Question: Does multiculturalism tend to divide us or unite us? How might you respond to Schlesinger?
When it comes to the idea of multiculturalism, Arthur Schlesinger Jr prefers a melting pot. He wants people from all different cultures meld together to form one group - Americans. He believes that multiculturalism divides us because “Its underlying philosophy is that America is not a nation of individuals at all but a nation of groups” with (Nodding s, p. 208)
While I understand this worry, I can definitely identify with the ideas of Valerie Ooka Pang, who says there is a place for multiculturalism in our society and in education because it helps all students grow in understanding and tolerance. She says the purpose of multiculturalism is to bring us together, not divide us. Nodding s p. 207)
Joel Spring further illustrates how teaching multiculturalism in school can bring us together, rather than divide us. Spring says “Multicultural education programs have four important goals. The first is to build tolerance of other cultures. The second goal is to eliminate racism. The third goal is to teach the content of different cultures. And the fourth goal is to teach students to view the world from differing cultural frames of reference.” (Noddings, p. 208)
Rather than living in fear of a country where everyone is not exactly the same, our differences should be embraced because that is what helps make us special and unique. By teaching students about tolerance and understanding and take steps to eliminate racism, something that is always an important goal, especially in the current political climate in North America.
In order to be united, we don’t need everyone to be exactly the same, rather we need to understand and embrace our differences and see that everyone is American (or Canadian), regardless of their background. Developing understanding should only help bring the unity we all need.
Noddings, N. Philosophy of Education, 4th Routledge, 2016)
By Craig Skinner