Teaching About Race and Racism in Our Past and Present

  • Paul OrlowskiEmail author
Part of the Explorations of Educational Purpose book series (EXEP, volume 17)


This chapter begins with a personal narrative of becoming slowly conscious of issues of race and discrimination in Canada. The formal curriculum is identified as a hegemonic device in creating myopia around, for example, institutionalized and systemic oppression of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. The various racial discourses used during the nation-building periods of the United States and Canada, the postWorld War II period, and today are explained in ways that teachers can use in the classroom. These racial discourses are connected to conservatism, liberalism, and the critical left. The analysis of the formal social studies curriculum is based on Frankenberg's (White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993) taxonomy of racial discourses and Apple's (2004) Ideology & Curriculum. These discourses are also apparent in the attitudes of White teachers toward racial minorities. The chapter also discusses the various forms of multiculturalism outlined by Kincheloe and Steinberg (Changing multiculturalism, Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 1997) and links them to political ideology, as well. Readers will understand that the conservative critique of multicultural education emphasizes that it waters down the western canon, while the position of many in the critical left is that liberal pluralist forms of multicultural education do not do enough to combat racism. The chapter demonstrates how the popular color-blind discourse supports the myth of meritocracy. The color-blind and the cultural-deficit discourses have greatly influenced the thinking of many teachers. Readers will develop a comprehension of how racial and cultural power structures are maintained within liberal power-blind conceptions of multicultural education. Exercises will focus on both personal and theoretical reflections on these concepts and research findings.


Aboriginal People Political Ideology White People Multicultural Education Racist Attitude 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Saskatchewan/SaskatoonSaskatoonCanada

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