07 SES 10 C, Learning Spaces for Inclusion and Social Justice: Success Stories from Immigrant Students and School Communities in four Nordic Countries
Together with the rapid growth of immigration to Iceland in the past decades schools are becoming more diverse. Critical theory is one way to examine challenges in multicultural society such as the cultural rights of minority groups and educational development (Parekh, 2006). In everyday school practice, critical pedagogy can be implemented through human intervention, which supports critical reflection and construction of ideological and institutional conditions of empowerment for students (Freire, 2005). Similarly, inclusive education aims at reducing segregation that either excludes minorities or groups people by gender, social class, disability, nationality, family background or learning abilities (Ainscow, 2007). It offers equivalent opportunities aimed at learning for all students, social participation and personal development (UNESCO, 2009). The concept of learning spaces allows us to explore how the issues of social justice, equality, democracy, and human rights are embedded in the learning process (Banks, 2007). This process is most effective for students when “learning is a part of a highly motivated engagement with social practices, which they value“ (Gee, 2004, p. 27). The paper deals with the question: What kind of school practices are instrumental in the participation and success in schools for young people of immigrant background? Mixed methodology was used to gather data in order to obtain rich information and increase understanding (Taylor & Bogdan, 1998). Qualitative data included observations (video recordings, photographs and field notes), student work and semi-structured interviews. Quantitative data was collected with a questionnaire. Data was analysed through coding categories and constant comparative method (Creswell, 2008). Preliminary findings indicate that school practices which reflect ideas of critical pedaogy and inclusion facilitate creation of learning spaces, in and outside of school. Learning spaces suggest social contexts, networks and resources that encourage, develop and nurture learning and support students to become active participants in society.
Ainscow, M. (2007). Taking an inclusive turn. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 7, 3–7. Banks, J. A. (2007). Educating citizens in a multicultural society (2nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press. Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating qualitative and qualitative research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Freire, P. (2005). Education for critical consciousness. London: Continuum. Gee. J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. London: Routledge. Parekh, B. (2006). Rethinking multiculturalism. Cultural diversity and political theory (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Taylor, S. J., & Bogdan, R. (1998). Introduction to qualitative research methods: A guidebook and resource. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. UNESCO. (2009). Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO.
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