A Critical Perspective of Multiculturality as a Philosophy for Educational Change

By London, Clement B. G.; Alford, Albert et al. | Education, Spring 1994 | Go to article overview

A Critical Perspective of Multiculturality as a Philosophy for Educational Change


London, Clement B. G., Alford, Albert, Anyanechi, Marie, Parris, Roxroy, Education


Go quietly; a dream when done, should leave no trace that it has lived, except a gleam across the dreamer's face.

Countee Cullen.

Herbert I. London (1988), dean of the Gallatin Division of New York University, and senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, through a critical investigation of this phenomenon, theorizes about four specific change conditions which he believes must be given credence, especially when viewed in the context of reorganization, an outcome of change. These conditions are: respect for the past, an ability to adapt, confidence in the future, and recognition of the very inevitability of change itself. But London is prudent in his evaluation to recognize that much of change is derivative; and, that developments which have served as leaps of faith into the unknown or as strokes of genius are the sequels of efforts which have traditionally examined the seemingly impossible, and become the bases for achieving the possible. Indeed, it is often felt that in the final analysis, the extent to which the future is viewed as a challenge is, to some degree, the extent to which the control of destiny may derive some of its impetus. This article derives its impetus from an analysis of prevailing circumstances seen as a backdrop to futuristic possibilities.

Change: A Stressful Issue in Educational Transformation

To some degree, change in education is stressful, because schools are universal institutions charges with the service of children of citizens who want change and those who resist it. It follows therefore, that too many theorists may choose to ignore educational change or accommodate it, as part of their implicit educational duty requiring that help be given to educational institutions and their charges in their crucial need for curricular relevance. Reality presents this challenge. It is what John Dewey, Horace Mann, and William James promulgated in their time. Their best models of education should be duly honored, although not simply by replicating these modalities as created, but by following their example of helping to create forms which are best suited to our own and future times.

There is a sense in which the responsibility for educational change must transcend mere rhetoric. It should find its figure and ground in the context of hard, realistic issues which call attention to those underpinnings and support systems that possess the potential for conceptualizing, organizing, and facilitating guided evolutionary transformation. In essence, agents of educational change must bring a seriousness and commitment to what is correctly perceived as intricate public "business" (Crews, 1990). Of course, in thinking about this, it must be clearly understood that educational systems by themselves cannot eliminate ignorance, nor can they single-handedly overcome the dire effects of illiteracy, simply because they are one set of players in a social system that has, in large measure, failed many of its most valuable and vulnerable members, its young.

The making of substantial progress towards achieving our national goals for education, whatever they are, will require a national commitment that incorporates all of the players, and all of the young. Such national commitment must first find its underpinnings in moral responsibility.

Education as a Moral Responsibility

The issue of moral responsibility lies at the heart of United States' values. It remains a fundamental issue in education (Locina, 1982). Brademus (1982) notes that if education is to serve the people, then the knowledgeable must be vigorously engaged in the shaping of public values. Teaching, therefore, becomes more precisely cogent because it presupposes that something of value is to be taught (Tom, 1980). Similarly, educating each individual citizen is inherently moral, because the inequality of status between teacher and student suggests that one has an obligation to promulgate the growth and development of the other through a system of rational procedures (Peters, 1965). …

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