07 SES 05 A, Intercultural Encounters in Education
The everyday cosmopolitanism of the local primary school is described as mundane, casual exchanges between kids, which may mot not guarantee cultural harmony, but can lead to an interculturality grounded in experience, exposure and greater knowledge of the ‘other’ (Noble 2009). Such exchanges are valuable because they facilitate tolerance and acceptance of cultural difference. From here, some connections may lead to a more complex relationship and knowledge of the ‘other’ that can develop into a social network that fosters intercultural knowledge, and lead to “social change” (Onyx et al. 2011: 64). The research findings in this paper illustrate how intercultural friendship might be considered the next step in intercultural relationships when they form through benevolent exchange. Intercultural friendship is based in the everyday cultural exchanges between friends that foster interculturality as a part of subjectivity formation.
Schools are structured institutions that sustain interconnectedness and can be positive sites of intercultural exchange and friendship because schools are able to build capabilities to overcoming difference through reasoned conversation (Noble 2013). Just as importantly, schools can be sites of racism and cultural prejudice (Amin 2002; Mansouri and Jenkins, 2010). It is therefore imperative to understand how kids develop intercultural friendships through everyday cosmopolitanism, both in and outside of school, while they are being encouraged to build critical thinking skills for reasoned exchange and developing intercultural knowledge, both of which have the capacity to shape positive attitudes and behaviours towards cultural difference (Amin 2002; Abdallah-Preicelle 2006). Intercultural friendships that form in and out of the classroom need to be examined to truly understand how education for cultural diversity might succeed in countries with culturally diversifying populations.
Primary school kids are a typically neglected empirical group in educational research on interculturality and everyday cosmopolitanism (Hajisoteriou and Angelides 2014). This paper outlines case studies of four primary school age boys (ages 8 to 12) from diverse cultural backgrounds. One boy came with his family from Ethiopia seeking asylum; two boys, one from Vietnam and one from El Salvador migrated with their families for economic necessity; and one boy was born in New Zealand to a Somali refugee mother and German migrant father. All four boys attend an inner city primary school next to the housing commission flats where they reside. The school is quite culturally homogenous, with a majority of the students coming from Somali-Muslim backgrounds. In contrast, the wider community is more culturally diverse with the majority of the residents coming from Anglo- European Christian backgrounds. The four boys in this chapter are considered to be from minority cultural, religious, and linguistic backgrounds both within the school and the community, and this compacted ‘otherness’ is a contributing factor to their friendship.
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