07 SES 09 A, Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Bhatti and Leeman (2011)wrote a brief history of network 7. Research into intercultural education emphasized cultural and ethnic diversity, but network 7 has always maintained that cultural diversity concerns also social class, gender, sexuality, religion, language and other types of diversities informed by asymmetric power relations. This roundtable aims to explore in a historically informed way todays’ tensions in intercultural education interlinked with social justice in different European countries. Some relevant questions: How do schools (i.e., teachers, heads, parents, students, policymakers) deal with diversity and how is diversity now conceptualized? Has the concept of identity – so central to intercultural education – been reformulated and has this affected educational approaches and actions and possibilities for social justice? How are social justice and intercultural relations elaborated today in rapport to the local and global dimensions of migration and to social contexts that suffer from the consequences of a finance economy crisis and from limited criticism of neo-liberal tenets?
These are only a few questions arising from an internal (i.e. network) debate as well as from concern of worldwide conflicts and proposed solutions. We aim to foster a reflective and critical debate on the prospects of intercultural education and social justice against a political and socio-cultural background that is today characterized by processes of economic and cultural globalization that are largely responsible for making the right to social justice less and less relevant to educational theory. We will bring a historical dimension to our exchange, since we deem necessary to review the concept and aims of intercultural education since its elaboration and dissemination on the part of the Council of Europe. In what sense is diversity a valuable educational resource should be one of the first issues to be considered. The roundtable will afford the opportunity to discuss differences and communalities within Europe and envisage future paths that intercultural education can take in order to realize social justice.
International exchange of knowledge and practices influences implementation of many disciplines around the world. This phenomenon is often called travelling policy (Bahry, 2005; Jakobi, 2005; Jones & Alexiadou, 2001; Ozga & Jones 2006; Hajisoteriou, 2010).
Intercultural education appeared in the Netherlands in the 1980s and in Italy in the 1990s after migrants and refugees from various nation states and former (Dutch) colonies started to arrive. The concept migrated from the USA to Europe. It was principally used to address the novelty brought about by the (im)migrants (or refugees) and their children and to answer their educational needs. It officially interpreted the new pupils’ and students’ unforeseen diversities as a problem for their school results and as an asset and an educational resource for the education of all learners, that would fend off indifference, exclusion or segregation. However indifference and exclusion was part of the immigrant experience and ethnic segregation was added to the already existing segregation along social economic lines. Though the Italian and Dutch educational emphasis seems today more on cultural “integration” or “inclusion”, owing also to the fact that an increasing number of immigrants’ children are born ‘here’, diversity is still almost exclusively interrogated in relation to the structural effects of immigration, while the questioning of the internal, or everyday, diversity is dimmed, or overtaken, by what is perceived the new social and educational urgency.
Multicultural education more recently entered Czech Republic (Moree, 2013). Strong wish to “go back to Europe” opened the door for often only formal harmonization of in-land structures with European ones (Berend, 2009; Kennedy, 2002) in the case of the Czech Republic. But essential change of previous practices did not follow (Moree, 2008).
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