CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Friesen, John W.

Calgary, Detselig Enterprises, c1985. 171pp, paper, ISBN 0-920490-44-1, CIP

Reviewed by Lois Hird

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

When Cultures Clash is an excellent resource book for anyone with a role in multicultural education, although it is directed at the classroom teacher. Friesen states that his purpose in writing the text was to give teachers the opportunity "to study several cultural models," thus having a base from which to deal with their individual settings. He states that "the changes in Canada's cultural matrix since Confederation necessitate the recognition and appreciation of cultural diversity." It is the teacher who is more directly involved "with the personal implications of situations involving tolerance, understanding and accommodation." But "finding the right approach" is the teacher's task, and he points to a need for teachers ''to come to terms with their own consciences with respect to the possible impact of their attitudes." To that end, he outlines four principles for use as guidelines when choosing techniques. They include: knowledge of the culture, continued teacher education, sensitivity to the local community, and specific classroom goals.

In five separate chapters, he presents what he calls case studies. The ethnic groups include: the French in western Canada (specifically Manitoba), the Plains Indians, the Metis, the Hutterites, and the Mennonites. The Calgary Chinese community is only briefly cited in the first chapter of the book. Friesen traces each group's position (both historical and contemporary), together with its cultural attributes, the traditional beliefs held by society, and the specific problems each has encountered.

The first half of the book however, is a thorough analysis of the evolution of multiculturalism and the studies articulated since the inception of the federal government's policy in 1971. As well, he outlines the programs used, together with their success and shortcomings. Beginning with the late John Porter's opposing views to the government's policy, he presents several theories including those of Margaret Gibson, Richard Pratte, Milton Gordon, Karen Webb, and Evelyn Kallen. The inclusion of American studies adds depth to the analysis. But the text does not fall into the trap of presenting Canadian problems and then citing American theorists.

Friesen then systematically considers the problems ethnic minorities in Canada face, what affects a group's role in retaining a desired identity, how groups react, and what causes conflict. Included as well is a description of the special rights achieved by the groups. He also identifies areas that he feels require more investigation, namely: self-esteem, community interference, inner city studies, educational philosophy, and political implications.

In the final chapter he proposes that "the idea of eliminating the constant orientation of always wanting to do something for someone may be at the very foundation of the new multiculturalism." This statement represents the thrust of his presentation. He further proposes that educators may find the sensitivity they feel when there appears to be "no way to design a program that might not offend someone" as "the proper place to start."

The book is not easy reading, but it is hard to lay aside. It is a considerably more in-depth presentation of culture and education than Friesen's text People, Culture and Learning (Detselig) published in 1977. Footnotes at the end of each chapter rather than a general bibliography are included. Sub-headings in the chapters adequately take the place of an index.

Lois Hird, Calgary, Alta.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works