ERIC Number: ED362350
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992
How Culture Misdirects Multiculturalism.
Wax, Murray L.
In the ongoing debate over whether or what sort of multiculturalism should be provided by schools, the origin, evolution, and rhetorical function of the basic term "culture" have been unwisely neglected. The 19th century notion of "culture" implied a process of growth and development, of culturing an organism, or of the human organism becoming cultured. Educators must resurrect and maintain that dynamic imagery in their research and theory, rather than becoming imprisoned in a language of stasis. As a corollary, discussions of cultures or civilizations should be more explicit about what is inherited or borrowed versus a possibly unique synthesis. A weakness of the multicultural argument is that it ignores the fact that "Western civilization" incorporates so much more than the traditions of Europe and North America. As communication, commerce, and political and military relationships unite the peoples of the Earth into a global village, it is of diminishing educational utility to continue with the anthropological model of a plurality of separate and distinct, integrated cultures. When elaborated into the curricular rhetoric of "multiculturalism," this model may express a struggle for political empowerment, but it has no relevance to the historical realities of the development of world civilization. A sounder approach sees a historical sequence of ecumenes, areas of culture contact and exchange that produced cultural efflorescence, and returns to the notion of culturing through education. (SV)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A