In a U. S. history class, the professor teaches students how Americans fought in the past for their freedom and liberty, and how people from Europe built their home in this land around two centuries ago. After the industrious Europeans built their homes, they started to build the justice for their hometown. Later, schools and universities were gradually build for students. All of these were necessary in order to continue the culture which those people had already learned in Europe, especially on education.
This is called Western canon, and every thing is built on this foundation. But is this kind of situation fair to other races? What is multicultural? In my opinion, it is the mixture of many different races and their cultures. The United States is a diversely ethnic society. Each race has its own culture, and unique history. For instance, Chinese have their five thousand years culture; Africans have their glorious history based on the old Egypt, and South/Central Americans have their old Inca Empire and Maya cultures. Price Hugh B. s the vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation, he says that, “According to Asa Hilliard of George State University, school curriculum should teach that Africa is the birthplace of mankind and thus of the arts, the sciences ,mathematics, and the great philosophers”(qtd in price 300). All these cultures are engulfed and very valuable to people. These cultures should be equal and no superior culture.
Triandis Harry C. is a staff writer in American Psychologist. He gives his definition on multicultural and explains that, “Multiculturalism is a social-intellectu! l movement that promotes the value of diversity as a core principle and insists that all cultural groups be treated with respect and as equal”(609). I agree with it, and also believe that it is the main concept of the multicultural. Cheney lynne V. is a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She illustrates “We, more than any other country, are a nation made up of many people from many nations and cultures. Multiculturalism is part of the American identity, and so it should be part of what is taught in our schools, college, and universities”(45).
Kunjufu Jawanze is a writer and Vann Kimberly R. is a freelance writer; they also indicate that, “we must have a curriculum that teaches African-American history and culture and the histories and cultures of other ethnic groups as well on a continual basis and not just during the shortest month of the year”(Kunjufu & Vann 298). Now, the schools in the United States are facing a problem – should education ! systems based on multiculturalism or Western canon. In my opinion, I believe that the education in the United States should base on multicultural instead of Western cultural.
The reason is the United States is a country for all races of people but not only for Europeans. In fact, learning multicultural can also influence students minds and improve their knowledges. Learning multicultural can build up students self-esteem. How could multicultural build up peoples self-esteem? For example, Chinese-Americans can feel proud by learning Chinese culture and history instead of knowing the situations of illegal immigrants or unskilled workers. Price meantions, “if students do not feel good about themselves, they will not fare well in school.
They say that students do better academically when they see people like themselves represented in the curriculum”(302). On the other hand, if education is only based on the wastern canon, then all situations might be changed. The ethnic self-esteem of other races might lower and let them feel that Europeans are the most superior. Kunjufu states, “a strictly Eurocentric perspective will not properly prepare students for a successful future in a multicultural world”(Kunjufu & Vann 298).
They also point out how Western cnon lower the self-esteem, “In textbooks, Afican-American history begins with Am! erican slavery, instead of with the genesis of civilization is Africa. Therefore, African-Americans are considered as descendants only of slaves, not of kings and queens”(Kunjufu & Vann 298). Cheney also depicts how multiculturalism is important to children. He say, “It is important that our children learn to understand the various cultures that make up this country and the world, but it is also important that they learn to regard themselves and others as individuals. (45).
Actually, self-esteem plays a very important role with multicultural, and multicultural does build up and improve students self-esteem. Learning multicultural can also improve students viewpoints and let them treat other racial people with respect. Different cultures have their different viewpoints to face people. For example, because Chineses culture emphasizes on morality and Americans base on the equal rights, most Chinese view people with morality but Americans base on the humans rights.
If students can learn each cultures viewpoint and realize it, they could find the most valuable spirit from each cultural and absorb it. From this way, students can understand how to treat other races and how to get along with them because of the ideas they have learned. Why respecting others is important in the multicultural? Sanchez Tony R. , an assistant professor of education at Indiana University Northwest, quotes form Cohens research and states, “we help them (students) learn about other peoples lifestyle and value.
This awareness in turn may alter negative, stereotypic thinking, reduce intolerance, and! promote cooperation”(qut. In sanchez 171). Triandis also explains equal respect, “Multiculturalism is, in some respects, the most recent stage of this universalization. It calls on us to recognize the rights of all peoples, and it attempts to ensure the equal dignity and first-class citizenship of all”(612). Janzen Rod is a professor of social science education at Fresno Pacific College in Fresno; Notes the principles of multicultural, ” Every culture has its own internal coherence, integrity, and logic. 2. No one culture is inherently better or worse than another. 3. All persons are, to some extent, culturally bound. “(6). I believe in Janzens principle, because if one culture is better than another one, it might cause one culture become superior and bias peoples viewpoints. Learning multicultural can increase other racial students interests in studying other cultures by understanding their own culture first. Cheney explains why students should learn self-culture first than studying others. She illustrates,
Students cannot be expected to understand other cultures if they are ignorant about the one in which they spend their lives. And they will not understand the culture in which they live unless they study it in a rigorous and coherent fashion. (45) For instance, if I was a Chinese born American, I might have a strong sense to learn more about my original countrys history. Because if I did not know where I come from, how could I have high interest in studying who Shakespeare is. In addition, I think language is also another main factor which makes people get closer.
Cheney says “multicultural education ought also to entail foreign language study, if the goal is to encourage understanding of how other people view the world”(45). True, studying multicultural can not only help students understand their origin cultural but also increase their interests in learning other cultures. According to Janzens quotation from a writer, Olsen points out, “multiculturalism believe that every ethnic group should be given the freedom and opportunity to find its own place in American society, retaining unique customs, ways of knowing, and even perhaps social-political traditions”(qtd.
In Janzen 6). The America is a land for both you and me. Each person should have the same right to learn who he/she is and keeps his/her own culture on this land. This is the Americas multicultural society, which is joined by different races. Cheney mentions, “Our common truth is about people from Africa, Asia, Europe, and every part of the globe being joined together by belief in equality and freedom”(45). Therefore, multicultural is very important and most influence to students.