Why we can’t just teach all students the same...
Good practitioners usually think that they will be effective with students regardless of issues related to race, social, class and ethnicity. The idea of “colorblindness”, while great in theory, is flawed. Colorblindness as a premise is not flawed because of the teacher, but because a colorblind approach ignores the history of discrimination and inequity in our society which has placed many ethnic groups and diverse learners in disadvantaged situations.
Banks (2001) terms this need for “colorblindness” as assimilationist ideology- dangerous because cultural groups with characteristics that cause their members to function unsuccessfully in the common culture are seen as deficient, deprived, and pathological, lacking the needed functional characteristics to be successful in society (McWhorter, 2000).
Put another way, assimilationist ideology espouses that strategies of teaching and learning which reflect the dominant culture and the culture of the nation are the only ones that should be used universally. Emphasis on cultural and ethnic differences in curriculum are seen a threat to this process. The focus of the school under this philosophy then, should be on socializing youths to the national-civic culture.
In theory, all of our learners should be taught the same, but a glance into history tells us something remarkably different. The harsh reality that perception is reality is unfounded. In America we have discriminated against African Americans, placed Japanese citizens in internment camps, banished Native Americans to reservations, told persons of Irish ancestry that they do not need to be hired, and have barred access to Ivy League institutions for those of Jewish descent. This is not to mention discrimination demonstrated against women, persons who speak a different language, practice another religion, have a disability or identify themselves as gay or lesbian.
All men are created as equals according to our constitution, but we have a distinct history of falling short when the idea is put to the test. An assimulationist ideology wants us to function as computers which can be rebooted as the flip of a switch and cleared of all of our biases which have impacted our perception of people. Trying to place one blanket of instruction on an increasingly diverse student base is like attempting to place a square peg into a round hole.