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The increasingly diverse ethnic composition of the nation's children poses new opportunities, but also serious challenges, to the nation's education institutions, including the early childhood programs that lay the foundation for children's school experience and achievement. In light of the controversy on this subject, its significance for educational policy, and the complexity and changing dimensions of the issues that lie at the interface of early education and cultural diversity, a workshop (Culture and Early Education: Assessing and Applying the Knowledge Base) was organized in November 1993 to examine the small but growing research literature that bears on the early education of culturally and linguistically diverse populations of children. This report on the workshop is divided into five sections. The first section explains the origin and purpose of the workshop. The second through fourth sections offer discussion of the topics that provided the structure for the workshop. Those topics are: (1) the role culture plays in shaping children's earliest learning opportunities and experiences at home; (2) how children's cultural and linguistic backgrounds affect the skills, knowledge, and expectations that children bring to school; and (3) what is known about whether and how the nature, language, or content of instruction needs to vary to assure motivation and learning for children from differing linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The final section highlights directions for future research on cultural diversity in early education. Contains over 70 references. (TJQ)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Cultural Differences, Cultural Influences, Early Childhood Education, Early Experience, Educational Policy, Educational Quality, Educational Research, Instructional Effectiveness, Language of Instruction, School Readiness, Teaching Methods

Board on Children and Families, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20418 (free).

Autor: Phillips, Deborah, Ed.; Crowell, Nancy A., Ed.


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