Chapter 2 Race, ethnicity and culture in education
The previous chapter provided short definitions and descriptions of the main concepts considered in this study. A description of the aims of the research and the research methods, as well the problem statements has also been discussed.
This chapter provides a study of the literature dealing with these topics which have been categorised into three main areas of discussion.
Concepts, such as race and culture, and their place in education, are subjects that have led to racial segregation. The imposition of Western culture and the use of that language namely Afrikaans, in the Bantu education system (Giliomee 2003: 578-579) was one of the primary causes of the 1976 Soweto school uprisings. These uprisings started in Orlando West Secondary school and ultimately led to the death of about 600 people (Saunders & Southey 2001: xxii; 161). These disturbances forced the Nationalist Government to reconsider the educational policy and to begin planning limited reform in education (Saunders & Southey 2001: 67).
As culture defines those aspects that are peculiar to a specific people, it defines a particular way of life that identifies that group as unique. When the concept of race has been superimposed onto this identity, these concepts become personal and emotionally charged. Yet within schooling whose main task is the transfer of beliefs and values that will equip the youth to take their part within the greater society, culture is of great significance. Therefore, the concepts of race, ethnicity and culture are considered in this literature study.
Within societies, culture is in a state of flux, with change being imposed by extraneous events within the society. The most significant of these happenings are having a profound impact on the greater society. While it is not possible to identify and describe the bearing of every such event, the most significant of these are considered and discussed.
The current South African school curriculum, the National Curriculum Statement, has been developed according to the philosophy of Outcomes Based Education (OBE). The roots of OBE are considered prior to the examination of cooperative learning as a teaching method utilised in OBE within the parameters of the National Curriculum Statement.
The issue of race
“Each of the major divisions of humankind having distinct physical characteristics, racial origin or distinction, an ethnic group, a group descended from a common ancestor” (South African Concise Oxford 2002; 961).
This definition from the South African Concise Oxford Dictionary gives the impression that the concept of race is clearly and scientifically described, apparently contradicting that definition provided in Chapter 1 (1.6.4). Yet a definition of the term race is not clear. The suppositions contained in a definition of race primarily is dependent on the discipline underpinning the definition, the period in which the definition was formulated and the political persuasion of the writer.
Prior to the 1700’s, an individual’s identity was fundamentally associated with his/her ethnic identity that is an identity based on cultural and linguistic traditions. Thus, the person’s pheno-physical features were not a consideration in the determination of ethnic identity (Watkins, Lewis & Chou 2001: 20). Yet all modern concepts of race are ultimately based on assumed genetic diversity within a local population, and among adjacent populations, thereby implying a sub-species – a distinct evolutionary lineage within that species (Templeton 2002: 32 – 34). During the apartheid period the enforcers relied on measures such as the infamous “pencil” test – whereby a baby’s race classification was decided on whether or not the child’s hair held a pencil inserted by the person doing the classification. A person’s race was decided according to what was generally accepted for the environment and dress of the person. It was these accepted definitions that became the basis for the future bureaucracy thereby creating a base for the development of the policies of apartheid (Nuttall 2004: 735).
The human race, a complete species, appears to have evolved in Africa and about 110 000 years ago the split between African and non-African peoples occurred (Rushton www.eugenics.net) and then eventually spread out over the planet (Fish 2002: 115). The genetic differentiation among human populations can be ascribed to a neutral indicator, that of geographic region (Templeton 2002: 46). Thus, races exist because people came from different geographical environments that indirectly conferred a reproductive advantage on certain physical attributes. The differences in physical appearance among populations may be explained in terms of adaptive values (Fish 2002: 115).
However, race is not fixed, rather it is a socio-historical and political construct, with no distinct markings to be found in blood or DNA (Erasmus 2005: 9), although the genetic link is considered by some of the following definitions (2.2.1).
The definition of the term race is not clear, numerous definitions have been provided, each containing a slightly divergent supposition.
• “The concept of race is a social construction used to group humans according to observable traits such as size, skin colour and hair texture” (Bennett 2003: 51).
• “… while skin colour may not be the best determinant, people who trace ancestry to the same geographic neighbourhood and have similar inherited characteristics ought to be considered a single race” (Holmes 1995: 275).
• “Race is a concept that is derived from a genetic designation based on phenotypic characteristics (i.e., physical features such as skin colour and hair texture)” (Sheets & Hollins 1999: 7).
• “Visible genetic characteristics of individuals that cause them to be seen as members of some broad group e.g., African, Asian, Caucasian” (Slavin 1997:117).
• “…groups of people who differ in characteristic ways” (Herrnstein & Murray 1994:272).
• “…physical variations singled out by the members of a community or society as ethnically significant” (Giddens 1994: 255).
• “…a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples and those peoples of Africa brought to provide slave labour” (AAA 1998).
The selection of definitions of race provided above demonstrates a clear lack of consistency. However, race is still a concept that is referred to in South African society this also applies to racial concepts.
For the purpose of this thesis, a combination of the definitions will be applied, as this appears to approach the common meaning most closely. That is, race is taken to refer to a social mechanism created and applied to the visible physical characteristics, of the members of a community or society, the members of which single out as being ethnically significant.
An ethnic group is a community of people within a larger society, that may be socially distinguished, or set apart primarily on the basis of cultural differences. The cultural differences may constitute differences in religion, language and traditions (Bennett 2003: 52). Cultural practices and outlooks distinguish a given community of people (Giddens 1994: 253). However, unlike the classification of race, characteristics of the physical body are not central to the categorisation of the individual’s ethnic identity (Appiah 2002: 376), ethnic differences are learned (Giddens 1994: 253).
The individual’s ethnic identity is created within the family and the community (Appiah 2002: 380). These cultural practices are transmitted and assimilated within the community, as the ethnic community wishes to provide a sense of historical continuity and a sense of belonging to its members (Rice 1996: 202). Considering the ethnicity within modern society, a desire by a community to constitute a distinct identity comes first, and cultural distinction is created and maintained because of it (Appiah 2002: 380).
However, at present it is considered to be inappropriate to speak of an individual’s race. The term ethnicity is used as a synonym. This is not correct as ethnic identity is created on the basis of cultural practices that differ from one community to another. Hence one race may encompass a number of ethnic groups. The existing race classifications, as still applied in some public documents (for example the Z83
– Application for employment, for any position in a government department) and specifically referred to in the Employment Equity Act no. 55 of 1998 as designated groups, cannot be considered to be synonymous of the ethnic identity of the race groups as demarcated.
Race and class have been central to South African texts. As such they remain prime determinants in the formation of cultural and social identities and thus need to be taken into consideration in any discussion involving culture and ethnicity (Wasserman & Jacobs 2003: 17). While not disregarding the recent changes in the South African socio-political climate, people of different races continue to lead essentially separate lives. Race is correlated to differences in “education. occupation, household incomes, infant mortality, threat of social violence, malnutrition, access to human development and a host of other social indicators of wealth and development” (Burgess 2002: 5). So while it is no longer considered to be politically or socially correct to speak of race the concept remains, and is influencing decisions, discussions and research. To ignore racial identity is a great risk.
The incorporation of slaves and the Khoikhoi as the labour force in the Cape meant that from the very start early South African society was a multi-racial society. The European settlers set the character of this society (Giliomee 2003: 13). Thus, South African history, from 1652 to 1994, has been based on a racial segregation to a greater or lesser extent, and the political transition in 1994 liberated the South African black people from the period of extended colonialism (Terreblanche 2002: 3). The system of apartheid was based on the concept of white supremacy. White people were seen as the heir to and beneficiaries of a superior civilization and religion (Giliomee 2003:14), and ultimately aimed to bolster white privilege. The guise of separate development further aimed to bolster the idea of white supremacy (Saunders & Southey 2001: 12-13).
In spite of a history that has been based on the idea that one race is superior to another, the idea of race and intelligence having some link has not been notably researched in the South African context. The following discussions are thus based primarily on American research and thus also on the racial dimensions in American society.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
1.2 SUBJECT OF THE STUDY
1.3 RESEARCH PROBLEM
1.4 METHODOLOGY AND RESEARCH DESIGN
1.5 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
1.6 DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
1.7 CULTURAL STUDIES
1.8 CHAPTER DIVISION
1.9 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2 RACE, ETHNICITY AND CULTURE IN EDUCATION
2.2 THE ISSUE OF RACE
2.3 THE REALITY OF CULTURE
2.4 A DISCUSSION OF SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO THE CULTURAL SYSTEMS
2.5 THE ADOLESCENT
2.6 SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATION POLICY ON DIVERSITY
2.7 REASONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF OUTCOMES BASED EDUCATION
2.8 COOPERATIVE LEARNING
2.9 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3 PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY OF ASPECTS OF YOUTH CULTURE IN GAUTENG
3.2 INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS
3.3 GAUTENG: CITIES AND RURAL SPACE
3.4 CHILDREN AS PARENTS – THE IMPACT OF AIDS
3.6 VISUAL ART
3.7 THE ADOLESCENT’S BODY IMAGE
3.8 TELEVISION, MOVIES AND MUSIC
3.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.3 RESEARCH METHODS AND DESIGN
4.4 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH
4.5 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
4.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.2 SPECIFIC PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED DURING THE RESEARCH
5.4 SUMMARY OF RESEARCH RESULTS
5.6 COMPARISON OF THE LITERATURE STUDY AND THE RESEARCH FINDINGS/ RESULTS
5.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
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