Teaching Cultural Diversity and Sense of Identity in the Primary Two Social Studies Classroom in Singapore: Analysis and Critique, pp. 10 of 13

Findings and discussion

Cultural Diversity and Identity as Static and Non-complex

The portrayal of culture in the reader alludes to the idea of culture as static and non-complex. In the reader, the portrayal of smiling children and adults project  images of the lived experiences of diverse communities within Singapore as harmonious and lively (see Appendix A). While this is not entirely untrue, it is not an accurate representation of lived reality as well. The images conceal the undesirable aspects of living with difference. William Sewell (1999) argues that cultures, despite earlier thinking and representation of culture by classic ethnographers as coherent and distinct entities, should be thought of as “contradictory, loosely integrated, contested, mutable and highly permeable” (p. 47). This understanding of culture is more complete as it highlights the complexity of culture and the construction of culture along power relations.

A recent survey on race relations in Singapore conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) indicated that about 50% of respondents interviewed held stereotypical and discriminatory perception towards other racial groups (Mathews, 2016). Many researchers have shown that children enter school with negative racial perception influenced by adults (Banks, 1997). Such realities are not reflected. It is generally assumed that children are innocent and their cognitive ability at a young age disallows them to be exposed to problematic ideas and construction. However, Bickmore (2007) argues that classroom knowledge may be considered as dull and unrelated to students, especially to those who are marginalised, when conflicts and viewpoints they see and live with are ignored.

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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