ERG SES D 13, Intercultural Education
This paper brings Australia into the global spotlight for research into the relationship between the concept of interculturality and secondary history education. Based on the findings of a qualitative study conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2016-2017, the paper contributes a new theoretical approach toward intercultural history as pedagogy in our schools. The paper outlines how interculturality problematizes cultural difference in Western historical thinking and its education. It explains its case through a conceptual framework of crystallization, informed by Ellingson (2009), that theoretically brings together discourse analysis, historical narration and historical consciousness to interrogate the perpetuation of national cohesion through ‘silences’ that travel the temporal channels of historical knowledge. Germane to the topic are methodological means in history education that bring the concept of interculturality into the work of teachers and history textbooks enabling them to be cognizant of a complex and political culture of change and recognition (Rüsen, 2006).
Motivated by the intent of a national curriculum and its new History curriculum in Australia in 2015 to engage significantly with the General Capability of ‘intercultural understanding’, a literature review was conducted to determine the interpretation and conceptualisation of interculturality in history education. The review revealed that although there is an increase in scholarly literature, both in Australia and internationally, that underpins the theorizing of intercultural education (see Abdallah‐Pretceille, 2006; Abdou, 2017; Gorski, 2008; Gundara, 2014; Halse, 2015; Moss, O’Mara, & McCandless, 2017) there is a paucity of literature that theorizes interculturality specifically for the teaching and learning of history, notwithstanding the most recent scholarly research conducted by Nordgren and Johansson (Nordgren, 2017; Nordgren & Johansson, 2014). In response, this paper addresses a gap in the knowledge of how teaching an intercultural history in schools can be advanced in theory.
The complexity of interculturality for history education cannot be denied. Based on the findings of the initial study that contributes to this paper, it is deemed a latent but disruptive tension that challenges ethnocentric underpinnings of contemporary history education. Key literatures evidence that historical thinking in Australia, as in other western countries, remains rooted in an historical consciousness that conceives identity in terms of ‘master narratives’ and discursive conditions (Rüsen, 2004; Salter & Maxwell, 2016). Moreover, there is striking evidence from the study that teachers genuinely grapple with the complexities associated with interculturality and the teaching of history and that history textbooks lag further behind in the interpretation of this concept. Therefore the theorizing of interculturality for secondary history education is warranted and contributes to new scholarship in a field that grows under the auspice of globalisation and its social and political pressures.
The initial study which asked; How do prescribed history textbooks in Australia interpret the concept of interculturality? How do teachers conceptualize interculturality in their history teaching? employed two methods to generate data; textual analysis and focus groups. As a key element of discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992) the textual analysis engaged with a specific timeline published in a popular history textbook used widely in Australian secondary schools. Four focus groups comprised of twenty four teachers and acted as a random sample. The study used discourse analysis as methodology and was predominantly informed by the theories and approach of James Paul Gee ( 1999, 2014). It was theoretically underpinned further by educational theorist and historian, Jörn Rüsen and his scholarly work on historical narration and historical consciousness. The study followed Rüsen’s key notion of “why historical thinking has to become intercultural” revealing unresearched correlations between interculturality and secondary history education (Rüsen, 2002). In response to the findings of the study, this paper takes up Rozbicki’s (2015)perspective that interculturality does not come naturally to people and demonstrates that teachers’ conceptualisation of interculturality is at best a general understanding that revolves around perspective, empathy and inclusion. It uses the findings of the study to explain and discuss the development of a theoretical model intended as a ‘new theory’ that mobilizes methodological means in history education to bring the concept of interculturality into the work of teachers and history textbooks. Adapted from Rüsen’s (2006) typology of historical narration the model can be used to advance teachers’ understanding of how interculturality as an educational strategy, as opposed to interculturality as a general concept, is made visible in the design and teaching of history curricula.
Central to this paper is how the concept of interculturality brings the social imperatives of globalization and history education into closer contact and troubles school history internationally as the support mechanism of national cohesion. This paper concludes that unless the complexities of interculturality are harnessed through an awareness of the diachronic construction of the specificity of Western historical thinking, which as Rüsen says, “cannot be tracked down in an easy and clear cut manner” history pedagogy cannot be transformative(Rüsen, 2006). Moreover, there is “a necessity of today for the sake of tomorrow” for history teachers to be intercultural (Aman, 2015, p. 7). However, there are intellectual demands required before interculturality, as an educational strategy, can fundamentally exist and be sustained in history pedagogy. This paper acts on these intellectual demands to theorize interculturality for history teaching. It raises the awareness of the impact of the concept of interculturality upon history and curriculum pedagogy. Its expected outcome is twofold; firstly, to demonstrate and broaden “interculturalism as a paradigm” for dealing with difference and diversity in history education; secondly to engage at a fundamental level with the intellectual endeavour of educating history teachers to be intercultural (Abdallah‐Pretceille, 2006).
Abdallah‐Pretceille, M. (2006). Interculturalism as a paradigm for thinking about diversity. Intercultural Education, 17(5), 475-483. doi: 10.1080/14675980601065764 Abdou, E. D. (2017). Toward Embracing Multiple Perspectives in World History Curricula: Interrogating Representations of Intercultural Exchanges Between Ancient Civilizations in Quebec Textbooks. Theory & Research in Social Education, 1-35. doi: 10.1080/00933104.2016.1276500 Aman, R. (2015). The Double Bind of Interculturality and the Implications for Education. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 36(2), 149-165. doi: 10.1080/07256868.2015.1008431 Ellingson, L. L. (2009). Engaging crystallization in qualitative research : an introduction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Gee, J. P. (2014). An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method (Fourth ed.). New York: Routledge. Gorski, P. C. (2008). Good intentions are not enough: a decolonizing intercultural education. Intercultural Education, 19(6), 515-525. doi: 10.1080/14675980802568319 Gundara, J. S. (2014). Global and civilisational knowledge: eurocentrism, intercultural education and civic engagements. Intercultural Education, 1-14. doi: 10.1080/14675986.2014.888802 Halse, C., F. Mansouri, J. Moss, Y.Paradies, J.O'Mara, R. Arber, N. Denson. (2015). 'Doing Diversity' An Australian Research Council Linkage Project Final Report. Geelong: Deakin University. Moss, J., O’Mara, J., & McCandless, T. (2017). School leadership and intercultural understanding: school foyers as situated spaces for doing diversity. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21(9), 956-973. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1324527 Nordgren, K. (2017). Powerful knowledge, intercultural learning and history education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 49(5), 663-682. doi: 10.1080/00220272.2017.1320430 Nordgren, K., & Johansson, M. (2014). Intercultural historical learning: a conceptual framework. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 1-25. doi: 10.1080/00220272.2014.956795 Rozbicki, M. J. (Ed.). (2015). Perspectives on interculturality : the construction of meaning in relationships of difference. Rüsen, J. (2002). Western historical thinking: an intercultural debate (Vol. 1): Berghahn Books. Rüsen, J. (2004). How to Overcome Ethnocentrism: Approaches to a Culture of Recognition by History in the Twenty-First Century. History and Theory, 43(4), 118-129. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2303.2004.00301.x Rüsen, J. (2006). History: Narration, Interpretation, Orientation (Vol. 45). Oxford: Berghahn Books. Salter, P., & Maxwell, J. (2016). Navigating the ‘inter’ in intercultural education. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 1-16. doi: 10.1080/01596306.2016.1179171
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