WHOSE CULTURE? WHOSE HERITAGE?: ETHNICITY WITHIN CANADIAN SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULA
Volume 11 Number 1.
This is a summary of a larger report titled Canadian Ethnic/Multicultural Content in Program Guides of Provincial and Territorial Departments of Education, submitted to the Canadian Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee, department of the secretary of state, Ottawa, in September of 1974. That report was a survey of existing social studies curricula in Canada. It raised an important question for social educators: Whose culture and whose heritage is represented by social studies in Canada? It pointed out that there is an overwhelming British and French cultural perspective within most curricula examined, while those minorities that represent one quarter of Canada's population are conspicuously absent. The report also noted that there is little emphasis upon cognitive culture or contemporary cultural change. Students are encouraged to look at material details relative to ethnic groups or to romanticize about heritage rather than to grapple with such issues as pluralism, cross-cultural communication, governmental policy, language and aboriginal rights, and value conflicts. Another criticism of the report is that little attempt has been made to involve representatives of ethnic groups in program development. Ethnic issues within curricula have been defined and interpreted by educational experts for students. Curricula are treated as completed products that pass unidirectionally from producers to consumers. The final major criticism is that curricula provide virtually no suggestions for pre-service and in-service training of personnel using, preparing to use, or assisting in the development of ethnic and multicultural studies.
Underlying the generalizations of this report is a call for ethnic studies that are truly ethnic in name, content, and perspective. It is a very useful guide for school boards attempting to formulate social studies curricula.
Algis Tribinevicius, Tehkummah, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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