Sookmyung Institute for Multicultural Studies
[ Special Issue ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.41-59
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date Jan 2017
Received 03 Dec 2016 Revised 05 Dec 2016 Accepted 06 Jan 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15685/omnes.2017.01.7.2.41

A Limitation of Multicultural Education from Simone Weil’s Understanding of Justice

Kazuaki Yoda
Waseda University yoda3@aoni.waseda.jp

Abstract

This paper brings to light a critical limitation of multicultural education finding insights in Simone Weil’s understanding of justice. Weil distinguishes justice as rights from justice as compassion. While today’s discourse of justice mainly concerns the former, she claims justice in the latter sense is crucial. Weil points that the fight for justice tends to fall into a competition for rights and power, and the competitive attitude not only has us forget compassion but it also hinders our compassionate response to others and hence genuine justice. The dimensions of multicultural education such as equity, equality, and cultural representation, are generally debated with the language of rights, which drives us to concern power and privilege, degrades what is fought for, and degenerates the fight itself. It thus forecloses the possibility of justice. For Weil justice originates in the recognition of the common human condition among people in different cultures and circumstances rather than the recognition of cultural identity, emphasizing the value of difference and diversity, which is usually multiculturalism’s main focus.

Keywords:

multicultural education, justice, compassion, rights, love, Simone Weil

References

  • Apple, M. W. (Ed.), (1982), Cultural and economic reproduction in education, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, [https://doi.org/10.2307/3323666] .
  • Banks, J. A., (1993), Multicultural education: historical development, dimensions, and practice, Review of Research in Education, 19, p3-49, [https://doi.org/10.2307/1167339] .
  • Biesta, G. J., (2010), Good education in an age of measurement: Ethics, politics, democracy, London and New York, NY, Routledge.
  • Bourdieu, P., & Jean-Claude Passeron, (1977), Reproduction in education, society and culture, R. Nice Trans.) (, London, Sage Publications, [https://doi.org/10.2307/589547] .
  • Bowen, J. R., (2007), Why the French don’t like headscarves: Islam, the state, and public space, European Review, 15(3), p397-400.
  • Cummins, J., (1986), Empowering minority students: A framework for intervention, Harvard Educational Review, 56, p18-36, [https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.56.1.b327234461607787] .
  • Chapman, T. K., & Grant, C. A., (2010), Thirty years of scholarship in multicultural education, Race, Gender & Class, p39-46.
  • Cohen, P., (2009, February, 24), In tough times, the humanities must justify their worth, New York Times, pB17-B18.
  • Gonzalez, H. B., & Kuenzi, J. J., (2012), Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education: A primer, Congressional research service, Washington, D.C., Library of Congress.
  • Green, L., (1994), Internal minorities and their rights, In J. Baker (Ed.), Group Rights, p101-117, Toronto, ON, University of Toronto Press.
  • Kant, I., (1997), Foundations of the metaphysics of morals, (2nd ed.), L. W. Beck Trans.) (, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice-Hall.
  • Stainburn, S., (2013, August, 2), Following the money, New York Times, ED6, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/education/edlife/calculating-the-net-worth-ofa-college-degree.html.
  • Weil, S., (1965), “The Iliad, or the poem of force”, M. McCarthy Trans.) (, The Chicago Review, 18(2), p5-30, [https://doi.org/10.2307/25294008] .
  • Weil, S., (1977), “Human personality.”, Collected in The Simone Weil reader, G. A. Panichas (Ed.), New York, NY, David McKay, p313-339.
  • Wells, R., (2006), Education’s effect on income inequality: an economic globalization perspective, Globalisation, Societies and Education, 4(3), p371-91, [https://doi.org/10.1080/14767720600955428] .
  • Wilson, J., (1991), Education and equality: some conceptual questions, Oxford Review of Education, 17(2), p223-230, [https://doi.org/10.1080/0305498910170208] .
  • Winch, P., (1989), Simone Weil: The just balance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, [https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511624889] .

Biographical Note

Kazuaki Yoda completed his Ph.D. at Teachers College, Columbia University, Program of Philosophy and Education, Department of Arts and Humanities. Since 2015 he has been teaching part time at Waseda University in Tokyo. His research interests include the philosophies of Simone Weil, Plato, and Wittgenstein, as well as the history of philosophy, ethics, foundation of education, and higher education. In 2016, he received a grant from the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education for his research on Simone Weil’s philosophy and its educational implication. E-mail: yoda3@aoni.waseda.jp