07 SES 05 A, Citizenship Education
The main objective of this paper is to examine how teachers in faith based schools, which mainly enrol pupils from one identity group facilitate children to learn about the values of the ‘other’
There are two central research questions: how do teachers situated in different types of faith-based school teach children about the ‘other’ community a theme that is embedded within the citizenship curriculum in NI? How do children located in faith based schools in NI interpret the ‘other community’.
The paper is influenced by theoretical debates on faith schools and multi cultural-education. Much of the literature suggests that schools have a ‘double potential’ to both constrain pupils to conform to a particular belief system and to encourage emancipation from the restrictions of dominant (religious/cultural) perspectives (Kalekin-Fishman 2004). Hence, when governments decide to offer public funding to, for example, faith schools, there are often fears that these schools are more constraining than ‘emancipatory’ and so are likely to produce ‘intolerant’ pupils (Beckett 2003). Contact between groups in ‘integrated’ schools is thus preferable because, it is argued, they allow individuals from different groups to meet and to foster friendships, and this, in turn, allows them to overcome their negative perceptions of the group. Referencing Northern Ireland, and other conflict areas, Pettigrew, Tropp, Wagner, and Christ (2011, 278) argue against the ‘strict segregation’ of students into different school types on the basis that it can foster resentment and reinforce divisive mind-sets, and propose that the ‘remedies’ for equality ‘generally involve intergroup contact’. Whilst it is difficult to dispute the value of contact between diverse groups, it is interesting that not all theorists accord it the priority afforded by Pettigrew et al. (2011). Proponents of separate schools tend to place less emphasis on the potential of contact and group interaction for challenging division between groups. Instead, they argue that the protection which faith schools offer minority groups holds considerable importance for group relations particularly where that society is politically and socially divided. Banks (2001) explains that when diverse cultural communities and values are acknowledged, respected and given voice (acknowledgement which is perhaps facilitated by the existence of the separate-identity school in a nation state), then the national civic culture is seen as legitimate by all citizens and cultural, national and global identifications become dynamic and interactive. Separate and/or faith-based schools can thus instil a sense of in-group confidence that allows members to more effectively reach out to others in a tolerant way (Short 2003; Halstead and McLaughlin 2005; Halstead 2009). The schools also potentially provide a safe and secure space which may be pivotal to the exploration of the difficult and contested issues with which students of citizenship will have to grapple. Whilst research frequently laments the extent to which teachers in mixed settings engage in avoidance behaviours around sensitive and controversial issues, (see Donnelly 2004; McEvoy 2007; Gamage 2008), it might be argued thus that the safety of the separate school, where teachers and pupils are (broadly) drawn from the same community/faith background may offer a more conducive place for the exploration of these contested and emotive issues. The dearth of research in the field however prompts the need for further investigation and the purpose of this research was to contribute to these debates by drawing on teacher and pupil perspectives in Protestant and Catholic schools in NI.
Aboud, F.E. 1988. Children and Prejudice. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Abrams, D., Rutland, A., Pelletier, J., and Ferrell, J. 2009. Children’s group nous: Understanding and applying peer exclusion within and between groups. Child Development 80, no. 1: 224-243. Banks, J. A. 2001. Citizenship education and diversity: Implications for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education 52, no. 1: 5-16. Beckett, F. 2003. Teaching tolerance. The Guardian. October 14. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2003/oct/14/faithschools.schools Bigler, R., and Liben, L. 2007. Developmental intergroup theory: Explaining and reducing children’s social stereotyping and prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science 16, no. 3: 162-166. Donnelly, C. 2004. What price harmony? Teachers’ methods of delivering an ethos of tolerance and respect for diversity in an integrated school in Northern Ireland. Educational Research 46, no. 1: 3-16. Gamage, S. 2008. Current thinking about critical multicultural and critical race theory in education. In Interrogating Commonsense: Teaching for Social Justice, ed. I. Soliman, 11-131. Australia: Pearson. Halstead, J., and McLaughlin, T. 2005. Are faith schools divisive? In Faith schools: Consensus or conflict? ed. R. Gardner, J. Cairns, and D. Lawton, 61-73. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Halstead, J. 2009. In defence of faith schools. In Faith in education: A tribute to Terence McLaughlin, ed. G. Haydon, 46-67. London: Institute of Education. Kalekin‐Fishman, D. 2004. Diagnosing inequalities in schooling: Ogbu’s orientation and wider implications. Intercultural Education 15, no. 4: 413-430. Lewis, A. 1992. Group child interviews as a research tool. British Educational Research Journal 18, no.4: 413-421. McEvoy, L. 2007. Beneath the rhetoric: Policy approximation and citizenship education in Northern Ireland. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice 2, no. 2: 135-157. Mitchell, C. 2003. Protestant identification and political change in Northern Ireland. Ethnic and Racial Studies 26, no. 4: 612-631. Morgan, D. 1996. Focus groups. Annual Review of Sociology 22, 129-152. Nesdale, D., Maass, A., Durkin, K., and Griffiths, J. 2005. Group norms, threat, and children’s racial prejudice. Child Development 76, no. 3: 652 – 663. Pettigrew, T., Tropp, L., Wagner, U., and Christ, O. 2011. Recent advances in intergroup contact theory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 35, no. 3: 271-280. Short, G. 2003. Faith Schools and Social Cohesion: Opening up the Debate. British Journal of Religious Education 25, no. 2: 129-141. Tonge, J. 2015. Shared identity and the end of conflict? How far has a common sense of Northern Irishness replaced British or Irish allegiances since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Irish Political Studies 30, no. 2: 276-298.
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