Learning About the Other: Cultural Difference and American Education

By Liz Jackson.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Ignorance about Islam and the Middle East remains widespread in the United States, and while the role of mainstream media is regularly scrutinized, the role of formal education in dissolving common prejudice and enabling international understanding is normally overlooked. This paper considers the potential educational need posed by American ignorance about Islam and the Middle East, focusing on three major interrelated questions. First, what is known about Islam by Americans today? Second, what factors - political, cultural, institutional, and so on - enable widespread ignorance about Islam and the Middle East on the part of average, educated American citizens? Third, how might formal education allow for greater cross-cultural/multi-cultural understanding of societies outside the United States? In answering these questions, the author considers various theories of cross-cultural interaction (from the "clash of civilizations" to Foucauldian knowledge/power and Orientalism) as well as contemporary educational theories on multiculturalism and the politics of education.

Keywords: Education, Culture, Difference, Educational Theory, Islam, American Politics

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.477-484. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 526.908KB).

Liz Jackson

Instructor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, USA

Liz Jackson is a doctoral candidate in educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jackson received her baccalaureate degree from Portland State University and her Master's degree at the University of Cambridge and has taught in cross-cultural settings in Turkey and Mexico. Her research areas include global studies in education, philosophy of education, and social justice and multicultural education. She is currently writing her dissertation entitled "Reconsidering Multicultural Education: Cultural Representation and Islam Since September 11.

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