The Failure of Social Education in the United States: A Critique of Teaching the National Story from "White" Colourblind Eyes.

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    • Abstract:
      The curriculum discipline of Social Studies in the United States has historically been the field charged with preparing democratic citizens to participate in a complex political landscape that will serve to perpetuate the US national story of democracy, freedom and equality. However, it is our contention that the field of social education has failed to engage in a direct confrontation with one of the most significant and complicated themes in the US historical narrative - race. Race, simply, has been a defining problematic in the story of what it means to be an US citizen. The social studies must become the subject position to critically analyze and address this historical condition, especially when teaching and exploring with students the national narrative of what it means to be a democratic citizen. In an effort to address these issues, this article will explore the failure of social education research and practice to confront the issue of race, instead relying on a colourblind approach to the teaching of social studies. The discussion will include the different types of multiculturalism ideologies that social studies could pull from, specifically a critical multicultural approach that would enhance the charge of social studies teachers to develop critical, socially conscious citizens able to function in a democracy that is no longer white. Racism, like every form of irrationalism, is a fatal idea, so it is never merely an idea. But it is not an idea that occurs to people at birth. Racism is learned, and within a society divided into rich and poor but ruled by the rich, learning is often a method of deception. Such is the nature of capitalist schools where, as often as not, teachers willingly or unwillingly teach lies to the children, using methods of constructing knowledge that make decoding lies nearly impossible (Gibson, 2006, p. 51) A society founded on genocide, built on the labor of African slaves, developed by Latino serfs and Asian indentured servants, made fabulously wealthy through exploitation and masterful manipulation and mystification-a society like this is a society built on race. (Ayers, 1997, p. 131) [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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