By Stephen May
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Extra info for Making Multicultural Education Work (The Language and Education Library, Vol 7)
Carrington & Short, in their informative and lucid account of these debates in Britain, directly address this difficulty of implementation when they argue: In recent years, there has been a tremendous growth of literature on multicultural and antiracist education . . Although the expanding literature has served to highlight some of the dilemmas faced by practitioners, it may also have led many of them to perceive the issue as unduly esoteric, politically contentious and divorced from classroom reality.
Reproduction theorists, for example, have emphasised the structural processes of inequality to refute the earlier liberal-democratic conception that academic success in education was based, unproblematically, on individual effort. Radical theorists have subsequently been critical, however, of reproduction theory for overemphasising structural constraints and have tried to reintroduce human agency, as resistance, into the equation. These debates within the sociology of education are widely known and ongoing.
Targeting the inherent monoculturalism of these previous policies, advocates of multicultural education argued in their stead for the fostering of `cultural pluralism' at the school level. By this, it was thought, the educational `underachievement' of minority children would be redressed. This enthusiasm for multicultural education was also enhanced by the apparent ease with which multicultural programmes could be adopted in schools; not only was it seen as a theoretical advance but it was practical as well, or so it seemed.