By examining teacher interviews and student survey data through the lens of multiculturalism and post-colonialism, this study investigates how the USA is taught in secondary school social studies in South Korea. Specifically, the study examines the teachers' goals, the representation of the USA in Korean textbooks and its influence on the instruction, the effect on the instruction by the dominant discourse on the USA in South Korea, and the conceptions of the USA held by Korean students in social studies classes. Our findings show that while the teachers strive to present diverse and complex aspects of the USA and its culture, for several reasons they rarely achieve these goals: the textbooks do not support these goals, the teachers lack relevant knowledge and experience, and administrators resist instruction that challenges the generally positive opinion of the USA among South Koreans. Consequently, the students often end up having complex, contradictory ideas about the USA. Based on these findings, this study argues that educators in Korea (and elsewhere) would benefit from curriculum re-evaluations aimed at helping their students acquire a more refined understanding of other cultures and other peoples, in particular the understanding of the values associated with human equality and diversity.
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