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If assimilation is desired and is to be achieved in full by a cultural minority, it must be supported by social, political and economic forces beyond those available through the school.Though the school may serve a useful, and even necessary function in the assimilation process, it cannot accomplish the task alone (cf., St. If cultural assimilation is not desired, alternative goals must be adequately articulated so as to be able to assess the extent to which schools may or may not be able to contribute to their attainment.A common thread throughout most formal education programs for minority people has been the relative absence of either of these conditions.
Some of the least direct and least explicit functions of the school become apparent when it is viewed in the context of cultural minority education.
The traditional intellectual and social functions indicated above are then confounded by the additional and seemingly invidious factors associated with cultural differences, such as conflicting values, varied learning styles, diverse behavior patterns, non-conforming social allegiances, and alternative perceptions of reality.
The four basic dimensions of any educational program are, 1) the goals or function, 2) the content, 3) the structure, and 4) the methods used.
If an approach is to be effective, all four dimensions must be functionally integrated, and consistent with the underlying processes through which they interact to form a whole.
As long as they reflect the structure and social organization of the dominant society, they can be expected to perpetuate its values, attitudes, and behavior patterns within an implicit framework of assimilation.
What then, does a school goal of assimilation have to offer the cultural minority, and what are some of its limitations?
These factors, when thrust into the amalgam of traditional school policies and practices, reveal the extent to which the school serves a concomitant function of inducing acculturative influences in the domains of values, attitudes, beliefs and social behavior.
In an effort to more directly accommodate these additional cultural factors, schools involved with minority education have been called upon to adopt some variant of the goals of cultural assimilation or cultural pluralism.
Cultural assimilation: Though it is rarely made explicit, and is often unintended, one of the most distinguishing features of schools in cultural minority settings is their overwhelming press toward assimilation into mainstream cultural patterns.
Whether intentional or not, the basic thrust of schooling is toward the breaking down of particularistic orientations and developing in their place, a universalistic orientation.