Multicultural Education as Social Activism

By Christine E. Sleeter

Subjects: Multicultural Education
Series: SUNY series, The Social Context of Education
Paperback : 9780791429983, 292 pages, July 1996
Hardcover : 9780791429976, 292 pages, July 1996

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Table of contents


1. Multicultural Education as a Form of Resistance to Oppression

2. Gender as a Mediator of Racial Consciousness

3. Political Perspectives about Difference and Inequality

4. Resisting Racial Awareness: How Teachers Understand the Social Order from their Social Locations

5. This Curriculum is Multicultural … Isn't It?

6. Reflections on my Use of Multicultural and Critical Pedagogy when Students are White

7. Multicultural Education, Social Positionality, and Whiteness

8. Race, Class, Gender and Abandoned Dreams (with Carl A. Grant)

9. Teaching Science for Social Justice

10. Power and Privilege in White Middle Class Feminist Discussions of Gender and Education

11. Multicultural Education as Social Movement

12. Educating the New Majority: A Play



Explores connections between multicultural education, social activism, and critical analyses of oppression.


Connecting multicultural education with political issues of power and struggle, this book explores what multicultural education means to white people, given the unequal racial power relations in the U. S. and worldwide. It examines connections between race, gender, and social class, particularly as these connections play out for white women. While taking a feminist perspective, the author is also wary of the power white middle class women exercise in defining what counts as gender issues. Throughout the book, Sleeter argues that multicultural education was born in political struggle and can never meaningfully be disconnected from politics. Ultimately the quest for schooling for social justice is a political quest rather than a technical issue.

Christine E. Sleeter is Professor and Planning Faculty Member at California State University–Monterey Bay. She is co-editor (with Peter L. McLaren) of Multicultural Education, Critical Pedagogy, and the Politics of Difference and (with Joseph M. Larkin) Developing Multicultural Teacher Education Curricula; and editor of Empowerment through Multicultural Education, all published by SUNY Press. She is co-author (with C. A. Grant) of Turning on Learning; Making Choices for Multicultural Education: Five Approaches to Race, Class and Gender; and After the School Bell Rings; and author of Keepers of the American Dream: Multicultural Education and Staff Development.


"If it is true that race is rarely a topic of deep discussion among the majority of preservice students and education professionals, then Sleeter's honest personal narrative should help stimulate the dialogue …This volume takes the discussion away from sterile academic discourse and into the not-always-pretty world of real social action and change. " —Anthropology and Education Quarterly

"This book interweaves a strong theoretical framework with accounts of one's journey to understanding race, gender, and class and their influence upon identity, personal experiences, and reflections on one's own teaching as well as others. The book situates contemporary debates about multiculturalism in the U. S. within a larger international context of English-speaking countries, confronting difference. The author links theory to practice and discusses successes as well as frustrations in teaching multiculturalism as a social movement. She also critiques conservative and liberal approaches and problematizes radical critics in their dismissiveness. I found this book groundbreaking, thought provoking, and insightful regarding the personal, the political, and the pedagogical engagement in multicultural education. " — Sandra Jackson, DePaul University

"My understanding and appreciation of multicultural education as a broad, emancipative orientation toward schooling has been substantially expanded. Christine Sleeter unflinchingly addresses some of the most important issues in our society and in our schools. " — Jim Scheurich, University of Texas–Austin

"Multicultural Education as Social Activism is a vivid and rigorous inquiry and analysis of and about multicultural education. As author, Christine Sleeter also holds herself accountable for her own location derived from her racial, gender, and class positioning. From this point, her critique of conservative critics, education practitioners, and others who would employ (or dismiss) multicultural education possesses significant validity, i. e., she does not remove herself from the benefits of racism and class status as do so many (virtually all) of the critics of multicultural education. " -- Carl Allsup, University of Wisconsin-Platteville