Reconstituting multicultural education: a critical pedagogy at work : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University

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Massey University
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In the debates surrounding minority education, the demise of the previous policies of assimilation and integration has led, in their stead, to an advocacy for multicultural education. The promotion of multicultural education has been heralded as the means by which 'cultural pluralism' in schools can be fostered and the educational performance of minority children improved. If is argued here, however, that the rhetoric of cultural pluralism - most often associated with multicultural education - is not sufficient to change the position of minority groups within education. Indeed, it may serve simply to reinforce the disadvantages that such groups face. Rather, what is required of multicultural education, if it is to make a difference for minority children, is that it be guided by an 'informing theory' which links it to wider processes of social and cultural reproduction. When multicultural education is framed in this way - with an understanding of the wider reproductive processes that contribute to the structural disadvantaging of minority groups within schooling - it becomes clear that what is necessary in schools is significant structural reform at school level; that cultural pluralism needs to be tied to structural pluralism. In the following account, Richmond Road Primary School in Auckland, New Zealand will be discussed, using the approach of critical ethnography, as an example of a school which has embarked on such structural reform. By reconstituting school organisation, along with the traditional school 'message systems' (curriculum, pedagogy and assessment) that serve to disadvantage minority groups, Richmond Road demonstrates how an informed theory of multicultural education can be successfully realised in practice for the benefit of minority children.
Multicultural education, Minorities, Children of minorities, New Zealand