Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Synthesizing Multicultural, Global, and Civic Perspectives in the Elementary School Curriculum and Educational Research

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Synthesizing Multicultural, Global, and Civic Perspectives in the Elementary School Curriculum and Educational Research

Article excerpt

The increasing opportunities and constraints resulting from globalization have placed new demands upon the way we educate students to participate in democratic communities. Held and McGrew define globalization as "the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patterns of social interaction" (2002, p. 1). These flows and patterns are economic, political, and cultural (Robertson & White, 2007). Of particular concern to curriculum theorists is the move toward a political economy in curriculum that privileges standardization, efficiency, and market rationality over citizenship and cultural diversity (Camicia & Franklin, 2011; Camicia & Zhu, 2011). The recent rise in the number of international and dual language immersion schools in the United States and China illustrates a response to a growing need to teach students how to navigate these changes. In this article, we examine new possibilities for the reform of curriculum and educational research in a way that is responsive to increasingly multicultural and global communities. Our research process draws upon our different positionalities as researchers to describe, analyze, and interpret our data by employing case study and duoethnography methodologies. Sawyer (2010) describes duoethnography as a process where "researchers and educators can work collaboratively to generate dialogue focused on personally meaningful questions, issues, and constructs. In duoethnography, two or more researchers work in tandem to critically juxtapose stories from their lives in relation to a similar phenomenon, creating a process of interrogation--not reification--of personal critical sites or socially relevant issues, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc." (p. 24).

We conducted a critical qualitative case study of four public k-6 teachers, two in the U.S. and two in the U.K., who are noted for their ability to synthesize multicultural, global, and civic education in their curriculum. In addition, we added our interpretations of this synthesis against our backgrounds as K-12 and university teachers. One of us is from the United States, and the other is from China. This allows us to include a perspective from China, allowing for three nations to be represented in our examination of how these curriculum areas might be synthesized. We asked participants to describe their curriculum and the interrelationships between multicultural, global, and civic education, and our interpretations included how we, the authors, have experienced these interrelationships in our different contexts. Our interpretations of what participants said reflect our positionalities.

Our positionalities as researchers and authors helped us describe, analyze, and interpret the data from different perspectives. I, Steven Camicia, am a White, gay, male, English-speaking, upper middle class, citizen of the U.S. Most of these identities, with the exception of gay, create my positionality located within the dominant culture of the U.S. In addition, being a citizen of the United States adds the identity of one who colonizes to my positionality. I am situated within historical and contemporary contexts where the United States has colonized other regions of the globe. I do research with colleagues in the Philippines and my positionality of a White male from the United States has strong ties to the historical and contemporary colonization of the Philippines by the United States. I struggle to work against creating another instance of colonization by yet another White male in the Philippines (Camicia & Bayon, 2012). This struggle is to decolonize curriculum and educational research, which currently privilege me because of my identities.

I, Juanjuan Zhu, am a female, straight, native in Mandarin Chinese, fluent in English and Han Chinese. Most of these identities, for instance, being a Han who forms the predominant ethnic group in China, place me within the dominant culture of the Chinese society. …

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