Some of the issues underfire are the political state’s policies concerning multiculturalism, theattitudes of Canadians around these policies, immigration, the global market,and a central point is the education and how to present the material ina way so as to offend the least amount of people. There are many variationson these themes as will be discussed in this paper. In the 1930’s several educators calledfor programs of cultural diversity that encouraged ethnic and minoritystudents to study their respective heritages. This is not a simple featdue to the fact that there is much diversity within individual cultures. A look at the 1991 Canadian census shows that the population has changedmore noticeable in the last ten years than in any other time in the twentiethcentury, with one out of four Canadians identifying themselves as black,Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Metis or Native. (Gould 1995: 198)Most people, from educators to philosophers,agree that an important first step in succe4ssfully joining multiple culturesis to develop an understanding of each others background.
However, thesimilarities stip there. One problem is defining the tem “multiculturalism”. When it is looked at simply as meaning the existence of a culturally integratedsociety, many people have no problems. However, when you go beyond thatand try to suggest a different way of arriving at theat culturally integratedsociety, everyone seems to have a different opinion on what will work.
Since education is at the root of the problem,it might be appropriate to use an example in that context. In 1980, theAmerican school, Stanford University came up with a program – later knownas the “Stanford-style multicultural curriculum” which aimed to familiarizestudents with traditions, philosophy, literature and history of the West. The program consisted of fifteen required books by writers such as Plato,Aristotle, Homer, Aquinas, Marx and Freud. By 1987, a group called theRainbow Coalition argued the fact that the books were all written by DWEM’sor Dead White European Males. They felt that this type of teaching deniedstudents the knowledge of contributions by people of colour, women, andother oppressed groups.
In 1987, the faculty voted 39-4 to change the curriculumand do away with the fifteen book requirement and the term “Western” forthe study of at least one non-European culture and proper attention tobe given to the issues of race and gender. (Gould 1995: 201). Because Canadian University’s also followeda similar plan, even though this example took place in the United Statesit centered on issues that effect multiculturalism in all North America. This debate was very important because its publicity provided the groundsfor the argument that Canada is a pluralistic society and to study onlyone people would not accurately portray what really makes up this country. Proponents of multicultural education arguethat it offers students a balanced appreciation and critique of other culturesas well as our own. (Stotsky 1992:64) While it is common sense that onecould not have a true understanding of a subject by only possessing knowledgeof one side of it, this brings up the fact that there would never be enoughtime in our current school year to equally cover the contributions of eachindividual nationality.
This leaves teachers with two options. The firstwould be to lengthen the school year, which is highly unlikely becauseof the political aspects of the situation. The other choice is to modifythe curriculum to only include what the instructor (the school) feels arethe most important contributions, which again leaves them open for criticismfrom groups that feel they are not being equally treated. A national standard is out of the questionbecause of the fact that different parts of the country contain certainconcentrations of nationalities. An example of this is the high concentrationof Asians in British Columbia or Blacks in the East.
Nonetheless, teachersare at the top of the agenda when it comes to multiculturalism. They cando the most for children during the early years of learning, when kidsare most impressionable. By engaging students in activities that followthe lines of their multicultural curriculum, they can .