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A Different Approach to Teaching Multiculturalism: Pragmatism as a Pedagogy and Problem-Solving Tool


by Sue Ellen Henry — 2005

This article explores the moral imperative for teaching multiculturalism from a classically pragmatic point of view. Through an examination of the principles of classical pragmatism, embodied in the work of John Dewey, this analysis suggests that approaching multiculturalism from a pragmatic perspective lends a necessary moral foundation for the work of the multicultural educational reform movement. Critique of the conventional race-based approach reveals several durable dichotomies that can serve to distinguish Students of Color from White students in unproductive ways. I suggest that conceiving of the multiculturalism classroom's primary purpose as a developmental tool for individual students diminishes its potential as a location to sponsor a moral community that fosters a sense of the collective and of mutual multicultural problem solving.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 5, 2005, p. 1060-1078
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11850, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 5:10:51 PM

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About the Author
  • Sue Henry
    Bucknell University
    E-mail Author
    SUE ELLEN HENRY is an assistant professor of education and has taught at Bucknell University for the past six years. Prior to teaching, she worked in university administration at Bucknell, the University of Vermont, the University of California at Davis, La Salle University, and the University of Virginia. Her research interests focus on moral and democratic education, inclusive pedagogical practices, and sociology of education. She is currently coediting a special issue of Educational Studies devoted to exploring the historical legacy and social outcomes of color blindness in educational settings. Her recent publications include “What Pragmatism Can Offer Educational Reform Debates: Method, Means, and Motive” (with Abe Feuerstein; International Journal of Educational Reform, Spring 2003) and “The Role of Reflection in Epistemological Change: Autobiography in Teacher Education” (with Mary Bushnell; Educational Studies, Spring 2003).
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