What is Multiculturalism?
During the last 15 years I have been dealing with this topic. I have specialized in teaching English in multicultural environments. More will come later...
From Multiculturalism to Interculturalism and to Dialogic Cultures
Five years ago UNESCO organized an international conference titled Intercultural Education.
Many participants, including myself, presented their papers
referring to multiculturalism as a similar concept.
Lately, multiculturalism became a buzz word under attack,
blamed to encourage separateness.
There is a kind of disillusionment from the vision of multicultural integration
and cohision in our societies.
Voltaire suggested to "define our terms" .
We call to "refine" our terms.
"Interculturalism" is the exchange between cultural groups.
But, when considered as fostering "… the celebration of things that we all have in common ahead of the things that make us
different…" as one expert writes,
as educators we have to mention at least two reservations:
a) the intercultural exchange does not happen by itself.
b) focusing on common themes ahead of differences, is usually the outcome of a long educational process.
The bottom line is that in "the information age"and "the digital age",
between "multiculturalism" and "interculturalism" - the role of education is crucial more than ever.
From that perspective, we have developed in Language Connections the dialogue model:
fostering dialogic cultures that participate in dialogues and dialogic interculturalism characterized by dialogues.
Going back, refining our concepts, one might say that
"multiculturalism" is recognizing diversity in a society,
"interculturalism" is focusing on exchange between cultural groups
and dialogic interculturalism is the educational model
facilitating that mutually benefitial exchange.