Interculture is the New Multiculture

You’ve heard the expression multiculturalism. Nowadays the buzzword is interculturalism, meaning not so much a diversity among the many cultures that comprise this country but acceptance rather than tolerance, unity rather than diversity. Is it possible to establish this mindset in Canadian schools? This is one of the primary issues in education today. How do we reflect the many cultures in Canada without thereby establishing “white” as a dominant race?  Certainly we cannot establish it as a dominant culture, since there does not exist one caucasian culture in Canada.

Let’s think about that for a minute.  The lifestyles of east coast Caucasians is very little like that of white Torontonians, whose lifestyles (and these vary amongst each other within the city) are unlike whites living in the prairies and finally those on the west coast in B.C. In fact, whites living among whites live with very different value systems, traditions and religions. A dominant culture in Canada? I don’t think so. That being the case why is it that Ontario curriculum focuses chiefly on whites, that is in history, social sciences, art and literature?  Lots of Shakespeare on the English literature menu but I don’t believe there is any Angelou. (You don’t even know who she is do you?) Plenty of generic, “primary” songs for children in grades K – 3 but very seldom do I hear any music from Jamaica, Portugal, Greece or India.  In fact after 40 years the Ontario curriculum still stresses using Peter and the Wolf to teach children musical instruments. True, Peter and the Wolf is a 1936 Russian fable written by Sergei Prokofiev but teachers don’t teach this history to children. Kids don’t know about Russia and about the reason behind the particular animals and the plot to the story. It’s a music lesson, plain and simple.

We have a white curriculum. “Add-ons” such as “multicultural festivals” and “international night” are offered by schools to supplement curriculum by way of apology. These are beautiful ceremonies and they do teach kids and parents interesting facts about other countries, but isn’t that exactly what is wrong with our curriculum? That type of celebration encourages and promotes diversity. It does not unify Canada’s many integral cultures. video: Napoleon Dynamite Flash Mob

This is not educators’ faults. It is not school boards’ faults. The Ontario Ministry of Education is where curriculum change begins and ends. No one else in Ontario in the public school system has the authority to create and modify current curriculum. No one else is considered qualified, whether that is true or not. Of course Leona Dombrowsky (love the surname…wonder where she’s originally from?), the Minister of Education has more pressing matters such as government funding for educational programs, schools, and educational materials. Doubltess, these are important matter,s but before the Ministry invests and distributes anymore white educational programs throughout the province, can we have a review of their content from an intercultural perspective?

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