ERG SES D 10, Migration and Education
Globalisation, economic and forced migration have resulted in a rapidly changing, global migration context. Global conflict has led to the displacement of millions, with many seeking refuge across Europe (BBC, 2016). Yet, 2016 UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon described the hostility and xenophobia refugees and migrants encounter as becoming increasingly ‘socially and politically acceptable’ (UN, 2016). In the UK, migration is a divisive issue. “Brexit” and global terrorism has furthered rhetoric around “controlled” migration and sparked wider debates on national identity (PMO, 2017). Islamism and terror attacks across Europe have exacerbated fears around the irreconcilability of Muslim identities in European contexts – raising discourses around “difference,” belonging and the assimilation of existing minorities (Lynch, 2013).
Consequently, schools in England face legal responsibilities as part of Government counter- terrorism policy (Home Office 2011), to ‘actively promote’ British values in the curriculum (Democracy, Rule of Law, Individual Liberty, Mutual Respect and Tolerance of those with different beliefs) (DfE, 2014). Termed as ‘Promoting British Values’ (PBV) policy, its rationale is in safeguarding young people against extremism. However, the policy prescribes a culturally selective conceptualisation of national identity, argued to bear little relevance to an increasingly diverse society (O’Donnell, 2016). Moreover, PBV policy is situated within wider school curricula dominated by Eurocentric perspectives and ontologies (Andreotti, 2011). The space afforded to non-European topics is described as stereotypical and focused on deficit narratives (Doharty, 2015). Where “diverse” content is explored, it portrays minority cultures as homogenous, “fixed” groups (Amanti, 2005, p.131). PBV policy and school curricula thus raise concerns for inter-cultural relations, the scope for critical inquiry in education and risks stigmatising pupils and communities already viewed as “different” in society (Richardson, 2015).
In the context of increasing ethno-cultural diversity in schools, this research seeks to develop counter narratives to PBV policy and culturally selective curricula in the UK. It recognises that as a ‘socially-constructed cultural artefact’, the curriculum must be re-imagined as society changes (Carr, 1998, p.330). It seeks to explore what pupils, parents and teachers understand of PBV policy and identify what obstacles and opportunities exist for introducing greater critical inquiry and global learning into the curriculum. The research is interested in how a ‘funds of knowledge’ (FoK) approach (Moll et al. 1992), can bridge academic theory into ethical practice. FoK seeks to co-construct curricula with pupils and their families by drawing on their social knowledge (family histories, communities, global experiences), which the teacher can bridge into the classroom. It offers an ethical alternative to current power relations that influence the way pupils are taught and learn.
Informed by postcolonial and critical curriculum theory, I seek to deconstruct culturally selective ontologies and epistemologies embedded in the curriculum. Bhabha’s (1990) postcolonial theory of ‘third space’ provides a spatial metaphor for deconstructing “difference”, whereby school curriculum knowledge, power relations and essentialising discourses can be ‘disrupted’ (Mythen, 2012, p.407). Facilitating a third space can resist colonial processes of knowing and open-up critical inquiry (Dei and Doyle-Wood, 2006). Critical curriculum theory recognises the curriculum as an exercise in power relations which controls knowledge and reproduces certain ‘configurations’ of knowledge over others (Apple, 1996; Winter, 2014). A FoK approach embodies a ‘third space’ as it allows pupils to engage their existing cultural capital and experiences as ‘academically valid’ through the co-construction of curricula (Amanti, 2005, p.138). It addresses what is taught (curriculum) and how (pedagogy) by altering rote or “transmission” learning processes into participatory co-construction. Zipin (2013, p.13) describes this as a ‘double democracy’ as it encourages symmetrical relationships of power in the classroom by engaging pupils in curricula that is relevant, inclusive and participatory.
The methods in this research are as follows: questionnaire surveys, focus group interviews, individual interviews and the co-production and implementation of curricula. The research will focus on Primary School (age 7-11) and Secondary School (11-14) setting as they are compulsory ages of schooling in England that have statutory responsibilities to promote British values and teach citizenship education, whilst covering broad subject curricula. Questionnaire surveys seek to capture the perspectives of parents of pupils on British values and global learning in schools. Interviews with pupils, teachers and civil society organisations are to identify the challenges and locate the opportunities within the current curriculum to foster greater critical inquiry and global learning. Finally, the co-construction of curricula will focus on Humanities subjects as they represent an interdisciplinary mixture of subjects that can incorporate critical and creative thinking. This participatory research will involve recruiting pupils and communities to co-construct curricula using the FoK framework, which will be designed and researched by pupils, and implemented in the classroom by the teacher and researcher as new units for learning. The project adopts a multi-strategy approach as it seeks to ‘unlock’ the complexity of educational systems of policy, teaching, learning and assessment (Croninger and Valli, 2009). A multi-strategy approach can accommodate the many levels of inquiry the research is interested in - from macro community perspectives and attitudes, to micro school contexts and the experiences of individual pupils and teachers (Woolley, 2009). This scalar flexibility allows the researcher to select the methods most appropriate to the research questions and allows space for explanation, as well as exploration. A multi-strategy approach can provide rich data, whilst retaining a sense of pragmatism in the research process, which can be responsive to the dynamic educational policy and classroom contexts (Johnson et al. 2007). Pragmatism is particularly important in relation to curriculum policy as the curriculum undergoes several translations - from advice set by policy makers, to teachers who interpret and develop practice around this, and finally to pupils who receive it.
The expected outcomes of this research are to: • Understand the views and experiences of pupils, teachers and parents towards “British values” teaching and global learning in schools • Identify challenges and opportunities for introducing a critical global curriculum • Use innovative participatory methodologies to co-produce curricula with pupils, teachers and communities through a ‘funds of knowledge’ approach, drawing on the lived experiences of families as global citizens, their social histories, perceptions of belonging and wider knowledge from within ethnically diverse communities (Amanti, 2005: Zipin, 2013). • Engage pupils as curriculum researchers and designers by providing the opportunity to shape and lead the final stage of the research and develop their skills and knowledge to support this (Kellett et al. 2004). • Provide a space for teachers to increase their confidence and skills in teaching controversial global issues. • Promote ethical relationships between pupils, teachers, parents and communities. A funds of knowledge approach represents inter-cultural learning that moves beyond passive forms of “voice” towards inter-dialogue and collaboration (Amanti, 2005). This participatory process of acquiring knowledge bears greater transformative potential as it challenges dominant power relations by putting forth an understanding of identities as ‘interrelated and constructed’ (Banks, 2009, p.314). This approach can challenge the ‘single story’ narratives, which prioritise certain cultures and ontologies over others, which ultimately influences how society is understood by pupils (Harris and Reynolds, 2014, p.466). Incorporating the global experiences pupils are increasingly bringing into the classroom through their life-worlds, it can ensure the curriculum provides an outward, critical understanding of identity and culture, whilst ensuring it is relevant to the reality of 21st Century Britain. Focusing on the nation-state (e.g. British values), presents a failure in understanding not only global inequality, but also global interconnectedness (Beck, 2009).
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