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Lesson Plans

Re: multiculturalism

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Maggie White (mwhite)
Tue, 16 Nov 1999 21:12:04 -0700

Elmorostic wrote:
> I think a multicultural education involves more than adding some diversity
> to a western-based curriculum. Rather, it requires a non-biased attitude
> towards the subject (in this case art) whereby artists, and their products
> are judged in their own context and no one culture is emphasised. Is anyone
> here teaching this way?

I approach multiculturism somewhat differently than most people,
and it might be along the lines of what you're describing.
Rather than covering, say, a different country or continent each
month, I prefer showing the universality of various artifacts
throughout time and across many cultures. For instance, during
the ceramics unit, we look at effigy vessels from many cultures.
When we do found-object masks, we look at a lot of masks from a
lot of countries, and not just those utilizing found objects.
Stylized and abstract motifs are very common in indigenous
societies, and we look at those when we're painting. And of
course, there's weaving...

In this approach, we can discuss the seemingly simultaneous rise
of particular artifacts or motifs among peoples whose paths
would've never crossed. We can also discuss how cultures whose
paths did cross one way or the other--by trade, war, or
subjugation--influenced each other's style.

I feel this strategy creates more coherence and unity than one
that tries to "celebrate" each student's heritage in a class.
For the native-born citizens, that heritage is American anyway.
And for those from other countries, well, the parents and elders
can do a better job of maintaining the child's cultural heritage
than the teacher can. These may seem like inflammatory remarks
to some of you, I'm sure, but I speak from the perspective of
teaching for many years on a reservation, where the schools are
increasingly expected to pass on the cultural flame because of
the parents' lack of interest in doing so.


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