Against the Multicultural Agenda: A Critical Thinking Alternative

Against the Multicultural Agenda: A Critical Thinking Alternative

Against the Multicultural Agenda: A Critical Thinking Alternative

Against the Multicultural Agenda: A Critical Thinking Alternative

Synopsis

An examination of the philosophical assumptions, theoretical currents, and conceptual foundations of multicultural education and multiculturalism. The author identifies profound weaknesses in both projects, and presents an alternative proposal for educational reform and social change that stresses the development of students' critical-thinking skills.

Excerpt

Various state and local legislatures, school boards, and colleges are recommending and establishing some form of multicultural education. A significant number of teachers also support curriculum reform that would imbue students with tolerance and respect for cultural differences and include various perspectives that represent the racial and ethnic diversity in schools and society. Students would be taught that cultural differences are enriching and in no way suggestive of inferiority. Stereotyping and prejudice could be diminished, if the relative value of all cultures and perspectives were to be stressed. Through multicultural education, then, students can be encouraged to respect differences and genuinely celebrate America's cultural diversity. With the inclusion of "minority" cultures and experiences in the curriculum, the self-esteem of students of color enhanced, and their academic performances improved. However, this movement for culturally pluralistic educational processes, equity, and equality has attracted a fair share of criticisms. Indeed, mutual political accusations deform discussions of inequality of educational opportunities and "the diversity revolution" in U.S. society. Both media reports and the literature on multicultural education indicate that its implementation has been met with staunch objections. Moreover, general discussions are ensnared in charges of Eurocentrism and insensitivity to excluded voices, on the one hand, and political correctness on the other.

The discussions also reveal that there are competing schools of thought within multicultural education's advocacy. Some conceive it as a means of raising self-esteem and remedying educational failure among "students of color." Others restrict its goal to an appreciation of cultural diversity, while "pluralists" see its objective as the preservation of "the common culture," including America's European intellectual heritage. A perusal of the growing literature indicates that the list of objectives lengthens--celebrate cultural differences, enhance global-human awareness, equalize educational opportunities, and eradicate . . .

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