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Intercultural education: theory and practice

by David Coulby
Intercultural Education ()

Abstract

The paper examines the theoretical position of intercultural educational studies. It begins by stressing the vital importance of intercultural education and the progress that has been made in recent times. It then turns to the terminological shift that occurred two decades ago, from multicultural to intercultural education, which was accepted unquestioningly at the time. Retrospectively, we might ask what was the discursive strategy of this lexical change. Did it not serve to disguise the realities of much cultural interaction: conquest, slave trade, genocide? What are the theoretical (as distinct from the moral) premises of intercultural education? Is the aspiration realistically for an education able to negotiate between cultures rather than to show that there is more than one culture? As the subject appears not to be tightly focused, so the context is also under-theorized and effectively de-politicized. The international political, economic and cultural contextualization (globalization) of intercultural education is essential to its understanding. Is there an international view of intercultural education, or is it rather a few paradigmatic examples? The paper shows how the development of a social sciences and comparative perspective might assist the theoretical deficit suggested above.

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