07 SES 01 B, Inclusion and Exclusion at School
This paper investigates categorization related to race, nationality, gender and sexuality that takes place in interaction in a Finnish primary school. The aim of the paper is to analyze what kind of actions are made with the categorizations, and how the teacher acts and reflects on the categorization, and to relate the studied actions to a framework of critical multicultural education and norm critical education.
In many European countries populist parties have gained popularity and racist attitudes and actions have increased since the refugee crisis in 2015. A division into natives and foreigners is also common in many countries, and school is the meeting place where questions of inclusion become highly important. In Finland there is both a strong notion that all pupils are equal in the schools (Riitaoja 2013; Juva & Holm 2016) and a persistant denial of racism (Alemanji 2016). Many teachers have a colour blind approach (Mansikka & Holm 2011), leaving issues related to race, nationality, gender and sexuality unaddressed because of fear of saying something wrong. Nevertheless, children at school engage in categorization and identity construction as part of their everyday interaction (Aukrust & Rydland 2009; Forsman & Hummelstedt-Djedou 2014), frequently also in situations where teachers are present. Several studies also show how school is a place of reproduction of difference between the Finnish and the immigrants (Lappalainen 2009; Juva & Holm 2016; Riitaoja 2013; Souto 2011). Issues of race, ethnicity and nationality play a big role in how power is distributed among the pupils in school (Juva & Holm 2016; Souto 2011). According to OECD, 96 % of the student teachers and teacher educators found that knowledge about diversity issues was important, but only 47% of the student teachers thought that their teacher education prepared them for working with diversity. Similar to this, in Mansikka and Holm’s study Finnish teachers supported multicultural education on a rhetorical level but did not feel prepared to challenge social and cultural issues. Many scholars have also shown concern about what is actually done in the name of multicultural education, since not all attempts are promoting social justice, and sometimes even doing more harm by eg. essentializing differences (Gorski 2008; Gorski 2016; May & Sleeter 2010; Sleeter & Grant 2007). This shows a need for investigating how multicultural education is played out in practice. Thus, our aim for this paper is to analyze situations when categorization relevant for multicultural education and social justice are taking place among students in the presence of a teacher who has studied multicultural education. We are using critical approaches of multicultural education (Gorski 2008; Sleeter & Grant 2007) and norm critical education (Bromseth & Darj 2010; Kumashiro 2002), where focus is on the processes of othering, not on the Other.
The data consists of video observations of teaching in year 6 with a teacher who has specialized in multicultural education. The observations were done in a primary school in the capital area in Finland, with seven different first languages and four different world views represented in the focus class. Field notes were done during the observations, in order to quickly find situations concerning issues of multicultural education and social justice. A stimulated recall interview was done with the teacher after the recordings on selected situations. Three specific situations when categorization relevant for social justice takes place were selected and transcribed for further analysis. The analysis was done with methods from Conversation Analysis were talk is seen as actions. It is based on a social constructionist view on identity, where identity is seen as something co-constructed in interaction (Antaki & Widdicombe 1998; Benwell & Stokoe 2006). The categorization in the situations is based on ethnicity/race, nationality, gender and sexuality. We have focused on who is categorizing whom, if it is self-identification or categorization of others, on the actions made by the categorizations, possible values attached to the categories and what kind of responses the categorizations get by the teacher and the classmates. The teacher’s reflections on the situations were also analyzed in the same way, and work to strengthen the analysis of what kind of framework a teacher needs to actively engage in discussions on categorization and identity construction.
The results show that in the analyzed material categorization in terms of nationality is the most negotiating and varying, where pupils categorize both themselves and others. Categorization in terms of race and gender is more often done about others in a way that limits their agency. Categorization in terms of sexuality is done to construct own masculinity and heteronormativity, and it is the theme that engages the teacher the most to combat prejudices. Otherwise it is more often other classmates who respond to the categorization than the teacher, which means it is up to the students to manage the categorizations and their consequences. The extensive simultaneous categorization going on in school, makes it demanding for teachers to orient to and challenge the unequal norms attached to the categories. The analysis of the teaching situations also demonstrates how entering into discussion on sensitive matters involves joint commitments (Clark, 2006), which, because of interactional constraints and affordances, can lead to unexpected consequences, where the interaction strengthens rather than questions unequal norms. The teacher’s reflections raise the issue of on whose premises the discussion should be led, and highlight the dilemmas involved in finding common ground with the pupils for discussion that at the same time recognizes the students’ agency, and reflexively questions it. On the whole, the findings show a need for raising awareness among the teachers on normativity, othering and how to problematize categorizations that limit the positions and agency of certain pupils. In these divided times, promoting the same kind of belonging and agency for all pupils, and avoiding fixed divisions into immigrants and natives, become extremely important. The analysis of the categorizations, and the teacher’s response and reflections, offers possibilities for teacher educators, teachers and teacher students to reflect on their own roles as actors of social change.
Antaki, C. & Widdicombe, S. (1998). Identity as an achievement and as a tool. In: C. Antaki & S. Widdicombe (Eds.), Identities in Talk (p.1-14). London: SAGE Publications. Benwell, B & Stokoe, E. (2006). Discourse and Identity. Edinburgh University Press. Bromseth & Darj (ed.). (2010). Normkritisk pedagogik: Makt, lärande och strategier för förändring [Normcritical education: Power, learning and strategies for change]. Uppsala: Centrum för genusvetenskap. Clark, H. (2006) Social actions, social commitments. In N.J. Enfield & S.C. Levinson (Eds.) Roots of Human Sociality, pp. 126-150. Oxford: Berg. Gorski, P. (2008). Good intentions are not enough: a decolonizing intercultural education. Intercultural Education 19 (6), 515-525. doi:10.1080/14675980802568319 Gorski, P. (2016). Rethinking the Role of “Culture” in Educational Equity: From Cultural Competence to Equity Literacy. Multicultural Perspectives, 18(4), 221–226. doi: 10.1080/15210960.2016.1228344 Juva, I & Holm, G. (2017). Not all students are equally equal: Normality as Finnishness. In K. Kantasalmi and G. Holm The State, Schooling, and Identity: Diversifying Education in Europe pp, City: Palgrave Macmillan. Kumashiro, K. (2002). Troubling education: queer activism and anti-oppressive education. New York: RoutledgeFalmer. Mansikka, J-E. & Holm, G. (2011) Teaching minority students within minority schools: teachers’ conceptions of multicultural education in Swedish‐speaking schools in Finland. Intercultural Education, 22 (2), 133-144, doi: 10.1080/14675986.2011.567071 May, S. & Sleeter, C. (2010). Critical multiculturalism: theory and praxis. Routledge. OECD. (2010). Educating teachers for diversity: meeting the challenge. Series: Educational Research and Innovation. Riitaoja, Anna-Leena. (2013). Toiseuksien rakentuminen koulussa: Tutkimus opetussuunnitelmista ja kahden helsinkiläisen alakoulun arjesta [The construction of othering in school: A study of curricula and the everyday life of two primary schools in Helsinki]. PhD diss. Helsinki University. Sleeter, C. & Grant, C. (2007). Making choices for multicultural education: Five approaches to race, class, and gender (6th ed). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. Souto, A.-M. (2011). Arkipäivän rasismi koulussa: Etnografinen tutkimus suomalais- ja maahanmuuttajanuorten ryhmäsuhteista [Everyday racism in school: An ethnographic study of group relations between Finnish and immigrant youths]. PhD diss., University of Eastern Finland. Helsinki: Nuorisotutkimusseura.
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