07 SES 05 C JS, Joint Session NW 31 and NW 07
Paper Session Joint Session NW 07 and NW 31
The focus of this paper is on the inclusion of cultural and linguistic minority students in the elementary school and how the teachers reflect on their own practices of teaching. Different understanding and values concerning diversity appears in policy documents and among teachers.
The overall aim of the study is guided by following research questions:
1. How is the intention and understanding of inclusion of minorities in a multicultural elementary school expressed in relevant policy documents?
2. What are teachers' understandings of inclusion and what reflections do they make concerning their efforts to practice inclusion?
The theoretical basis of this paper is found in social and educational theories, namely; Banks' perspective on multicultural education and Sen’s interpretation of the idea of justice. Ethical perspectives, as reflected in the documents and teachers' statements, are interpreted in light of these theories. The values, goals and intended actions of the teachers to accommodate them, described in the documents, as well as the teachers' observations about the priorities and choices they make in everyday life, represent the application of ethics in everyday practice.
The complex and multifaceted definition of inclusion creates many paradoxes and dilemmas with regard to efforts to put the concept into practice. It is difficult to draw conclusions as to what inclusion is and how it should be implemented. The goals and ideals expressed in the documents are that schools should become sites where all pupils participate and experience learning outcome. However, in everyday practice, teachers reported that schools do not have sufficient conditions for reaching these goals. The teachers pointed to a lack of resources, including the need for more time, collaboration, recognition and a larger teaching staff. Several teachers stated that school administration does not prioritize the education of linguistic minorities, and their contribution to the organization often goes unrecognized. Teachers found it to be particularly difficult in situations when students came directly to their classes without having first learned to speak Norwegian in introductory programs or classes. According to the teachers in this study there is little time for collaboration and for reflection with colleagues over these and related dilemmas. The teachers have a good relationship with the pupils and express sympathy towards their situation. However, what teachers seem to want the most is that minority pupils adjust and become more similar to the majority pupils. The teachers state that they are in favor of diversity in the class, and several of them stress the fairness of treating minority students differently, such as giving them more attention. But when asked directly about how they spend their time, the teachers say they are unable to spend more time with minority students who need help. It appears to be easier for the teachers to argue for special treatment of individual students than for groups of minority pupils. The teachers in this study find little time for collaboration and to reflect together with others. When they express their values and opinions, there are not always consistencies between what they say and what they say they do. Even if they think they have too little expertise to provide a good education, they are unwilling to prioritize pursuing more formal qualifications and to change the teaching environment. Being responsible for educating cultural and linguistic minority students concerns these teachers. They also point out that both school administrators and parents as well, are responsible for providing these students with an educational upbringing. In the documents, responsibility for good inclusion is primarily given to the school owners, leaders, and, first and foremost, the teachers.
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