Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education

 

Date of this Version

2012

Citation

Published in Curriculum and Instruction, ed. A. Jonathan Eakle (Los Angeles: SAGE, 2012), pp. 124–141.

Comments

Copyright © 2012 SAGE Publications. Used by permission.

Abstract

The following two essays underscore novel and powerful dimensions of the multiplicity of cultures and education. Unlike many of the essays in the present volume, both authors chose to write in the first person. This is not coincidental because culture is based on identifications—what allows one to articulate the “I” of group alliances and identity. In contrast, scientific writing style, such as that of the American Psychological Association (APA)—which is the standard for much professional publication in education—typically pushes the author “I” to the side, which can give an inaccurate view of how subjectivity influences research and writing. Such narrative approaches, as shown in the subsequent essays, provide a space for subjects rather than simply objects and push against the academic canon. This also denotes the degree of reimagination that many people believe is needed for education research, policy, and practices—a theme that both authors share. Also a part of this reimagination is how language evolves, which is shown subsequently in how authors create neologisms to express ideas that are not part of the common lexicon. For example, “minoritized” is a word used in the counterpoint essay to show how minority subjects are formed (see also Deleuze & Guattari, 1975/1986).

In the point essay, Loukia K. Sarroub of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln uses vivid accounts of her research experiences with Yemeni Americans to show how the complexities of cultures and identities are too often misunderstood. Much of her focus is on how language works in different spaces and for various purposes. This is shown through her own imaginative writing and her call to find ways to reach beyond stereotypes and visualize different ways for us to transact in and with education communities and beyond. Sarroub concludes that the answer to the question of whether the challenges and opportunities in contemporary diverse classrooms being met is mixed. She feels that schools have good intentions and have adequately addressed the history and social constructions of minority groups but undermine the links between language and culture, how language constitutes those we talk and write about and those we represent in textual and visual ways.

Pushing against the grain in the counterpoint essay that follows, Lisa Patel Stevens from Boston College responds in the negative. Taking a critical pedagogy position, she points out how past education practices that seemingly celebrate diversity are often superficial ones, and she offers concepts and practices that can move education toward a valorization of diversity to extend present views of culture. She suggests that education needs to engage teachers and students in topics such as the struggle for legitimacy, xenophobia, protectionism, and global economic power. Valorization, Stevens contends, requires teachers and students to move beyond foods, fashions, and festivals to discuss how we should transact with and resist laws of exclusion, how such laws erode an inclusive social order, and what more equitable edicts and practices would promote.