Multiculturalism and moral education: individual positioning, dialogue and cultural practice

Journal of Moral Education 34 (2):185-197 (2005)
Multicultural education can be seen as generally premised on two assumptions. The first is often made explicit: that children should learn not to discriminate unfairly on grounds of ethnicity or culture. To this degree, multiculturalism is clearly morally educative, encouraging children to see others in terms of their common humanity rather than their cultural differences. The second is more implicit and diffuse: that sensitivity to cultural and ethnic difference ipso facto promotes social justice and/or harmony between people(s) and thus is morally educative. Further implicit in this is that persons with different cultural practices are ipso facto ?more different? than those in similar relationships (such as neighbour, friend, customer, employee or whatever) but belonging to the same cultural groups, in terms of their lived experience. The concept ?more different? implies that ?difference? can be measured, and as a basis for policy, it further implies that such measurement can be objective. This article challenges this latter set of assumptions, drawing on ideas from nihilism, existentialism, poststructuralism and discursive psychology. If degrees of difference in lived experience cannot be objectively (or even intersubjectively) measured, then assumptions about how culture ?fixes? life experience may have undesirable, rather than desirable effects, and may counter, rather than reinforce, the explicit aim of multicultural education to reduce ethnic and cultural discrimination. Individual positioning may be as important as cultural heritage in determining differences in life experience, and thus possibilities for moral action, yet learners may not be able to respond to persons as individuals on the basis of an understanding of collective cultural differences
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Ariel Sarid (2012). Systematic Thinking on Dialogical Education. Educational Philosophy and Theory 44 (9):926-941.
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