ERG SES C 13, Culture and Education
Migration is a major contemporary issue. Its impact on the make-up of our societies is a topic that provokes intense, even heated discussions. Migration itself occurs for many reasons: some is voluntary because of work, study or life style opportunities, and some is as a consequence of being a refugee from war or persecution. Irrespective of the cause of migration, the arrival of migrants into our education system poses challenge. Are our teachers able to cope with children and young people of different cultures in our classrooms? Are our curricula encompassing of their needs? Do we know how to create positive cross-cultural interactions among students? Do we know how to engage migrant parents with our schooling system? What do we know about migrant parents’ educational aspirations for their children?
My presentation reports the first stage of research that addresses the last of these questions. It focuses particularly on how migrant parents teach culture to their children, and investigates both on what ways they want, or do not want, to pass on their own native culture to their children and in what ways they want, or do not want their children to learn about and integrate into the culture of the country they have immigrated into. I am going to do ten case studies of migrant parents from South Asian countries. The cases are located in New Zealand; however, there are many analogies to Europe. Like many countries in Europe New Zealand sees itself as welcoming to other cultures. However, like many countries in Europe, its schooling system is still struggling to integrate fully migrant children and to ensure that their needs are understood and met.
Many of the existing studies of education of minority groups focus on problems (Gibson, 2000; Bitew, Ferguson, & Dixon, 2008). Few studies focus on parent’s aspiration (Guo, 2012). However, for multicultural understandings it is important for all sides to understand each other. Otherwise assumptions are made and they may be false. Therefore this research aims to fill part of the gap by eliciting and report rich accounts of immigrant parents’ culture teaching process. Immigrant parents pass their customs, culture, values and educational backgrounds on to their children’s development and so may usefully be seen as adjuncts to the educational process, and have the potential to assist in their children’s schooling. Though, many research publications on immigrant student-parent pedagogy support a deficit model of difference (Gibson, 2000; Glick & Hohmann-Marriott, 2007; Levels, Dronkers & Kraaykamp, 2008; Bitew, Ferguson, & Dixon, 2008; Bitew & Ferguson, 2010). This positions difference as equivalent to deficiency and stresses the incompatibility of the knowledge of immigrant presents from developing countries with that of the country they have immigrated into (Abdi, 2007; Dei, 1996). This research sets out with to explore alternatives view to the overriding image of immigrant parents as the inadequate and as presenting challenges within the education system; rather it aims to explore their way of teaching cultural values, and sharing their expertise, views, motives and practice.
The main question to guide this study is:
• How do immigrant parents teach culture to their children?
It will consider two separate but complimentary aspects of culture: the family’s original culture and the culture they have immigrated into: that of New Zealand. Within the second dimension it examines how these migrant families position themselves in terms of interface of Māori and Pākehā identities and in terms of a growing sense of multiculturalism.
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