Immigrant children from every niche and cranny of the globe are flooding into our public schools; and bringing with them a bewildering array of cultural beliefs and practices.
Multiculturalists see this as an opportunity for teachers to turn their classrooms into multicultural rainbows where every shade of the worldwide social spectrum is encouraged to shine. Unfortunately, this ignores the fact that the foreign values and behaviors brought into the schoolhouse can and do often clash with one another. Some cultures even define themselves, in part, by their deep and abiding animosity toward other cultures.
Worse still, foreign cultures not only clash with one another, they often clash with core American values. For example, Americans have finally concluded that women’s rights should equal those of men. But the cultures of some immigrant children oppose that entirely. Some even tolerate honor killings while insisting that it is acceptable for wives to be beaten by their husbands.
Americans also are slowly coming to accept homosexuals as worthy of the same rights as other human beings. Some other cultures still prefer stoning them to death.
Then there is the matter of religious tolerance. Americans have, over time, wisely decided to agree to disagree. But some other cultures still enthusiastically persecute any religion other than their own.
Despite all the present day multicultural hokum, it is child’s play to assemble a long list of cultural values and behaviors that are utterly unacceptable if America is to retain its hard-won tolerance. Plus, let’s keep in mind that many immigrant children do not even want to be defined by their parent’s cultural practices and affiliations. They long to escape these confines and join mainstream America. Should educators join forces with their parents to keep these kids in the old-world fold?
Immigrants bring much that is of value to America. We have no corner on living wisely. But that does not alter the fact that multicultural education is far more problematic than it’s evangelicals would have us believe. Let’s forego all their mindless happy talk and give this matter the serious consideration it deserves.
For a more detailed version of this blog see The Limits and Possibilities of 'Multiculturalism' also offers a number of other commentaries on multiculturalism.
--- Gary K. Clabaugh