Paul Gorski: 10 Commitments of a Multicultural Educator

We're big fans of our friend, Paul Gorski, Asst. Professor of Integrative Studies at George Mason University and founder of EdChange, and his work in social justice education, so I was excited to read a recent guest post he did for the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences about multicultural education. Here are a couple excerpts:
So when I consider the future of multicultural education, my fear is hastened less by resistance from naysayers than by misdirection by multiculturalists. My worst fear is that a vast majority of the initiatives, practices, and policies enacted in the name of diversity or multiculturalism appear, at closer look, to resemble, at best, cultural fluffery and, at worst, cultural imperialism.

I’ve traveled around the world studying this phenomenon: a “multiculturalism” which has been whittled down so far that its equity and social justice roots no longer are evident in practice. Particularly in the colonized lands of the Americas, multiculturalism seems to be heavy, and getting heavier, on Taco Nights, intercultural dialogues, and multicultural festivals, and light, and getting lighter, on economic justice, racial equity, anti-sexism, and queer rights. And to whose benefit? Who or what are we protecting?
Paul goes on to outline "10 commitments of a multicultural educator":
  1. I commit to working at intersections.
  2. I commit to understanding the "sociopolitical context" of schooling.
  3. I commit to refusing the master's paradigms.
  4. I commit to never reducing multiculturalism to cultural activities or celebrations.
  5. I commit to never confusing multiculturalism with universal validation.
  6. I commit to resisting simple solutions to complex problems.
  7. I commit to being informed.
  8. I commit to working with and in service to disenfranchised communities.
  9. I commit to rejecting deficit ideology.
  10. I commit to putting justice ahead of peace.

Read the complete post.

When I had my multicultural education class in 1990 during my teacher training, there was no exploration of social justice, equity, and diversity outside of the framework of "honoring" all cultures, avoiding stereotypes, and paying attention to the learning styles of students who came from different countries. We talked about including more "diversity" in the range of literature and people studied, and the various opportunities to celebrate the "culture-of-the-month," but we never dove into an analysis of our curriculum or issues of imperialism and colonialism, or the harm of "cultural fluffery." I'm glad to see an awareness of the need to shift our ways of thinking about and engaging in multicultural education, thanks to revolutionaries like Paul.

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of juliaf.

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