The Place of History in Multicultural Education, pp. 9 of 15

Another variation of circling the wagons might differ in context and motivation: heightened sense of nationalism (Banks 2008 p. 129, 132) producing “excessively ethno-centric” (Ting, 2014, p. 52) cautionary actions for hard fought but perceived imperilled rights. This can be construed as products of a hyper-globalised world with its increasing sense of insecurity (Elliot & Atkinson, 1998) with its uneven tangible and intangible global outcomes. Another variant included the challenges mount against the verdict of history as a “winner’s history” as seen by the recurring attention and debates over Japanese history textbooks and political narratives of World War Two (Jeans, 2005; Margolin, 2014). It can be interpreted controversially, as attempts challenging a historical narrative institutionalised by virtue of might rather than right (Fackler, 2013). Notwithstanding the reasons for circling the wagons, unlike some dominant powers which can afford the “luxury of denial” (Howard, 1993, p. 3) arising out of fear of diversity or refusal to confront a guilt (if felt) as beneficiaries of an unearned privilege (Howard, 1993, p. 4), some dominant groups will have to resort to exercising existing powers to leverage a position to secure their interests at the expense of an “other” view or rights (Banks 2008, p. 129-132).

The resistance to multicultural education, as defined itself by an intellectual hegemonic source, can be symbols of an “other” resistance to dominant powers who are reluctant to recognise the sanctity of a “subordinate” group’s own difference and the right to assert those rights. Concomitant are claims that some values deemed to be for multicultural inclusion are really ethnocentric values of a dominant power, usually Western countries and somehow unhesitatingly superior with the notion that there is much for Western societies to teach the subordinate groups of majority south and “naturally” much for the latter to learn from the West too.

Concurrently, history and multicultural education can condescend to “safe” conversations of marginalisation and privilege which ignores the critical subterranean and complex identities of the “other” and with that consequences and implications of knowledge construction, knowledge transmission (Walia, 2007) and ultimately privileged hierarchical power and status quo. “Safe” multiculturalism (Ismail, 2010, pp. 33-34) of “play-nice encounters” (Ismail, 2014) within and beyond the classroom are cosmetic and patronising dominated by a tourist/disaster curriculum, ego-tourism of voluntourism, exotification and commodification of heritage: a continuation of a pity curriculum without the fundamental components for a respectful, dignified dialogic model of interaction between individuals or groups of people interacting with difference. Miller extends this contention further: “‘safe’ approach such as that offered within the pages of the mainstream text will not provide the impetus for change necessary if we are to move in the direction of understanding, showing respect for and for cooperating with the many different cultural groups” (Miller, 1998, p. 78).

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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