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Even where accommodations are made to include ethnic studies or bilingual education in the curriculum content, the structure, method, and processes through which the content is organized and transmitted are usually reflective of mainstream patterns and exert a dominant influence on the student (cf., Bayne, 1969).Schools are agents of the dominant society and as such, they reflect the underlying cultural patterns of that society.An alternative goal of "cultural eclecticism" will then be offered as the basis for the ensuing discussion.
In each dimension we will work toward a cross-cultural approach in the development of educational programs and practices for cultural minorities. One of the most difficult, yet most important tasks in the design of any educational program is to make explicit the goals toward which the program is directed.A less direct, but often explicit function attributed to the school is that of developing "citizenship" and the appropriate attitudes and understandings necessary for participation in a democratic society.Again, the emphasis is on preparation for the roles and expectations associated with membership in the larger society.Some of the least direct and least explicit functions of the school become apparent when it is viewed in the context of cultural minority education.The traditional intellectual and social functions indicated above are then confounded by the additional and seemingly invidious factors associated with cultural differences, such as conflicting values, varied learning styles, diverse behavior patterns, non-conforming social allegiances, and alternative perceptions of reality.If assimilation is desired and is to be achieved in full by a cultural minority, it must be supported by social, political and economic forces beyond those available through the school.Though the school may serve a useful, and even necessary function in the assimilation process, it cannot accomplish the task alone (cf., St. If cultural assimilation is not desired, alternative goals must be adequately articulated so as to be able to assess the extent to which schools may or may not be able to contribute to their attainment.Cultural pluralism is advocated as an educational goal by those who seek a pluralistic, multi-cultural society in which each ethnic, racial or religious group contributes to the larger society within the context of its own unique cultural traditions (cf., Banks, 1976).The school's task, therefore, is to recognize the minority culture and to assist the student to function more effectively within that culture.Any approach to educational development is a multi-faceted affair, with many dimensions on which decisions must be made, and numerous alternatives from which to choose on each dimension.Of primary importance, however, is that the alternatives selected be commonly understood and agreed upon, and that they reflect consistency from one dimension to the next.