The melting pot is no more. Where not very long ago we sought assimilation, we now pursue multiculturalism. Nowhere has this transformation been more evident than in the public schools, where a traditional Eurocentric curriculum has yielded to diversity--and, often, to confrontation and confusion. In a book that brings clarity and reason to this highly charged issue, Nathan Glazer explores these sweeping changes. He offers an incisive account of why we all--advocates and skeptics alike--have become multiculturalists, and what this means for national unity, civil society, and the education of our youth.
Focusing particularly on the impact in public schools, Glazer dissects the four issues uppermost in the minds of people on both sides of the multicultural fence: Whose "truth" do we recognize in the curriculum? Will an emphasis on ethnic roots undermine or strengthen our national unity in the face of international disorder? Will attention to social injustice, past and present, increase or decrease civil disharmony and strife? Does a multicultural curriculum enhance learning, by engaging students' interest and by raising students' self-esteem, or does it teach irrelevance at best and fantasy at worst?
Glazer argues cogently that multiculturalism arose from the failure of mainstream society to assimilate African Americans; anger and frustration at their continuing separation gave black Americans the impetus for rejecting traditions that excluded them. But, willingly or not, "we are all multiculturalists now," Glazer asserts, and his book gives us the clearest picture yet of what there is to know, to fear, and to ask of ourselves in this new identity.
A wry statement of reluctant resignation to America's prevailing cultural realities, by Glazer, a Harvard sociologist and education/social-policy expert. In such books as Ethnic Dilemmas (1983) and The Limits of Social Policy (1988) Glazer has consistently argued that the antidiscrimination and voting-rights legislation of 1964 and '65 alone - without measures like affirmative action in employment or busing for school desegregation - would support black economic and social mobility and lead to a more equal society. However, in these eight short essays on public-school curriculum reform and American society, he explores why African-Americans live and go to school more separate than ever from other Americans. It's a situation Glazer so deplores that it prompts him to see his own previous attitudes as complacent. While he still avows his faith in democracy's capacity for justice, he cannot deny its failure so far to assimilate people of African descent to the same extent that it has absorbed European immigrants of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and even those increasingly arriving from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. This is certainly not what his previous studies of ethnicity (coauthored with Daniel P. Moynihan) had led him to expect. One of the results of the inability of the dominant society to absorb African-Americans, Glazer suggests, is the rise of multiculturalism, spurred by black anger at traditions that have rejected them. Multiculturalism, he asserts, is now an unavoidable element of American life, and one that we must come to grips with. This book is remarkable for the plainspoken grace of its concessions, and Glazer also maintains an eloquent honesty about his reservations regarding government-imposed remedies, and about his unaccustomed position of being stymied for answers. One of the culture wars' quietly dedicated establishmentarian soldiers has laid down his rhetorical arms to prepare for a more civil and salutary engagement. (Kirkus Reviews)
|The Multicultural Explosion|
|The New York Story|
|What Is at Stake in Multiculturalism?|
|The Rediscovery of Nubia and Kush|
|Dealing with Diversity, Past and Present|
|Where Assimilation Failed|
|Can We Be Brought Together?|
|"We are All Multiculturalists Now"|
|Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.|
Number Of Pages: 196
Published: 15th September 1998
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Dimensions (cm): 22.1 x 14.0 x 1.3
Weight (kg): 0.24