Book of the week : Critiques, cricket and chips

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Multicultural Education: critical perspectives on race, racism and education
Edited by Gloria Ladson-Billings and David Gillborn
RoutledgeFalmer pound;22.50

Richie Benaud, the Australian former cricket all-rounder turned commentator, has been indulged this summer. As every cricket supporter will know - the game has nothing so plebeian as fans, despite its not-so-loveable "barmy army" - he's been assembling his greatest XI during the lunch intervals of Channel 4's coverage of the Test matches.

What, you may ask, has this got to do with the RoutledgeFalmer Readers series and, in particular, this one on multicultural education? The answer is quite a lot. Just as Benaud has to select from a vast field of potential candidates, so the editors have to decide which writings to include and which to overlook. Also, unlike Benaud, who at least has a convention of classification (opening batsman, middle order, wicketkeeper and bowlers), editors have to invent their own.

At least part of the judgment of this book depends on the coherence of the classification and the quality of the selection. Gloria Ladson-Billings and David Gillborn attempt a transatlantic analysis and collection of writings in a field narrower than the publisher presumably intended. They admit the choice for possible inclusion is vast - as it is for any editor, or for Benaud - and the multicultural field is wide. So they acknowledge that they can't find room for anything on bilingualism. That's like Benaud saying he has no room for spin bowlers. But they also don't cover issues of faith and religion, even in the section on identities. Nor do they acknowledge the omission. This is like forgetting the wicketkeeper.

Tim Brighouse is commissioner for London schoolsnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Read this review in full in this week's TES Friday magazine

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