"Three educational values for a multicultural society: Difference recognition, national cohesion and equality," Journal of Moral Education, 43:3, 2014: 1-13
Educational aims for societies comprising multiple ethnic, cultural, and racial groups should involve three different values—recognizing difference, national cohesion, and equality. Recognition of difference acknowledges and respects ethnocultural identities and encourages mutual engagement across difference. National cohesion involves teaching a sense of civic attachment to a nation and to one’s fellow citizens of different groups and identities. “Multiculturalism” has traditionally been understood to support the first value but not as much the second, a charge made by “interculturalism,” a newer idea in Europe and Francophone Canada. Tariq Modood has argued that national integration has always been a goal of multiculturalism. However, neither multiculturalism nor interculturalism has placed sufficient emphasis on equality as a social and educational ideal. Equality is a complex idea that involves both equal treatment by teachers of students from different groups but also relative equal student outcomes among different groups.
“Political Identity and Moral Education: A Response to Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind,” Journal of Moral Education, 42:3, (2013):298-315
In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt claims that liberals have a narrower moral outlook than do conservatives; they are concerned with fairness and relief of suffering, which Haidt sees as individualistic values, while conservatives in addition care about authority and loyalty, values concerned with holding society together. I question Haidt’s methodology, which overlooks liberals who express concerns with social bonds that do not fit within an “authority” or “loyalty” framework. Political liberalism has richer moral resources to draw on than Haidt recognizes.
I also argue that of Haidt's six “moral foundations,” fairness and relief of suffering are more fundamental values than are authority and loyalty, which are virtues only if their objects are worthy. Moral education programs must also permit inquiry into the reasons for political behavior (e.g. voting) other than professed (liberal or conservative) value commitments. In light of these considerations, conservatism emerges as morally flimsier than Haidt claims and liberalism more morally robust.
“Secularism, multiculturalism, and same sex marriage: A comment on Brenda Almond,” Journal of Moral Education, vol 39, #2, June 2010: 145-160
In an article in this journal, British moral philosopher Brenda Almond argues that many current defenders of gay rights, and of gays more generally, in school and society, have become intolerant, while allegedly defending tolerance of gays; and that a “militant secularism” has contributed to a hostility to religion that, in part, fuels this intolerance. In response, I argue that multiculturalism has rightly recommended a higher standard of respect and acceptance of ethnic and sexual orientation difference than mere tolerance. Almond criticizes a code of conduct for UK teachers which requires them to proactively challenge discrimination, e.g. against gays/lesbians as intolerant of Christians. I reply that professional responsibilities can compete with private conscience (religiously-grounded or not) and must sometimes trump it, as in this case when a safe school setting for every child is at stake, as homophobia is still common in schools in the UK and the US. Schools rightly sustain certain civic values, such as respect for certain differences, that must sometimes trump parental values also, again religiously-based or not.
“Multiculturalism and Moral Education,” in Elizabeth Kiss and J. Peter Euben (eds.), Debating Moral Education: Rethinking the Role of the Modern University (Duke University Press, 2010): 140-160
Moral education and multiculturalism have not made much contact with each other, and indeed some see multiculturalism as a threat to the shared values presumed in moral education. I argue that multiculturalism is a positive resource for moral education at the university level. There are three complex families of moral values—equality, pluralism, and community, each with distinct sub-values—that are plausible candidates for a moral education program. (For example, pluralism includes tolerance, acknowledgment, and appreciation of difference.) Although each of the three is a general value, their “diversity forms” present distinctive moral challenges and characteristics that render them not merely applications of general values.
“Stereotypes and Stereotyping: A Moral Analysis,” Philosophical Papers (special issue on Immoral Believing), 33(3), November 2004: 251-290
Stereotypes are false or misleading generalizations about groups, generally widely shared in a society, and held in a manner resistant to counterevidence. Stereotypes shape the stereotyper’s perception of stereotyped groups, seeing the stereotypic characteristics when they are not present, and generally homogenizing the group. The association between the group and the given characteristic involved in a stereotype often involves a cognitive investment weaker than that of a belief.
The cognitive distortions involved in stereotyping lead to various forms of moral distortion, to which moral philosophers have paid insufficient attention. Some of these are common to all stereotypes—failing to see members of the stereotyped groups as individuals, moral distancing, failing to see subgroup diversity within the group. Other moral distortions vary with the stereotype. Some attribute a much more damaging or stigmatizing characteristic (e.g. being violent) than others (e.g. being good at basketball). But the latter must also be viewed in their wider historical and social context to appreciate their overall negative and positive dimensions. The popular film The Passion of the Christ illustrates this point in its portrayal and Jews and Romans.
“The Poles, the Jews, and the Holocaust: Reflections on an AME Trip to Auschwitz,” in Journal of Moral Education, vol. 33, #2 (June, 2004): 131-148
Two trips to Auschwitz (in 1989 and 2003) provide a context for reflection on fundamental issues in civic and moral education. Custodians of the Auschwitz historical site are currently aware of its responsibility to educate about the genocide against the Jews, as a morally distinct element in its presentation of Nazi crimes at Auschwitz. Prior to the fall of communism (in 1989), the site’s message was dominated by a misleading civic narrative about Polish victimization by and resistance to Nazism. I discuss the attempts of many Polish intellectuals in the past twenty-five years to engage in an honest and difficult civic project of facing up to their history, as it is entwined with anti-Semitism, with the centuries-long presence of Jews in Poland, and with their current absence. An interaction with a tour guide in the 2003 trip, who wrongly but understandably took me to be criticizing Poles for their failure to help Jews during the Holocaust, prompts further reflections on the difficulties of grasping the moral enormity of genocide, on the dangers of stereotyping, on the conditions under which it is appropriate to proffer and to withhold well-founded moral judgments, and on the moral importance of (appropriate) emotions when moral action is extraordinarily risky or dangerous.
"Race, Community, and Moral Education: Kohlberg and Spielberg as Moral Educators," Journal of Moral Education, vol. 28, #2, 1999:125-143
Literature on moral education has contributed surprisingly little to our understanding of issues of race and education. The creation of inter-racial communities in schools is a particularly vital antiracist educational goal, one for which public support in the United States has weakened since the 1970s. As contexts for antiracist moral education, such communities should involve racially plural groups of students learning about, and engaging in, common aims, some of which must be distinctly antiracist: an explicit concern to institute racially just norms within the community (re ̄ ecting, yet going beyond, Kohlberg’s own communitarian justice focus in his Just Community schools) and to foster social justice in society generally; and an appreciation of distinct cultural and racial identities within a community. Popular culture has an important role to play in providing salient cultural imagery of inter-racial co-operation and antiracist activity. In this regard, several fllms of Stephen Spielberg (Amistad, Saving Private Ryan), a film-maker who takes his responsibilities as moral educator seriously, are promising yet ultimately disappointing.
Essay review of Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Students Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?; Louise Derman-Sparks and Carol Phillips, Teaching/Learning Anti-Racism; Benjamin DeMott, The Trouble With Friendship; Harlon Dalton, Racial Healing; Nathan Glazer, We Are All Multiculturalists Now; Dinesh D'Souza, The End of Racism. For Teachers College Record, vol. 10, #4, June 1999: 860-880
"Multicultural Education as Values Education," Harvard Project on Schooling and Children (as of 1999: Harvard Children's Initiative), Working Paper, 1997
"Antiracism, Multiculturalism, and Interracial Community: Three Educational Values for a Multicultural Society," Office of Graduate Studies and Research, Univ. of Mass., Boston, 1992 [reprinted in several collections]
"Antiracist Civic Education and the California History-Social Science Framework," in R. Fullinwider (ed.), Public Education in a Multicultural Society: Policy, Theory, Critique, (Cambridge University Press, 1996)