PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
“Race and Class Categories and Subcategories in Educational Thought and Research,” Theory and Research in Education, March 2015: 1-18
Educational thought and research often operates with whole-race (“black,” “white,” “Asian”) and whole-class (“low-income”) categories, masking explanatorily and normatively important subdivisions. Regarding affirmative action, on average African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants, and to some extent their offspring, have educational and motivational advantages over, and a distinct normative standing from, African Americans. With regard to the performance of “high commitment” charter schools, such as KIPP, that make substantial demands on parents of admitted students compared to traditional public schools serving the same population, it is essential to internally differentiate the relevant race and class categories with respect to degree of poverty, English language learner status, and parental capital. Doing so poses normative problems for such charter schools.
"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.
“Multiculturalism,” for Denis Phillips (ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy (SAGE Publishers 2014)
Surveys issues in educational multiculturalism: equality and difference; culture and race; tolerance and respect; relativism; the multiple, distinct values understood as compromising multiculturalism.
“Solidarity, Equality, and Diversity as Educational Values in Western Multi-ethnic Societies,” Eva Johansson and Donna Berthelsen (eds.), Johansson, E., & Berthelsen D. (2012) (Eds.). Spaces for Solidarity and Individualism in Educational Contexts. Göteborg Studies in Educational Sciences, no 318. (Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Göteburgensis, 2012): 33-48
Two major forms of solidarity are solidarity among members of minority ethnic groups, and solidarity among citizens of a nation-state. The latter tends to be more emphasized in Europe than the U.S. and vice versa. Both forms of solidarity are valuable in providing a sense of belonging and meaningful bonds with others. Trans-group solidarity does not by itself guarantee two other important values—equality among members of the different groups, and positive diversity, in which the identities of members of minority groups are affirmed and respected. An educational program should teach the value of solidarity informed by equality and positive diversity. Swedish resistance to referring to race as well as to immigrants makes it difficult to keep the values of equality and positive diversity in view.
“’B5—it got all the dinks’: Schools and Education on The Wire,” darkmatter: in the ruins of imperial culture (: Special Issue: The Wire Files), April 29, 2011
Although all seasons of The Wire deal with society’s institutions, and how their perverse logic generates social oppression, the widely-admired fourth season—focused on schools—complexifies this framework. The powerful story of four poor, urban, black middle schoolers is also a critique of various contemporary corporate “school reform” efforts—the overfocus on standardized testing, the devaluing of the day-to-day professional efforts of ordinary caring teachers, the neglect of poverty and family dysfunction’s impact on students’ ability to succeed in school, the blind eye to the defunding of schools. I also favorably compare The Wire’s portrayal of the imperfect white teacher, Prez, with the unreal and borderline racist “white savior” trope found in Hollywood films such as Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers.
“Confusions about ‘Culture’ in Explaining the Racial Achievement Gap, in John Arthur’s Race, Equality, and the Burdens of History,” APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Law, vol 9, #1, fall 2009: 1-5
John Arthur recognizes three possible explanations of differences in school grades and attainment between black and white students (the so-called “achievement gap”)—racial discrimination, class factors, and culture. I argue that Arthur’s case for giving disproportionate weight to culture stems from several errors: (1) a narrow understanding of class simply as current family income, that results in counting some class characteristics as cultural ones; (2) failure to recognize that ethnic clustering in particular occupations (Irish in police, Chinese in laundries, Jews in commerce) often has nothing to do with ethnic culture, and derives from exclusions from other occupations or the establishing of a “beachhead” making it easier for later waves of that ethnicity to find work; (3) an uncritical and unsupported acceptance of the idea that black students routinely scorn and socially stigmatize successful black students; (4) failure to explore “non-culturalist” reasons why black students may not fully engage with school, especially those connected with racial discrimination, either in school itself or in the job market; (5) failure to translate Arthur’s own proffered evidence into practices that teachers could engage in to enhance the schooling experience of black students.
“Prejudice,” in Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education, ed. Harvey Siegel (Oxford University Press, 2009): 451-468
Prejudice is an affect (generally negative, but not necessarily) toward an entity, often (and here) a group, bound up with an insufficiently warranted evaluation of the group negatively or positively. The article focuses on negative prejudice, taking up whether prejudice has a different psychic structure when directed against different groups (e.g. gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims); reactive prejudice (prejudice on the part of the victimized toward members of the victimizing group but not necessarily the actual victimizers themselves); prejudices that encompass only certain sub-groups within a larger group (young black men, or black people who express their identity in a public way, but not all black people); and social, individual, and historical causes of prejudices. Prejudice is widespread but not ineradicable, and is not a necessary product of drawing an in-group/out-group boundary. Education can mitigate prejudice under certain conditions, although it is not easy to do so. The “contact hypothesis” articulates one influential theory of the required conditions. Respectful (though not sanitized) curricular approaches to the study of groups widely targeted for prejudice can also have salutary effects. Since prejudice can be either conscious or unconscious (sometimes called “implicit”), different educational approaches are called for for each of their mitigation.
“Racial Integration in a Multicultural Age,” in S. Macedo and Y. Tamir (eds.), Moral and Political Education: NOMOS XLIII (NYU 2002): 383-424
[large portion reprinted) in Randall Curren (ed.), Philosophy of Education: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2007)]
I argue for a non-assimilationist ideal of racial (and ethnic) integration in schools, recognizing that under certain non-ideal circumstances integration will not always be the preferred policy. Certain traditional associations of the term “integration” need to be abandoned—that it requires assimilation (the abandoning of distinctive cultures and identities), and that it concerns only whites and blacks. The Brown decision of 1954 contained several distinct and not always mutually consistent arguments for school integration—e.g. that racially separate schools would always have unequal resources because of white advantage and white power; that separate schools psychologically damaged black children; that separate schools were “inherently unequal” hence wrong. Arguments in favor of integration in the recent past have focused almost exclusively on the learning opportunities and social and cultural capital benefits to disadvantaged black and Latino students of mixed schools. This is a narrow focus and is somewhat insulting to these students, their families, and their communities.
I argue that the benefits of school integration are much more extensive in character than social capital benefits to disadvantaged racial minorities, and that they also accrue to whites and other advantaged students as well. These benefits are civic (e.g. nurturing a commitment to racial justice; gaining a deeper understanding of the experiences and histories of different groups), social (having a wider circle of friends and acquaintances across racial lines), moral (e.g. reducing prejudice, treating racial others with respect), and personal (in the sense of personal growth); these overlap but are also distinct. These goods are asymmetric in importance across racial groups—e.g. whites are more likely to need the civic knowledge and commitments than other groups. And they obtain to different degrees under varying conditions, so mere co-presence of different racial groups is not generally sufficient to achieve the maximum of any of the goods involved (though it may achieve them to some extent).
“Recognition and Multiculturalism in Education,” in Journal of the Philosophy of Education, vol. 35, issue 4, November 2001: 539-559
Charles Taylor's `Politics of Recognition' has given philosophical substance to the idea of `recognition' and has solidified a link between recognition and multiculturalism. I argue that Taylor oversimplifies the valuational basis of recognition; fails to appreciate the difference between recognition of individuals and of groups; fails to articulate the value of individuality; fails to appreciate the difference between race and ethnoculture as dimensions of identity; and fails to appreciate equality as a recognitional value. The value of recognition in education goes beyond multiculturalism, and the reasons for multiculturalism go far beyond recognitional concerns.
Review - essay of Walter Feinberg, Common Schools/Uncommon Identities: National Unity and Cultural Difference (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), in Teachers College Record, vol. 103, #1, February 2001: 99-111
"Value Underpinnings of Antiracist and Multicultural Education," in Mal Leicester, Sohan Modgil, and Celia Modgil (eds.), Education, Culture, and Values (Systems of Education: Theories, Policies, and Implicit Values) (London: Falmer Press, 2000), 3-14
"Universal Values and Particular Identities in Anti-Racist Education," Philosophy of Education (1999 year book of the Philosophy of Education Society) (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign): 70-77
"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)