Many other countries have immigration problems (links are only to provide further reading, not to make an ideological point):
Eastern Europe and the Indian Subcontinent into the United Kingdom
Muslim immigration into France
Eastern Europe into Germany
The topic of my tutorial this week was that of "assimilation" and my tutor asked, "Should education be conceived as a mechanism for cultural assimilation?"
My answer depends on the definition of "assimilation," which I defined with two separate definitions, one general and one specific (Brubaker 2001).
The specific definition is more along the lines of what we colloquially consider to be "assimilation," that is akin to the Nazi eugenics program and the federal government's attempt to destroy the “tribal ways” of the Native Americans (Simonsen 2006, p. 2).
(Brubaker, 2001) "Complete absorption"
The general definition is more broad and less politicized. This type of assimilation need not be “morally objectionable” and in fact “some forms of assimilation are indeed widely thought to be desirable,” especially “linguistic” and “socioeconomic” acculturation (Brubaker 2001, p. 534, 541).
"Increasing similarity" (Brubaker, 2001)
There is an increasingly violent argument in the United States which asks the question "Should students be allowed to speak Spanish in American schools?"
"The intergenerational acquisition of English at levels sufficient to permit success in schooling, occupational mobility, and full participation in public life" is "widely thought to be desirable" for obvious reasons (Brubaker 2001, p. 541). In order for one to succeed and excel in a society where a vast majority of the population speaks English (well over 80.3% according to the 2010 Census), they need to be proficient in English. However, "the intergenerational loss of competence in the language of origin" is most certainly a bad thing and leads to a loss of cultural pluralism (p. 541).
As a compromise, curricula should be taught in the country or province’s official language, with classes given to those students who are not proficient, so as to afford the same opportunities to all students later in life regardless of language spoken at home. Those students and families can continue to speak their home tongue at home, but if only for their own sake they should learn English as well. Native English speakers should also learn a foreign language (which is required in the US for a certain number of years) because of all the benefits you can get from it!
Are you shouting at your screen right now (either in agreement or fury)?
Comment! I'd love to hear about it!