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” mentality that has become prevalent throughout all age groups. This is the final result we are truly looking for. It is not equal representation of “them” (minorities and women) by a university dominated by “them” (white males). We want students to think of all people in the same way, to include all human beings in the “us” group, to judge them by the same standards free from stereotypes and generalizations. This is an idealistic vision, I know, but without ideals, where do we begin? Some say we begin by requiring college students to take a certain number of classes focusing on women and a certain...