Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Class Work, Blog Work

I am currently taking a class on how Multiculturalism affects Politics and Adult Education. I wanted to share this with you:

1. How is multiculturalism related to power and politics?

The lecturette defines multiculturalism as “a set of social or political ideals and policies.” Due to this definition, it has inherent political and power-dynamic connotations. Politics more frequently is about what group controls power in a given society. Often times, a way for a dominate culture to stay in power is through misrepresentation of social groups, continuing stereotypes that are not based in fact, and “shoring up the base” in a way that is frequently xenophobic. Multiculturalism helps to fight this xenophobia.

As the liberal approach suggest, state institutions are often an avenue to get a multicultural education. Since the education system in America is run by the state, often times the way multiculturalism is taught is based on what party or coalition runs the state government. For example, in California and Massachusetts, standard curriculum teaches about LGBT families due to the population of those states having a large amount of LGBT families and being run my more progressive government coalition. In Georgia, LGBT awareness (at least in the experiences I have heard) is not part of the standard curriculum. Our state is run by people who hold a conservative view of multicultural education. They would argue that this topic is better left to the parents or churches to teach their children.

2. What are the kinds of educational and/or social change envisioned by conservative, liberal, and radical views of multicultural education?

Conservative and Liberal viewpoints have many similarities about multicultural education. Both of these assume a “Lockean ideology,” (aka The Protestant Work Ethic) that says people who are equal before the law can work hard and succeed in a capitalist society. To conservatives, the reasons individuals fail are natural differences between individual talent and effort. Conservatives dismiss or curtail the group affiliates of individuals, instead making the individual to main unit of analysis. Conservatives generally believe that the private sector is the best teacher of multiculturalism. For example, churches or social groups are better at education people on multicultural issues than a state-run school.

Liberals also hold a Lockean ideology, but instead acknowledge the past discrimination of groups. They believe it is the duty of the government to correct these past wrongs.

One example of doing this would be affirmative action. In it, the government ensures that minority-status students have access to education and jobs. Theoretically, this would eventually be phased out; as minority groups get access to education and jobs, the system will no longer need affirmative action. However, even with the slight rise of African-Americans and the tremendous rise of women in Higher Education, these two
groups still remain oppressed in our society. What is shows is that access to higher education and jobs may not be the great equalizer it was once believed to be by both conservatives and liberals.

Radicals break with their conservative and liberal counterparts when it comes to Lockean ideology. They also look to group and group relations as the unit of analysis for their studies. Instead, they believe that group behavior can best be understood by societal structures. Most radicals believe that the societal institutions are fundamentally flawed, and that working from within the institutions, as liberals advocate, will never be able to bring about the fundamental change that is required. They advocate for organized collective action to help address the injustices in society experienced by oppressed groups.