Francisco Hidalgo


Rudolfo Chávez-Chávez


Jean C. Ramage





This chapter surveys the intellectual evolution of multicultural education and analyzes it within a naturalistic framework for understanding the cultural differences and the dynamics of culture contact in an increasingly diverse society. It covers the intellectual terrain, historical roots, and societal contexts and gives special attention to applications in teacher education.





Multicultural education, with its foundation in pluralism and diversity, Is grounded in the principles of democracy, equity, and justice. It demands a holistic grasp of the interactive politics involved in the creation and understanding of knowledge, learning, and the dynamics of education (Banks, 1991 1993a, 1993b, 1993c; Banks & Banks, 1993; Gollnick, 1992; Grant, 1992; Nieto, 1992, 1994). Nieto (1994) suggests that criticism originates from across the ideological and political landscape. Cummins (1992) addresses the controversy along an ideological Spectrum from right to left. Western traditionalists believe that the multicultural movement undermines the canon (i.e., established truth (Bloom, 1987; D’Souza, 1992; Hirsch, 1987; Ravitch, 1990; Schlesinger, 19921). These Western traditionalists defend the established curriculum that is dominated by Euro-American male writers (Banks, 1993b). Their critique originates from an epistemological framework that negates multiplicity and difference. In their paradigm, truth is sought through the positivist approach. Critical theorists, however, argue that the movement is anemic for restructuring education and society.


            The controversy centers on how multicultural education will be defined. Nieto (1994) asserts that teaching and learning must challenge racism, sexism, and other forms of social domination and intolerance. Thus, curriculum making should incorporate the sociocultural contexts of subject matter. This leads to the realization that multiple perspectives on truth exist and to com petition for ideological hegemony. Although multicultural education theoretically encompasses inclusiveness and social critique, few examples have surfaced that challenge racism and sexism within systematic multicultural curricula. Instead, curricula continue to focus on heroes, holidays, and discrete cultural elements (Banks, 1994; Nieto, 1994). Suzuki (1980) called this superficial approach to multicultural education “simply celebrating ethnicity by highlighting ethnic foods, holidays, and costumes” (p. 1).


In keeping with this mandate for inclusiveness and social critique, transformational scholars and critical theorists argue that knowledge is not neutral but is influenced by human interests. Curricula do reflect the power and social relationships within a society, and an important purpose of knowledge construction is to help people improve society (Code, 1991; Harding, 1991; hooks & West, 1991; King & Mitchell, 1990; Minnich, 1990). Thus, racism, sexism, and other practices of domination are brought to the banquet of engagement for transformational curricular design.


            Curricula that reflect postmodem assumptions and goals challenge some key assumptions about mainstream academic knowledge (Rosenau, 1992). A benchmark of this perspective Is to enable students to understand “concepts, issues, themes, and problems” (Banks, 1994, p. 26) from different perspectives and viewpoints. Knowledge is considered a social construction that needs to be questioned and challenged. The social action level builds on the transformative curriculum by enabling students to pursue goals and actions that make personal, social, and civic sense. Teachers who are critical and transformative develop a pedagogy of social action and advocacy that “celebrates diversity” (Ayers, 1988), not just selected holidays, isolated cultural artifacts, festivals, and food.


            Despite the struggle to develop this new field, there are vigorous indications of the formalization of multicultural education. There has been a proliferation of articles, both popular and academic, textbooks, and scholarly hooks in this maturing field. Authors from a variety of disciplines and perspectives have begun to formulate the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of multicultural education (Banks, 1994; Bennett, 1990; Colangelo, Dustin, & Foxley, 1985; Gollnick & Chinn, 1986; Grant, 1992; Grunt & Sleeter, 1988a, 1988b; Lynch, 1989; Nieto, 1992; Tiedt & Tiedt, 1976). Most teacher education pro grams now have the rudiments of multicultural education incorporated in their curriculum.


            The movement toward multicultural education has been supported by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s (NCATE, 1982) multicultural requirement. Since 1979 NCATE standards have required that teacher education programs incorporate multicultural perspectives and cultural diversity. NCATE’s definition of multicultural education includes a focus on ethnicity, gender, race, religion, class, and exceptionality—aspects of culture discussed in the literature on multicultural education (Gollnick, 1992).


            The focal point of multicultural education is the learning process. The goal is to consider the range of beliefs and attitudes of individuals and groups whose cultural membership is integral to the learning process (Davidman & Davidman, 1994). Teaching from a multicultural perspective involves compiling, interpreting, and making institutional and management decisions that incorporate sociocultural considerations, often leading to different conclusions from those that are accepted traditionally.

Multicultural education entails creating equitable educational opportunities within environments that promote critique, social justice, and pluralism (Banks, 1991; Banks & Banks, 1989; Giroux, 1983; Sleeter & Grunt, 1987; Sleeter & McLaren, in press). The student in a multicultural setting is assisted in learning and evaluating different types of knowledge.


            The validity of the curriculum content is a central theme in multicultural education, For example, Kohl (1993) criticized the characterization of Rosa Parks in social studies textbooks as a tired, poor seamstress. In fact, Parks was also the Executive Secretary of the Montgomery NAACP at the time. Her actions were consonant with the awakening civil rights movement.

            The multicultural education movement is developing a stronger theoretical framework on which to continue building advocacy positions. This framework lies in socially constructed theories that fundamentally challenge the positivist treatment and Eurocentric account of the knowledge base.


            What is emerging is a transformational mode of teaching and learning. For example, Lynch (1986) described three ideological orientations: (1) economic efficiency, (2) democracy and equality of educational opportunity, and (3) interdependence and partnership with an emphasis on negotiation and social discourse. In each of these orientations, values, knowledge structures, and social controls are treated differently.


            Another way of viewing these orientations is to define in equality within ideological frameworks, such as economic, political, or sociocultural. Within the economic ideological frame work, reward in used as an incentive and poverty is offset by the gains of the rich. Prom the political ideological framework, inequality is viewed as the denial of fundamental rights (e.g., voting, right to seek political office, or equal treatment by the courts). From the sociocultural standpoint, inequality would be reflected by a society that ignores a group’s history, taboo, obligations, or aspirations (Ray, 1992).


            The essence of the multicultural education movement lies In socially constructed theories. The traditional, established knowledge base reflects mainstream precepts, ideas, and findings that have supported one main point of view. The major challenge is to the racism, sexism, and classism of the Eurocentric orientation (Banks, 1993).


            In an early challenge to the Eurocentric perspective, Suzuki (1977) contradicted the notion that Asian Americans had reached middle-class status by being assimilated into the American mainstream. His historical approach explained behavioral patterns of Asian Americans in terms of their cultural values and norms within the context of the larger society. F presented the factors within a multicultural framework, challenging the model minority theory for Asian Americans.

            More recently, Nieto (1994) introduced the concept of a moral center. She argued that this moral center can be irresponsibly sacrificed in the interest of indiscriminate inclusiveness. Nieto asserted that

[to] make every “perspective’ of equal validity ... we would be hard pressed so deny curriculum inclusion to those who claim that the Holocaust never happened, is those who insist that creationism Is a science, and so forth, . . an uncritical multiplicity of perspectives might very well result in our students believing that there Is neither truth nor ethics, except on a personal or purely relative level. (p. 266)




The moral center recognizes that cultural values and norms are transmitted through our schools. John Dewey (1966) wrote that if education is to become a meaningful social process, then the vision of an achievable society must be defined; that is, the values and norms need to be explicitly declared. Multicultural education defines this process with a dialectic of values and norms that ace not neutral. Bull, Fruehling, and Chattergy (1992) addressed two general approaches to values in the midst of conflict: consequentialism and nonconsequentialism. Consequentialism holds that alternative actions or policies should be judged according to their outcomes” (p. 14). Nonconsequentialism “or deontological ethics, holds that different actions or policies should be judged according to whether they are inherently right rather than according-to their consequences” (p. 14).


            These difficult axiological considerations are at the core of multicultural education’s social controversy. The conflicts would be contentious enough if there was a common under standing of the meaning of multicultural education. However, when even the definitions show a lack of consensus, intellectual disagreements about social policy and educational practice de generate into an untenable impasse over the need for multicultural education.


            Today, the theoretical framework appears somewhat disjointed as the multiple voices arc heard. The common strands in multicultural education build on challenging the mainstream precepts that ace grounded in racist, sexist, and classist Eurocentric tradition (Banks, 1993c). However, until a strong conceptual framework is reached, the actual application, and more critically, the interpretation of multicultural education, is too often left to the teacher in the classroom (Ferry & Fraser, 1993).





As the thinking, the conversation, and the practice in multicultural education advance past descriptive and polemical stages and into an intellectually coherent stage, the field of vision widens and application diversifies. Key authors are deriving critical elements and are formulating emerging taxonomies. A growing number of writers from education, anthropology, history, philosophy, and other fields are participating intellectually and professionally in this ongoing conceptual discovery, They do so as they also clarify the evolution from early culture contact origins through political definition in the civil rights era and into evolving applications in education and society.


Elements and Levels of Multicultural Education

The definition of multicultural education conceptualized here emerges in part from its political roots in the United States, its models of application in a variety of societies, and from the emerging consensus about the critical components of multicultural education (Gay, 1994). Definitions range in scope from the narrow to the global, from curricular to contextual, from ethnic-specific to socially inclusive, and from socially neutral to politically prescriptive.

            The following primary points of agreement emerge from Gay’s (1994) synthesis:

  1. Diversity-centered and historically based curriculum. Cultural diversity, history, and contextual conditions are critical curriculum components in this type of definition of multicultural education.
  2. Reform-oriented philosophy. Multicultural education pro vides a philosophical foundation for promoting educational reform.
  3. Diversity-directed instruction. Cultural diversity provides the direction for multicultural instruction and for selected policy reforms.
  4. Context - dependent curricula. Individual definitions will be tailored to individual conditions and applied in accordance with the particular setting.
  5.  Permeative. Multicultural education penetrates all contexts and is widely applicable.
  6. Comprehensive. Multicultural education must encompass all levels of schooling.


      Gay (1994) suggested that a constructed definition of multi cultural education is appropriate. The points of agreement constitute the acceptable general boundaries for this customized understanding of multicultural education. The user’s perspective and operational context provide the freedom for this process. These contexts are predominantly curricular in their focus. Even its reform statement is confined to educational policy and practice. Gay’s (1994) synthesis suggests a politicized social justice version of multicultural education. Gay indirectly alludes to the social and political dimensions of the educational reform caused by multicultural education.


      Micro (1992) offers a definition that more directly addresses these contextual issues:


Multicultural education is a process of comprehensive and basic education for alt students, It challenges and reject racism and other forms of discrimination in schools and society, and accepts and affirms pluralism. . .that student, their communities, and teachers represent. Multicultural education permeates the curriculum, the instructional strategies used Is schools, interaction between teachers, children, and parents, and the very way that schools conceptualize the nature of teaching and learning. (p. xxiii)


      Nieto’s (1992) definition more clearly explicates the social justice and antiracist mandates of multicultural education be cause it uses critical pedagogy as its underlying philosophy and focuses on knowledge, reflection, and action (praxis) as the basis for social change. Multicultural education, so expressed in this format, furthers democratic principles of social justice.


      Nieto’s “additive” and critical model of multicultural education is reflected in a “variety of levels of attitudes and behaviors” (Nieto, 1992, p. 276). Beyond its monocultural counterpart, its levels range from mere tolerance, to acceptance, to respect, and at the epitome, to affirmation, solidarity, and critique. At its most sophisticated level, multicultural education not only deromanticizes culture in general but also accommodates and even welcomes the conflict of values and behaviors inherent in culture contact. The affirmation of differences and an attitude of inclusion about cultural realities are fundamental to multicultural education. Teachers exercise the emancipatory imperative by participating as advocates of social justice and managers of critical learning in intercultural encounters (Nieto, 1994).

Banks (1994) in his multicultural education explanation pro poses a “multifactor, holistic theory of multicultural education” (p. 102). He applies Kuhn’s (1970) concept of paradigm hesitantly because of “the paucity of universal laws, principles, and theories in social science and because social science is characterized by many competing systems of explanations” (p. 103). He surveys the 10 multicultural education paradigms critically along the ethnic revitalization continuum. He discusses earlier typologies of ethnic diversity theory, and in doing so, dismisses the cultural pluralist and cultural assimilations duality as inadequate for framing the cultural realities of complex societies. The pluralist’s exaggeration of the individual’s ethnic loyalties and the assimilations ethnocentric and wishful view of a universal national culture are critiqued as unrealistic portrayals in a complex word of intercultural interdependence.


      Seeking an appropriate model for intercultural effectiveness in u modern society, Banks (1994) promotes a ‘multicultural ideology” (p. l2g) as a more realistic approach to sustaining social cohesion while allowing freedom of cultural expression. Yet, he concedes that even this more suitable approach fails to propose viable solutions to the conflicts that inevitably arise is a culturally open society.


      The same cultural relativism that naive multiculturalists promote as essential In valuing diversity was presented by Ball cc al. (1992) as an inadequate strategy when cultural differences are not distinct and when the cultural contact is ongoing and inevitable among groups. Cultural differences may lead to con flirts in ethics and values, some of which are irreconcilable. The educator mast decide whether to seek conflict resolution or merely to appreciate the conflicts and their cultural genesis (Ball et al., 1992). They offer a model for applying three perspectives no political morality to situations bat leave the final decision to the reader.


      Banks (19 practices in a society of intensifying sod unprecedented levels of intercultural contact. The established multicultural education literature emphasizes the importance of peaceful inter cultural coexistence in reaction to the assimilationist pressures of social policymakers, educators, and the general community. As pluralistic practices increasingly are prescribed in schools, universities, and service agencies, individual practitioners look to multiculturalists for answers to a new generation of questions. As racial intermarriage, desegregated housing, integrated work places, and international business encounters bring divene people together in greater numbers and in equal relationships, policy issues are shifting from the need for democratic social practices to understanding the facts of culture-specific behaviors and values and making social decisions shoot those behav inn and values that are socially viable.


      Davidman and Davidman (1994) developed a “synthesis conception of multicultural education” that they call Multicultural Education Plus. They provide educators with a practical guide for implementing multicultural lessons and teaching in a multicultural instructional format. Their premise is that equity is essential In educational excellence. They join several others (Brown, 1992; Lynch, 5989; Ramsey, Vold, & Williams, 1909) who reviewed the evolution of multicultural education from its civil rights origins through its current state,


Ramsey et al. (5989) traced the twentieth - century evolution of multicultural education and cited and annotated literature that defined multicultural education at various stages in its development through the late i98Bs, especially as it was translated from a vision of a pluralist society to educational practice to K—l2 schools and higher education. Their distinctions of multi cultural education from multiethnic education and intercultural education are useful for educators who use these terms inter changeably and too freely.


Ramsey et al. (1989) summarize the debate about multicultural education’s purpose (political agenda of social action or disguised strategy for maintaining white Anglo-Saxon control). They advocate its social action agenda and support Grant’s belief in deghettoizing the concept by favoring its configuration as education that is multicultural. Their book is a valuable historical reference that guides the reader to key literature in multicultural education through 1989. Its sociopolitical perspective makes it particularly valuable by underlining multicultural education’s historical social justice agenda.


      The evolution of multicultural education has also been analyzed in global dimensions. Lynch (1989), in Multicultural Education in a Global Society, describes multicultural education in terms of phases of sophistication. The “additive phase” (p. 36) parallels the ethnic studies approach by adding culturally specific content. In this phase children from the majority Culture are often excluded from participating in the appended curricula. An equally serious problem with this phase is that the main curriculum still fails to emphasize common elements in the minority and majority curricula.


In Lynch’s (1989) next phase, folkloric multicultural education, customs, dress, and festivals are introduced into the main stream curriculum, again emphasizing the differences, not the commonalities. This oversimplified and celebratory view of culture also renders it safe to teach as a foreign and quaint set of ethnic manifestations. Teachers could experience the culture of the Chicano, for example, through intensive cultural immersions and then return to serve as cultural brokers of ethnically segregated schools. Target cultures could be studied as separate objects of inquiry, with selected elements of cultural behavior incorporated for strategic curricular use, and yet fail to lead to mutual accommodation. At this level, cultural knowledge remains a tool for more effective cultural assimilation in much the same way that the content of foreign service training is a tool for diplomatic and strategic interaction, not a vehicle for genuine reciprocal learning between equals. The folkloric stage fails to offer teachers a framework for addressing the more profound and persistent social justice issues.


      Lynch (1989) describes the permeative phase as the introduction of culturally appropriate content, teaching materials, and methods across the curriculum. An attempt is made to strike an equilibrium between cultural distinctions and cultural corn monalities. Still, this more authentic infusion effort lacks the activist impetus of the subsequent antiracist, intergroup, and prejudice reduction phases that explicitly confront the more delicate systemic issues of established policy and practice.

Lynch’s (1989) analysis of multicultural education in the global arena identified four common characteristics:

1. Creative attention to issues of cultural diversity

2. Consensus through discourse

3. Emphasis on human justice through a commitment to equitable and antidiscriminatory practices

4. Policy of inclusion in the civic infrastructure of a pluralist democratic society


These concepts 110w directly from the three major aims of multicultural education: “creative development of cultural diversity, the maintenance of social cohesion, and the achievement of human justice” (Lynch, 1989, p. xiv).


      Lynch (1989) relates multicultural education to human rights education and peace education in a global context. He further espouses the global multicultural education curricular applications that relate to social justice issues. Social justice maintains the balance between the other two aims: cultural diversity and social cohesion. Social justice is presented not only as a noble goal to be pursued by educators and policymakers but also as a moral compass as they struggle with the dilemma that faces democratic societies. How does a demographically plural and systemically complex society promote political unity and simultaneously celebrate the social diversity that challenges that unity?


      In one of the most insightful accounts and analyses of multi cultural education’s evolution, Weiner (1993) traced multicultural education development in its political, historical, and intellectual contexts. The title, Preparing Teachers for Urban Schools: Lessons from Thirty Years of School reform, clearly represents the urban education focus of the book and implies the leather’s central role in urban school reform. That role has floated from the service provider needing basic preparation or staff development in discreet competencies to the emerging professional seeking empowerment within the educational sys tem to the partner in a systemic network of societal attention to reform. Weiner’s book illustrated that as the discussion about multicultural education evolves in search of solutions to social inequalities, academic disparities, and intercultural discontinuity, the scholarly discourse is shifting from a dispute over causative linkages (environment versus heredity, students versus parents versus teachers) to a more holistic consideration of contextual factors.


      Concurrently, multicultural education is transforming from a set of curricular solutions to deficits and problems to a theoretical framework for (1) valuing demographic diversity as an enriching social context; (2) promoting a multicultural curriculum as a whole-school knowledge base; (3) promoting instructional strategies that structure heterogeneous, learner-centered, and critical processes; (4) promoting collaborative and unifying relationships among all the participants, not necessarily as service providers and clients, in the education enterprise; and (5) demanding personal commitments to these principles.


Personal Investment in Multicultural Education


      As the definition of multicultural education advances toward confronting contextual and political issue, it also demands a greater level of engagement from its advocates. The proponent is challenged to extend his or her interest in multicultural education beyond understanding and into personal internalization.


      In a summary of a 2-year, school-based staff development project in multicultural education, Sleeter (1992) extended the social justice agenda of multicultural education from its impact on personal attitudes and behaviors toward students in diverse settings to its responsibility for systemic reform. Her brief definition revealed her belief in the whole-school process of reform multicultural education can be defined broadly as any set of processes by which schools work with rather than against oppressed groups” (p. 1).


      Sleeter’s (1991) view of multicultural education as a process of systemic reform was espoused from a more personal approach in her trialog with two white colleagues. In that discussion, she challenges fellow while academicians to translate their proficient discourse on racism into action. Sleeter boldly espouses personal responsibility for reducing racism and white hegemony because of one’s membership in a racial group. Sleeter (1991) suggests that collective action by the dominant group to share their ascribed power is an expression of personal commitment to systemic reform. Sleeter’s position was pan of a contentious discourse In which the relevance of the discourse itself was seriously questioned. This debate reflects a general disagreement about the oppressor’s personal and professional responsibility for conditions of inequality that have deep historical roots. The debate remains unsettled in both the popular and the professional arenas, but Sleeter’s message in her study on staff development reinforced the teacher’s responsibility as a potential change agent to combat the organizational obstacles to implementing multicultural education (Sleeter, 1992). She cites Nieto (1992) in pointing to the school’s structural features as regenerators of inequality and calls upon teachers and administrators to internalize the concepts of multicultural education ass framework for coherent curricular reform. The school then becomes the conduit for the individual’s commitment to multi cultural education as systemic reform.


      Brown (1992) outlines the legislative initiatives and the historical education movements that set the political framework for the diversity-related restructuring hr education. He notes, with disappointment, the lack of reform in K—12 and teacher education despite (1) claims by school administrators about accomplishments in multicultural education, and (2) accreditation mandates in teacher education that produce teachers who are technically prepared for the challenges of teaching in culturally diverse settings.


      Brown (1992) concedes that the structural changes appear- log in the schools are perhaps facilitating a climate of freedom, rising expectations, a sense of professional community, and egalitarianism. Outcome-based education, teacher empowerment, and heterogeneous grouping are significant examples of the curricular and administrative reforms that contribute to a diversity-friendly atmosphere in the schools. Brown’s (1992) reluctant hopefulness in restructuring as a partner to diversity differs only in degree from Nieto’s own view of the school’s structural features as obstructions to equality.


      In a 1990 issue of Education and Urban Society s Cultural Diversity and American Education: Vision of the Future, Arvizu and Saravia-Shore (1990), in concert with fellow anthropologists who reacted to Hirsch’s (1987) and Bloom’s (1987) momentous and controversial books, make a case for cross-cultural literacy. From this cross-cultural perspective, phenomena in their cultural contexts should be studied in systematic and scientific ways in order for teachers to use methods and tools to learn cultural competencies. Such competencies consist in “becoming aware of, observing, eliciting, and understanding the values and expectations of parents and students, as well as the resulting cultural patterns of interaction between adults and children, particularly between teachers and students” (Arvizu & Saravia-Shore, 1990, p. 372). However, even though they extend the multicultural education discourse to encompass the same critical issues discussed by Nieto (1992) and Sleeter and Grant (1987), they stop short of explicitly declaring the individual educator’s personal responsibility to serve as warriors of social justice.


      Ogbu (1990), critiquing his anthropologist colleagues’ reactions to Bloom (1987) and Hirsch (1987) within the tame issue of Education and Urban Society (1990), also proposes an extension of the educator’s responsibilities in cultural diversity be yond acquiring and applying the cultural knowledge and languages of their students. However, the extension is not of the educator’s responsibility but of the ownership of that responsibility. The goal in this approach is to achieve cultural diversity that allows for maximum school success for all populations in the school—majority or minority. In turn, students commit to learning and using the language and culture of the schools. Thus, Ogbu (1990) introduces the reciprocal nature of cross- cultural learning. The responsibility for cultural borrowing and accommodation is shared between teachers and students.

      Multicultural education demands not only the individual practitioner’s understanding and adoption of multicultural education as a framework for curricular improvement but also his or her commitment to challenging (1) the business-as-usual approach to teaching, (2) the organizational obstacles that peripheralize non-Anglo ethnicity and non-English languages, and (3) the profession’s ideological neutrality or passivity to equity- oriented social action.






Multicultural education as an idea and emerging practice began with the civil rights movement and for many years stayed on the educational horizon. After decades of curricular experimentation with multicultural education, rise education community has seen multicultural education gradually migrate from the margins and secure its place in the mainstream. In the process, the movement has involved considerable debate. Multicultural education has come to mean different things to different people (Gay, 1994, p. 1). Gay argues that depending on how long one has been in the field, one will have a different conceptual understanding of its profundity and its application to schooling. Similarly, different academic lenses such as sociology, psychology, and economics will cast their own perspectives on the multicultural education panorama. Moreover, depending on the values and interests of those seeking to influence it, multicultural education has become an esprit deform, whether positive or negative, that is sweeping it through a whirlwind of passion ate debate in both the popular and academic press (Asante, 1990; Asante & Ravitch, 1991; Banks, 1993a; Bloom, 1987; Cornbleth & Waugh, 1993; Hirsch, 1987; Ravitch, 1990, 1991—1992; Schlesinger, 1991; Simonson & Walker, 1988).


Competition for the Canon


      Banks (1993a) noted that at least three different groups are participating in the canon debate on multicultural education:  the Western traditionalists, the multiculturalists, and the afro-centrists. In addition, political interests on this debate have skewed the multicultural education playing field within the United Slates (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1993; Estrada & McLaren, 1993; Giroux, 1992). Those teeing multicultural education as constricting the democratic principles by which the United States was founded (i.e., Western traditionalists) argue that it is radical and divisive (Broudy, 1975; Hirsch, 1987). In like manner, the conservative restoration of the late 1970s, the 1980s, and now the 1990s, has ascribed to a multicultural education that is neonativist in practice. Critical theorists and neo-Marxists would argue that multicultural education through the lenses of a neonativist would be more reproductionist and would continue to deliver the status quo (Apple, 1990; Estrada & McLaren, 1993; Giroux, 1992).


      Similarly, neonativists, according to Cornbleth and Waugh (1993), “would contain diversity and individualism by a standardized education—by national standards in core subjects, national assessment, and a de facto national curriculum” (p. 32). Cornbleth and Waugh maintained that the neonativist agenda has set the tone and terms of the [canon] debate to influence the course of school curricula into the twenty-first century. The focus of the neonativists’ concerns, however, has been on the growing interests by multiculturalists and Afrocentrists to bring educational equity into all facets of the educational enterprise.


      The California Case. California is generally perceived as a trendsetter in the public and private sectors. It also became a prime target of the neonativists who attacked the California History-Social Science Framework report. The original draft of the framework was created by committee, rewritten by Charlotte Crabtree and Diane Ravitch, and adopted by the California State Board of Education in 1990 (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1993). The revision simply solidified the one-dimensional, uncritical, traditional view of history that has promoted a Eurocentric perspective (Hilliard, 1991—1992; Reed, 1993). According to the writers, however, the new framework emphasized a national identity and common values (California Department of Public instruction, 1988). This is reminiscent of the New York City schools in the 1850s where (Apple, 1990):


      [e]ducation was the way in which the community life, values, norms, and economic advantages of the powerful were to be protected. Schools could be the great engines ala moral crusade to make the children of the Immigrants and the Blacks like “us.” (p. 66)


      In the tradition of Western traditionalism, early school lead ers, and social engineers who molded schools to the present and persisting form, cultural differences were perceived and treated as illegitimate and problematic elements. They insisted ott perpetuating a curricular order based on democratic foundations considered fundamental to Western democracy as reasoned through their ontological lenses (Ravitch, 1990; Ravitch & Finn, 1987; Schlesinger, 1991).Apple (1990), however, clearly asserted that curriculum manifests itself differentially depending on the student population, even within the same “curricular order”:


      If a set of students Is sees as being prospective members of a professional and managerial class of people, then their schools and curriculum seem to be organized around flexibility, choice, inquiry, etc. If, on the other hand, students’ probable destinations are seen as that of semiskilled or unskilled workers, the school experience tends to stress punctuality, neatness, habit formation, and so on. (p. 65)


      These differences were the “tip of an iceberg made op of waters containing mostly impurities and immorality” (Apple, 1990, p. 66). Western traditionalists’ present rationale stratifies, mismeasures, and tracks students, especially those who come from ethnically, radically, and linguistically distinct groups (Gamoran, 1990; Gamoran & Berends, 1987; Gould, 1981; Oakes, 1985, 1990).


The New York Case In 1987, the New York State Education Department was in the process of constructing its own social studies curriculum. The New York experience greatly differed, if nor in results, at least in process. The task force’s first report, A Curriculum for Inclusion, was met with a critical fray of reaction to its alleged inflammatory language and its limited inclusion of whites (one) and historians in the original task force, It was ridiculed for antagonizing the major ethnic groups Cornbleth & Waugh, 1993).


      The final report, One Nation, Many Peoples A Declaration of Cultural Interdependence (New York State Department of Education, 1991), recognized the social diversity within the United States, Its authors acknowledged the importance of civic- mindedness and the centrality of “developing awareness and knowledge of America as a multicultural society, and of a multicultural world, pant and present; engendering civic responsibility within this context; and helping develop the tools necessary for critical thinking, reflective reading, deliberate writing, and social action” (p. 7).


      The seven guiding principles embraced by the committee are democracy, diversity, economic and social justice, globalism, ecological balance, ethics and values, and the individual and society. Cornbleth and Waugh (1993) acknowledged that the document recognized inequities in U.S. society, In wanting to provide a balanced view of the document Cornbleth and Waugh (1993) admitted that “lilt is not a radical document—but it can be seen an undermining the conventional ‘heroes and contributions’ approach to school history, and as a challenge to California’s grand immigrant narrative” (p. 35).


      As multicultural education has moved from the bungalows to the main building, its new presence has fomented an upsurge of debate. flanks (1993c) represents a concern for a multicultural curriculum and summarizes this stance, stating, “the curriculum should be reformed so that it will more accurately reflect the histories and cultures of ethnic groups and women” (p. 4). In contrast, the Afrocentrists “maintain that African culture and history should be placed at the center of the curriculum to motivate African American students to learn and to help all students to understand the important role that Africa has played in the development of Western civilization” (Banks, 1993c, p.4).


Multicultural Education as Nonneutral and Polemical


At stake in the deliberations within nor educational community is the notion of truth. The education enterprise is not neutral (Apple, 1986). Thus, In this case, multicultural education creates a duality of sorts, a centric force that simultaneously creates detachment, energy, resistance and coercion, and repercussions based on how reality is apprehended and what and whose knowledge will be valued, Will reality be gauged as one that is single, tangible, and fragmented, or will it be gauged as multiple, constructed, and holistic (Lincoln & Cuba, 1985)? In addition, will knowledge value be based on hegemonic power reached through coercive consensus (Apple, 1986), or will It be based on unfolding democratic principles that mirror the diverse and pluralistic society we now experience?


      Given that educational systems now accept the interdependence of everyday reality and the valuing of knowledge, one point becomes clear in the multicultural education discourse— a holistic approach is needed. Further knowledge construction must impact ontological and epistemological hypotheses that mirror the diverse and pluralistic communities that schools serve. Holism “implies that a phenomenon cannot be under stood by reducing it to smaller units; it can be appreciated only by viewing it as a nonlinear process, an integrated whole” (Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1993, p. 313), We will ground our presupposition by way of a critical constructivist perspective (Cuba, 1992; Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1993; Lincoln & Cuba, 1985; O’Loughlin 1992). Having declared this perspective as oar own focus (and as authority laden as it may be), this chapter simultaneously faces our positivist selves, an identity that is integral to our schooling and deeply embedded in the English language (Reddy, 1979).


      Guba (1992) states that the postpositivist paradigm enjoys hegemony. This chapter disputes this claim. An Inspection of our fragmented school structures and of how teachers and students think, as manifested in the metaphor of the factory school, bears this out (Sizer, 1984, 1992). There are educational oases that exude goodness, responsibility, and caring as well as academic standards for all students that far exceed the norms of everyday schooling (Lightfoot, 1983; Meier, 1987). However, in the common school culture, the modernist, positivist paradigm continues to maintain its hegemony. Educators, in response to the reproductive and segmented constructs of modernism, are rethinking and reconstructing their teaching realities by demanding of themselves a new language requiring more appropriate metaphors that apply a critical, constructivist stance. Many educators, however, find it difficult to wean them selves from their own modernist schooling (Gardner, 1991). Others have made a decisive leap that has brought hope and possibility to the educational enterprise (Apple, 1990; Cornbleth, 1990; Macedo, 1993). Nonetheless, it may be a mistake totally to reject modernism, because its roots contain progressive and democratic features (Giroux, 1991; Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1993) on which postmodern must build. Multicultural education that draws on the postmodern provides insights into “the failure of reason, the tyranny of grand narratives, the limitations of science, and the repositioning of relationships between dominant and subordinate cultural groups” (Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1993, p. 296).


Consensus Building and the Constructing of Truth


The following section assembles important presuppositions In the multicultural education landscape as configured by Christine Sleeter (1989) and Sonia Nieto (1994), two important writers in the field of multicultural education. Their works illustrate many of the issues that have evolved as multicultural education has become part of the educational terrain and will be used to propel considerations of consensus building and truth constructing. These issues have catapulted multicultural education into multilayered paradigmatic structures that may assist in the reform of education in the 19905 and well into the first decade of the 2000s.


      Sleeter (1989) argues that multicultural education serves as a form of resistance to oppression. Although she expected little support from the conservative right, she was not expecting to encounter ‘dismissal by many radical educators” (p. 51) of multicultural education as radical educators have joined in mounting a “challenge to oppression in society and schooling” (p. 51). Sleeter contends that (1) radical theorists have failed to take multicultural education seriously, and (2) multicultural education has been misrepresented as a field that has come into its own right and requires continuing clarification as it develops. As Sleeter reviewed the critique that targeted multicultural educators in the U.S. during the mid to late l980s, site found two overarching concerns: (1) that multicultural education proponents sidestep the real issues multicultural education should endeavor to address (i.e., racism), and (2) that the structure of multicultural education Is serving as a vehicle for “social control rather than for social change” (p. 53). Sleeter (1989) argues that such disagreements have oversimplified the field of multicultural education, creating caricatures of misdirection, and that it would be more “productive to identify ways in which the field works to challenge oppression, and to amplify and develop those dimensions of thought and practice” (p. 53).


      Multicultural education is not intellectually stagnant. On the contrary, it is subject to ensuing internal debates. Sleeter (1989) invited radical educators to work with, rather than against, the multicultural education advocates.


      Five areas of complexity make multicultural education unique In the United States. First, its genesis in the United States is unique when compared to multicultural education in Britain, Australia, or Canada. Second, based on her earlier work coauthored with Carl Grant (Grant & Sleeter, 1988s), Sleeter (1989) distinguishes among five different multicultural education approaches: (1) teaching the culturally different, (2) human relations, (3) single-group studies, (4) American multicultural education, and (5) multicultural education and social recon-structuralism. Each approach bass unique theoretical and philosophical orientation, yet qualifies under the umbrella of multi cultural education. Third, critics and educators from all levels must carefully differentiate between the deep theoretical constructs and the surface, often haphazard, application of those constructs. Fourth, several classifications of culture were made when advocating a multicultural perspective (i.e., “race and ethnicity; race, ethnicity, and gender; race, ethnicity, and language; and multiple forms of diversity” Sleeter, 1989, p. 561). Fifth, Sleeter argued strongly that multicultural education using the human relations approach may create the inroads to genuine school reform all multicultural education educators seek, especially as so many white educators (the majority of the teaching force) provide the schooling experiences for majority and minority students. Sleeter (1989) stated:


While no Human Relations educator in Wisconsin or Minnesota would argue that this work sufficiently resolves institutional discrimination in either state’s education system—indeed it only begins to address it— the requirement has created considerable space in teacher education programs for addressing oppression and institutional racism. And this has been accomplished by appealing to white educators and legislators in language they would listen to. Had this requirement been articulated within the language of antiracist education, it probably would not have become institutionalized. Paradoxically, while terms such as ‘Human Relations” can be criticized for depoliticizing race relations, use of such terms can be politically quite effective. (p. 57)


In Sleeter’s (1989) holistic view, multicultural education is a form of “resistance to oppressive social relationships. It represents resistance by educators to white dominance over racial minority groups through education, and (to many) to male dominance” (p. 59). She affirms that the field “needs to speak to oppression and struggle today much more explicitly than it did in its inception” (p. 59). Notwithstanding, the common interpretation of multicultural education has lagged behind the changes in the political context. What changed was how multi cultural education is delivered to teachers: from an angry polemic about historically rooted racism to a more practice- oriented approach. Teachers are now asked to examine their own ethnic cultures as part of their orientation. “The assumption is that white teachers will see that the needs, feelings, and experiences of racial minority groups are not so very different from their own” (Sleeter, 1989, p. 62). Reflecting on multicultural education in the 1990s, Sleeter (1989) advises:


the field must develop in ways that are consonant with its original mission: to challenge oppression, and to use schooling as much as possible to help shape a future America that is more equal, democratic, and just, and that does not demand conformity to one cultural norm. And it must reaffirm its radical and political nature. (p. 63)


Sleeter (1989) suggested five tasks germane to this review that further demarcate multicultural education’s theoretical grounding. The first calls for multicultural education theorists, “to articulate more clearly what social changes are desired, - and to clarify the relative importance of addressing individual prejudice and stereotyping versus inequality among groups” (p. 63). The second task consists in “delineating exactly who is struggling against whom over what, and developing strategies to promote solidarity and a clear sense of an agenda for social action” (p. 65). The third task emphasizes creating organizational structures to promote multicultural education, such as the creation of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), as well as the incorporation of multicultural education principles into working documents used for accreditation of teacher education programs (i.e. NCATE Standards and Indicators, state curriculum frameworks) and into mission and goal statements of professional organizations. The fourth task asks readers to confront the politics of social change and in turn, create related practices for the classroom. The final task stresses the need to incorporate multicultural education into all facets of the educational enterprise.


Nieto (1994) expresses the bewilderment now apparent in the field of: multicultural education: From classrooms to state boards of education, from national news rooms to the sanctuaries of intellectual discourse. the dilemmas, and pitfalls of multicultural education a everywhere discussed” (p. 1). Nieto summarized the criticisms multicultural education has received since the mid- to late 1980s by both the political left and the political right. The former has ridiculed the movement for its romantic optimism “in the face of persistent structural inequalities” (p. 1); the latter has criticized the movement for derailing the Western traditionalists canon from its absolute dominance. Nieto (1994) considered the most prevalent criticisms, embarked on explaining them from different ideological perspectives, and ended by reframing multicultural education as a concept into a more critical and comprehensive one that captures and responds to the several critiques. In revisiting the assaults laid on multicultural education from critics on the right, Nieto revealed that those critics have substantially ignored the array of writings in multicultural education and have instead focused their criticism on explosive examples of what is popularly perceived as multiculturalism rather than on the multicultural education of the everyday that manifests itself in a variety of classrooms. Nieto (1994) argued that what is at stake are epistemological frameworks that seem to approach truth.


The critics from the left argue that multicultural education has developed a discourse of pluralism that has allowed general meritocracy to exist. The left, therefore, questions “the superficiality and criticizes it for not taking responsibility for exploring the political dimensions of education” (Nieto, 1994, p. 5). Of vast importance here, and what Nieto skillfully decenters, is the traditional epistemology (i.e., knowledge that is valued by the dominant perspective). This epistemology traditionally has supported meritocracy and in turn, has been critically analyzed by the left who argue that such knowledge has been from a single-minded perspective that greatly delimits the possibilities of multicultural education that embody difference as well as other truths.


Schooling, Truth, and Multicultural Education


Following Foucault’s (1979) insights, McLaren (1989) describes truth, whether it is educational, scientific, religious, or legal, as not a set of discovered laws but that which must be understood within the realms of power and knowledge relations and which somehow correspond with the real. Truth cannot be known except through its effects. Truth, argued McLaren (1989), is relational and depends on history, cultural context, and relations of power operative in a given society, discipline, and institution. Truth and knowledge within a learning and teaching context become inextricably bonded where knowledge should be analyzed to determine whether it is oppressive or exploitive, not whether it is true or false (Maxcy, 1992). Popkewitz (1990) argued that:

Learning and teaching, as well, have social implications that are more than the measurement of achievement or the mastery of concepts. Schooling is an institution whose pedagogy and patterns of conduct are continually related to larger issues of social production and reproduction. In this context, pedagogical practice is a form of social regulation in which particular social knowledge is selected and cast for children to guide their everyday lives; yet the social differentiations in the larger society make school knowledge not equally accessible or equally available for all who come to school. (pp. 48—49)


Truth, then, is socially constructed and largely based by those in power who initiate an ontology and epistemology judged necessary and important to the survival and establishment of the group. Moreover, depending on class and ethnic differentiations that are socially constructed by those in power, cultural capital that allows for economic advancement is con trolled (Giroux, 1983). “Control is exercised as well through the forms of meaning the school distributes. That is, the ‘formal corpus of school knowledge’ can become a form of social and economic control” (Apple, 1990, p. 63). Schools, then, not only control people but also, in effect, control, maintain, and legitimate epistemological contexts—”The knowledge that ‘we all must have: schools confer cultural legitimacy on the knowledge of specific groups” (Apple, 1990, p. 64). Truth within the teaching and learning context of schools emerges not as one objective view “but rather as the composite picture of how people think about the institution and each other” (Bogdan & Taylor, 1975. p. 11). Drawing on a qualitative research stance, Bogdan and Taylor (1975) maintain that truth is comprised of several perspectives frpm administrators, faculty, support staff, outsiders, volunteers, custodial staff, the larger community, and family.


A multicultural education curriculum based on truth, argues Hilliard (1991—1992), would be a pluralistic curriculum where:


The primary goal of a pluralistic curriculum process is to present a truthful and meaningful rendition of the whole human experience. This is not a mailer of ethnic quotas in the curriculum for ‘balance; it is purely and simply a question of validity. Ultimately, if the curriculum is centered in truth, it will be pluralistic, for the simple fact is that human culture is the product of the struggles of all humanity, not the possession of a single racial or ethnic group. (p. 13)


Without addressing multicultural education per se, Hilliard (1991—1992) argues for curriculum equity. He supports multi cultural education by addressing curriculum that must be equitably distributed, with high-quality instruction, and, comes to the realization that academic content is not neutral, “nor is the specific cultural content of any ethnic group universal in and of itself’ (p. 13). In contrast, Bullard (1991—1992) perceives a lack of tolerance among some multiculturalists, a need to transcend moral relativism that distorts basic issues of fairness and common sense,  the need for cultural differences to be expressed “within the context of a nation with laws” (p. 6), and a real danger of stereotyping inherent to a multicultural perspective. Such generalizations may breed race-based expectations that model prejudice and intolerance.


These disparate recent developments illustrate the forces that will infuse multicultural education into all facets of the educational enterprise. The following developments indicate the direction of multicultural education.


Multicultural Education and the Social Construction of the Everyday


Utmost to the evolution of the multicultural education is that it is bound to the social reality that is part of institutions within the state (Apple, 1986). This situation has led to the canon debate—the latest controversy in multicultural education. That is, within the field there is an ideological battle over which canon will reign. Apple (1986) addressed the shortcomings of overusing the concept of hegemony to explain cultural and economic reproduction. This view does not, however, preclude its use as we begin to understand its implications in multicultural education. Depending on who delivers the message, multicultural education becomes political (i.e., hegemony is not free- floating). Apple argued that hegemony is not an accomplished social fact but rather a process where a dominant group and! or class manages to “win the active consensus over whom they rule” (p. 29). Overwhelmingly, the institutions within the state (i.e., schools) are the sites of racial group. gender, and class interaction and conflict, where those in power must either force or cajole many contending groups. In this manner, an institution maintains its own legitimacy but not without integrating “many of the interests of allied and even opposing groups under its banner” (Apple, 1986, pp. 29—30). In turn, the whole process involves compromise, conflict, and active struggle to maintain hegemony.


Multicultural education represents a significant challenge and threat to the established hegemony proposed by Western traditionalists. Many authors in the field are addressing the pervasive dominant hegemony fostered and maintained by institutions and schools where learners from diverse backgrounds function on a daily basis. All writers in multicultural education (and to a lesser degree, the Western traditionalists) are establishing their work within the reality of a diverse and pluralistic society.


The diversity and the pluralism encountered in the everyday serve as the temporal structures that determine how multicultural education will be constructed in the world of everyday life in the 1990s and well into the twenty-first century (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). They argue that:


To exaggerate the importance of theoretical thought in society and history is a natural failing of theorizers. It is then all the more necessary to correct this intellectualistic misapprehension. The theoretical formulations of reality, whether they be scientific or philosophical or even mythological, do not exhaust what is “real” for the members of a society. Since this is so, the sociology of knowledge must first of all concern itself with what people “know” as “reality” in their everyday, non- or pre-theoretical lives. In other words, common sense “knowledge” rather than “ideas” must be the central focus for the sociology of knowledge. It is precisely this “knowledge” that constitutes the fabric of meanings without which no society could exist. (p. 15)

Berger and Luckmann’s (1967) concept of the “common sense knowledge” of “everyday life” (p. 15) refers to multicultural authors who belong to the postwar generation and started working as professionals in the 1950s and who continue active professional involvement through the present. This era is ‘located within a much more comprehensive history and this ‘location’ decisively shapes [ social context]” (Berger & Luckmann, 1967, p. 28) and, in turn, the polemics of multicultural education.


Daily life imposes not only prearranged sequences on the agenda of any single day but also itself on reality as a whole. Berger and Luckmann (1967) insist that everyday life retains its accent of reality only within a temporal structure. Discussing, researching, and writing about and for multicultural education are encounters with the everyday social context of which each of us, including the children we serve in our schools, is a part. Hence, as we reveal the multicultural education literature we are, in essence, reentering the reality of everyday life (Berger & Luckmann, 1967) with all its complexity and its very real diversity and plurality.








Multicultural education is a complex phenomenon that requires educators to apprehend the ontological and epistemological complexities of diverse and pluralistic contexts. An inquiry perspective is needed to provide the lenses and resulting foci to comprehend fully multicultural education and all its manifestations. The naturalist paradigm (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) can serve as a relevant and useful guide for the student of culture and cultural dynamics, the teacher of students in a multicultural education course, and the teacher educator responsible for the supply and quality of future teachers. The naturalist axioms purported by Lincoln and Guba (1985) address reality, truth, and their relation to the knower. They provide a framework for (1) gaining realistic perspectives on cultural groups and their social contexts, (2) understanding our own impact on the contexts we encounter and investigate, (3) formulating in formed and viable options and alternatives about the many ethnic and cultural groups that populate our society, and (4) respecting the histories, perceptions, and practices of these groups. This framework may guide us in viewing differences and commonalities as well as specifics and generalities not only among cultural groups but also regarding our ‘understanding of individuals and their uniqueness.


Table 33.1 illustrates five guiding positions for the naturalist axioms as elaborated by Lincoln and Guba (1985, p. 37) that guide our framework. Table 33.1 portrays the five axioms as guided by the positions. Lincoln and Guba remind us that “ may be defined as a set of undemonstrated (and indemonstrable) ‘basic beliefs’ accepted by convention or established by practice as the building blocks of some conceptual or theoretical structure or system” (p. 33). They provide the example of Euclidean geometry. Euclid formalized the rules of thumb used by the land surveyors. These rules were not proven, yet they were known by and were valid for all.


These authors have applied the naturalist paradigm to a multicultural education framework (see column three of Table 33.1), creating a naturalist approach to address the multicultural education literature. Guba (1990) commented that “ term ‘naturalistic’ inquiry [ often used in the past to denote what is called ‘constructivist’ inquiry” (p. 22). The concept naturalistic is identified by Guba with a paradigm while the term natural is identified with methodology (i.e., the doing part of a paradigm). The authors consider it consistent with our method of inquiry. In addition, democracy and social action are also part of the multicultural education conceptual terrain that takes seriously “quality, justice, freedom, and difference” (Giroux. 1992, p. 154). Giroux believes in reclaiming the progressive notions of the “public’ in public schooling so that education can become a real public service” (p. 155) In addition to democracy, some basic beliefs in multicultural education have placed





Table 33.1 Multicultural Education Application of the Naturalist paradigm




Naturalist Paradigm


Multicultural Education Applications

Nature of reality

Realities as multiple, constructed, and holistic

Cultural pluralism as societal goal; teachers as guides to valuing multiple sources and interpretations of knowledge; teacher racism, expectations of student achievement; nonreductionist; cultural pluralism not merely a pedogogical mechanism for assimilation

Knower and the known

Knower and known are interactive and inseparable

Teachers backgrounds affect the curriculum; the canon wars; students’ backgrounds/beliefs affect the curriculum; multiple voices are valued; learning styles, cultural styles

possibility of generalization

Idiographic, not nomothetic—only time- and context-bound working hypotheses are possible

Understanding other cultures as complex, dynamic; using case studies, personalized approaches; process of continuous learning; interactive approaches; cultural generalizations filtered through personal interpretations

possibility of causal linkages

All entities are in state of mutual simultaneous shaping; impossible to distinguish causes from effects

Multiple explanations for events, for at-risk status; minimize blaming; seek multiple factors; process management

Role of values

Inquiry as value bound

‘Policy option’; reflective practice by teachers regarding their own beliefs, backgrounds, and their explicit impact on learners; guide the learner in understanding biases of sources, including those of teachers; question the knowledge filters; value the multiple literacies; inductive approaches

Source: Adapted from Lincoln & Guba. 1985.



it in the forefront of many educational discourses, causing the entire educational enterprise to take notice. The mainstream reform literature was quick to incorporate concepts and practices from the multicultural education literature. However, these were used to redefine learning and teaching issues without addressing multicultural education explicitly.


The reader must realize that when Lincoln and Guba (1985) spoke to each of the five axioms, they contrasted the naturalist paradigm to the positivist paradigm. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to describe the positivist paradigm. This chapter presumes that positivism and multicultural education are on opposite sides of the ideological and theoretical continuums. This section addresses each axiom and its implications and applications to multicultural education.


Axiom I: The Nature of Reality (Ontology)


Multiple constructed realities can be studied only holistically; inquiry into these multiple realities inevitably will diverge (each inquiry raises more questions than it answers) so that prediction and control are unlikely outcomes although some level of understanding can be achieved (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 37).


The multicultural education literature assumes that our society is comprised of many cultural and ethnic and racial groups, gender groups and preferences, class differentiations, age groups, exceptionalities, and religions. These factors were assessed and integrated into the educational arena through multi cultural education literature. For example, the Sadker and Sadker (1993) research on gender bias provided an integral perspective to addressing gender stereotypes and discrimination, ability grouping practices in the math and science class rooms, class, cultural issues, and the implications of gender classifications. It provided insights into how daily learning and teaching may be improved. On a different magnitude, Bull et al. (1992) asserted that the various groups within our national borders are variant and dynamic. Such cultural expressions are to be understood, not reduced, to cultural characteristics, at best, or to stereotypes, at worst. In the same vein, intercultural exploration is valued without the compelling need for firm answers about cultural characteristics. On the one hand, multi culturalists stipulate that the discovery of cultural expressions and preferences are valued; and, on the other hand, prediction and external control of cultural destinies are not options for consideration. Moreover, cultural differences often lead to conflict over ethics and values, some of which are often irreconcilable. When educators are faced with such dilemmas they must decide whether to seek conflict resolution or merely to appreciate the conflicts and their cultural genesis (Bull et al., 1992).


Multicultural theorists often speak to these encounters and the necessity for all educators to make sense of them. Examples of constructed realities that are central to and sometimes peripheral to the multicultural education literature are cultural stereo types, teacher expectations, student self-concept, gender, ability groupings, schooling and institutional structures, equality and inequality, sociocultural contexts, socioeconomic contexts, racism, lingualism, ageism, and homophobia (Aboud, 1987; Allington, 1991; Banks, 1993b; Cárdenas & First, 1985; Corner, 1989; Diaz, Moll, & Mehan, 1986; Erickson, 1987; Fine, 1991; Grant & Secada, 1990; Grant & Sleeter, 1988b; Hilliard, 1990; Kozol, 1991; Ladson-Billings, 1992; Nieto, 1992; Oakes, 1986a,1986b; Oakes & Lipton, 1990; Ogbu, 1987; Trueba, 1989; Walsh, 1987).


Axiom 2: The Relationship of Knower to Known (Epistemology)


“The inquirer and the ‘object’ of inquiry interact to influence one another; knower and known are inseparable” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 37). To comprehend fully the discourse of multi cultural education, it is impossible not to consider the various implicit and explicit interactions that result because of all the individuals grounded in the social context of the everyday. Mainstream educators and educational researchers traditionally have broken down and dichotomized many of the multicultural issues (e.g., race, class, gender, exceptionalities, and age) into distinct categories of inquiry. Generally, their approach is psychometric and does not consider the importance of cumulative interactions of class, race, and gender. In actuality it has involved a powerful consolidation and naturalization of methods of quantification and measurement, the predominance of positivistic empiricist approaches to the analysis of educational and social phenomena, and the steady incorporation of mainstream research into establishment policies and agendas. Mainstream research has too often chosen a recourse to a genetic epistemology, grounding its hypotheses and findings ultimately in biology and “science.” Its theories have usually cast the individual learner as the object of scientific/psychological inquiry. (McCarthy & Apple, 1988b, pp. 11—12)

The inquirer and the object of inquiry have been studied as distinct entities, as if such interactions do not influence one another.


Multicultural education, on the other hand, stipulates the mutual interaction and learning among members of different groups (Nieto, 1992, 1994; Rivera & Poplin, in press; Sleeter & McLaren, in press). Members of the studied culture change and at the same time create a new mainstream. They also change the inquirer. This phenomenon emphasizes the importance of introspection for researchers and theorists, as their perceptions of their own culture and identity affect conclusions about the culture and identity of the participants.


The separation of the knower from the known can also be found in the discourse of white racism. Scheurich (1993) argued that whites apply an individualized perspective to racism and deny their own racism based on the absence of overtly racist behavior. They deny that metaphorically and psychologically racism may be part of their everyday life.


Axiom 3: The Possibility of Generalization


“The aim of inquiry is to develop an idiographic body of knowledge in the form of ‘working hypotheses’ that describe the individual case” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 38). This axiom applies to both the cultural mainstream and cultures of the other. Ethnographies, case studies, and other qualitative approaches engender a more accurate understanding of the educational enterprise. Working hypotheses presume the interactive and dynamic evolution of all cultures (Trueba, Rodriguez, Zou, &Cintrón, 1993). In turn, conclusions about the dynamics of the teaching and learning processes are reached through inductive and contextual investigations. These approaches may be more accurate and useful than ones emerging from a priori premises about teachers and learners within the context of schooling. This axiom avoids stagnant characterizations of a culture and the unrealistic romanticizing of its history. Rather, it stresses the need to accept cultural change and adaptation as necessary for that culture to continue.


Axiom 4: The Possibility of Causal Linkages


“All entities are in a state of mutual simultaneous shaping so that it is impossible to distinguish causes from effects” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 38). The complex nature of diversity in a pluralistic society necessitates rethinking and reformulating the different realities (Macedo, 1993) that include dominant and subservient structures, the perceptions of the native versus the perceptions of the immigrant, and the everyday happenings of a majority group compared to the everyday happenings of a minority group. These interactions mutually contaminate and enrich, and thus lead to new intricate and unpredictable experiences. The false assumption regarding the effective delivery model in the school reform movement of the late 1980s is an example. Such an assumption often ignores the social contexts of student learning as a factor (Fine, cited in Weiner, 1993, p. 86). Fine states, “The first part emphasizes the ways in which schools may perpetuate inequalities directly, in that messages distributed through schools are linked to student background characteristics” (in McCarthy & Apple, 1988, pp. 1—2).


Nieto (1992) provides a compelling argument for the “state of mutual simultaneous shaping.” She posits that in ethnically distinct students, “underachievement is caused by school structures because they reproduce a system that is racist and classist and/or by cultural incompatibilities between the home and the school” (p. 192). Such thinking, Nieto (1992) believes:


Provide[d] a more cogent analysis of academic failure by placing schools in a political and social context. However, these analyses, too, are not wholly satisfactory because they can fall into mechanistic explanations of dynamic factors. Such theories fail to explain why some ethnic groups have generally succeeded in school in spite of striking cultural incompatibilities or why some schools in poor communities are extraordinarily successful in spite of tremendous odds. (p. 192)


Mutual simultaneous shaping is also apparent in how ethics unfold within a multicultural education environment. Bull et al. (1992) brought to the multicultural education discourse ethics and its impact on diversity. They discussed the correctness of ethical decisions based on acceptable and tolerable values coupled with practices that surface from cultural contact and conflict within a multicultural society. All these point to the complexity and the mutual simultaneous shaping that will undoubtedly occur and that are part of the multicultural education terrain.


Axiom 5: The Role of Values in Inquiry (Axiology)


Inquiry is value-bound in at least five ways, captured in the corollaries that follow (Lincoln & Guba, 1985):


Coro11ay 1: Inquiries are influenced by inquirer values as ex pressed in the choice of a problem, evaluation, or policy option and in the framing, bounding, and focusing of that problem evaluation, or policy option.

Coro11ay 2: Inquiry is influenced by the choice of the paradigm that guides the investigation into the problem.

Coro11ay 3: Inquiry is influenced by the choice of the substantive theory utilized to guide the collection and analysis of data and in the interpretation of findings.

Coro11ay 4: Inquiry is influenced by values inherent in the context.

Coro11ay 5: With respect to Corollaries 1 through 4, inquiry is either value resonant (reinforcing or congruent) or value dissonant (conflicting). Problem, evaluation, or policy option, paradigm, theory, and context must exhibit congruence (value resonance) if the inquiry is to produce meaningful results.


Wong (1994) states that:


[e]ducational inequality remains a major challenge to policymakers as our nation prepares to enter the twenty-first century. As social institutions, public schools are shaped by the deleterious effects of poverty, family disorganizations, and racial and cultural isolation. Inequality in the life chances of children growing up in different socioeconomic environments is clearly evident in the schools they attend. . . . Inequity in education resources has been perpetuated by the design and practice of our governing system. (p. 257)


Furthermore, two particularly pervasive causes of this inequity are (1) the functional fragmentations of the three levels of government, and (2) the high degree of jurisdictional fragmentation at the local level. Wong (1994) concludes that:


federal goals in social redistribution can be frustrated by local educational agencies. . . . The educational needs of the disadvantaged are no likely to be given high local priority; many districts continue to assign the least experienced teachers to remedial programs, distribute outdated curricula to poor schools, and maintain substandard equipment in the lower tracks. . . states’ territorial equity policies can be tempered by the widening taxing capability between rich and poor districts. Enjoying their fiscal autonomy, rich districts have increased their school spending even when the state economy is in recession. As big-city systems turn into predominantly low-income, minority institutions, middle-class suburban districts quickly organize themselves to ensure that the state-aid allocation formula does not undermine their interests. The politics of fragmentation. . . tend to disburse state funds widely and have produced very limited success in reducing spending disparity among districts in industrialized states with a strong minority presence. (pp. 282—283)


Transparent in this quote is the dominance of privilege. Wong enriches the discussion by systematically illustrating the economic means of control and power in the distributions of school finances. However, he leaves the reader stranded by not firmly articulating that policies are created by fallible human agents. Central to the corollaries is the notion that policy based on scientific or nonscientific grounding for planning and reform is always contextually and culturally dependent. It may also be extended to the dynamics of class, race, and gender. Cultural membership of the policymakers has implications and the human agents’ perspective will be shrouded in the paradigmatic complexities of class, race, and gender. Considering the philosophical controversy and the profound public policy implications surrounding the collection, allocation, distribution, and use of public funds, the axiological posture must include an ethical stance, that “contests racism, sexism, class exploitation, and other dehumanizing and exploitive social relations as ideologies and social practices that disrupt and devalue public life” (Giroux, 1983, p. 101). Furthermore, ethics become a continued engagement in which the “social practices of everyday life are interrogated in relation to the principles of individual autonomy and democratic public life—not as a matter received as truth but as a constant engagement” (Giroux, 1983, p. 102). Thus, the concept of value-laden personal commitment becomes integral to this axiom. Given the perspectives of Arvizu and Saravia Shore (1990), Brown (1992), Nieto (1992), Ogbu (1990), and Sleeter (1992), clearly the agents for multicultural education must consider all the participants in the educational enterprise ranging from students to policymakers.




In struggling to surpass the basic issues of definition, description, and direction, the research literature seeks meaning for multicultural education through attention to issues of personal engagement and curricular application. Educators and teacher educators increasingly are taking responsibility for the management of student and community diversity. This trend is expected as teacher demographics and student demographics move in opposite directions. Hidalgo and Huling-Austin (1993) discuss these quantitative discrepancies as part of the backdrop for teacher education’s responsibility to provide a diversity-friendly curriculum for the preparation of interculturally competent teachers for Latino students in the Southwest. Hidalgo and Huling-Austin propose that qualitative issues also relate to the equitable supply of Latino teachers. They further warned that inappropriate assessments and curricula will undermine the noblest of minority teachers’ outreach efforts. The personal responsibilities of K—12 teachers to provide an equitable class room environment and a multiculturally literate curriculum can not be divorced from teacher education’s responsibility to at tend to the quantitative and qualitative issues surrounding the who of teaching.


Zimpher and Ashburn (1992) approach the issue of the teacher education curriculum for a diverse society by focusing on (1) teacher parochialism and global interdependence, and (2) infusion versus add-on approaches to curricular diversification. Although not directly addressing the demographic discrepancy between teachers and students, they promote several beliefs to be embedded in the teacher education curriculum as a strategy for neutralizing the parochialism that emerges from teacher homogeneity.


The authors propose three beliefs to be infused in any teacher education program: (1) belief in the appreciation of diversity, (2) belief in the value of cooperation, and (3) belief in the importance of a caring community. As difficult as these affective qualities may be to assess in individuals, Zimpher and Ashburn (1992) compound the collective responsibility by emphasizing the importance of modeling these beliefs within our teacher education programs if we expect our prospective teachers to apply these successfully. “More specifically, we propose that teacher educators must first examine their own thinking for its parochial nature” (Zimpher & Ashburn, 1992, pp. 40—41).


The matter of personal investment in multicultural education extends across the ranks of professional educators at all levels of instruction. Teacher educators often have taken the lead in advocating school reform and increased teacher engagement in the public schools. While the call for reform and personal commitment has been extended to higher education, the struggles to incorporate multicultural education at that level has its own set of institutional complications.


Infusion Versus Add-On Approaches to Multicultural Teaching


The discussion over the specific content of a multicultural teacher education curriculum is active and diverse within the profession. Recent conference programs of the annual meetings of the Association of Teacher Educators and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education are replete with exam- pies of multicultural curricula that claim to incorporate the ethnic, gender, and class diversity differences of their clientele’s clientele. Banks (1994), Davidman and Davidman (1994), Gollnick and Chinn (1994), and Tiedt and Tiedt (1994) offer text books to guide the teacher educator in planning not only the content for diversity teaching but also the conceptual frame work for implementing it with professional sincerity. Garibaldi (1992) outlines a series of general skills that prospective teachers should internalize during their preparation:

Thus, the teachers of today’s culturally diverse classrooms must under stand that there are differences between the sociological dimensions of ‘culture’ and ‘class’ as they prepare to teach; know how to plan and organize effective instructional situations, how to motivate students and manage their classrooms. . . in addition to being competent in the assessment of the academic strengths and weaknesses of all children; and learn how to encourage the cooperation of their students’ families and communities in the conduct of their daily responsibilities. (p. 25)


Even among teacher educators who promote a context- sensitive multicultural curriculum for their students, there is an ongoing debate over the manner in which such a curriculum should be formatted. Zimpher and Ashburn (1992) criticize the traditional “add-on” treatment that diversity teaching receives in universities (p. 52). They promote, instead, an infusion approach that leads to true valuing of diversity implied in “an understanding of the broad array of differences among people and how these differences interact with subject matter and with teaching” (p. 52). They further admonish us that the continued peripheralization of this content “leads to social alienation and perpetuation of the existing parochialism” (p. 53).


Modeling an introspective approach to multicultural teaching will continue to challenge teacher educators regardless of the format used to incorporate it into the curriculum. Some faculties prefer an add-on format because it concentrates the multicultural content in one or more courses to which specially prepared faculty members can be assigned. This format is especially useful in cases where a stable faculty group intends to protect a core curriculum composed of generic content. In cases in which institutional growth cannot match community demographic transformations, a stable faculty is unable to con duct a radical modification of its curriculum without jeopardizing their own positions or imposing drastic retooling demands on themselves. However, schools normally have the flexibility to add one or two specialized faculty members to teach diversity-related courses. This format allows the faculty to dele gate multicultural education to these selected instructors and its content to a controlled set of competencies, whether integral or supplemental. In this model, multicultural education is treated as a subject area for which there is a discreet course and set of field experiences. Accreditation agencies can easily locate the competencies, experiences, and activities that are designated to multicultural education.


In the add-on approach, however, faculty in the core curriculum remain poised further to entrench their own content with out significant multicultural adjustments. Assuming these faculty members continuously update their course materials to adapt to developments in their own fields, for them, developments in multicultural education remain material for the designated faculty to incorporate. Critics of this add-on approach consider it a segregation of subject matter from issues of cultural, linguistic, and contextual diversity. Prospective teachers perceive that institutional commitment to cultural pluralism is limited to its advocacy in one or two selected courses. Local school administrators observe the hypocrisy in an approach that seems to endorse the curricular ghettoization that their own schools are attempting to dismantle through heterogeneous groupings and school desegregation. If junior or part-time faculty are assigned to teach these special courses, a further level of subtle devaluing occurs. When selected instructors are identified with these courses, the assignment may become personalized and the offering may become subject to personnel availability, or worse yet, to faculty misassignment. Finally, in such a model, multicultural education is perceived primarily as discreet content that can be learned without necessarily internalizing a commitment to valuing the principles of multicultural education. Although the individual instructor may model an introspective approach to multicultural teaching, this format condones the continued peripheralization of multicultural education and creates a cynicism toward any introspection that prospective teachers may have experienced toward personal commitments to diversity- appropriate professional behavior.


Faculty seeking to model a genuine integration of diversity- appropriate teaching have a more formidable organizational challenge before them. Universitywide commitment to teacher education and multicultural education is the ideal context in which to infuse multicultural education across the curriculum. Within teacher education, this approach requires additional faculty members whose degrees and professional experiences prepare them for the special demands of diversity-appropriate teaching and curriculum development. However, it also re quires a commitment by the established faculty to professional development in multicultural education. Contrary to the fears of some teacher educators, the commitment is to the integration of existing knowledge bases to the contexts of diversity and the principles of cultural pluralism. Faculty are not asked to replace their subject areas or their pedagogical areas with multi cultural education. This would not only be unrealistic but inappropriate. All K—12 students need to learn reading, math, science, social studies, and physical education. Teachers should continue to learn these subjects and their related pedagogies. Faculty searches, professional development, and curricular integration should continue in these subjects. They should continue to be taught to promote critical thinking and subject mastery. Cooperative learning and experiential strategies should not be interrupted in the name of multicultural education. Quite appropriately, these goals and strategies are consistent with pedagogies that are egalitarian and emancipatory. Faculty who build multicultural education principles on their own knowledge bases will consider multicultural education not as retooling, but as enrichment. Successful curricular integration between subject areas and multicultural education will spread the responsibility for both across a team of faculty. This form of institutional commitment to multicultural education and professional development will communicate an important message of consensus about goals and values to prospective teachers.


Toward a Transformational Curriculum


Schoem, Frankel, Zuniga, and Lewis (1993) refer to higher education’s struggle with the linkages between knowledge and behavior, between understanding and action” (p. 8). They apply this discrepancy to higher education in general by eliciting a sense of “intellectual and personal responsibilities” (p. 8) for the multicultural learning that is achieved. In their own chapter, The Meaning of Multicultural Teaching: An Introduction, they present their book as “part of an ongoing process among university faculty to enhance teaching and learning in an increasingly interconnected multicultural society” (p.1). They refer to the “three interconnected dimensions of multicultural teaching:

content, process and discourse, and diversity of faculty and students” (p. 1). The implicit issues of power, conflict, and change communicate to the reader that the treatment of multi cultural education extends well beyond the curricular and into the social contexts in which teaching and learning occur in higher education. Perhaps in anticipation of faculty apprehension about their designs for Western civilization, they feel compelled to reassure the reader that their “spirit of inclusiveness” (p. 2) encompasses a legitimate role for Western civilization within a diversified curriculum. Nonetheless, Schoem et al. (1993) assert their belief in an interconnected and transformational approach to multicultural teaching. They present a variety of inclusion patterns in their book as a framework for under standing the levels of curricular infusion. These stages of cultural transformation, reinforced by fellow scholars McIntosh (1991) and Schuster and Van Dyne (1985) range from information about ghettoization at the first stage to the fourth stage in which “there is a synergy of the course content, class room process, and diversity among faculty and students that elevates understanding to a new level of depth and complexity” (p. 3).


The team work, the professional development, and the institutional commitment invested in the name of multicultural teacher education, educational counseling, special education, and school administration may easily be extended to other cross-curricular values and practices. When an institution and a faculty’s mission articulate a commitment to a set of principles, whether to multicultural education or otherwise, the clientele is more confidently poised to internalize them as practices that carry personal meaning thatt: normal'>References


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