Sociopedagogy: A Move beyond Multiculturalism toward Stronger Community

By Ramirez, A. Y.; Autry, Mary Murray et al. | Multicultural Education, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Sociopedagogy: A Move beyond Multiculturalism toward Stronger Community


Ramirez, A. Y., Autry, Mary Murray, Morton, Mary Lou, Multicultural Education


From as far back as the 17th century. the

United States has been questioning the role that ethnicity plays within schools. In the 1640s, desegregation of the first public schools in Massachusetts and Virginia was being experienced for the first time in our history (Banks, 1993). In the 1800s, African-American families sought funding and received it from the city of Boston to allow African Americans to establish separate schools. In the South, separate schools were a result of post-Civil War White legislators. Though the schools were separated, they were not equal.

It was not until the book The MisEducation of the Negro, written by Woodson ( 1933), that a formulation for teaching the concept of single group studies to one's ethnicity was established (Banks, 1993). Woodson wanted to turn the Eurocentric view of education into one in which educators would be able to teach about Africa in order to build the self-esteem of AfricanAmerican youths, rather than suppress their individuality and uniqueness as people (Banks, 1993).

With the coming of World War II, a demand for jobs in the North increased. This demand created a migration of people from the South, which impacted housing and employment opportunities. Unrest resulted in riots and racially-motivated incidents. To combat these tensions, intergroup education-also known as "intercultural education-emerged in order to reduce prejudice and create an understanding of religion, race, and ethnic differences among groups. Intergroup studies, however, focused more upon the issue that "we are different but the same," as well as concepts and understandings about groups and relations, sensitivity and good will, objective thinking, and experiences in democratic procedures (Banks,1993).

The early ethnic studies advocates centered their attention on what Sleeter and Grant term "single groups studies," focusing on ethnic empowerment, rather than on the human relational aspects of intergroup studies. Another difference between ethnic studies and intergroup studies was the source of these two philosophies. Ethnic studies came about with Williams (18821883), Woodson (1919/1968), Dubois (1935), and others. These scholars were people of color, and they initiated the concept of educating toward ethnicity in order for educators to enrich the lives of African Americans in schools.

The intergroup studies concept came from white liberal educators and social scientists who held positions in mainstream colleges, universities, and other institutions (Banks, 1993). Ethnic studies scholars were more apt to address issues of pluralism and found it essential that ethnic institutions would be crucial for the survival of the ethnic groups, while intergroup educators adhered to the concept of assimilation into the mainstream culture as the most appropriate way to resolve ethnic tensions (Banks, 1993).

The 1960s and 1970s brought forward a revolution in the ethnic studies movement. The civil rights movement, which gave rise to the call for Black power, separatism, and the institution of Black studies in schools and colleges, signaled an end to intergroup studies (Carmichael & Hamilton, 1967). Printed and reprinted ethnic books and histories discussed the struggles of ethnic groups from the African Americans to the Whites. These publications gave Americans a different way to view history, creating the next movement of culturallybased curriculum-multicultural education.

Historically, single group study is the main objective when one speaks about issues of multiculturalism in classrooms; but the lack oftime given for each group may lead to stereotyping (Sleeter,1989). These stereotypes limit the multicultural scope of the adopted content. Some scholars in the field of multiculturalism strive to create equal educational opportunities for people from diverse racial, ethnic, social class, gender, and cultural backgrounds (Banks,1995) as well as to discover how the interaction ofthese backgrounds influence education and educational opportunities (Banks, 1993; Grant & Sleeter, 1986; Sleeter, 1991).

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