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The Real Multicultural Curriculum: What Happens When Students Contest Community and Curriculum

This paper, presented at the 1994 Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, considers how the process of creating a student-driven, multicultural curriculum can help address issues of difference and be part of meaningful school reform. Within the context of charter programs at Philadelphia high schools, the authors identify three tasks essential to school reform: building community, generating knowledge about change, and reinventing curriculum. They conclude that authentic curricular and instructional change requires a dynamic environment where teachers and students seek connections between students’ lives, where teachers use classroom inquiry in a dialectical relation to their professional knowledge, and where a critical mass of students risks an invested stance toward their own education.