The Multicultural Education

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The Multicultural Education

John Searle addresses the “major debate… going on at present concerning… a crisis in the teaching of the humanities.” [Searle, 106] He goes on to defend the canon of works by dead white males that has traditionally made up the curriculum of liberal arts education. I disagree with many of his arguments, and believe that multiculturalism should be taught in the university, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Openmindedness will take much more than just minimal changes in curriculum. In order for works by different races and women to be judged and studied alongside works by white men, they have to be seen as equal to works by white men. They have to be studied for their literary content, not for the statement they make about feminism or race. We don’t just need to evaluate them by the same standards, we need to change the standards. The standards set by the traditional liberal arts education have been set by white males and are inherently biased. New standards need to be set that are as openminded as we want students to be. This is a trend that needs to be started way before college. A diverse curriculum should be taught throughout a person’s education, because that is what will produce well rounded, openminded individuals that will change the tradition of oppression in society.

Searle says, “We should not be embarrassed by the fact that a disproportionately large percentage of the major cultural achievements in our society have been made by white males.” [Searle, 118] To this, I say yes we should! We should be embarrassed that there are people who don’t see that this “disproportionately large percentage” is not due to the overwhelming intelligence of the white male, but to centuries of oppression. Our culture hasn’t nurtured the intellectual efforts of women or minorities, their ideas and pursuits have been repressed, probably out of fear. We have a society dominated by white males, it shouldn’t be surprising that literature is too. We need to change the way our society view women and minorities. Trying to do this by changing the curriculum of college students is pointless. We need to start from the beginning, with the children.

Children need to be taught that they exist as a part of the world, rather than just as a part of America. If worldliness is encouraged at a young age, it will replace the “us” and “them” mentali...

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...be expanded to new ideas and cultures. University education should be an extension of, not a replacement for, grade and high school education.

I think that, in general, we are on the road to a more openminded society. Children and young adults are more accepting than their parents and their grandparents, and I think if we encourage and appreciate this trend, it will continue on to their children. But, it is not the case in all families, and even if it were, family is only one of the influences in a child’s life. As they get older, they are increasingly influenced by outside factors, such as school, the media and culture. We need to encourage children and open their minds with all the tools we have available to us as a society. Children are the ones that will make up the bulk of the influential population in twenty years. Broadening their horizons is broadening the future’s horizons as well. As we change the way our society views women and minorities, as they are embraced as equals, we will start to see literary works of the same caliber, if not better than the works encompassed by the traditional canon. Then, we will be on the road to having a more diverse university education.
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