A Post-Monolingual Education

Article excerpt

In a colonial context education reproduces the power of the colonizers and is designed to serve their needs. The colonizer purposefully ignores the culture and history of subjugated groups nor are they consulted. Subjugated children are never educated to become leaders of society except when it serves the needs of the colonizer (Altbach & Kelly 1978; Zweigenhalf & Domhoff, 1991). The colonizer imposes his culture upon subjugated groups and seeks out their cooperation by pacifying their minds. This pacification limits the creativity of vision of the subjugated and destroys their ability to act in their own interest. In the United States, African, Native and Latino Americans who have been historically subjugated, colonized or exterminated when it benefited the U.S. were indoctrinated in schools to be proud to be Americans (even while they live in racially segregated, dilapidated communities) and recruited by the military to serve as colonial soldiers to subjugate others around the world and enforce the hegemonic entrenchment of American culture, language and consumerism. While subjugated groups spend their time trying to survive, the colonizer understands that culture gives people group identification and builds on shared experiences, creating a collective personality. Culture represents the values that are created by the group out of shared knowledge as a methodical set of ideas into a single coherent affirmation. It includes history, language, literature, poetry, art, music, religion, law, philosophy, customs, and values. Therefore, culture provides the foundation for obligation, priority, and preference that gives direction to the development and behavior of the group. Culture is the basis for informing the world as to whom a people are; it also serves to inform the people themselves about how they look at the world. The epistemology of a culture constructs knowledge, inquiry, and the way research is accomplished (Ani, 1994; Carruthers, 1994). Therefore, it is imperative that colonizers impose their own cultural norms and traditions upon subjugated groups. For instance, Native Americans were immersed and deculturalized from their own indigenous culture into Anglo-American culture but not prepared to go back and lead their own people out of the poverty and off the reservations (Spring, 2001).

It is important to understand that the colonizer constructs a white supremacist culture by imposing their discourse on subjugated groups. Deculturalization becomes the mode of instruction for all subjugated people as they are educated to devalue their own culture and language. Subjugated groups are taught to see Western Civilization as universal and in the U.S. the English language is taught not just as a second language, but to replace the student's first or home language (Spring, 2001). Colonizers propagate their ideas through politics, education, and the media; thus the images nonwhites center on are sexual promiscuity, laziness, criminal activity, and an unwillingness to conform, presenting the public with ideas that subjugated groups are to blame for all the problems in society and therefore need to be controlled.

The colonizer maintains a grip on subjugated people through cultural hegemony, tolerating individuals from subjugated groups, volunteering allegiance to the subjugated group, and pacifying the will to resist. For example, hegemonic institutions in the U.S. have convinced many that the Civil Rights Movement was a success and racism has been resolved. Hegemony never ignores the demands of subjugated people-instead it makes concessions to the demands of resistance and allows the emergence of a small group with gains (e.g.,black middle class) that has a vested interest in sustaining the dominant social structure (Artz & Murphy, 2000; hooks 2000). White culture tolerates the assimilation of particular aspects of African American culture into the dominant white culture until it feels threatened; at the same time, the colonizer guards and protects their dominance and hinders or marginalizes any attempt by nonwhites to form any independent cultural or political coalitions. …