07 SES 02 B, Teachers' Beliefs on Cultural Diversity
Recent increases in the flows of people around the world, both temporary and permanent, have meant that national populations have become more culturally diverse, creating both challenges and opportunities for schools in preparing students for such diversity. The International Baccalaureate (IB) seeks to address this by developing "the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalising world" (IB, 2017a). Within this, the PYP aims specifically to prepare “students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them”. This is achieved through the teaching of five essential elements, one of which is attitudes “which contribute to international-mindedness and the wellbeing of individuals and learning communities” (IB, 2017b).
This presentation starts with the proposition that current teaching approaches tend to draw from notions of multi-and inter-culturalism conceived before contemporary globalisation. Patterns of global mobility were less complex and interactions between people of different cultures were less frequent. However, teachers arguably now need to possess a different form of cultural expertise to meet the needs of students, that of transculturalism, which is inclusive of PYP globally constructed mindsets. Transculturalism sees cultural variation as a positive rather than a negative or issue to be addressed in some way (Casinader, 2016), and as the norm rather than the exception (Rizvi, 2011). In IB terms, this translates to international and open-mindedness, and within these, tolerance. Using this proposition, we argue that the IB seeks to foster a form of cosmopolitanism that welcomes the stranger and which features a moral dimension described by Banks (2008) and Appiah (2006; 2008).
This paper draws from the findings of a 2017 study funded by the IB that sought to understand how well transcultural capabilities are being developed and utilised by teachers (n=38) in schools offering the IB PYP in Canada and Australia. Specifically, it determined and measured the degree of transcultural capability in teachers in four PYP schools (three Canadian, one Australian), and how it impacted upon their teaching of the PYP with reference to the IB Learner Profile and intended student outcomes. While the majority of teachers were found to have transcultural capability, one finding was that teachers often expressed bounded moral views of cosmopolitanism; that is, teaching and learning about welcoming and engaging the stranger were tied to places that were typically localised in a kind of moral geography.
Places are sites of human activity (Curry, 1999), a central function of which “is to define what is possible and allowable within their boundaries. Places are thus fundamentally normative, concerned with what is right and good conduct and where. To say ‘That’s how we do things here’ captures a form of place-specific moral justification which is subject to spatial differentiation” (Lee & Smith, 2004, p. 181). Such moral geographies were evident in our interviews with PYP teachers.
This presentation examines the moral geographies of PYP teachers, exploring the complexities, tensions, paradoxes, and contradictions embedded within the relationships between inclusion and exclusion of difference in the PYP schools. These phenomena are related to a broad range of challenges that arise as a result of the complex interactions between teachers, PYP pedagogies and the principles surrounding difference within the IB Learner Profile, particularly in relation to its notions of international mindedness and tolerance.
The wider study from which this presentation draws had the following research aims: 1. To determine the individual cultural disposition of thinking teachers within the four IB schools; 2. To analyse the patterns of teacher cultural dispositions of thinking, both within each school, and comparatively, in terms of the degree and nature of transcultural capability; 3. To determine the individual and collective personal and professional profile of teachers within the four IB school case-studies; 4. To evaluate reasons for the patterns of transcultural capability using these teacher profiles The study adopted a sequential, qualitative-dominant mixed methods design, combining two existing approaches in the determination of an individual’s transcultural capability. The concept of transcultural capability, derived from Casinader’s (2014) model of cultural dispositions of thinking, was combined with the Community Field Experience model developed by the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (Andreotti, McPherson & Broom, 2015). Two assessment techniques resulted: an online survey and semi-structured interview, which were utilised to gather and analyse both qualitative and quantitative data. Data analysis was undertaken through Dedoose software. This presentation focuses on interview data. The interviews explored the degree and nature of teachers’ transcultural capability, as well as the relationship of this to their teaching of the PYP. The interviews investigated if and how individuals have responded to their various travel experiences, whether personally and professionally, as well as to hypothetical ethical scenarios seeking to understand how they educate students when encountering the Other / Stranger. This exploration focused on the ways in which these experiences impacted upon their pedagogical and professional practices. The semi-structured nature of the interviews provided more in-depth investigation of teacher biographies and what we are refer to as the moral geographical contours of teacher attitudes towards tolerance, international mindedness and action as defined in the PYP. These moral contours were investigated not to understand or put forward a particular belief-system or world view, but rather to determine how teacher attitudes towards these concepts may or may not be defined within the spatial and psychological boundaries of their particular schools, communities or professional practices. For example, virtually all teachers described a passion for social justice, but there were substantial differences in how they conceptualised its realisation through the PYP within specific communities. From these observations, we sought to describe and understand the “bounded” nature of the PYP teachers’ attitudes to transcultural capabilities.
The project findings identified a dichotomy between the professional and personal moral geographies of a significant proportion of the PYP teachers interviewed. Although there was almost universal praise for the Learner Profile’s attitudes, embedded in the notions of tolerance and international mindedness, for many this was primarily a professional observation rather than a personal commitment; the willingness of such teachers to act in the mould of the PYP rather than just espouse its inherent principles was limited. One example of this was that most interviewees found the IB definition of tolerance to be limited in that it refers to merely “putting up with difference” rather than being “open to and accepting of” difference. We then questioned what acceptance meant in moral and practical terms, inviting teachers to explore a specific scenario in which they were asked to guide a student through a hypothetical and specific encounter with difference, as well as respond to globally oriented scenarios in which teachers were asked to reflect on issues such as climate change and how they would guide students to take action. Most teachers saw themselves as enabling students to find their own way through encounters with difference through inquiry, but were reluctant to adopt any particular perspective, regardless of what the student or their parents might say. For others, however, it was more important to support their professional stance with personal commitment, taking specific moral stances in relation to action. These differences suggest certain limits of cosmopolitan openness, and an ambivalence of ordinary cosmopolitanism that has been identified in other research (Skrbis & Woodward, 2007). The findings thus shed light on the moral geographies of PYP teachers, which potentially have wider salience to educators seeking to understand how teachers conceptualise and enact (or not enact) notions of cosmopolitanism in their daily educational practice.
Andreotti, de Oliveira V., McPherson, K. & Broom, C. (2015) Crossing local and global borders. Research Project documentation, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia. Appiah, K. A. (2006). Cosmopolitanism: Ethnics in a world of strangers. New York: Norton. Appiah, K. A. (2008). ‘Education for Global Citizenship’. In: Coulter, D., Fenstermacher, G., and Wiens, J.R. (eds). Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. The National Society for the Study of Education. Massachusetts: Blackwell, 83–99. Banks, J. (2008). ‘Diversity, Group Identity, and Citizenship Education in a Global Age’, Educational Researcher, 37 (3): 129–139. Casinader, N. (2014). Culture, Transnational Education and Thinking: case studies in global schooling. Milton Park, Abingdon: Routledge. Casinader, N. (2016). A Lost Conduit for Intercultural Education: School Geography and the Potential for Transformation in the Australian Curriculum. Intercultural Education, 27(3). Curry, M. (1999). ‘Hereness and the normativity of place’, in J. D. Proctor and D. M. Smith (eds), Geography and Ethics: Journeys in a Moral Terrain, London: Routledge, pp. 95–105. IB (International Baccalaureate) (n.d.). Mission. Accessed 27 November 2017 at: http://www.ibo.org/about-the-ib/mission/ IB (International Baccalaureate) (2017a). About the IB. Accessed 18 November 2017 at: http://www.ibo.org/about-the-ib IB (International Baccalaureate) (2017b). Primary Years Programme: Written Curriculum. Accessed 18 November 2017 at: http://www.ibo.org/programmes/primary-years-programme/curriculum/written-curriculum/ Lee, R. & Smith, D.M. (2004). Geographies and Moralities: International Perspectives on Development, Justice and Place, Blackwell Publishing. Rizvi, F. (2011). Diversity within transnationalism. International Schools Journal, 13(Spring), 20-21. Skrbis, A. & Woodward, I. (2007). ‘The Ambivalence of Ordinary Cosmopolitanism: Investigating the Limits of Cosmopolitan Openness’, Sociological Review, 44 (4): 730-747.
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