07 SES 07 A, Innovative Global Projects
Question:Can teaching a trade and business module in primary schools, based on critical development education, help to address assistencialism?
Objectives: This study explores the impact of a ‘critical’ development education module on the perspectives of 84 students in Ireland in 5th and 6th class (11-12 years old) towards the Global South.
Although the study is located in Ireland, it has implications for schools across Europe and is particularly relevant at a time of high migration into Europe from certain African countries.
Theoretical framework: Assistencialism is a concept introduced by Paulo Freire (1973) in his seminal work, Education: The Practice of Freedom. Freire described assistencialism as “policies of financial or social assistance which attack symptoms, but not causes, of social ills”, and which “offers no responsibility, no opportunity to make decisions, but only gestures and attitudes which encourage passivity (Freire, 1973, p. 16)”.
‘Critical’ development education and critical literacy aim to counter assistencialism through challenging assumptions, perceptions and representations, through examining power relationships, and by shifting the focus away from Eurocentric dominance of educational discourse. These more radical ‘educations’ aim to challenge the idea “that meaning is objective and self-evident (Andreotti, 2014, p. 13-14)” and to investigate how educators in the Global North, are “inextricably implicated in various conjunctions of power (Jefferess, 2012, p. 25)”. Key writers in the field include Andreotti (2014, 2015), Bryan (2011, 2012), Bryan and Bracken (2011), Bourn (2011), Jefferess (2012), Tallon and McGregor (2014), and Gaynor (2016).
Studies have indicated that despite decades of development education, the ‘3 Fs approach’, as in, ‘fundraising, fasting, and having fun’ (Bryan & Bracken, 2011) continues to be the predominant response to matters of global inequality in classrooms in Ireland. A survey carried out in Ireland in 2013 of 1,000 higher education students (Suas, 2013) indicates the pervasiveness of assistencialism. For example, when asked about the effectiveness of different activities in ‘developing’ countries, “sending out skilled people to share expertise” was deemed to be the most effective action to take by 82% of the sample. Survey responses indicated “an individualised, apolitical approach to activism with an emphasis on volunteering (a charity model) and consumerism as a way out of poverty (Gaynor, 2016, p. 87)”. These kinds of responses reflect the persistence of views of the Global South as “inferior, underdeveloped, uncivilised, traditional, living in the past and dependent on aid, knowledge, rights and education handouts (Andreotti, 2015, p. 196)”. Such perceptions and responses are not unique to Ireland; research carried out by Tallon and McGregor (2014) in New Zealand indicated that discussions with students about development issues “often took on a paternalistic tone (2014, p. 1415)”. Indeed, Simpson (2004) notes that such paternalism often manifests in short-term volunteer programmes which are “rooted in a concept of a ‘third world’, where there is ‘need’, and where European young people have the ability, and right, to meet this need (2004, p. 682)”.
This study aimed to introduce a dimension of political education and critical literacy into development education at primary school level. It aimed to counter the increased ‘de-clawing’ of development education (Bryan, 2011) and return it to its Freirean roots (Tallon & McGregor, 2014), and then to assess the impact of this work on students’ views.
Andreotti, V. (2014). Critical Literacy: Theories and practices in development education. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, 19, pp. 12-32. Andreotti, V. (2015). Postcolonial Perspectives in Research on Higher Education for Sustainable Development. Taylor and Francis Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development, pp. 194-206. Bourn, D. (2011). Discourses and practices around development education: From learning about development to critical global pedagogy. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, pp.1-29. Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), pp. 77-101. Bryan, A. and Bracken, M. (2011). Learning to read the world? Teaching and learning about global citizenship and international development in post-primary schools. Dublin: Irish Aid. Bryan, A. (2011). Another cog in the anti-politics machine? The de-clawing of development education. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, pp.1-14. Cochran-Smith, M. and Donnell, K. (2006). Practitioner Inquiry: Blurring the Boundaries of Research and Practice. In J.L. Green, G. Camilli and P.Elmore (eds.) Handbook of Complementary Methods in Education Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum for AERA. Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education. 7th edition. London and NY: Routledge. Denscombe, M. (2014). The Good Research Guide. (5th edition). Berkshire and NY: McGraw Hill. Freire, P. (1973). Education: The Practice of Freedom. London: Writers’ and Readers’ Publishing Cooperative. Gaynor, N. (2016). Shopping to save the world? Reclaiming global citizenship within Irish universities. Irish Journal of Sociology, 24(1), pp. 78-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.7227/IJS.0003 Jefferess, D. (2012). The “Me to We” social enterprise: Global education as a lifestyle brand. Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, 6(1), pp. 18-30. Merriam, S.B. (2009). Qualitative Research. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Ntelioglu, B. Y., Fannin, J., Montanera, M. and Cummins, J. (2014) A multilingual and multimodal approach to literacy teaching and learning in urban education: a collaborative inquiry project in an inner city elementary school. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, Article 533. doi.10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00533 Reading International Solidarity Centre. (2015). How do we know it’s working? Tracking changes in pupils’ attitudes. Reading: RISC. Simpson, K. (2004). ‘Doing Development’: The gap year, volunteer-tourists and a popular practice of development education. Journal of International Development, 16, pp.681-692. Suas (2013). National Survey of Third Level Students on Global Development Report. Dublin. Retrieved from http://www.suas.ie/sites/default/files/documents/Suas_National_Survey_2013.pdf Tallon, R. and McGregor, A. (2014). Pitying the Third World: towards more progressive emotional responses to development education in schools. Third World Quarterly, 35(8), http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2014.946259
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