The Place of History in Multicultural Education, pp. 3 of 15

Therefore, in order to transform the school to bring about educational equality, all the major components of the school must be substantially changed. A focus on the any one variable in the school, such as the formalized curriculum, will not implement multicultural education.

History is about power and influence, and history education is one of the most inconspicuous expressions of that influence whether in Western industralised countries or postwar newly independent countries in Asia and Africa. Ideologically unfashionable but Karl Marx’s insights on History still resonate (Marx, 1852):

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

Question the Narrative!

Multicultural education, as with history education, is vital because it reiterates the fundamental notion of an “education” as teaching to “question” while eschewing cultural assumptions or historical “truths”. Selective narratives transmitted through an education process that remains uncritical or ignorant of the fact that complex human encounters are products of past, present and possibly future systemic conditions. These conditions can impact devastatingly unequally on groups based on covert and overt responses to “difference” and are usually dictated by the privileged “dominant” groups upon the ‘other’ “subordinate” groups (Tatum, 1997, pp. 18-28). Though the experience of an “other” might have contextual deviations through time and space, core components of the subordinate’s identity have significant consequences. Identity markers will place the “other” on the margins in the circle of power of which the centre is where the most privileged resides and is considered “normal” or mainstream. The residents in the centre of power are encased in unearned and unexamined privilege based on socially invested meanings based on overt (and covert) “difference” of colour, gender, faith, accent and other facets of identity. Multicultural education thus interrogates critically the disconcerting contradictory impact and “importance of culture, race, sexuality and gender and ethnicity, region, socioeconomic status, and exceptionalities in education process” (Klein, 2006, p. 16) and the need to address its uneven privileging and discriminatory outcomes.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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