The “Melting Pot” and the “Salad Bowl”

One of the complicated concepts I wanted students to examine in my “American Experience” class was our identity as Americans.

A nation of immigrants, to what extent should we Americans hold on to the heritage we bring from other countries — our immigrant heritage? And to what extent should we leave behind that heritage and embrace the “mainstream” American culture? Should we speak the language of our parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents? Or should we, sooner rather than later, leave that behind and speak only English.

Is America a country that is a “melting pot”? Or a “salad bowl”?

We would spend an entire class period in a Socratic seminar on this topic. Conversation would often become very personal and very heated. Then we would write about it.

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