At the deepest base of the foundation of American society was what our founding fathers valued as a liberal view of culture. They envisioned a diverse society in which equality prevailed. In later years this vision was labeled the “melting pot. ” The ways in which this view has changed will be discussed later. Part of the way this core idea was implemented dealt with its utilization in the schools of the our country. Time and again the idea of whether or not the education system should be used as means of blending society has been questioned by national scholars and politicians.
In some cases it has been questioned whether or not culture should even be issued as a topic in education and if it is, what topics should be discussed and which left out. Based on the various ideas that have been presented in the past centuries about this topic, it seems that the conclusion to this dilemma should be, and it is obvious that, some sort of culture must be learned in the education system simply to survive as a society in general.
The problem that still occurs is what degree, if any, of cultural conditioning must be present at these levels. Personally, I believe that cultural conditioning should not be a factor, but that some sort of education in multiculturalism and being able to not only coexist with other cultures, but hopefully even be able to intermingle in somewhat the idea and tradition of the original founders of our nation. To some degree it has been determined by society that this is the manner in which the educational sects behave.
Unfortunately, it is obvious based on the current state of society in this regard, that there is a great deal of reformation needed. At some point in time, it seems that the idea of a national “melting pot” metamorphosized into what has more recently been labeled a “stew pot. ” This analogy means that our country has gone from a mixture with no individual cultures or flavors, to one that is integrated, yet still retains divided cultures that seem to remain associated within themselves.
This brings about another question of “why? ” Why has the cultural idea of the United States moved in a negative direction setting our country back decades? Is it really a negative change? Perhaps some sort of separation is, and would be, beneficial in retaining some of the background and heritage of these groups so that it is not lost in that “melting pot. ” Perhaps this modern system is the new evolution of the American cultural ideal, but there are negative aspects.
American civilization in the modern day is broken down into groups which on the exterior can seem to help retain culture and in many cases does, but what happens is that many of these groups turn their positive pride in their individual culture into a more negative form of an almost dislike or, at its extremist form, hatred of other groups that are similarly adjoined. As far as education, this also causes enhanced debate about what exactly should be taught in our schools, as far as culture is concerned. Should it be the culture of the largest group?
Should each race and culture have lesson time proportional to their ratio based on the census, based on school attendance, based on funding provided? What hash marks should we go by when determining these aspects? These questions cannot seem to even be answered, or at least even agreed upon by those who are empowered to make these decisions. It seems almost, that society is not even allowing them to make those decisions and that it has been left up to those at the front of the battle: teachers. Teachers in our society are being forced to make the judgement call on what should and is going to be taught to the students in their classes.
Therefore, teachers are the ones on which the democratic system is enacted. Instead of going to those who represent the public in providing the laws and guidelines that dictate what should and should not be taught in the school systems as far as culture, parents are pleading their cases, almost in an outrage, to teachers and in very few cases, school and school district administrators, who in comparison to national and state law makers have very little power of decision in those types of broad matters.
In the readings, the authors, in general, do not really touch on this particular issue as much as merely skimming the surface. The nearest example is Hirsch’s opinion that “this is an attractive theory to educators in those places where spokesman for minority cultures are especially vocal in their attack on the melting-pot idea. That concept, they say, is nothing but cultural imperialism (true), which submerges cultural identities (true) and gives minority children a sense of inferiority (often true).
In recent years such attitudes have led to attacks on the practice of teaching school courses exclusively in standard English; in the bilingual movement (really a monolingual movement) it has led to attacks on an exclusive use of the English language for instruction. ” Hirsch is speaking of the California curriculum guide. This is not an exact match to the aforementioned topics, but a good comparison of ideas. Hirsch would like to see students given a standard English curriculum.
The idea of providing works based on the cultural make-up of a school’s community population is illogical, in his opinion. In the article by Malcolm X, he does not necessarily state any opinion in particular of the ideas of culture with regard to the national education system, but it can be assumed that there is probably some correlation between his beliefs portrayed in the article and in public speeches with the view that cultures should, as in the idea of the “stew-pot,” be separated and only integrated when absolutely necessary.
He may also have believed that more than just Anglo and Caucasian cultures should be taught in schools as they were in the peak of his outspoken life. Malcolm X’s life most nearly demonstrates the idea of the “stew pot” of cultural separation. He believed that living in American society is “battling the white man. ” If anything, this idea separated or segregated society more than equalized it. Both of these authors have polarized points of view on the idea of culture’s role in society.
Unfortunately, neither holds a real answer to the question of education acculturation. Education is delicate aspect of American society that must be treated as such, for education holds the key to our nation’s future. Unfortunately this question of whether or not education should be acculturative cannot have a definite answer due to the fragility of the question. When answering “yes,” one must define to what effect it should be and in what aspects. This simply complicates the question even more and makes it nearly impossible to agree upon.
When answering “no,” an entire aspect of society is eliminated from the learning of America, and a “chunk” of the identity of America is “thrown out the window. ” Therefore, education should be acculturative, but the other questions that arise must be dealt with individually and issue by issue. Also, America should neither be a “stew pot,” nor a “melting pot. ” It should be something in between. Our country should be able to mix society and allow groups to intermingle, while still retaining heritage and individuality. Perhaps this will spurn from an eventual beneficial agreement on the question of acculturation.