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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cultural Diversity School: A Charter Idea

With Christmas just around the corner in the world of Christendom, “’Tis the season.” Or, so they say. It seems as though the vast majority of Americans are bemoaning the fact that they cannot buy all the material goods they so desire for Christmas gifts and cry out that they will not have a good Christmas. Have they forgotten that Christmas is supposed a religious holiday in a celebratory observance of the birth of Jesus, the Christ child?

And, have all the “good” Christians of the world not learned of the “love” of our fellow human beings as was preached by Jesus of Nazareth? I have to ask my Christian friends: Are we not to love our neighbors?

There is so much prejudice and discrimination in the world. I have known so many Catholics and Protestants who speak “hate” words about Jews, Muslims, and those of other non-Christian religions. If that isn’t bad enough, various other ethnicities and other groups of people come under attack by so-called “good Christians” with those groups including Blacks, Arabs, Asians, Gays, Freemasons, Irish, Germans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and so on and so forth.

But, it isn’t only some Christians who are believers of prejudice and practioners of discrimination. I know of some so-called “religious” Jewish people and of some “true” believers of Islam who do the same thing. I find it almost overwhelming to see the vast numbers of people who preach the “brotherhood of man” and “love of others” and then turn around and live a life that contradicts their religious teachings. They are the hypocrites that speak ill of others who are of a different color, a different religious denomination, a different sexual orientation, a different country of origin family history, a different political perspective, a different --- well, a different anything.

Are we not all supposed to be loving and understanding and compassionate and caring and giving and tolerant and respectful of others?

In our American society, we have laws and rules and regulations that are protective of religious, gender, racial, nationality, physical ability, age, and other individual differences. We have public policies to promote cultural differences as something to understand and respect. However, the way in which American parents raise the children of the next generation is not necessarily advancing the practice that cherishes and celebrates cultural differences.

As with other states within the United States of America, the State of Ohio has had an alternative public educational system of charter schools, which in Ohio are technically named community schools. For the past ten years, I have spoken with many leaders in both the governmental sector and the private sector of the charter community school movement to advance the concept of establishing a school that has cultural diversity as its core subject. I envision such a school that would have courses teaching the history of the regions and countries of the world, along with the history and beliefs of the peoples who have occupied those regions and countries, their societal and political systems, their customs, their languages, their religions, etc. Contrary to popular belief, it is legal to teach the factual basic tenets and beliefs of various religions in our public schools; and therefore, it is legal to teach courses in comparative religion.

Imagine, if you will, a school in which the child has the opportunity to learn all about the Slavic peoples, the Celts, the ancient Orient, the development of modern European countries as well as of other countries, Native Americans, Druids, nomadic peoples, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, the various versions of “The Great Flood” as described in so many religions, the variety of marriage and family systems that have been observed in different cultures throughout time, foreign languages both present and past including sign, theocracies and autocracies and monarchies and dictatorships and democracies, wars that have been waged because of cultural differences, and so much more.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found any support, except lip service, from those with the resources to establish such a charter school. I firmly believe a Charter Cultural Diversity School could have a real true impact in making the world a better place.

Most, if not all, American public schools incorporate some level of what I propose, although to a much more limited degree than that which I envision.

I ask my fellow Ohioans: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Ohio Public Educational System would take the lead and incorporate more fully the premise of such a school, or schools, that I propose?


p.s.
More about cultural diversity may be found in the embedded link over here.

1 comment:

Tim Higgins said...

Roland,

My friend, the problem is that you have hit two of the hot buttons: cultural diversity and charter schools. To make matters worse, you propose a curriculum not previously approved by the teacher's union.

Fear not however, for time will solve at least one of these problems. Each generation sheds some of the predjudices of the prior, and diversity is (far too) slowly achieved.

As for your study plan, I am entirely for classes in comparative religion (which I took in high school) and a class which I choose to call "History without an agenda". I would add however; ethics and symbolic logic to the basic reading, writing, and math skills which seem to have disappeared. Of course the real trick would be teaching all of this without being sued by the parents or the ACLU for rights violations.