IS THE CURRICULUM BIASED?nA Statement by the National Association of ScholarsnAmerican higher education is facing widespread demands to eliminate the allegedly “Eurocentric” and “patriarchal” bias of the curriculum. While thendetails vary from campus to campus, these demands tend to focus on four objectives:n4 tliac die “canon” be revised to include more works by blacks, odier edmic minorides,nand women;n• t/iat “die issues of race, gender, and class” be introduced into a greater variety ofncourses;n4 diat more courses in women’s studies and minority studies be developed;n• diat courses in women’s studies and/or minority studies be required of allnundergraduates.nVarious justifications are commonly proffered for making these changes. It is alleged that:n4 works by minorides, women, and Third World audioi-s have been excluded hoin diencurriculum;nf minority and female students feel alienated and dieir educadonal progress is retarded bynbeing asked to study works primarily by white males;n• in order to overcome dieir own prejudices, white males must become acquainted widindie cultures and problems of minorides and widi die peispectives and problems ofnwomen;n• die traditional curriculum represents die hegemony of Western culture, coverdynsupports a status quo inherendy oppressive of women and minorides. and is un&irlynimposed on students fi’om different cultures;n4 die traditional desiderata of trudi, objectivity, and critical intelligence can be met onlynby adding die perspectives of women and minorities and by &cing up to die newnquestions diey raise;n• an increasingly diverse society and interdependent world require dial our citizens gainngreater understanding of different cultures.nThe National Association of Scholars disputes, the first five of these arguments and believes that the last entails something other than thenchanges being proposed.nFirst, any work, whether formerly neglected or widely known, should benadded, retained, or removed from the curriculum on the basis of itsnconformance to generally applicable intellectual and aestiietic standards.nA sound curriculum cannot be built by replacing those standards withntlie principle of proportional representation of authors, classifiednethnically, biologically, or geographically.nSecond, the idea that students will be discouraged by not encounteringnmore works by members of tiieir own race, sex, or ethnic group, evennwere it substantiated, would not justify adding inferior works. Suchnpaternalism conveys a message opposite to the one desired.nThird, otiier cultures, minority subcultures, and social problems havenlong been studied in the liberal arts curriculum in such establishedndisciplines as history, literature, comparative religion, economics,npolitical science, anthropology, and sociology. But more important,nmere acquaintance with differences does not guarantee tolerance, annideal Western in origin and fostered by knowledge of what is common tonus all.nFourth, the idea that the traditional curriculum “excludes” thencontributions of all but males of European descent is patentiy false.nFrom their beginnings. Western art and science have drawn upon tiienachievements of non-Western societies and since have been absorbed andnfurther enriched by peoples around die globe. That the liberal artsnoppress minorities and women is yet more ludicrous. Even if thencurriculum were confined to thought strictiy European in origin, it wouldnstill present a rich variety of conflicting ideas, including the very conceptsnof equality and freedom fi’om oppression invoked by tiiose who wouldnreorient the curriculum.nFifUi, while diversity of background is valuable to the discussion of issuesnto which those differences are germane, objectivity is in general notnenhanced but subverted by the idea that people of different sexes, races,nor ethnic backgrounds necessarily see things differently. The assertionnthat cognition is determined by group membership is itself an examplenof stereotypic thinking which undermines the possibihty of a truencommunity of-discourse.nSixth, the study of the traditions and achievements of other nations andnof ethnic subcultures is important and should be encouraged. But thisnmust proceed in a manner that is intellectually honest and does notnserve as a pretext for inserting polemics into the curriculum.nFurthermore, “multicultural education” should not take place at thenexpense of studies that transcend cultural differences: the truths ofnmathematics, tiie sciences, history, and so on, are not different fornpeople of different races, sexes, or cultures, and for that reason alonentheir study is liberating. Nor should we further attenuate the study ofnthe traditions of die West. Not only is knowledge of those traditionsnessential for any evaluation of our own institutions, it is increasinglynrelevant to our understanding of other nations, which, in strikingntestament to tiie universality of the values they embody, are rapidlynadapting Western practices to their own situations.nThe National Association of Scholars is in favor of ethnic studies, the studynof non-Western cultures, and the study of the special problems of womennand minorities in our society, but it opposes subordinating entirenhumanities and social science curricula to such studies and it views withnalarm their growing politicization. Efforts purportedly made to introducen”otiier points of view” and “pluralism” often seem in feet designed tonrestrict attention to a narrow set of issues, tendentiously defined. Annexamination of many women’s studies and minority studies courses andnprograms discloses littie study of other cultures and much excoriation ofnour society for its alleged oppression of women, blacks, and others. Thenbanner of “cultural diversity” is apparendy being raised by some whosenparamount interest actually lies in attacking the West and its institutions.nWe urge our colleagues to demand clear explanations and cogent arguments in support of the proposals being so rapidly brought beforenthem, and to reject any that cannot be justified. The curriculum is and should be open to change, but we must rebut the false chargesnbeing made against existing disciplines. We must also reject the allegations of “racism” and “sexism” that are frequently leveled againstnhonest critics of the new proposals, and which only have the effect of stifling much-needed debate.nCopies of this statement or additional information about the National Association of Scholars and its activities, including its Fellows Program,nResearch Center, Speakers Bureau, state and regional affiliates, conferences, local membership events, executive and faculty search services,nand its quarterly Academic Questions, may be obtained by writing to the National Association of Scholars, Suite 250 East, Twenty Nassau Street,nPrinceton, NJ 08542, or by calling 609-683-7878. nn