Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms

By Alex Moore | Go to book overview

9

Afterword

Issues of Responsibility and Choice

As a child in the Caribbean I was filled with awe at the complexity of the world in which I found myself: the dazzle of tropical colour, the abundant variety of plant and animal life, the power of the sea. It was a rich environment in which to explore and make discoveries. But my sense of wonder at the world was amplified by the miracle of technology: the elegant beauty of schooners in full sail, the power of cane trucks as they crisscrossed the island at harvest, the mystery of cinema. Indeed western science and technology were, to many, testimony of the genius of the white world and a mute justification for its colonial authority. Black inventiveness was not evident in this way. We had no access to information on black travellers or inventors, had no sense of history outside that of Columbus and the British Empire. The black population operated in the long shadow of white power, our minds and perceptions shaped by its formulations of who we were and what we should become. We were acculturated to an environment which constructed us as inferiors.

(Dash 1998, p.79; see also hooks 1992, p.167)


Obstacles to Teacher Activism

At the beginning of this book, I said that I wanted to focus on pedagogy: to show examples of ineffective and culturist practice as well as of effective and anti-culturist practice, in the hope that this would help teachers develop their own anti-culturist strategies for working with multicultured students. I also identified the school curriculum itself, along with its attendant bureaucracy, as a major obstacle to teachers developing their practice in this way. Through first legitimizing, privileging and itemizing a very narrow, culturally determined range of skills and areas of knowledge (Usher and Edwards 1994), and then assessing students’ acquisition of these through essentially quantitative, summative testing procedures, this obstruction works on teachers’ practice in two ways. First, it impels teachers to devote inordinate amounts of their time and energy to the development of these particular skills and areas of knowledge—usually at the expense of (and often to the exclusion of) other, non-legitimized skills and areas of knowledge.

-175-

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Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Series Editor’s Preface xi
  • 1 - Themes and Perspectives 1
  • 2 - Marginalizing Bilingual Students 16
  • 3 - Bilingual Education Theory 43
  • Notes 59
  • 4 - Symbolic Exclusion 62
  • 5 - Partial Inclusion 82
  • 6 - Partial Inclusion 101
  • 7 - Working with Bidialectal Students 126
  • 8 - Exercises in Illumination 153
  • 9 - Afterword 175
  • References 186
  • Index 196
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