20 SES 06 JS, Joint Session
Joint Paper/Poster Session NW 07 and NW 20
In the era of globalization, increasing immigration and growing enrollment of pupils from different racial, ethnic and minority groups in educational systems, the search for ways to cope with diversity and the associated inequalities has become a cardinal issue in education. Learning to "know the other" and changing entrenched stereotypic perceptions of the "other" is conceived a basic conditions for coping with diversity and for building a democratic civic society (Hurtado 2007). Preparing teachers to respond to diversity and foster equality has become one of the three most important challenges in contemporary teacher education (Cochran-Smith & Villegas 2014; Cochran-Smith et al. 2015).
This mission is also intrinsic to today's' higher education, i.e., the preparing of students for lifelong learning (LLL), which also addresses diversity. This dimension appears in the UNESCO publication The Report on Education for the Twenty-First Century –Learning the Treasure Within (Delores et al. 1996). This report describes four pillars of learning, including "Learning to live together" which links lifelong learning to the issue of encountering diversity.
When diversity relates among other things, to ethnic differences and when linked to political conflict, learning to cope with diversity becomes more necessary.
In light of the escalating conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the growing racism, mistrust, lack of tolerance and lack of recognition of the other's rights, a course entitled “The Voice of the Other”, focusing on the living together of Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens was developed and delivered in one of Israel’s largest teacher education colleges. The course developed as part of the Tempus IV project (Trans-European Mobility Program for University Students) dealt with lifelong learning in higher education, and focused on "learning to live together". In this sense, the course dealt directly with the issue of coping with diversity.
In planning the course we followed Delores' definition of this dimension: "Developing an understanding of other people and an appreciation of interdependence, carrying out joint projects and Learning to manage conflict in a spirit of respect for the values of pluralism, mutual understanding and Peace” (Delores et al. 1996, p.37).
In this spirit, students attending the course were expected to transform their attitudes and disposition towards the Other (Arabs) and to develop skills for collaborative team work in solving societal problems, especially those related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They were also expected to plan and carry out a school project aimed at bringing Jewish and Arab students together.
The course employed several teaching pedagogies that were based on various conflict-resolution models. 1) The contact model (Sherif 1958, Blaylock & Hughes 2013) that highlights the use of personal interactions as a means of reducing hostility and promoting empathy between groups. 2) The cognitive model (Kahneman & Tversky 1992; Salomon, 2013) that emphasizes the role of knowledge and logic in building beliefs and attitudes. 3) The psychodynamic model (Bargel 1990, Halabi & Sonnenschein 2004) that highlights unconscious group dynamics and 4) The narrative model (Bar-On & Adwan 2004, Salomon 2004) that stresses the role of storytelling in individuals’ and groups’ perceptions of reality. The combination of these models yielded a pedagogic approach that have two main elements: a cognitive element (exposure to missing knowledge and to the other’s unfamiliar narrative), and an emotional element (sentiments accompanying this exposure). The students' awareness of these elements’ combined effect largely explains its success.
The study that followed the implementation of the course was an evaluation study. The following research questions were asked: 1. To what extent did the course provide new knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and acquaintance with the two group's separate narratives? 2. To what extent did the course provide the social skills needed for collaborative learning and teamwork? 3. To what extent did the course impact on participants' attitudes and dispositions toward peaceful solutions of the conflict? 4. To what did extent did the intervention carried out by the student teachers in the Arab school affect the Arab pupils’ perceptions regarding living together of Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel? Participants were second-year Jewish student teachers in the honors track in one of the largest teacher colleges in Israel, who completed the course. They taught about 114 Arab pupils from an Arab elementary school located in a mixed Jewish-Arab town. A mixed-methods approach was used. The qualitative part was based on the analysis of reflections written by the student teachers after each course session. Statements appearing in the reflections were categorized according to the three themes underlying the research questions: 1) Awareness of the lack of knowledge related to the conflict, of distorted knowledge obtained, and of no acquaintance with the Palestinian narrative. 2) Valuing the learning that occurs in the group and its impact on obtaining social skills for collaborative teamwork. 3) Attitudes and disposition towards implementing different solutions to the conflict. The analysis was conducted by the course lecturer and validated by another researcher. Quantitative data was obtained using a 1-5 Likert scale questionnaire administered twice to all student teachers, at the beginning of the course and towards its end. The questions addressed most of the course objectives. Another Likert-type questionnaire was administrated to the Arab pupils in their school only once, at the end of the intervention. Pupils were asked to indicate on a 1-5 Likert scale the extent which the interventions led by the Jewish student teachers affected them.
It was found that exposure to new knowledge about the political conflict contributed to better understanding of the conflict. Recognition of the deliberate absence of reliable knowledge and the spread of erroneous knowledge in the education system aroused criticism. Student teachers expressed a desire to continue learning about the conflict rather than avoiding it. Acquaintance with the Other’s narrative contributes to reducing stereotypes and prejudices about the Arab Other. The students acknowledged the contribution of the intervention to the building of tolerance towards each, trust and a sense of partnership and solidarity. Awareness and sensitivity to these issues created a new view of the Arab Other, his culture, and the part Jews have played in the conflict. The group learning experience affected not only the participants' acquaintance of the Other but also of themselves. The accumulated effect of all the activities significantly increased belief in the idea that the conflict’s solution lies in common daily life, in joint study in schools and in learning both languages. Simultaneously, there was a decrease in belief in a military solution to the conflict. Similar results were obtained after a similar intervention was conducted in an Arab school. Arab pupils expressed their desire to continue studying in a similar program. A further evidence of the approach’s success and another reason for adopting the program in other academic teacher education colleges. Although the approach was implemented in a non-European country, the problems faced are similar to those currently faced by many European countries. Ethnic and national conflicts, growing numbers of immigrants and refugees, only reinforce separatism and distance. The study thus addressed issues relevant to network 7 and network 20, both dealing with cultural diversity and the roll of intercultural education in promoting local group identities and a sense of common citizenship.
Banks, J. A. (2004). Diversity and citizen education: A global perspective. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. Bargal, D. (1990). Contact is not enough—The contribution of Lewinian theory to inter-group workshops involving Palestinian and Jewish youth in Israel. International Journal of Group Tensions, 20(2), 179-192. Bar-On, D. & Adwan, S. (2004). PRIME Sharing History Project: Two separate but interdependent narratives. In R. I. Rotberg (Ed.) History's double helix: The intertwined narratives of Israel/Palestine. Indiana Uni, Press. Blaylock, D., & Hughes, J. (2013). Shared education initiatives in Northern Ireland: A model for effective intergroup contact in divided jurisdictions. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 13(3), 477-487. Cochran-Smith, M., & Villegas, A. M. (2015). Framing teacher preparation research: An overview of the field, part 1. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(1), 7-20. Cochran-Smith, M., Villegas, A. M., Abrams, L., Chavez-Moreno, L., Mills, T., & Stern, R. (2015). Critiquing teacher preparation research: An overview of the field, part II. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(2), 109-121. Halabi, R., & Sonnenschein, N. (2004). The Jewish‐Palestinian encounter in a time of crisis. Journal of Social Issues, 60(2), 373-387. Hurtado, S. (2007). Linking diversity with the educational and civic missions of higher education. The Review of Higher Education, 30(2), 185-196. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1992). Conflict resolution: A cognitive perspective. Preference, belief, and similarity, 729. City: Publisher. Salomon, G. (2013). Lessons from research on peace education in Israel/Palestine. Asian Journal of Peacebuilding,1(1), 1. Sherif, M. (1958). Superordinate goals in the reduction of intergroup conflict. American journal of Sociology, 63(4), 349-356. UNESCO (1996). International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century, & Delores, J. (1996). Learning, the treasure within: Report to UNESCO. Paris.
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