Academic journal article Language, Learning & Technology

Culture, Difference, and Power: Interactive Video CD

Academic journal article Language, Learning & Technology

Culture, Difference, and Power: Interactive Video CD

Article excerpt

Title                  Culture, Difference, and Power, 
                       Interactive Video CD 
Author                 Christine E. Sleeter 
Distributor            Teachers College Press 
Contact information    Teachers College Press 
                       P.O. Box 20 
                       Williston, VT 05495-0020 
                       Phone: 1-800-575-6566 
                       Fax: (802) 864-7626 
System requirements    Pentium 266 processor or higher; 16 MB RAM 
                       (32 MB recommended); Windows 9.x, or later; 
                       or Windows NT 4.0 or later; requires QuickTime 
                       and Adobe Acrobat Reader (installers included); 
                       headset or speakers 
Price                  $35.95 US 
ISBN                   080774073X 
Target Language        English 
Target audience        Teachers and students in teacher preparation 
                       courses, especially with K-12 focus 


With teachers in the K-12 education system in the United States as the primary audience, this e-book is intended to show that multicultural education involves more than celebrating ethnic holidays, tasting cultural foods, and talking about famous non-white people. Instead, Culture, Difference, and Power aims to provide teachers with the conceptual tools to critically examine--following Freirian philosophy (Freire, 1970)--institutional power relationships through real life application activities, so that they can respond appropriately to cultural differences within their own schools and larger society. Sleeter envisions three potential courses with three different student audiences in which her e-book may be used: an undergraduate service learning course on cultural diversity, a teacher credential course in multicultural education, and a graduate course in education. The nature of the e-book format engages users in the topic in a unique way that allows for multimedia interaction with text and information as well as a non-linear approach to reading.

Upon loading the program, the user is prompted to start with the Overview section, where background statistics on ethnic and racial diversity in U.S. public schools and at U.S. colleges and universities are presented, the author's definitions of key terms are provided, and navigation is explained.

The e-book is organized around four major sections: Culture, Power, Difference, and Pedagogy. Unlike conventional books, there is no prescribed sequence in which the four sections are to be read. However, in my own reading, I followed the linear sequence of sections as they were described in the Instructor's Manual (Sleeter, 2001)--Culture, Power, Difference, then Pedagogy--and found this to be quite effective.

Each of the four main sections is divided into four subsections, accessible via hyperlinks, as shown in Figure 1. Each of these subsections are made up of three to five chapters, which Sleeter calls Ideas, and three or four follow-up Activities. There are also extensive hyperlinked cross-references that allow refamiliarization with concepts and information already introduced. Finding such cross-references in a traditional printed book can often be frustrating as it may require leafing through pages to locate a specific piece of information.



In the section Culture, Sleeter provides background on shifting demographic and immigration patterns in the United States covering the past two centuries. She points out what becomes the dominant perspective in the e-book, namely, that cultural differences have been reconciled in favor of a predominantly white Eurocentric point of view. This section also covers the basics of ethnographic research, such as interview and observation skills, and the ethics of doing research. …

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