07 SES 11 A, Minority Teachers Part 2
Paper Session continued from 07 SES 09 A
During the last century, a strong discourse about the importance of mathematical knowledge for the development of society circulate and influence many decision in order to try to improve children’s mathematical skills. OECD (2014) claim that mathematics is a necessary skill for personal fulfilment, for future employment and for a full participation in society. Preschool has been involved in the mission of bringing mathematical knowledge and skill to the young children and the teachers have become an important actor. Simultaneously, the population in Sweden is rapidly becoming diverse with a growing cultural and linguistic discrepancy between the children and parents enrolled and the preschool teachers in charge. Diversity among children, parents and teachers is not a new phenomenon, but seems more visible when the children and teachers have different cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds. Deficient discourses about the immigrant child’s difficulty to achieve in mathematics circulate but researchers in linguistic, developmental psychology; pedagogy and social science agree that the support the students receive for acquiring knowledge in their first language is valuable and crucial for the student's personal development and success in school (Swedish Council for Science, 2012). The Swedish National Agency for Education (2016) write that preschool should work to ensure that children with a mother tongue other than Swedish have the opportunity to develop their ability to communicate in both Swedish and in their mother tongue. Special measures such as bilingual staff, mother-tongue teachers, and cultural support workers are important. Multilingual teachers can facilitate the work of getting the children's mother tongue to be a complement to Swedish in the daily educational work. Consequently, a larger number of immigrant teachers work in preschool today and many studies highlight the great benefit immigrant children get of the possibility to use their first language (L1) as a resource when learning mathematics. The immigrant teachers becomes a highly desired product of society and is part of the larger cultural politics of education. In this paper, I explore the making of an immigrant teacher through processes of normalization and surveillance. I analyse her talk about mathematics and her teaching during a week. I use some analytic tools from Foucault to analyse what is possible to say and do for an immigrant teacher in the Swedish preschool context when teaching mathematics in a group three to four years old children. Normalization and surveillance are instrument of power that work to create, prescribe or perpetuate behaviour according to a norm (Foucault, 1979). The most powerful form of surveillance is self-surveillance and the teacher will act according to what she believe is expected of her. The personal characteristics of the teacher is not interesting, according to Foucault. It is the role that the teacher must follow to maintain her/his position and be seen as teacher that is interesting (Hardy, 2008) and the main of this article is to look at what roles, what ways of talking and acting the teacher must follow in order to be able to stand in the position expecting by others. The teacher’s possibility of forming and articulating concept of her/his self is dependent on language and the meanings of the other (Blake, Smeyers, Smith & Standish, 1998).
I Interview and followed a preschool teachers, Kajal, during a week. The goal of the interview and the observations was to highlight the discourses that appear when a preschool teacher talk about her thoughts and work with mathematics in a multilingual environment. Interview questions were semi-structured, that is, the basic questions were few, while the follow-up questions varied depending on how the teacher answered the basic questions. Interview with semi-structured questions may resemble a conversation, but what is different is that the researcher has a motive to understand how the interviewed thinks about a particular phenomenon and how thoughts take shape in the interview answer (Bryman, 2011). Semi-structured questions about mathematics or multilingualism gave me the opportunity to be flexible, follow up an idea and ask supplementary questions without losing focus on what we were talking about. Field notes have been made while I have been in the children's group. I placed myself where I have disturbed the activities as little as possible and observed what Kajal or I interpreted as mathematical activity. The advantage of being able to take notes while the activity is in progress is that the risk of losing details and spontaneous reflections is minimized (Emerson et al., 2007). Having good access to the environment can be an advantage (Alvesson, 2011). I have been working for many years as a preschool teacher and I am familiar with the language and culture of the preschool. I also have experience of coming from another country and working as bilingual preschool teacher. The risk of not being able to keep a professional distance is greater when one can identify with their interviewees (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009) but I think that having the understanding I have is of a greater benefit to interpret what I have heard and seen. It is of course only an interpretation and I am a product of my time, influenced by the discourses of my time.
The preliminary result of this analyse show that the teacher must navigate between challenging discourses, colleagues, headmaster and parents different expectations when she teach mathematics. I can observe the self-surveillance operating when she try to compromise between what she learned about children’s need, what she have been experienced and what the others are expecting of her. The headmaster and colleagues expect she will be a bridge between immigrant parents and the Swedish staff in order to explain to the parents how to behave in a Swedish preschool and how they should raise their children in Sweden. It is expected that she will use her mother tongue to help children understand mathematical concepts if they do not understand Swedish but her colleagues do not appreciate if she speak to much Arabic. Some immigrant parents are expected that she will speak only Swedish with their children and some other want her to speak Arabic. Kajal herself believe that the children, in order to learn mathematics, need the help of Arabic as a resource but in another way they need to master the state language well in order to have a good life in Sweden. To be a bilingual person become something controlled by other and to teach and learn mathematics can be limited by how much languages should be use. The risk of such normalization and surveillance is that some children will be excluded of the possibility to understand mathematical concepts and will be left behind.
Bressler, C. & Rotter, C. (2017). The Relevance of a Migration Background to the Professional Identity Chronaki, A. (2005). Learning about ‘learning identities’ in the school arithmetic practice: The experience of two young minority Gypsy girls in the Greek context of education. European Journal of Psychology of Education. Special issue on ‘The social mediation of learning in multi-ethnic classrooms’, guest editors Guida de Abreu and Ed Elbers, 20 (1), 61-74. Davies, B. (2005). The Fairy Who Wouldn´t Fly: A story of subjection and agency. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 5, 151–174. Diaz, J. (2017). New Mathematics: A tool for living the Modern Life, Making the Mathematical Citizen, and the Problem of Disadvantage. In Popkewitz, T.S., Diaz, J. & Kirchgasler, C. A Political Sociology of Educational Knowledge. Studies of Exclusions and Difference. New York, Routledge. Foucault, M. (1974). The Archeology of Knowledge, London: Tavistock. Foucault, M. (1976). Histoire de la sexualité 1. La volonté de savoir. Paris : Gallimard. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: selected interviews and other writings. New York: Pantheon. Foucault, M. (1993). Diskursens ordning: Installationsföreläsning vid Collége de France den 2 december 1970, Stockholm: Brutus Östlings förlag, Symposium Foucault, M. (1997). Michel Foucault: Ethics, Subjectivity, and Truth. Edited by Paul Rabinow. New York: The New Press. Gitz- Johansen, T. (2004). The Incompetent Child: representations of bilingual children. In Helene Brembeck, Barbro Johansson & Jan Kampmann. Beyond the competent Child: Representations of Ethnic Minority Children. Roskilde Universitetsforlag Montecino, A. & Valero, P. (2017). Mathematics Teachers as Products and Agents: To Be and Not to Be. In Hauke Straehler-Pohl, Nina Bohlmann, Alexandre Pais. That’s the Point! The Disorder of Mathematics Education: Challenging the Sociopolitical Dimensions of Research / [ed], Springer, 135-152 s.
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