The role of the school is not necessarily to reinforce the personal and community knowledge students bring to school. Rather, the educator's role is to help students to better understand their cultural knowledge, to learn the consequences of embracing it, and to understand how it relates to mainstream academic knowledge, popular knowledge, and to the knowledge they need to survive and to participate effectively in their cultural communities, other cultural communities, the mainstream culture, and in the global community.
To educate students to be effective citizens in their cultural communities, nation-states, and in the world community, it is also important to revise the citizenship education curriculum in substantial ways so that it reflects the complex national identities that are emerging in nation-states throughout the world that reflect the growing diversity within them. Students from diverse groups will be able to identify with a curriculum that fosters an overarching national identity only to the extent that it mirrors their perspectives, struggles, hopes, and possibilities. A curriculum that incorporates only the knowledge, values, experiences, and perspectives of mainstream powerful groups marginalizes the experiences of students who are members of racial, cultural, language, and religious minorities. Such a curriculum will not foster an overarching national identity because students will view it as one that has been created and constructed by outsiders, people who do not know, understand, or value their cultural and community experiences.
Our goal as citizenship educators should be to construct a civic education curriculum that will be perceived by all students within the nation-state as being in the broad public interest. Only in this way can we provide a civic education that promotes national unity as well as reflects the diverse cultures within the nation-state. This is a difficult but essential task within culturally diverse nation-states that are serious about creating and implementing democratic education.
Arnove, R. F. (1999). Reframing comparative education: The dialectic of the global and the local. In R. F. Arnove & C. A. Torres (Eds.), Comparative education: The dialectic of the global and the local. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Banks, J. A. (Ed.). (1996). Multicultural education, transformative knowledge and action: Historical and contemporary perspectives. New York: Teachers College Press.
Banks, J. A. (1997). Educating citizens in a multicultural society. New York: Teachers College Press.