Does Multiculturalism Have a Place in Higher Education? - Paper Exapmple

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1421 Words
Date:  2022-09-12


Multiculturalism in education is an intentional effort of exposing learners to different cultures, not only their own. There is movement in the USA that promotes multiculturalism in various disciplines in American higher education (Searle, 1993). However, some disagree with the movement as others argue that it threatens the central standards of objectivity as well as objectivity in academics. According to John Searle, the relevant bodies should give enough weight to the debate and include multiculturalism in higher education.

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According to John Searle, approaching the debate from the theoretical point of view can make it enjoyable. The discussion of multiculturalism in education will challenge the assumptions on the traditional conception that will make it possible to include other cultures in curriculum. Searle argues that even those who are the most conservative in our society will be forced to justify their reasoning and even change it.

The traditionalists' view of higher learning, mostly in the teaching of humanities uses the Western intellectual tradition (Searle, 1993). For instance, this tradition has a body of works of literature, art, philosophy, as well as the history that goes from the Greeks to the modern day. Though there are some alterations, there are still family resemblances in nearly all the leading works in the program (Searle, 1993). In philosophy, it extends from Socrates to Wittgenstein. Besides, it continues in the literature to James Joyce from Greek poets. For instance, for an individual to be an educated person in the USA, they must familiarize themselves with some of the vital traditional works as it defiles the US culture (Searle, 1993). People are therefore expected to be acquainted with these works, as the US as well as its constitution is a product of particular philosophical elements in the tradition that is included in the syllabus.

According to the debates, that has been going around among the challengers of this system is that the reading lists of the traditions consist of nearly all white males emerging from North America as well as Europe (Searle, 1993). Searle argues that there are many areas globally, whose contributions and achievements are entirely unrepresented in this education system(Searle, 1993). Besides, the USA currently consists of other minority groups and the women whose interests, achievements, tradition, as well as special needs, are underrepresented or even not represented at all in this system.

Searle argues that the traditionalists should respond to these objections by accepting them and amend the system. He states that it is difficult to find any traditionalists authors addressing the grievances directly and therefore, they should take the objections as valid criticism and mend the system as required by challengers (Searle, 1993). For instance, in case Asian writers have been excluded from the great works of literature, the curriculum developers should expand the system to recognize they are and learn from their work. Besides, if the great women writers are excluded from the policy because of gender, the curriculum should be revised to include them (Searle, 1993). The traditional theory illustrates that one of the benefits of higher levels of learning is to make us see our civilization as well as the sensibility mode as a possible form life among others (Searle, 1993). Therefore, the tradition supports enormous diversity within it. Searle considers some of the response of traditionalists inadequate based on the arguments presented, as the system is too exclusive, unrepresentative, and mostly carries works of dead individuals.

The assumptions that traditionalists make to support they argue that for an individual to be included in the list of classics, their work must have historical significance as well as intellectual merit (Searle, 1993). For example, Shakespeare is included due to his quality works. Secondly, the traditionalists assume that there are intersubjective standards of intelligence, truth, overall intellectual merits, validity, as well as rationality. For instance, Plato was included rather than randomly selecting comic strips as they think that there is a difference in quality between the two works; their standards are not algorithmic (Searle, 1993). Besides, traditionalists try to argue that the main idea behind the tradition is to enable their students to overcome mediocrity, provincialism, and other limitations (Searle, 1993). Another assumption is that in the cultures of the Western countries, there is a combination of extreme individualism and universalism. For example, a person achieves maximum intellectual by seeing oneself as part of universal human species having a general social culture. The first assumption put forward by traditionalists is that the critical role of liberal education is criticizing oneself and community (Searle, 1993). According to this principle, one should not live an unexamined life, and life criticized is examined life. The western tradition is savagely self-critical than any other intellectual tradition. Finally, it is possible to be both objective and truthful since there is an independent reality that exists which corresponds to our utterances (Searle, 1993). Although this view, realism, has faced many challenges from different forms of ideology, as well as relativism, it has remained leading philosophical view in the culture of the USA. For instance, our natural science is based on it.

Contrarily, the assumption by the challengers of liberal education is that the subgroup, in which an individual is born in which racial, class, gender as well as ethnic background determines, is crucial for learning (Searle, 1993). Therefore, other cultures should be included in the US education system to encourage self-definition. Secondly, the challengers are arguing that all cultures are intellectually equal. Therefore, learning more from only a representative ethnic group, gender, race, and class is just racism, which is old fashion (Searle, 1993). Besides, the third argument is that while selecting what to read, representativeness is essential. The multiculturalist education democracy requires every culture to be represented. The problem with the current system is that some groups are underrepresented, while some are unrepresented at all (Searle, 1993). Therefore, the curriculum should be revised to include other cultures.

Similarly, the previous three assumptions are related to the fourth one. The hypothesis states that the central role of education in the humanities is to transform individuals politically (Searle, 1993). Therefore, teaching is political as currently seen in most universities; as a result, all cultures should be represented. Besides, objective standards have no roles. According to the current philosophers, some of their claims cannot be trusted as some are just a reflection of local historical condition (Searle, 1993). The same could be the case with the old philosophers. Therefore, objective standards should not be a reason to prevent multiculturalism in education. Another, the presupposition of multiculturalists in school rejects realism and truth and supports relativism, for example, plagiarism (Searle, 1993). The current challengers are doubting science as well as apparatus of rationality, metaphysical realism and objective truth as presented in science, encouraging multiculturalism. Lastly, according to the challengers, historically, western civilization is oppressive (Searle, 1993). Domestically, it has a history that oppresses women, serfs, and even slaves. Internationally, it has colonialism and imperialism history (Searle, 1993). The same is reflected in the education system and therefore, should be revised to include many cultures.

In addition to the traditionalists and challengers of the debate, Searle too includes his assumptions. According to Searle for the systems of higher education to serve the democratic world, it should be elitist (Searle, 1993). Therefore, they absorb different students from diverse cultures and produce the best out of them. The reason why higher education is elitist, it has a high quest for intellectual quality. Since the main aim of higher education is to search for quality, it can easily be achieved through representation (Searle, 1993). The reason for diversity is that since academic talents are arbitrarily distributed among different societies, recruiting individuals from a given subsection will lead to losing access to many talented individuals. Therefore, there is a need for diversity in education. Finally, contrarily, good knowledge should make one dissatisfied to make them creative (Searle, 1993). According to Searle's arguments, multiculturalism should be encouraged in the education system.


According to me, I support multiculturalism in education since there is no culture which in inferior. Therefore, one should, feel represented encouraging students to learn. Besides, academic talents are randomly spread in different societies; thus, discriminating others may lead to stagnation in the development of a nation as such individuals may be discriminated making it difficult for them to participated in many activities. With multiculturalism, such instances may be eliminated, enabling economic growth. Since the USA is a democratic state, it requires that all cultures should be represented in all sectors. Therefore, multiculturalism is necessary for education.


Searle, J. R. (1993). Is there a crisis in American Higher Education? Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 46(4), 24-47

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