between individuals and groups and see them as a potential source of strength and renewal rather than of difference and exclusion. That tends to be what we do when we say diversity.
Janine: Multiculturalism includes race and ethnicity and gender and sexual orientation as well as class differences. They all simultaneously coexist not only in just society, but also within an individual. When we think from a multicultural perspective we value the diverse perspective of people because they are developed and maintained through a variety of life experiences. I feel like we uphold the ideals of equality and equity and freedom, and that includes respect for people and groups that are different. I think multiculturalism is inclusive of a lot of concepts, and we tend to use diversity and multiculturalism interchangeably. But, I do feel like multiculturalism is the more evolved term that we use.
I should note it is important to think about the psychological services that have been historically developed to address your own American paradigms and experiences rather than multicultural paradigms. When you take multiculturalism into account, it allows for a reduction in the biases so that you don't just treat a person or work with a person within the context of the dominant culture.
You can broaden your treatment perspective or your support perspective to include more diverse experiences and life experiences, which kind of makes me think about the term 'the melting pot' or the great American melting pot that concept that is traditional. Yet, it's problematic in a sense because it is suggesting that we all need to assimilate, and we all need to be the same and so you view the people from the same perspective.
You take them and toss them into a bowl; everybody dissolves and then you become this one sense of one, but that's absolutely impossible to do and not consistent with recognizing people as individuals; and multiculturalism does that. It allows you to bring the person's historical heritage and culture within the relationship.
At the same time, you can prepare them to function and understand the norms of the dominant culture. I think, in Chapter One, Doris Wright Carroll writes about 10 components of multiculturalism, and she writes it in the context of schools. I think, they are very useful to look at.
Dan: I would imagine so. When you talk about the multiculturalism, Janine, one of the things that I was thinking about was do we experience the same sort of issues when you have, say, more collectivistic cultures where the emphasis really is on conforming. In the United States , even though there's the melting pot, it is a much more individualistic and respect people's differences whereas like a lot of Asian cultures tend to be more collectivistic. How would multiculturalism apply in a global kind of manner, or is it something more the United States is dealing with?
Janine: I can answer the first part of that question. I think that that's a perfect example of what it's like when there's a person of a non‑dominant culture and they come from a collectivistic perspective. By the way, some people may not know what that means, and by reading this book you get a better sense of what is an individualistic and what is collectivistic. For example, if someone has been born and raised in a Eurocentric paradigm in the United States , they may not recognize that there is a whole other world view that is collectivism where you are one of many. And you don't see self‑preservation as your first goal or value, whereas in individualistic perspective, self‑preservation, self‑growth, moving forward in success as one person is actually what's the goal.
For someone that comes from a collectivistic value system, they are not going to fit in. When they feel the pressure to assimilate, it is quite difficult and very uncomfortable. It also pulls them away from their family because the family may be stronger or may be less acculturated, and it gets very stressful and complex for that particular individual.
I think it fits within the US , but then it's also in the global context because all in the world is changing. People are moving, particularly with the Internet and how much we have jobs that are overseas and there's communication with other environments. It's just so important to be able to understand that we are not the only way of functioning ‑ the way we function in the United States is not it.
Dan: That leads me to introducing our second interviewer, and that's Alnita Dunn who is at the Los Angeles School District. She's going to chime in and ask a couple of questions here, also. So, I'll turn it all over to Alnita.
Alnita Dunn: Hi, Janine.
Alnita: To get very specific to how this will impact school psychologist's daily practice, how do you think or how can multicultural awareness increase the school psychologist's effectiveness?
Janine: I think, a hallmark of multiculturalism is the belief in multiple realities or perspectives. So, it's built within a social constructivist framework and it's practical. It includes individuals to construct their own social realities based on their own personal experiences. By having a multiculturalist perspective it helps to explain how individuals construct their personal realities within a cultural context. This is important because as a school practitioner or school psychologist you have to be able to look at the intersection of your own reality constructed by your experiences as well as your client. When you look at the intersection of the realities it is complex, and it can affect how interventions are designed and how they are implemented with children and adolescents in the schools.
I kind of come from the perspective ‑ I think not only myself but others in the book ‑ that nearly every relationship is multicultural. If you see that and recognize that your own experiences as well as the experiences of others shape and guide the work that you do and the skills that you apply, then it really is helpful in being more effective. So, multiculturalism, in essence, it guides and directs school psychologists, and it gives a good way of creating a template for professional standards and practice.
I have a colleague here at the University of Washington, Dr. Jim Banks, and he's a very well known multicultural educator. He writes about the systemic aspects of multiculturalism in the schools, and he describes characteristics of an effective multicultural school, and these are redefined in our book in Chapter 1. It's applied from a perspective of creating an environment for multicultural confidence building.
So, it's not only the individual that needs to have multicultural awareness, but the system or the environment also has to have that same level of awareness to be an effective place for working with children and adolescents.
Alnita: So, has the concept of multiculturalism changed over the past couple of decades?
Janine: It actually has. The term actually started in the 1980s in the context of public school curriculum reform and at that point it was arguing that classes in history and literature and social studies and other areas reflected their Eurocentric bias meaning very few women or people from outside of the Western European tradition. It suggested that they weren't really reflected in the curriculum at least prominently in the curriculum of US schools and so that absence was interpreted as a value judgment that reinforced unhealthy Eurocentric dominance attitudes. And so eventually that term, it shifted to include problems of similar nature in government, in legislature, in corporations, in religious institutions and so on. So, from there, multiculturalism started to look from the perspective of not only exclusion but then also relating to global shifts in power and population and culture in the era of globalization. So, the nations of the world as they established more independence in the wake of the decline of the Western empires like the European empire, the Soviet Union and even our American empire that globalization is really transforming previously homogenous cities and regions into complex environments that include different ethnic and racial and religious and national groups that all have different political, social and culture views.
So, now we have gone from having... OK, there's exclusiveness then to the effects of power and population and culture. And then what's happened is, now we have to see that as the world is changing we have to adapt to be inclusive of the people who make up the environment. So, as we adapt, we make changes and adjustments to how we live our lives and how we do our job, who we associate with.
And so psychology in the schools, they really have been making the adjustments over the past fifteen to twenty years. And then in fact, counseling practitioners, they consider multiculturalism the dominant force or a dominant force, one of the four dominant forces of counseling since the late 1980s. So, it has evolved more. Now, I think, we are more at the position where we are applying the concept not just doing it from a theoretical perspective or a very macrosystem kind of perspective. Now, we are getting down to the individual and figuring out how to make it apply to the jobs that we do.
Alnita: Just one followup. People enter the profession currently and then they have also been the profession for sometimes 20 years or 25 years. It isn't uncommon for school psychologists to have 30 years of experience and then work maybe five or six or maybe 10 more years. So, how do you think this book will impact those who are veterans in the profession in their daily practice as far as interacting with students is concerned?
Janine: Well, I think this book is extremely important for veterans particularly because society has changed so much since they've started their job and they have been out of school for a long time and so if there hasn't been a desire or a need or opportunity for them to really build these skills and understand how important it is to not only look at themselves but also build their cultural literacy about other groups, this book is a great place to go to give them that perspective. I think, when we get in a rut when we have been doing a job the same way for many, many years. And when the kids are changing, sometimes the same approach doesn't work for another child and so if they can look at this book and look at the content and the context and how to build as a person and professional, then it only enhances their ability to continue to be effective in a changing society.
Dan: Something going along with that, for those practitioners who are starting to maybe realize that their multicultural training was either lacking or was several years ago, what are some of the common difficulties that people experience when trying to increase their multicultural competence?
Janine: Wow, there are many. [laughter] Definitely many because it is complex. It is not very simple, straightforward, read a manual and you got it. It's not that. So, I think the biggest one that I see first is skipping the step of looking at yourself. And just like I mentioned earlier about the intersection of your own personal experiences and beliefs and the clients that you really have to understand that your own personal experiences and beliefs shape who you are and without understanding yourself, it's impossible to truly understand another person and as a school professional, you have to serve everyone, not just those people with similar views and perspectives. So, in this book, we talk about a model that shows how self awareness and increasing knowledge and advocacy for other groups and then action, how all of those steps interact to promote an ongoing process as competence develops in culture. And so I think this is a good place where I should probably also mention that I don't think feel that cultural competence is a discrete endpoint. People ask me that all the time. [laughs] I am first to say, you know what? I'm not culturally competent and I have a lot of experience and knowledge about this. I'm not competent. I feel like it's a continuum that doesn't have an endpoint.
So, none of us in this book actually perceive ourselves as culturally competent. We believe that it's an ongoing process of professional and personal development. It's similar to doctors. Like there's top notch surgeons out there but very few of them are generalists. They have specialties where they master their crafts through experience and lifelong learning and I see they will develop their cultural competence the same way. It's a lifelong learning process.
Dan: OK, and so really as far as people being able to avoid some of the difficulties it sounds like one of your real caveats to come away with is to always to look at yourself and examine what your belief structure is before you really even dive into trying to understand others.
Janine: Right, right. It's absolutely right.
Dan: And I think another one of the questions that follows up from this is what advice you might have for practitioners who are relatively in a more monocultural kind of district. How can they become more multiculturally competent?
Janine: Well, I think a lot of people think that increasing cultural literacy or understanding other groups doesn't apply and it's because their environment is where everybody is similar, but you have to recognize that every person is an individual regardless if they have been raised in the same environment with the same parents and even siblings are different.
Janine: They've been raised in the same place. So, I do feel like it's important to think about it's not just one approach. You can't have one approach. And even if you live and work in a district or in a place where everybody looks similar, it is really good to look from the perspective of cultural literacy. And so I will tell you some of my students, one of the first things that I hear when they get into my multicultural training seminar is that they object. They are really resistant to learning about other cultures because they will say things, not all, but some will say things like, "Well, they choose to live here and they have to understand our environment and adapt to their current environment." That's a good point, however, they bring a historical perspective that has to be acknowledged.
So, when they say that morals and norms and values of other cultures when they get discussed, that's the next thing I will do is really talk about specific groups, then they feel like that content is all stereotypical and the truth is stereotypes exist when we make assumptions about a person based on what we see rather than what we know about them. And so what I do is talk to them about when you are developing your cultural competence and you are trying to develop more culturally responsive treatment perspectives, you can start from the base of the morals and values of a given culture.
For example, if you know that in a particular culture it is customary not to shake hands with a male who is not your spouse, the clinician won't step into an introduction and make a cultural error on the first impression. While my student might think, or some students might think that that idea of a handshake is a stereotype, they can still test it. So, they test it at the introduction by allowing the male to initiate the gesture of introduction so they know that it's possible. It may be false in this situation, but you still test the theory. At least you have some base to understand the person.
So, basically by developing cultural literacy, or knowledge of other cultures, you improve your ability to work with others and build rapport way more quickly by being aware of potential unspoken rules.
So, Chapter Two is one I just love, because it's all about cultural literacy. It covers a wide variety of people. African‑American, Arab‑American, Latino including subgroups, which is unique to this book, I think. Where you talk about Cuban and Puerto Rican and we talk about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered. Asian groups, including Southeast Asian...
I just love this chapter, because I think each group is discussed with their cultural context in mind, but also historically. And that, I think, is missing from other books because you have to look from the historical perspective to see where a person comes from and how it shapes who they are now.
Dan: Right. Kind of what Broft or Berner would explain as a chrono‑system to overall development and what that person brings with them.
Alnita: Right, absolutely. Early on, Janine, you talked about multicultural competence, or cultural competence as being ongoing, a lifelong journey, if you will. I think, one part of that journey that is brought out in this book is the concept of privilege, because we don't read about it or have information given to us often about this concept. So, what should we, as educators, be aware of when we are dealing with this concept of privilege and how it impacts the school environment or the learning environment?
Janine: That's a great question. I think privilege is a construct that is misunderstood often, and because there are negative connotations associated with the term "privilege" that people get defensive immediately. What is wonderful about the chapter in this book about privilege is that it's inclusive of class and race. So, in some context, privilege may come from being both from a higher socioeconomic status, or a status of privilege, as well as race, where a person a person is from the majority or the dominant culture, rather than a non‑minority culture.
So, in other words, some people are privileged in many ways without even knowing it, and they don't recognize that privilege is associated with access to power and to resources.
And so, part of the difficulty in recognizing and acknowledging privilege is that people would all like to believe that it's an open playing field or even playing field for everyone, and that everything they've worked for and received, they've worked hard and received it because they've worked hard. They don't want to think that they've been afforded unearned advantages, but sometimes they are there, and it's just not recognized.
In the US, there's been a system in place for hundreds of years that has advantaged certain groups over other groups, and our civil rights movement was a significant situation, or an effort, to attempt to level the playing field.
I think that when we think about and talk about privilege, there's a tendency to focus on groups that are culturally, or racially, or ethnically different, but there are many, many "others" in our American society... I say "others" in quotes. Most readers come to expect to read about the disparities of the other groups and then just compare them to whites, or compare them to the wealthy, and they're indirectly referred to as the standard.
That's why I think there's negative connotations associated with privilege, and we don't want to do that. We just really want the reader to understand that many people are privileged. I'm African‑American. I'm living in a lifestyle that is very privileged compared to many other African‑Americans, and so I do realize that that privilege affords me many opportunities, just by even having a title that's different than others that are very similar, when you look at me.
So, I think the application to education... Educators need to be aware that the lack of education, and poor test scores, and broken families, and imprisonment, and poor English skills, and high unemployment shouldn't be the status quo and they're certainly not just created by the individual's situation.
You know, that whole term "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of thing. It's not that. There's perceptual cycles of generations where the same problems have existed. If you understand that privilege is something that could prevent those cycles from repeating, then it's easier to view the individual or that person that you're working with from a humanistic perspective, not as a product of their situation.
So, I think, if the clinician recognizes the lack of privilege in their client and their own privilege that they bring to the situation there, it's easier to work with people of difference.
The other thing that I probably should mention is that when you, as the professional or person of privilege, you have to know that you view the world through a filtered lens, and you have to break through that lens to be able to understand other people.
Alnita: Right. Early on, when you started talking about privilege, you mentioned the close connection of privilege and power. This is extremely important, I think, as you mentioned for us as clinicians or school psychologists in their daily practice to constantly be aware on.
Dan: I think what we're going to do here is make just a little bit more of a switch from the general, which we've been discussing in this last part of the interview, to some more specific ways that school psychologists and multiculturalism may come together in a day to day practice. The first question I wanted to ask regarding that was how multiculturalism can impact the use of consultation, since with the development of a lot of the new changes in the special education law, consultation's growing, relatively increased, in its usage.
So, I was wondering how multiculturalism might apply there.
Janine: It definitely applies. I think, the first thing to think about when you think about consultation is it's a relationship. It's two or more people working together, and each one of those people, or those individuals, bring in their own life experiences, perspectives, or lens, per se.
And so, once you get into a consultation relationship it's like counseling, because all of those constructs or skills that you apply in counseling are also applicable to working with teachers and families and students.
So, you get into a situation where a teacher is working with a child in a class, and they constantly see problematic behavior that they describe, that's problematic, like never talking in class, or never responding to questions, being withdrawn ‑ something that they don't understand.
And so, if you can't pay attention to your own cultural perspective, the consultee's, meaning the teacher's cultural perspective, and the client, meaning the child's cultural perspective, you can't really figure out a solution that would be workable.
So, if you go into a consultation like that, and you don't think anything about the background, or the history, or the privilege, or the dynamics that affect the individual's behavior, then you can't give any kind of intervention or explanation that would be effective over time. You might have one that would work for one or two times, but it wouldn't have a lasting effect, because it cannot be integrated into the cultural perspective of the individuals involved.
So really, it's being able to understand all of the people and then develop interventions that fit within the context of those individuals, not just that environment.
Dan: I think that's a real important point, because I know with a lot of our students, when they generate interventions with the help of a consultee, they may not be a really practical one given the cultural background of the student, or especially their parents, and say, "Why can't they just take him out to eat every week?" or something that they make their success. It would seem to be a very logical reinforcement, but if they're on food stamps and can't afford those sorts of things, you know, obviously it's not going to be very effective.
Dan: I think, that's a real good point. What sort of approach should be taken with students or parents who fear their cultural heritage and values are going to suffer as they incorporate the values and attitudes of their new culture, especially a lot of immigrants that have come to the United States? I know generational effects and those sorts of things. How would that be approached?
Janine: First off, I want to say how much I love this question. The reason why I love this question is because for someone who has not been working on building cultural literacy and cultural competence, they wouldn't have any idea that a person feared that their values would suffer. The reason why is because children and adolescents ‑ they are very attuned to the expectations of adults and they try to fit in. The first thing that they are going to try and do is assimilate and that's highly stressful. If they come into a counseling relationship and they find that the counselor, the person that's doing the work with them, can also match up with that assimilated expectation, then they would never say that this was a stressor for them, and the counseling relationship would suffer as well because they would never get to the root of what the problem is.
I love this question because it's just another reminder about how we have to create an environment where it's safe. It's natural for a child or adolescent to present their feelings about culture and their heritage. I think, the approach that would be taken, that it's important to take is to let them know that their culture can be embraced and it can be integrated into the environment.
I would immediately start talking about acculturation and what it is. My chapter is the intentional multicultural counseling chapter. I talk about various multicultural or multidimensional models of acculturation, and I adapt it to the context of work and school.
He has four different levels of acculturation or places where a person can be and also the level of stress associated with each aspect of acculturation. Integration is one approach where a person can maintain their native cultural identity as well as adopt aspects of the majority culture, whereas assimilation is where they have to give up their native cultural identity and move toward the dominant or majority culture.
Then, there's individualism where there is neither so they don't really adopt any characteristics of the majority or maintain any of their native cultural identity.
Then, separation is where they would just have their native cultural identity as part of how they experience the world. I think, knowing that there's different ways that people deal with this acculturated stress, knowing that there's different ways that could be done they could try out different aspects of the new culture ‑ that can be a stress reliever and it may help them be comfortable in knowing that integration is a model where they can adopt the aspects of the majority culture while maintaining their native cultural identity. And the counseling process can be used to facilitate both of those being developed at the same time without eliminating or disrespecting the native culture.
Dan: It's almost like the equivalent of androgyny and the concept of taking the best positives as to very different kind of constructs and making it work as one of your own, I would guess.
Alnita: Janine, earlier when you were talking about the cross‑cultural tensions that occur in families with adolescents, this brings me to wonder in counseling how would you use a racial cultural identity framework in connecting with adolescents. Probably, these same adolescents who are experiencing this tension in their families.
Janine: This is a really good question. I think that this relates to the last one when we talk about acculturation because in the racial cultural identity framework that I have in the counseling chapter I talk about the stages that they go through. And it shapes how they interact with their environment. And so, mere discussing situations that are stressful to them or shape how they think and view the world will help you assess the stage that they are experiencing. By talking about those kinds of situations it opens the door to the cultural aspects in counseling. It really sets the tone for where an adolescent knows that it is safe, like I mentioned before if you bring it up and say let's talk about your experiences with race and culture and difference.
What is that like for you? What kind of experiences do you have that shape how you think and feel each day? When you lay that out there, it sets the tone and it says ‑ oh wow, I can talk about this stuff. I can talk about how hard it is to navigate in my different circles that I function in.
Everything in the majority culture suggests that we should assimilate, and that if we assimilate we are more highly valued. We're more successful in school, more successful in our jobs, but that's not necessarily the case. It doesn't have to be that way. By finding where they are in those stages, you can see how much conflict they might be experiencing.
For example, an early stage would be where they felt like, absolutely I must assimilate whereas a later stage would suggest, wait a minute. I can't assimilate. Even if I want to, I can't because this is really who I am, and there are certain aspects of the majority culture that won't let me assimilate, because when they look at me, whenever other people look at me, they don't see the same thing when they look in the mirror. And so, I can't.
When that happens they move to another later stage where it's different. It's confusion. It's how do I fit? If I can't be like them, where do I make myself fit? This is classic for adolescents because they are not only developing their own identity, but they are also developing their ethnic identity. It is really complex so you have to be able to look from not only from the developmental perspective but also the identity developmental perspective.
Alnita: And I suppose you would feel that if they were successful when they were really able to navigate between cultures and among races and feel comfortable doing it. In other words, they are feeling comfortable in their own skin.
Janine: Right. I have a client now that I see and she's an adolescent. She is so successful at school, is very, very popular, and she has this internal conflict that is so intense. When I use an example in my chapter where I talk about a statement that she once made and I've had many other children make the same statement. She said, "My world collided today." When she said that, I said, "Oh, let's talk about it. What happened?" It was merely a situation where she has a group of friends that are white, and she has a group of friends that are African‑American and Asian. The cultural norms in the African‑American and Asian group are pretty different from the other. She was in the hallway, and both groups came from different directions and she was paralyzed.
Normally, what she would do is she would talk to one group and talk one way, more animated and different. Then, she got a different kind of dialect and language with the other group. She couldn't talk because she thought that either group would perceive her as weird, so she went completely silent. Then, when everybody moved on to class, she said her heart was just racing. We spent weeks working on just who are you really. Who is the real person?
That's been a source of our work for a long time, and she's now at a point where she feels the combination and that she recognizes she is all of those things. But, she has to be able to function with both groups at the same time. When she gets to that point, she will feel whole.
Alnita: As you mentioned her experience, you mentioned that when she got to class... So, one would expect when she actually arrived in class there wasn't very much concentration going on on what the academic issue was in the class period. So, this sort of brings us to another question, which is a hot topic of our practice today, and that is a response to intervention?
So, there's behavioral intervention, of course, and there is academic intervention. So, what would a multicultural approach to RTI, or response to intervention, look like? How does that intersect with that concept, or that particular way that we practice?
Janine: Wow. Yeah, this is one of the richest chapters in the book. I feel like they... It's Deborah P. Crockett and Julia Sparza Brown who wrote the chapter. They propose a three tier model of RTI for English language learners in this chapter. They do things that help you start from scratch, if that's a good description. They talk about second language acquisition in a way that I think we forget. They describe all of the stages that a child goes through when it comes to building their language skills, but then we have to take into account that there's the social aspect and then the regular academic things, all the expectations that we have for learning.
So, in this chapter, what they do so well is they start you from the general education perspective in this three tier model and then they work to more intensive interventions to support a particular child that is learning English as a second language. They talk about culturally responsive instruction and common practices that should be done.
One of my favorite things about the chapter is that they talk about... They provide these guiding questions for every single tier. So, a reader can go and they can look at tier one and they can see instructional interventions and suggestions that can be done at that tier as well as the skills needed by that service provider to be able to do it. So, if they are limited in those skills, then they automatically know, look for support. You know?
Janine: It's a team effort. RTI is supposed to be a team effort anyway. So, you access all of the individuals that can help and work within that framework. I think that, because so many schools are shifting to the three tier model, or four tier model to serve all children in the schools... I think this chapter is so great because it makes you think, in the context of this new structure, how to work with kids that are second language learners.
Alnita: I totally agree and... The table that you talk about in this chapter when, that focuses on learning English as a second language, can work equally as well with students who are learning standard English. So, this is really an excellent chapter.
Dan: One of the terms that I've heard talked about with multiculturalism and diversity is this concept of social justice. I know in school psychology recently, we have an interest group that's been formed... What exactly is social justice and how am I do to play within the context of multiculturalism?
Janine: Well, I think they are shooting for the same thing. Originally, there was a belief that principles that affirm each person within society has an equal right to the most expensive total system of equality and basic liberties, that social and economic equalities would only be fair if they result in compensating benefits for the least advantaged. That's kind of the foundation for social justice. It's just basically saying that everyone should have equal status, equal opportunities, equal civil liberties. So, from this perspective, the optimal role of government ‑ which sounds ridiculous at this point ‑ but the optimal role of government is to prevent gross social inequities when promoting liberty and freedom of choice.
Well, government includes schools and the governmental structure is schools. We automatically know that there's entire disparities between schools within the same district.
Janine: And, when I say disparity, it's not only like outcomes, or educational outcomes, but resources. It's incredible. So, I think what the social justice chapter does is it helps rethink back from equality for everyone and we move from a passive role to an active role in social equity. So, in the context of multiculturalism, we have all of these characteristics or pieces of who we are as an individual and now, when you look from the perspective of social justice, you're saying all those individuals, and all those pieces and parts of those individuals, should have equal opportunity.
Dan: Good. Well, you have given us a pretty good preview of several of the chapters and the questions that we have been asking. So, I guess my final question for you really is, what is the general approach or main message of the multicultural book?
Janine: I would say so much [laughs]. I feel like, one of the main points we want to make is, everyone has culture. If you understand the cultural perspectives and historical perspectives of others, it only enhances your skill set. It makes you a better practitioner. It makes you a better person. Being open to learning about others increases your personal development. One thing that we really wanted to make sure that we did differently than other books, because there are other books on multiculturalism out there, this one is written directly to the practitioner. We wanted to make sure that, not only did we give a foundation and conceptual explanations, but we really wanted to make it practical so that there was a place to go and you could get suggestions for doing the work.
So, it's by no means a cookbook, but it's definitely a book that you could go to and say, "OK. I get the background. Now, what do I do with this?" Because there are other books that you can read and you're like, "OK. I get the background. That's cool." Then you go to work and there's no way to apply it because you're like, "I'm not sure how to do that."
Well, this book gives you steps and tools and places to look and tables and figures that demonstrate what this looks like; and, of course, we all bring it from the perspective of experience. Then, one of the funnest parts... Is funnest a word? [laughs].
Dan: It is now.
Janine: The best part of most of the chapters is that we offer case examples throughout each chapter. So, we try to bring the content to life so that you can actually see a child or see an adolescent or see a teacher that you're working with. You naturally recognize your own place and your own context within each one of these chapters.
Dan: I was going to say and that seems to really go with how you were describing how multiculturalism has really changed over time, of not just a book of theory, but one where the wheel hits the road kind of thing. Where people can really see where this might actually apply and it's not just some esoteric, high up in the air, kind of concepts, but that these have some real implications. It sounds like you have case studies and such that can really help that process.
Alnita: It's not only case studies, but there are study questions at the end of every chapter.
Alnita: That really increase the thinking, one's thinking, about what they just read. You know, if I were in a book club, a school psychology book club, this would be a book that we definitely would discuss over a couple of sessions.
Janine: Yeah, yeah. That would be great.
Dan: Well, and I think for trainers too...
Alnita: Oh, yeah.
Dan: ... It sounds like it would be very, very applicable, obviously. I think, it was an important point earlier on when we mentioned that the seasoned people, the people who went through school when it was theoretical. You do acknowledge differences, but how do you actually put that into practice?
Dan: They also, it sounds like, could really use something like this to help them kind of make that transition from awareness to practice.
Alnita: Right, because some of the questions at the end of the chapter really are aimed at self‑reflection and a lot of the focus of this book is aimed at self‑reflection. Where are we on our journey to multiculturalism?
Janine: That's right.
Dan: Well, that's excellent. Janine and Alnita, I want to thank you both for putting in the time here and really having a very stirring kind of talk about multiculturalism. It's a very important issue and it's one that I'm glad that our NASP podcast could capture. So, I guess, with that, we'll go ahead and conclude and please listen to some of the other podcasts and we'll have more in the future. Thanks.
Janine: Thank you.
Alnita: Thank you.