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Education in a cosmopolitan Society

Multiculturalism is being challenged by new theories of cosmopolitanism. Discuss in relation to education. Theories of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism have had a profound effect on Australian curriculum and education. Issues such as racism and secularisation have been a prominent feature of discussion in relation to the way it shapes the Australian curriculum and the shaping of our society. Multicultural education has been incorporated into the Australian curriculum since 1983. Rooted into the curriculum were multicultural perspectives and intercultural education, as an attempt to change attitudes towards a multicultural society.

“Multiculturalism, in this sense, is ideologically inscribed in the very core of the “new Australia”(Ang, I. & Stratton, 1998). “In Australia as in Canada, multiculturalism is a centrepiece of official government policy, that is, a top-bottom political strategy implemented by the state to improve the inclusion of ethnic minorities within the national culture and to “manage cultural diversity”. (Ang, I. & Stratton, 1998) Since its introduction multiculturalism has been a policy that worked to accommodate the needs of immigrants.

Multiculturalism became a theory that expressed the personality of the emergent ethno-cultural diversity of society in the final decades of the twentieth century. Although in theory, multiculturalism preaches equality, the development of self-awareness and self-worth, society has been faced with several problems in regards to the practice of multiculturalism in Australian curriculum. Some of these problems stem from the mentality where Social groups stay together and exclude others and also labelling on the basis of stereotypes occurs. It has also seen to have many benefits like the decrease of cultural based racism and an awareness of other cultures.

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Multicultural policies are constantly challenged and changing in Australia due to emerging cosmopolitan ideas and the way that these ideas shape the changing education curriculum in schools. The three different types of cosmopolitanism include political, moral and cultural cosmopolitanism. Differing from multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism acknowledges the fact that cultures can change and their mode of orientation to the world can also change so that people can develop a cosmopolitan disposition for themselves in the form of self-transformation. Where multiculturalism has problems of selectiveness, cosmopolitanism maintains indifference to labels and stereotypes to create a diverse atmosphere. Cosmopolitanism pursues to assume transformations in cultural standards through the education of self-awareness, agency and identity. Together with education, cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism contributes to modelling a inclusive society. Delanty (2006) states, “The critical aspect of cosmopolitanism concerns the internal transformation of social and cultural phenomena through self-problematisation and pluralisation. It is in the interplay of self, other and world that cosmopolitan processes come into play. Without a learning process, that is an internal cognitive transformation, it makes little sense in calling something cosmopolitan. As used here, the term refers to a developmental change in the social world arising out of competing cultural models.

This suggests a procedural conception of the social.” Cosmopolitan learning is ‘not so much concerned with imparting knowledge and developing attitudes and skills for understanding other cultures per se but with helping students examine these, but with helping students examine the ways in which global processes are creating conditions of economic and cultural exchange that are transforming our identities and communities.’ (Rizvi 2009:265-266) Cosmopolitan learning stresses the idea that education is a crucial element in supporting the transformation of individuals and culture. It helps to move away from the “us” versus “them” perception that developed through multiculturalism. Educators should support students to explore the cosmopolitan ideas of global interconnectivity and individuality. This cosmopolitan view will enable students to connect locally built practices of cultural exchange to the wider practices of globalization. Cosmopolitan learning when incorporated into an already multicultural society and curriculum can help to achieve a level of interconnectedness and acceptance, also to maintain a diverse and open minded curriculum based learning.

Ang, I. & Stratton, J. (1998) Multiculturalism in Crisis: The New Politics of Race and National Identity in Australia. Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 2, 22-41 Delanty, G. (2006). The cosmopolitan imagination: critical cosmopolitanism and social theory. The British Journal of Sociology, 57(1),
25-47. Leeman, Y. & Reid, C. (2006). Multi/Intercultural Education in Australia and the Netherlands. Compare: A Journal of Comparative Education, 36(1), 57-72 Rizvi, F. (2008). Epistemic Virtues and Cosmopolitan Learning Radford Lecture, Adelaide Australia 27 November 2006. The Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 13-35 Sobe, N. W. (2009). Rethinking “Cosmopolitanism” as an Analytic for the Comparative Study of Globalization and Education. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 12(1), 6-13 Spisak, S. (2009). The Evolution of a Cosmopolitan Identity: Transforming Culture. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 12(1), 86-91 Werbner, P. (2006). Vernacular cosmopolitanism. Theory, Culture & Society, 23(2-3), 496-498

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Education in a cosmopolitan Society
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