In Search of Multiculturalism: Uprooting 'Whiteness' in Curriculum Design and Pedagogical Strategies
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks rekindled debates on the validity of academic multiculturalism in U.S. higher education and, as such, signal a call to revisit problems with multicultural curricular design and pedagogical strategies. In reaction, this paper attempts to enrich dialogue surrounding academic multiculturalism by exploring the epistemological foundation, what I call an epistemology of 'whiteness,' that guides the design and instruction of multicultural curricula. I examine how 'whiteness,' as a way of knowing, is communicated in multicultural education. Specifically, I argue that multiculturalism often propagates rather than eradicates prejudiced understandings of the world because it is rooted in 'whiteness.' Curricular reform efforts generally take a surface-level approach to multiculturalism, which strengthens the conceptual errors that maintain 'whiteness.' These problems with multiculturalism, then, leave us in search of a multiculturalism that equally values all people and transforms how we, human beings, relate, understand, and interact with each other.
Keywords: Multiculturalism, Whiteness, Curriculum Reform, Pedagogy, U.S. Post-Secondary Education
Sally J. Sayles-Hannon
Ph.D. Student, Cultural Foundations of Education, Syracuse University