In Search of Multiculturalism: Uncovering ‘Whiteness’ in Curriculum Design and Pedagogical Strategies

By Sally J. Sayles-Hannon.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp.709-720. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.277MB).

Sally J. Sayles-Hannon

Ph.D. Student, Cultural Foundations of Education, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA

Sally Sayles-Hannon has an M.A. in Women’s Studies from Texas Woman’s University and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University.

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