Difference and Diversity in Ontario Schooling Date: Canada prides itself as one of the very few educational hubs where students from different diverse backgrounds are able to access same and equal education opportunities…
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Despite this, there are discontent voices in the overall education system of Canada. Not enough is being done in the education system to be able to provide all rounded education to people of divergent cultures. It will be naive to think that by providing a ‘standard’ form of education to everyone would yield same desired results. The truth is culture and diversity plays a key role in the education of an individual. An individual is a product his surrounding and these surrounding dictates that adjustment should be made to accommodate, assimilate or just understand that particular individual. The Canadian system has been criticized for seemingly favoring the dominant culture at the expense of immigrant cultures. The dominant white culture seems to be the propagated and ‘ideal’ way of living being fronted by the educational quotas. The concept of ‘Educating across difference’ has had its fair form of challenges that have cultural connotations. In reality it is not the cultural values themselves that bring out the difference in the education system, but it is the values that are attached to particular cultural practices that breed contention. To bury our heads in the sand and ignore issues centering on power and minority can greatly work to undue our delicate social fabric. Power related issues such as ethnocentrism, racism and sexism should form the basis of the discussion on the divergent cultural issue. To be able to understand and appreciate the urban educational system, we first have to learn a brief history of Canada. When faced with the question of diversity and difference, Canada has chosen five broad based responses, each determined by the ideology that was stronger at that specific time in the period. These five responses are; suppressing difference, insisting on the difference, denying difference, inviting difference and lastly critiquing difference. This model of response and framework have been granted by various scholars (Fleras and Elliot, 1992 and Murkerjee 1988; Sleeter and Grant 1944). 1. Suppressing Difference: Aggressive Assimilation The first framework of suppressing is an unsurprising form of human reaction when one meets diversity and divergent views. The dominant and the most widespread at the time take precedence and any new culture has to conform to the pre-existing one. The need for ‘civilize’ others saw some communities being forced to give up their language, religion and forced to embrace the superior French culture (Ashworth, 1993). This campaign of suppression was referred as aggressive assimilation and it was subjected on early immigrant families. The late 1800 brought more quests to ‘Canadize’ the huge numbers of immigrants arriving from Eastern and Southern European countries. This euphoria of the New Canada unwittingly gave rise of fascist and white supremacist movements, which had their support stemming, albeit innocently at first, from all lifestyles. Social Credit and CFF parties had endorsed such views bringing together the newly formed the United Church of Canada (Jaenen, 1977, pg. 89). Theories of Social Darwism emphasized on the superiority of Christianity, Anglo-Saxon, Western industrialization and capitalism. Therefore in this sense education was to be used to eliminate the difference in culture and propagate the ‘right’ cultures. 2. Insisting on Difference: Separation and Segregation The
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