07 SES 13 B, Citizenship, Environmental and Intercultural Education
Over the last several decades intercultural education has played a key role in many educational policies and practices, both across Europe and internationally. Different views of what intercultural education as well as multicultural education represent have been widely discussed over the years. A challenge is that terms such as “multicultural” and “intercultural” are vague and polysemic (Guilherme & Dietz, 2015; Colombo, 2015). Both multicultural and intercultural education represent a broad field of solutions and practices that cannot be clearly distinguished from one other, yet both include superficial as well as more critical versions (Holm & Zilliacus, 2009). Superficial versions of intercultural education focus on supporting and celebrating diversity without a social justice or power perspective (Grant, 2016; Osler, 2015). Critical intercultural versions can be defined as educational approaches that aim to support cultural diversity and social justice as well as to counter marginalisation and discrimination in education and society (Zilliacus, Holm, & Sahlström, 2017). Along with the different approaches in the field of multicultural and intercultural education, parallel emerging and interlinking discourses are also present. In recent years discourses on social justice education, multilingual education, global education, cosmopolitan education, inclusive education and sustainability education have gained increasing importance, and all represent growing fields of research. This makes the field of multicultural and intercultural education wider than the conceptual use presupposes. For instance, the concept of multilingual education has through a social justice perspective become highly interlinked with critical intercultural education, and represents an emerging key concept within policy (Zilliacus, Paulsrud & Holm, 2017; Beacco et al., 2016).
We have examined the discourses on intercultural education in recent mainly Nordic research. Common in Nordic education is the notion of education as serving the common good, with a focus on social justice, equality and equity, values that lie at the heart of critically-orientated intercultural education. This tradition is still evident, even if a more individualistic view of education and neo-liberal reasoning have increasingly gained ground since the 1990s (Arnesen & Lundahl, 2006; Isopahkala-Bouret, Lappalainen, & Lahelma, 2014). We are comparing these discourses on intercultural education in research publications with the discourses on intercultural education in international policy documents from the European Council as well as UNESCO. We are interested in how the concept of intercultural education and related concepts are used. Of particular interest is, whether a conceptual shift can be seen in the understanding and use of intercultural education and social justice education in both research and policy documents at the European and international level. We ask if the discourses in policy documents are aligned with those encountered in research publications, or if they are headed in different directions. We also ask what soci(et)al implications possible shifts in concepts and conceptual use might entail.
In our research, we examine current conceptual discourses on intercultural education with an emphasis on developments between research publications and policy documents. The analysed material include over 100 publications and major European Council, OECD and UNESCO documents that discuss intercultural education. These were analysed Discourse analysis as a research method allowed for a recognition of language as constitutive rather than transparent. The analysis made use of Gee’s (2014) discourse analytic tools and focused on how discourses were built in the text. Particular attention was given to the situated meanings and figured worlds, that is, theories or assumptions that the text invites or assumes the reader to believe as typical or normal. The first phase of the analysis focused on the research publications. In a first read-through of the documents, we focused our analysis on tracking key concepts, such as “intercultural,” “multicultural”, “diversity” and “equality”, which may be included in discourses on intercultural education. Thereafter, we moved to a deeper analysis of the excerpts where the concepts occurred and how they related to the theoretical perspectives outlined above. We asked how the articles presented the research problems, what concepts they used to describe the study and how they articulated the arguments and results. After this first phase the analysis moved to the policy documents, and followed the similar steps as above, and included comparisons to the preliminary results acquired in the first phase of analysis. We asked how the policy documents referred to intercultural education and argued for its place within education. Finally, the discursive trends where compared and results refined.
We have found that researchers prefer to use concepts other than intercultural education to approach questions of social justice, diversity and equality in education. What used to be called intercultural education goes by many names today. We suggest that research, even within the same contexts such as the same classroom, can look very different, depending on whether the perspective is, say, multilingual or postcolonial. A distinct development is seen in the increasing emphasis on multilingual education, which is visible on an international policy level. The Council of Europe (Beacco et al., 2016) promotes “plurilingual education” along with intercultural education; the two are seen as interlinked. Notably, social justice education is generally increasingly gaining ground (Ayers et al., 2009), and is closely linked with a stronger emphasis of critically-orientated multicultural and intercultural education. Within OECD the current policy discourse on global competence, relating to PISA aptitude testing, brings the question of intercultural education to the front of European educational policy-making, and aims at developing a measurable competencies (OECD, 2018). Such a pursuit, which on the one hand gives emphasis to intercultural education, appears also to narrows down its meanings to more superficial approaches visible in some research. The concepts of intercultural as well as social justice education are broad or work mainly as umbrella terms, neither being connected with a particular theoretical framework. A positive consequence of this conceptual turmoil is that the diversity and at times the contested nature of the field are recognised. Our results show a need to further question what intercultural and social justice education imply and how structural inequalities, power relations and oppression influence equality and equity in education. Intercultural education as a concept continues to be contested, yet, the fact that it is pushed towards re-conceptualisations and more critical orientations shows that it is dynamic.
Arnesen, A.-L. and L. Lundahl. (2006). “Still Social and Democratic? Inclusive Education Policies in the Nordic Welfare States.” Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 50(3), 285–300. Ayers, W., Quinn, T. M., Stovall, D. (2009). Handbook of Social Justice in Education. New York: Routledge. Beacco, J.-C., Byram, M., Cavalli, M., Coste. D., Cuenat, M. E., Goullier, F, & Panthier, J. (2016). Guide for the development and implementation of curricula for plurilingual and intercultural education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Colombo E. (2015). Multiculturalisms: An overview of multicultural debates in western societies. Current Sociology 63 (6): 800–824. doi: 10.1177/0011392115586802 Gee, J. P. (2014). How to do discourse analysis: A toolkit. London: Routledge.Gorski, P.C. (2006). Complicity with conservatism: the de-politicizing of multicultural and intercultural education. Intercultural Education, 17, 163–177. doi: 10.1080/14675980600693830 Grant, C. A. (2016). Depoliticization of the language of social justice, multiculturalism, and multicultural education. Multicultural Education Review, 8(1), 1–13. doi: 10.1080/2005615X.2015.1133175 Guilherme, M. & Dietz, G. (2015). Difference in diversity: multiple perspectives on multicultural, intercultural, and transcultural conceptual complexities. Journal of Multicultural Discourses 10 (1): 1–21. doi:10.1080/17447143.2015.1015539 Holm, G. & Zilliacus, H. (2009). Multicultural Education and Intercultural Education: Is there a Difference? In M. Talib, J. Loima, H. Paavola & S. Patrikainen (Eds.), Dialogs on Diversity and Global Education (pp. 11–28). New York: Peter Lang. Isopahkala-Bouret, U., Lappalainen, S. & Lahelma. E. (2014). Educating worker-citizens: visions and divisions in curriculum texts, Journal of Education and Work, 27(1), 92-109, DOI: 10.1080/13639080.2012.718745. Mansikka, J-E. & Holm, G. (2011). On reflexivity and suspension: Perspectives on a cosmopolitan attitude in education. Nordic Studies in Education 31(2), 76-84 OECD (2018). Preparing our youth for an inclusive and sustainable world: The OECD PISA global competence framework. Paris: OECD Retrieved from: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/Handbook-PISA-2018-Global-Competence.pdf Osler, A. (2015). The stories we tell: Exploring narrative in education for justice and equality in multicultural contexts. Multicultural Education Review, 7(1 –2), 12–25 doi: 10.1080/2005615X.2015.1048605 Wolff, L-A., Sjöblom, P., Hofman-Bergholm, M. & Palmberg, I. (2017) High performance education fails in sustainability? - A reflection on Finnish primary teacher education. Education Sciences. 7(1) Zilliacus, H, Holm, G. & Sahlström, F. (2017). Taking steps towards institutionalising multicultural education – The national curriculum of Finland, Multicultural Education Review, 9(4), 231–248 DOI: 10.1080/2005615X.2017.1383810 . DOI: 10.1080/2005615X.2017.1383810
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