07 SES 09 A, Minority Teachers Part 1
Paper Session to be continued in 07 SES 11 A
One of schools' main purposes is to help educate thoughtful citizens that will participate in the democratic process. Research has shown that conducting discussions of controversial political issues (CPI) promotes democratic values (Hess,2009), content comprehension (Brookfield & Preskill, 2005), interest in politics (McAvoy & Hess, 2013), tolerance for minorities (Beckerman & Cohen, 2017) and active citizenship (Lin, Lawrence, Snow & Taylor, 2016). However, teachers are confronted with a host of quandaries when introducing CPI in the classroom despite its importance. Moore (2012) has shown that many teachers have reservations about discussing CPI, and such discussions are rarely conducted (Rossi, 2006). Teachers' low sociopolitical status also inhibits their willingness to engage in CPI (e.g., Arab-Israeli teachers' in Israel; Bekerman, 2016).
Minority teachers has been the topic of ample research in the past few decades, focusing on their role in heterogeneous, multilingual classrooms as well as the teachers' experience (e.g., Lengyel & Rosen; Choi, 2016). However, the research done in Europe and North America is in a vastly different context than Israel. The Israeli education system is mostly segregated, especially when it comes to Jews and Arabs. In the vast majority of cases, Arab teachers teach in Arab schools and Jewish teachers teach in Jewish schools. Moreover, Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages, with Hebrew being the dominant language in the power relations. Accordingly, the Jewish students learn only in Hebrew while Arab students learn in both Hebrew and Arabic.
The theoretical framework of this paper relies on bargaining theory (Kandiyoti, 1988) claiming that minorities (e.g., women in Kandioty's original paper) do not passively accept the majority's social control and use bargaining strategies to achieve maximum benefits alongside contesting the constraints placed upon them. According to bargaining theory, minorities play along with the power relations, and even cloud their identity in the public sphere in order to profit in the long term (Gerami & Lehnerer, 2001). In Israel, most teachers are women and thus minority teachers are at a disadvantage both in terms of their nationality and in terms of their gender.
The main question in this research is how Arab teachers' in Israel handle the controversial issue of Jewish-Arab relations in class. On a concrete level, we explored the different practices teachers employ when a CPI surfaces in class. On a more conceptual level, we asked what strategies Arab teachers employ vis a vis their unique position of representing both the minority (as an Arab) and the majority (as a teacher). In order to establish a broader picture, we examined differences between Arab and Jewish secondary school teachers on their attitudes and reported behaviors towards controversial issues.
This mixed methods study sampled data from a larger study of 1,625 secondary school teachers in Israel (Gindi & Ron Erlich, 2018). The questionnaire included 40 multiple-choice questions and a single optional qualitative question. In the quantitative section, we used 163 questionnaires completed by Arab teachers and matched them with 163 questionnaires completed by Jewish teachers. The teachers were matched by seniority, gender, administrative roles, district, and subject matter. We compared secondary school teachers’ attitudes about conducting class discussions on the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel. In the qualitative section, we used 25 questionnaires of Arab teachers who answered the qualitative question.
Preliminary analyses show that Arab teachers are less willing to engage in discussions of CPI than Jewish teachers. We found several strategies Arab teachers implement that coincide with bargaining theory, such as avoidance, appeasement, and promoting a shared society. Most Arab teachers avoid talking about Jewish-Arab relations in class. Teachers in general and Arab teachers in particular rely on the role as disciplinarians and divert the discussion to preventing offensive statements toward students. Most Arab teachers fear the explosiveness of the Jewish Arab relations and place appeasement at the top of their priorities. Finally, many Arab teachers see themselves as agents of promoting a shared society between Jews and Arabs through teaching Hebrew, meeting with Jewish students, and representing the "other side's" opinions.
Bekerman, Z. (2016). The promise of integrated multicultural and bilingual education: Inclusive Palestinian-Arab and Jewish schools in Israel: What happens to children when adults find solutions to problems they do not have. New York: Oxford University Press. Bekerman, Z. & Cohen, A. (2017). Diversities and civic education in Israel, a society ridden with conflict. In J.A. Banks (Ed.), Citizenship education and global migration: Implications for theory, research, and teaching (pp. 377- 400). American Educational Research Association: Washington, DC. Brookfield, S. D., & Preskill, S. (2005). Discussion as a way of teaching: Tools and techniques for democratic classrooms, San Francsisco: Jossey-Bass. Choi, Y. (2016).Korean American social studies teachers' perceptions and experiences of teaching profession in multicultural urban high schools. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 21, 105-117 Gerami, S. & Lehnerer, M. (2001). Women’s agency and household diplomacy: Negotiating fundamentalism. Gender & Society, 15, 556–573. Gindi, S. & Erlich-Ron, R. (2018). High school teachers' attitudes and reported behaviors towards controversial issues, Teaching & Teacher Education, 70, 58-66. Hess, D. E. (2009). Controversy in the classroom: The democratic power of discussion. New York: Routledge. Kandiyoti, D. (1988). Bargaining with patriarchy. Gender & Society, 2, 274–290. Lengyel, D., & Rosen, L. (2015). Diversity in the staff room-Ethnic minority student teachers' perspectives on the recruitment of minority teachers 1. Tertium Comparationis, 21(2), 161. Lin, A. R., Lawrence, J. F., Snow, C. E., & Taylor, K. S. (2016). Assessing Adolescents’ Communicative Self-Efficacy to Discuss Controversial Issues: Findings From a Randomized Study of the Word Generation Program. Theory & Research in Social Education, 44(3), 316-343. Moore, J. (2012). A challenge for social studies educators: Increasing civility in schools and society by modeling civic virtues. The Social Studies, 103(4), 140-148. McAvoy, P., & Hess, D. (2013). Classroom deliberation in an era of political polarization. Curriculum Inquiry, 43(1), 14-47. Rossi, J. A. (2006). The dialogue of democracy. The Social Studies, 97(3), 112-120.
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