04 SES 08 D, Fostering Inclusion in a Multicultural Context: Narratives and dilemmas
Changes in the political and economic environment in the world have caused societies to turn into multicultural structures, and the coexistence of different cultures is a result of these economic and political developments. This situation has become a phenomenon that can be observed in every sphere of life, especially in the field of education. The coexistence of different cultures brought out the necessity of respecting diversity and questioning the existing education programs in education while pointing out the importance of improving teacher training programs. As a result, the concept of multicultural education has gained importance, especially for teachers to have the ability to manage diversity in the classroom in accordance with the philosophy of multicultural education.
The concept of multiculturalism (Başbay and Bektaş, 2009) emerged in the United States for the first time as a result of increasing social diversity and awareness of racism and sexism, and it is defined as the coexistence of cultural differences such as religion, language, race, disability, sexual orientation and ethnic origin (APA, 2002). The main philosophy of multiculturalism is that each culture is considered as a stand-alone value and is not compared to other cultures (Özensel, 2012). In other words, every culture is respected in multicultural structures, and measures are taken for each culture to live in its own values. Although multiculturalism has been used in studies on ethnic and linguistic differences in international literature (Düşkün, 2016), it is not only a structure that includes ethnic differences but also one that includes all differences in society, especially gender, disability, and sexual orientation. From this point of view, multicultural education is an inclusive education, and for this reason the multicultural concept is used in this study.
Discussions on multiculturalism have also been reflected in the arrangements made in the field of education. In particular, the emergence of migration waves as a result of political evolvements has increased the importance of multicultural practices in education, and concepts such as multicultural education, multicultural school, and multicultural teacher have come to exist (Ünal and Örten, 2013). Multicultural education is based on democratic values, which ensures that these differences are treated with respect and tolerance (Ameny Dixon, 2004). In multicultural education, it is significant for students with different cultures to come together and work together for common purposes (Sultana, 1994). At this point, teachers need to have the qualification of multicultural educational philosophy. According to this philosophy, teachers need to be tolerant of different lifestyles, not to discriminate (Spiecker and Steutel, 2001), to organize integrative activities for students with different values (Gay, 2002), to view individual differences as elements enriching the learning environment (Villegas and Lucas, 2002). These competencies expected from teachers for multicultural education (Kitsantas, 2012) are important in terms of the right to education of all cultural groups in society and equality in education (Banks, 2008). It is also necessary for teachers to have a positive attitude towards differences and to reflect this attitude in the classroom environment and to have knowledge about other cultures (Rychly and Graves, 2012).
This study’s aim is to ascertain the views of teachers in Turkey regarding the management of diversity in the classroom in the process of teaching and learning. In line with this purpose, the following questions were sought:
1. Do teachers consider themselves adequate in managing diversity in the classroom?
2. How do teachers manage diversity of the classroom?
Qualitative research was used in this study. Participants of the study consisted of 10 teachers working in state schools in Ankara, Turkey with immigrant students in their classes. The data collection process was carried out in two stages. In the first stage, participants were interviewed using the semi-structured interview form, and in the second stage observations were carried out in their classes. The reason for this is to increase the reliability of the research by using observation data in the interpretation of the interview data (Yıldırım and Şimşek, 2006). Ten scenarios in the Teacher Efficacy Scale for Classroom Diversity (TESCD) scale developed by Kitnastas (2011) and adapted to Turkish by Gezer and İlhan (2016) were used as open-ended questions in the interview form. The reason for the preference of this scale is that it is made up of scenarios that present situations that can be encountered in the classroom environment related to cultural differences. In this study, the teachers’ opinions about the situations that can be encountered in the classroom environment were taken. Observations were conducted by the researchers who were attending the classes with the permission of the participants. The teachers’ attitudes towards the differences in class during the class time were noted down, and no interaction was made with the teachers or the students. The researchers played the role of "participant as an observer" (Bailey, 1978) to obtain more detailed data in the natural environment. In the analysis of the data, content analysis was used for the data obtained during the interview. Then, content analysis was interpreted with the findings obtained through the observations.
In this study, teachers' competencies to manage intraclass diversity have been examined. According to initial findings, teachers occurred to be partially confident in managing the diversity in the class. In other words, teachers do not see themselves sufficient enough in managing classroom differences. This may be due to teachers' prejudices about multicultural education. Research studies have shown that teachers are concerned about division, are prejudiced against some identities, and consider multicultural education only in the ethnic context (Esen, 2009; Yazıcı, Başol, and Toprak, 2009). On the other hand, there are also studies that reveal that teachers have positive attitudes towards multicultural education (Karataş & Oral, 2015; Marangoz, Aydın and Adıgüzel, 2015). In other words, even though teachers have a positive attitude towards multicultural education, they see themselves as inadequate in managing different cultures. Esen (2009) also found similar findings in his study and revealed that teachers felt themselves inadequate and needed in-service training. In a similar manner, Demirçelik (2012) has concluded that teachers find that students from different cultures are exhausting and they feel the need for training from an expert team in this regard. The data analysis process of the research is ongoing.
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