a colourful choice

handbook for international teaching materials

Auteurs: Ineke Mok & Peter Reinsch
©Parel, Utrecht 1999



0.1 Goal

Anyone who might have tried to read a school textbook from a "multicultural viewpont" will have arrived at a sad conclusion. Most school textbooks, even recent ones, depict the average person both in words and images as a European. Exciting and active roles are almost exclusively the domain of white, men and boys from a middle-class background. This Eurocentric and gender-biased perspective has the effect of excluding some pupils and it also operates as a norm that can have a negative influence on educational results.

This book offers guidelines for the evalution of teaching materials in relation to their utility in a multicultural society. Many of the examples discussed have been drawn from existing material, including that offered as suitable for multicultural education. The contributors give advice, didactic instructions, inspiring ideas and alternatives for everyday practice in the classroom.

This publication is intended for everyone involved in the use or compilation of school textbooks for primary and secondary education: educational publishers, teachers and student teachers. We hope to sharpen their critical view of school textbooks and enable them to adapt or complement material. The reader can restrict her/himself to the chapter immediately relevant to her/his subject, but by reading more of the chapters the diversity of approaches and perspectives that teaching in a multicultural society embrace will become apparent.

0.2 This Edition

This internet edition is based on the text of the translation of the original book of Ineke Mok and Peter Reinsch (eds.), with contributions of Mildred de Baas, Rieke Evegroen, Ria Kwisthout-Monsanto, Fred Mulder, Suzanne van Norden, Isolde Vega en Anneke Zielhorst (Plantijn Casparie Studio, Heerhugowaard 1999, ISBN 90-74220-23-1).

Chapter 1 contains a large part of the original text. The other chapters are abridged versions of the original text. The introduction is a compilation of the other parts of the book. More information, pictures and a complete list of sources can be found in the original book.

In the printed version of A Colourful Choice the suggestions of chapter one are summarized in a 'Checklist' which can be used for the rapid evalution of classroom material. In stead of this Checklist a new list of criteria (Parel Indicator) can be found at this site.

In order that no misunderstandings should arise, no complete evaluations of the books, series or methods mentioned are contained in this book. The authors have merely used examples to illustrate their opinions and experience. After this book was written in Dutch, Parel got in touch with a variety of international scholars throughout Europe. Colleagues from Belgium, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Sweden were asked to search for examples in their own lesson materials. As a result of this we gathered all their national examples and added these to each chapter in their own language and of course translated into English. In this way we tried to achieve an European dimension in the book. The examples and suggestions can be applied to a scrutiny of the most recent lesson-material in many European countries.

0.3 Glossary of Terms

Naturally, in writing a book about intercultural education one must avoid all those 'mistakes' that are to be found in the lesson-material critiqued. The first step is the terminology, which is not as easy as it might seem. Terms that might appear justifiable or politically correct from one perspective transpire from another to be contextually inaccurate or to have a polarising effect.

Equally, the translation of these terms from one language into another is far from simple. In this book we mention 'allochtonen' (people of foreign origins) and 'autochtonen' (native-born Dutch people) as well as white and black. Sometimes we speak of white Dutch people (in Dutch the word for the colour white is 'wit' when referring to objects, but 'blank' when referring to people), and also to coloured Dutch people. No choice has been determined in advance. The separate contributions indicate that there is no consensus about the terminology and no agreement is likely. Each term has its shortcomings and newly-coined terms will acquire pejorative connotations. The following, therefore, consists of a few pros and cons.

The terms black and white are used exactly because they indicate the implicit binary division that intercultural education sets out to undo. White refers to a white European majority; blackencompasses all those with a dark skin colour, but also all the people from other parts of the world (such as Turkey and Morocco) who are disadvantaged in a predominantly white environment. The objections to the term black lie in its everyday usage, when it generally refers to people of Afro-Caribbean origin, and is sometimes taken literally as a reference to skin colour. Naturally, no such thing as a black or white skin colour actually exists.

The terms allochtoon and autochtoon have been used with equal frequency in the Dutch version of this book, though they present problems in translation. In Dutch they are seen to be the most neutral terms at the moment, although they have a somewhat impersonal ring to them. Nonetheless, there is no consensus regarding these terms either. If we take them literally, they refer respectively to people who come from elsewhere and people who were born in The Netherlands. This can promote the undesirable notion that people from elsewhere belong elsewhere. Moreover, most crucially, some problematical questions arise. Who can be referred to as 'allochtoon' or 'autochtoon'? What do we call someone who has one parent born elsewhere? How many generations do you have to go back? Which countries of origin (and skin colours) are relevant? Is someone from Germany or England also an 'allochtoon'?

The terms migrants and foreigners are seldom used in this book. Migrants are people who were born elsewhere. Foreigners are people with a non-Dutch passport. Generally speaking, intercultural education is geared towards people who were either born in The Netherlands or (partly) raised here and share their rights and a common world of experience with the other inhabitants.

Ethnic minority is a term that is often used in the Netherlands by the authorities. Minorities can mean 'fewer in numbers', fewer than another ethnic group, and suggests that there i s such a thing as a (white Dutch) majority. In Dutch the term is actually only appropriate for ethnic groups who are disadvantaged. This is the way it is used by the authorities. The main objection to the term in Dutch is the semantic association betwe en the words for 'minority' (minderheid) and 'inferiority' (minderwaardigheid). In the English translation, the term 'ethnic minority' has been used as a translation for 'allochtonen'.

Another phrase that can be found is people of colour. This is common in America where it carries positive connotations and allows for nuances among the various black groups. It is not widely used in Britain. In The Netherlands, however, it has barely been adopted, and, due to the nature of Dutch syntax, it leads to convo luted sentence structures. Moreover, it suggests that white groups are colourless. The objections to these designations are scarcely fewer than to any others, but they are used by w ay of variation along with the other terminology. They are only important when differences in skin colour are moot, for example, when discussing an illustration in a school textbook.

The term compatriots is barely an adequate translation for the Dutch term 'medelander' as it carries a range of connotations absent from the Dutch. Moreover, there is a pun involved that is untranslatable. While 'medelander' refers to those who share a land 'with' (mede) others, it rhymes with 'Nederlander' (Dutch person, literally a 'lowlander'). The contributors consider it to be paternalistic. However, it is often used in governmental announcements with the intention of indicating that a 'medelander' is an ordinary 'Nederlander'. In fact, the distinction itself denies the assertion.

In brief, for every term there is always at least one objection. When attempting to refute the binary polarisation, it is best, as a general rule, to use those terms that the people involved would use with regard to themselves. Many (autochtoon) native-born Americans prefer to see themselves as Inuit, Apache or Sioux, for example, rather than as Indians, which is a Eurocentric term, as is 'native peoples'.

The nature of the term one chooses should be determined by the context. If, for example, one is broaching the challenges and problems of language education in a multicultural society, then it would be more appropriate to speak of multilingual pupils than of ethnic minority pupils (allochtonen). Depending on the context, ethnic groups in The Netherlands can be delineated by the use of adjectives: Moroccan Dutch people, for example. The people who can be addressed in this way are, once more, all different: they could be Muslim, Berber, multilingual, employed, vegetarian young Dutch people. In our view, intercultural education is not aimed at ethnic groups in isolation but at the wide variety of cultures and cross-cultural exchanges that result in all sorts of cultural manifestations. These are not necessarily bound to ethnicity.


0.4 A Few Definitions

Culture: All those manifestations, in language, pictures, behaviour, religion, art, music, etc, from which people derive their own identity and their attachment to a group or a community. Cultural manifestations both bind people and render them distinct. It is characteristic of cultures that they are never static, but ch ange continuously under the influence of circumstances or acquaintances with other cultures.

Discrimination : Behaviour or attitudes that distinguish between people on the basis of fallacious arguments. The distinctions are expressed by disadvantaging peo ple on the grounds of appearance, age, gender, class or religious conviction when these grounds are not relevant to the situation. Discrimination derives from a stance that takes the individual primarily as a member of a certain group with certain irreme dial characteristics. Power is always at the root of discrimination: power is necessary to disadvantage people.

Ethnic group: A group of people who share a cultural background derived from a common country of origin, language, religion or customs.

Ethnocentrism : A phenomenon which entails the viewing and interpretation of processes and occurrences from the perspective of a single ethnic group. Problems arise from the general tendency to present this specific perspective as universal. An ethnocentric pe rspective results in the exclusion or distortion of 'other' viewpoints or experiences.

Ethnocentrism: A specific type of ethnocentrism in which the European perspective is promoted exclusively. The emphasising of the peculiarities and differences between cultures. This term is used in a negative connotation in order to stress that it is not an appropriate approach to intercultural education. It often refers, for example, to specific eating habits or to dancing styles or music.

Eurocentrism: A specific type of ethnocentrism in which the European perspective is promoted exclusively.

Folklorism: The emphasising of the peculiarities and differences between cultures. This term is used in a negative connotation in order to stress that it is not an appropriate approach to intercultural education. it often refers, for example, to specific eating habits or to dancing styles or music.

Gender-bias : A system of assumptions by means of which real or imaginary distinctions in personality or in social disparity can be attributed to differences in gender. Like racism, gender-bias supposes inherent characteristics to be the cause of, and the validation for, the disadvantaging of certain groups, in this case women.

Intercultural education: Education in which the pupils learn to negotiate the similarities and differences that coincide with characteristics derived from a cultural background. This should be geared to an equal and communal manner of behaviour in the context of Dutch society. This is the definition given by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. \par \tab In intercultural education we place emphasis in intercultural education on the relationships between different cultures, including those outside The Netherlands. In our view, equality entails addressing the diversity among our pupils, and that means in the lesson-material itself. This diversity is given expression in the choice of didactic approach and in the subject matter. Furthermore, intercultural education re q uires a recognition of the actual inequalities between the various groups in The Netherlands. Therefore, the curriculum should incorporate lesson-material on racism, stereotyping and prejudice. The inter-relationships between cultures outside The Nethe rlands and inequities in the North-South divide, for example, are in equal need of coverage.

A multi-cultural perspective:}presentation of occurrences and processes from a perspective that allows for a variety of cultural approaches. This perspective is often advanced as the counterpoint to a monocultural approach, in which only one culture takes the central position, and other cultures are marginalised. If we restrict ourselves to relationships between various ethnic groups, then we are dealing with a multi-ethnic perspective. These perspectives do justice to the broad diversity of cultures operating in our society.

Prejudice: An acquired attitude that results in preconceived opinions or value judgements concerning other individuals or groups. Prejudices generally find an outlet through generalisations and a tendency to see only stereotypes. They cannot be confuted through complementary knowledge, because there is always an emotional component. Moreover, prejudiced people are often oblivious to the irrational incongruity of assumptions that co-exist such as: 'they are lazy' and 'they are taking all our jobs away'.

Racism : A system of assumptions by means of which people are categorised as the 'other' on the basis of their app earance (i.e. skin colour) and/or culture. Moreover, these assumptions are based on the notion that one group is superior to another. Racism leads to the exclusion and marginalisation of the 'other', varying in its extent from everyday activities such a s isolating and hurting individuals to extreme acts of violence.

Race: A term in circulation since the 19th century in Europe and North America which is used to divide people into groups on the basis of their appearance (skin colour, facial characteristics , hair type, height) and their geographical habitat. From the very beginning racial classifications were endowed with value judgements. Scientists linked levels of development, for example, to external characteristics. Therefore, race and racism are traditionally and intrinsically linked together. A scientific classification of humans into races has never proved to be viable. No single classification has ever served a valid purpose; unless apartheid and colonialism can be construed as justifiable. To refer to people by race, even in education, is, therefore, only relevant in an explanation of racism itself.

Stereotyping : A fallacy by which personal characteristics or peculiarities are attributed to all members of a certain group. It is a characteristic of stereotyping itself that the recognition of stereotypes is widespread, indicating that there is a consensus operative. Stereotypes that prescribe irremedial character traits or emotional proclivities for whole groups reinforce racist or gender-biased statements: for example, 'Muslims are cruel' or 'women are sensitive'.


0.5 The Contributors

Mildred de Baas is an educationalist working for the Stichting Advies en Begeleidings Centrum voor het Onderwijs (ABC -- the Centre for Educational Advice and Supervision) in Amsterdam. She gives courses for teachers of Dutch, NT2 (Dutch as a second language) and intercultural education. She develops material for intercultural lessons.

Rieke Evegroen studied pedagogy. She works as a lecturer at the Stichting Kunstzinnige Vorming Amsterdam (The Amsterdam Foundation for Artistic Development). Also, she is a project leader at Kaleidoscope, a branch of the D'Averroe's Foundation.

Ria Kwisthout-Monsanto is an adviser in intercultural education at the Haags Centrum voor Onderwijsbegeleiding (The Hague Centre for Educational Supervision). She screens classroom material for its intercultural aspects and develops intercultural material of her own. She also teaches NT2 (Dutch as a second language) courses for primary school teachers.

Ineke Mok graduated in Dutch and went on to research the relationship between intercultural education and the content of geography and history books at secondary-school level. At present she is writing her doctorate on theories of race and geography books between 1870 and 1900. As a member of PAREL's project team she has put a variety of proje cts into operation.

Fred Mulder graduated in biology (with Arabic as a subsidiary subject) and mathematics. He works as a student supervisor for the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Open University and leads the project 'Bevordering in- en doorstroom va n allochtone studenten bij de Open Universiteit' (The Advancement of Ethnic Minority Students at the Open University). He was involved in a project set up to develop intercultural lesson material for mathematics under the auspices of the Freudenthal Inst itute at the University of Utrecht.

Suzanne van Norden is an adviser in literary development at the Stichting Kunstzinnige Vorming (Foundation for Artistic Development) in Amsterdam. She works mostly on learning languages through printing in primary schoo ls. Previously, she was involved in the development of intercultural lesson material for the SKVA publications: 'Dit zijn wij, een interculturele leergang voor de bovenbouw van de basisschool' (This is Who we Are: An Intercultural Course for the Higher Levels of Primary Education) and 'Dingen in de kring, taalvorming en drama voor meertalige middenbouwgroepen' (Things in the Circle: Linguistic Development and Drama for Multilingual Pupils at the Intermediary Level).

Peter Reinsch is an educational sociologist. He was born in the United States of America, but has lived in The Netherlands for more than twenty years. He has worked on a variety of research projects connected to the relationships between ethnic groups in The Netherlands. He is a member of PAREL's project team and lectures at the department of Algemene Sociale Wetenschappen (General Social Sciences) at the University of Utrecht.

Isolda Vega is a librarian specialising in books for children and ethnic minorities. She has a managerial post wi th the Public Library in Amsterdam where she is responsible for advising on policy decisions. Alongside her training as a librarian, she also studied pedagogy at the University of Amsterdam,

Anneke Zielhorst is an orthopedagogue working for the Stichtin g Advies en Begeleidings Centrum voor het onderwijs in Amsterdam (ABC). She gives advice and supervision to schools that are developing intercultural education and revising their language courses. She also gives courses on 'Education in Dutch as a Secon d Language' for teachers in primary schools and is developing models for connecting education in the mother-tongue with education in Dutch


0.6 Recommended Literature

 The last two decades many learning materials are screened on their intercultural and (anti-) racist content. Publications are gathered in the documentation centre of PAREL, National Advisory Centre for Intercultural Learning Materials.

Mok, Ineke and Peter Reinsch. Op zoek naar een multi-etnisch perspectief; Analyse van een viertal nieuwe aardrijkskunde-methodes. (In Search of a Multi-Ethnic Perspective: An Analysis of Four New Methods for Geography.) Utrecht: PAREL, 1993.

Mok, Ineke and Marian van 't Hoff. "...en hij noemde hen Indianen..." ("...and he called them Indians..."), Utrecht: PAREL, 1992. Three brochures about the shaping of images of Indians in history books, for primary education, secondary education and youth literature respectively.

Mok, Ineke. Anti-racisme and schoolboeken: een evaluatie van aardrijkskunde en geschiedenis in het voorgezet onderwijs. (Anti-Racism and School Textbooks: An Evaluation of Geography and History in Secondary Education. Utrecht: PAREL, 1990.

The national anti-racism organization LBR (Schaatsbaan 51, 3013 AR Rotterdam, tel: +31(0)10-2010201) is a national information centre specialising in issues relating to racism, discrimination and encouraging good inter-ethnic relations. The LBR has a collection of several thousand titles from The Netherlands and abroad, among which are books and brochures, videos and project material for use in education.

Feiten tegen vooroordelen. (Facts versus Prejudices): Anne Frank Foundation/NBLC/SDU, 1993. This discusses and refutes the most commonly held misconceptions about immigrants in Dutch society. The Anne Frank Foundation provides workshops and advice on ethnic minorities in the job market and multi-ethnic education. The library is also open for those looking for information concerning discrimination, racism, anti-semitism and the multi-ethnic society. Anne Frank Foundation, Prinsengracht 263, P.O. Box 730, 1000 AS Amsterdam, tel. +31(0)20-5567100.

Interculturele educatie voor lerarenopleidingen. (Intercultural Education in Teaching Training.) Leeuwarden: Educatief Centrum Noord (ECN)/Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden (NHL), 1991-1993.
This series was created with a view to including intercultural lesson-material in a variety of subjects. It also aims to raise the level of expertise in intercultural education among (prospective) teachers.

Yvonne Leeman en Sawitri Saharso studied the attitudes of school children with regard to fellow-pupils from another ethnic background. Their findings were reported in their dissertation and elsewhere.
Leeman, Yvonne. Samen jong; Nederlandse jongeren en lessen over inter-etnisch samenleven en discriminatie. (Young Together: Dutch Youth and Lessons in Inter-Ethnic Collaboration and Discrimination.) Utrecht: Van Arkel, 1994.
Saharso, Sawitri, Jan en alleman. Etnische jeugd over etnische identiteit, discriminatie en vriendschap. (Jan and Everyman: Ethnich Youth about Ethnic Identity, Discrimination and Friendship.) Utrecht: Van Arkel, 1992.

Philomena Essed carried out a study into experiences with racism, in particular into the experience of black women in American and The Netherlands. Two of her publications are:
Essed, Philomena, Understanding Everyday Racism: And Interdisciplinary Theory and Analysis of the Experiences of Black Women. London: Sage, 1991. Transl. Inzicht in alledaags racisme; theorie, praktijk en ervaring. Utrecht: Het Spectrum, 1991.
Essed, Philomena. Diversiteit; Vrouwen, kleur en cultuur. (Diversity: Women, Colour and Culture.) Baarn: Ambo, 1994. In this collection she uses a variety of perspectives to reveal the relationship between racism, gender-bias and identity.

Two classics in the field of racism and oppression are:
Fanon, Frantz. Les damnes de la terre. Paris: Maspero, 1961. Transl. De verworpenen der aarde. Amsterdam: Van Gennep, 3rd ed., 1984.
Fanon, Frantz, Peau noir, masques blancs. Paris: Seuil, 1952. Transl. Zwarte huid, blanke maskers. Amsterdam/The Hague: Van Gennep/Novib, 3rd ed., 1984.
In these works Frantz Fanon, a native of Martinique, analyses the significance of colonisation and racism for the colonised.

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