22 SES 11 B, Inclusion and Exclusion: various perspectives
In times of conflict, impairment of a European identity, it is the important to reflect on and analyse the particular contributions of education to processes and structures of inclusion and exclusion. The contingent of educational institutions became more international than ever before; cultural differences are obvious also between the generations (not only in context of different nations). In reality conflicts start from the details: human behaviour; the style of communication; et al.
The focus of this paper is the dropping out of the educational system. According to the official statistics, in a small Eastern-European country of Estonia, in 2012/2013 about 20% of all students dropped out of vocational schools. The same problem is obvious in Estonian universities: during 2012/13 even 17% of students left before graduating. And even from gymnasiums (this level of education is not compulsory in Estonia) about 2000 students dropped out in 2012/13. All together, from post-compulsory education more than 20 000 students dropped out in Estonia during a one year study (Haaristo 2015). The result is an increased number of uneducated people in a society, which is among other problems considered to be a security risk in the country (Kärsna 2014). A possible reason for this problematic process might be the cultural conflicts in the context of communication (Leino 2015, 504).
If the norms of youngsters’ ways of communication don’t fit into the norms of educational institutions, meaning low- and high context communication, one possible result is dropping out.
Anthropologist Edward T. Hall (Hall 1976; Hall & Hall 1990) divided cultures according to their ways of communicating in high-context (much of the information is implicit) and low-context cultures (nearly everything is explicit). High-context transactions involve implying a message through that which is not spoken; messages include other communication cues such as body language, eye movement, para-verbal cues, and the use of silence (Wurtz, 2005). According to Hofstede (2013), Estonia is an individualistic country with a low context communication culture. Among Estonians, there is a solid conviction about the personal responsibility and everybody’s own achievement and contribution in order to be self-fulfilled. Achievement is reflected directly on the personal responsibility. Given the loosely knit social framework of individualistic countries, where progress in life does not depend on how well connected you are, transparency and honesty rather than harmony and loyalty are considered virtues. For this reason, Estonians tend to be direct communicators. They usually say what they mean, and mean what they say, and there is limited time for small talk. (Hofstede 2013). Obviously misunderstandings between low- and high contexts people are possible.
Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia ordered a survey (Espenberg, Beilmann, Rahnu, Reincke, Themas, 2012) to find out the reasons for the interruption of studies in vocational training, to map the risk factors leading to the interruption, and the intervention measures applied in vocational educational institutions; to assess the relevance, performance, efficiency and effectiveness of the measures. The research problem was the dropping out of school: in the academic years 2004/05 to 2010/11 approximately each fifth student enrolled in vocational training interrupted their studies. Later only a tenth of them have managed to obtain vocational or higher education. The survey was based on in-depth interviews that were carried out among the three main target groups: interrupters of vocational training in recent years; those in danger of interruption of vocational training as of autumn 2012; representatives of vocational educational institutions (headmasters/SSEs), teachers, support staff). The persons interviewed included 30 interrupters of studies in vocational training through 2008-2010; and 32 students in danger of interruption at the moment the survey was conducted (in autumn 2012). To provide a more general overview of the reasons for interrupting vocational training and of the intervention measures used, 30 in-depth interviews were conducted with the staff of the vocational schools in ten vocational educational institutions, 3 interviews in each institution. (Espenberg et al, 2012). From this published report I have made the content analysis. As the main aim of this article is to analyze the dropout problem according to dimensions of culture, I focused on aspects of high and low contexts, to show the possible connection of those styles in drop out process.
Dropping out of school is not just a problem of the individual - it is a problem for the society as a whole, since the society needs educated specialists. The need for unskilled workers is, at the same time, decreasing. Furthermore, in modern knowledge societies, several years of schooling are needed in order to educate citizens that can function in this kind of complex environment. The school and the society could offer suitable support and guidance in order to help all students, but especially those students who do not get this kind of support from their parents. In Estonia both individualism and low-context-communication dominate (Hofstede 2013). Because of that the young generation takes texts (also descriptions of professions) as the final truth, not expecting any extra messages. And because of that, the reality is sometimes something an expected, which can be one reason to drop out. Specially beginners need stronger supervision, because, according to Butler (2000, 392), those with less well-developed individual interest in a particular subject are more dependent on direct instruction from others than are those with well-developed individual interest, precisely because they are less resourceful about generating their own questions and challenges. (Butler 2000, 392).
Butler, R. (2000) What learners want to know: the role of achievement goals in shaping information seeking, learning, and interest. In: Sansone, C. & Harackiewicz J.M. (Eds.) Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. UK: Academic Press, pp. 162 – 195. Espenberg, K., Beilmann, M., Rahnu, M., Reincke, E., Themas, E. (2012) Õpingute katkestamise põhjused kutseõppes. Tartu Ülikool. Haaristo, H.-L. (2015) Praxis: koolist langeb aastas välja üle 20 000 noore. Postimees (9.02). (www.postimees.ee, accessed on 9.02.2017). Hall, E. T. (1976) Beyond culture. Garden City, NY: Anchor. Hall, E. T. & Hall, M. R. (1990) Understanding Cultural Differences: Germans, French and Americans. Intercultural Press. (Accessed partial contents through http://books.google.com/books . . . Thumbnail, (accessed on 04.03.2008.) Hofstede, G. (2011) Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014 (accessed on 9.02.2015.). Kärsna, P. (2014) Eesti suurim julgeolekurisk on harimatud inimesed, http://www.vabaerakond.ee/opinions/priit-karsna-eesti-suurim-julgeolekurisk-harimatud-inimesed-0. (17/12/2014, Raplamaa sõnumid.) (accessed on 9.02.2015.) Leino, M. (2015) Dropping out from vocational education in the context of the dimensions of communication. Research in Post-Compulsory Education. Vol.20, No 4, pp. 500 – 508. Wurtz, E. (2005) A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Websites from High-Context Cultures and Low-Context Cultures. Journal of Computer-Dediated Communication. Vol. 11, No. 1, Article 13, http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol11/issue1/wuertz.html. (Accessed on 17. March 2008).
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