The Visibility of Racism: Perceptions of Cultural Diversity and Multicultural Education in State Schools

By Kevin Dunn, Garth Lean, Megan Watkins and Greg Noble.

Published by The International Journal of Organizational Diversity

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper draws upon the findings of an online survey of all public school teachers in New South Wales around issues of multiculturalism and multicultural education (May–June 2011; completed sample of n=5,128). The survey showed an encouraging trend among teachers to be pro-diversity, suggesting a widely held openness to cultural difference. It also found that teachers are supportive of multicultural education and strongly support anti-racism in schools. Teachers, however, were less likely than the general population to acknowledge racism as a problem in Australian society, and only half agreed that racism was a problem in schools. Executive staff were even less likely to acknowledge there was a problem with racism in schools or in Australian society more broadly. The survey also found that classroom teachers were much less likely to have read Departmental policies on multicultural education and anti-racism than were executive staff, though this is to be expected given the latter’s requirement to report on the operationalisation of departmental policy. While teachers seemed to have a more extensive view of the presence of racism than executive staff they displayed less awareness of their own schools’ implementation of policies of anti-racism and multicultural education. Compared to teachers at the chalkface, school leaders tend to under-acknowledge racism and overestimate the effects of anti-racism. Together these findings indicate a problematic disjuncture within the professional practice of schooling, and a source of disruption to the delivery of multicultural education programs.

Keywords: Multicultural Education, Multiculturalism, Racism, Teachers, Executives

The International Journal of Organizational Diversity, Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.17-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 215.797KB).

Prof. Kevin Dunn

Professor, School of Social Sciences & Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Garth Lean

Researcher, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Megan Watkins

Senior Lecturer, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Parramatta, NSW, Australia

Greg Noble

Professor, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Parramatta, NSW, Australia