Professor Plum has annotated a McGraw-Hill information site that tackles "The Challenge of Defining a Single 'Multicultural Education'." (I'd use nested scare quotes on that final word, but let us stay focussed.)

Consider the five core principles for "multicultural transformation" spelled out in that challenge.

  • Every student must have an equal opportunity to achieve to her or his full potential.
  • Every student must be prepared to competently participate in an increasingly intercultural society.
  • Teachers must be prepared to effectively facilitate learning for every individual student, no matter how culturally similar or different from her- or himself.
  • Schools must be active participants in ending oppression of all types, first by ending oppression within their own walls, then by producing socially and critically active and aware students.
  • Education must become more fully student-centered and inclusive of the voices and experiences of the students.
  • Educators, activists, and others must take a more active role in reexamining all educational practices and how they affect the learning of all students: testing methods, teaching approaches, evaluation and assessment, school psychology and counseling, educational materials and textbooks, etc.
  • Catch the tension? There are differences in potentials. Somebody who is weak at abstract analysis has little potential as an economic theorist. Does the first principle mean such an individual deserves extra help, or that such a person ought be directed to a field better able to use that person's comparative advantages. That, however, has less to do with cultural differences than with differences in ability or in individual preferences. (Yes, this is an economics site, and an argument from preference is weak. That is why we speak of optimization under constraints. Perhaps some people ought be dissuaded from acting on their preferences to become economic theorists, or lawyers, or computer engineers, or violinists.)

    And what to make of that "student-centered" stuff? "I was never very good at math." Well, suck it up and practice, or find a victim studies program that will have you. On to the final point. Can that reexamination include the deduction that admitting unprepared students and calling it access is a mistake?

    I also like this.

  • Overall school cultures must be closely examined to determine how they might be cycling and supporting oppressive societal conditions.
  • Administrative hierarchies in schools must be examined to assess whether they produce positive teaching environments for all teachers.
  • Do "oppressive societal conditions" include setting unprepared students up to fail? What is more oppressive than sending someone out the door barely prepared to ask, "want fries with that?" Does the second point mean a professor has cause of action against an administration that asks faculty to fill out all sorts of forms from the therapeutic bureaucracy, or allows students who have not satisfied the prerequisites to enroll?

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