20 SES 08 JS, Pedagogical Agents Dealing with Challenges in School Regarding Inclusion and Interculturality
Joint Paper Session NW 07 and NW 20
African Migrants in Israel
Tens of thousands of migrants from African countries chose to come to Israel because it is a developed democratic state with advanced social and health services whose citizens enjoy a high standard of living. They hoped that in Israel they would live a better life.
Upon their arrival in Israel, they met a heterogeneous multicultural society that includes cultures of majority and minority, ethnic groups, and religions that influence each other, a society that copes with a complex and continuous process of integration between the different groups (Guttman, Amir, 2015; Soffer, 2008).
There have also been changes in the cultural norms: in the social-communal structure and in the family structure. These changes led to the instability of the family and weakening of parental authority. In the absence of other educational tools, the parents act as they did in their country of origin and show violence towards the children, who have assimilated the norms of Israeli society (Shany, 2015).
Integration of children and immigrants in the education system
The Ministry of Education has determined that children from migrant families without status residing in Israel, all regardless of their legal status, will study in schools of the public education system (Shapira, 2010, Green, 2014).
The main challenge for educators working in the intercultural arena with children from African families is to understand sociocultural differences and to find effective and appropriate educational solutions for parents and children. To this end, a process of developing a cultural competence among the teachers is required as a central tool for creating cooperation between parents, children and teachers and encouraging them to participate in the educational process of their children. (Eliyahu-Levi & Ganz-Meishar, 2017).
The term "cultural competence" is defined as knowledge, skills, attitudes and policies developed by professionals in ongoing learning processes to create effective work with people from different cultures in various fields such as communication, psychology, linguistics, anthropology and education. Bradford, Allen and Beisser (2000) tried to combine different definitions of the concept of cultural competence, and concluded that it was conceptually equivalent to the ability to communicate between people from different cultures.
Educators may develop cultural competence during interaction with people from different cultures. This interaction enriches their knowledge of other cultures and helps them to create openness to different thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors from the familiar, while revealing an emotional-social commitment to finding the unifying of cultures and showing respect for minority groups (Wächter, 2003; Fantini, 2007; Deardorff, 2011).
The personal relationship
Creating a personal relationship in an educational environment in which a cultural gap exists between educators, children and parents is a necessary condition for creating conditions of emotional well-being and learning. The personal relationship has an extra-familial effect on the functioning of the family and the child's functioning (Bronfenbrenner, 1986).
In the absence of cultural competence and personal relationship in the educational environment, a gap may arise which leads to mutual frustration, mistrust, discriminatory attitude and negative stereotypes by the establishment and citizens. Therefore, personal relationship is a tool for reducing tensions within the educational framework, because if migrants feel incomprehensible they will not cooperate in open dialogue with the educators.
Thus, culturally qualified educators may establish personal relationship with migrants and serve as cultural intermediaries who strive for appropriate solutions. In addition, the personal relationship will foster mutual trust and will establish the entire relationship for effective functioning, cooperation, finding solutions in a good and inclusive spirit (Eddie-Rakah and Ofir, 2013).
The purpose of the study is to describe the actions of educators to strengthen the personal relationship with migrant families.
The study is a qualitative-interpretive study that combines description, analysis, interpretation and understanding. The study examines the phenomenon studied in a specific context as reflected in personal interviews with educators and parents. It also describes the actions taken by the educators to strengthen the personal relationship with migrant families and exposes their attitude to the implications of their actions on migrant families in Israeli society (Zur & Eisikovits, 2015). The research method enables us to collect first-hand data on the interactions between educators and migrant families, and may therefore help to build educational programs aimed at addressing the diversity of children in a multi-lingual and multicultural society (Eisikovits & Karnieli, 1992). The data was collected from thirty in-depth interviews: fifteen interviews with educators, and fifteen interviews with parents. Each interview lasted about an hour. The interviews with the teachers took place in the school; the interviews with the parents took place in the school or in their homes. The fifteen teachers teach in a large school in the center of the country, where children learn from a wide range of cultural communities from first grade through twelve grade. The school offers each student an opportunity to acquire education and life skills. The teachers participating in the study are teachers with experience in multicultural educational environments. The following are examples of questions that were asked in an interview with the teachers: Have you encountered difficulties in making contact with your parents? If so, how did you overcome them? Tell about the nature of the relationship with the parents and the importance of his contribution. The following are examples of questions asked in an interview with the parents: Please tell me about the relationship you have with the child's teacher. Give an example. Do you think it is important to have a connection between you and the teacher? We recorded and transcribed the interviews. The data was analyzed through a content analysis that focused on what educators and parents said rather than how things were said. Shkedi's (2003) content analysis is a kind of window that allows a look into the inner experience and focuses on the words and descriptions of the educators and parents as reflecting their actions, feelings, beliefs and knowledge. Moreover, according to Krippendorff (2004), content analysis allows accurate descriptions of the data and valid conclusions in their broader contexts.
In examining the personal relationship between teachers and parents and children from immigrant families, four categories of content were found: 1. Mediation of culture, behavior and education 2. Promoting parents' visibility in the educational space 3. Integrating the culture of the country of origin within the educational framework 4. Promotion of informal communication The findings prove that teachers, children and parents who come from different cultures and backgrounds can establish a personal relationship, create a common language, and set common goals while overcoming prejudices and stereotypes that may affect thinking and everyday behavior. The teachers promote socialization processes and personal connections in order to cope with the variance and with the many barriers such as language difficulties, dialectical tensions and gaps, lack of understanding of the educational system, lack of cultural-educational knowledge, and perhaps lack of trust in the bureaucratic establishment. The teachers do not want to change the way of life of the migrants or to show a preference for Israeli culture over their culture, but rather allow them to preserve the tradition of the country of origin and even encourage its visibility in the educational sphere. The actions of the teachers are done out of awareness that personal perceptions and beliefs will not affect their relationship with the migrant parents. They understand that personal-social thought patterns can categorize migrants with low status and prevent them from integrating into society, so they have made personal contact. The personal relationship created by the teachers indicates their ability to understand the other, to see his point of view, to identify the difficulties and to try to reduce the dialectical tensions between the cultures. The personal relationship helps migrants understand the culture, recognize its characteristics and interpret them correctly in the Israeli context.
Bradford, L., Allen, M., & Beisser, K. R. (2000). An evaluation and meta-analysis of intercultural communication competence research. World Communication, 29(1), 28–51. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986). Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, 22(6), 723-742. Deardorff, D. K. (2011). Assessing intercultural competence. New Directions for Institutional Research, 149, 65-79. Eddie-Rokach, A. & Ofir, A. (2013). The degree of trust of teachers in their partners in the job and its relevance to introducing innovations in schools. Studies in the Administration and the Education Organization, 33, 163-192. Eisikovits, R., & Karnieli, M. (1992). Acquiring conflict resolution skills as culture learning: An Israeli example. Higher Education, 23, 183–194. Eliyahu-Levi, D., & Ganz-Meishar, M. (2017). "It will help me in life, that my life will be better": Future Challenges for Migrant Children. International Migration. Retrieved from 10.1111/imig.12357. Fantini, A. E. (2007). Exploring and assessing intercultural competence. Center for Social Development, Washington University in Saint Louis. Retrieved from http://csd.wustl.edu/ Publications/Documents/RP07-01.pdf. Green, D. (2014). Education of Foreign Children in Japan: Local Versus National Initiatives. International Migration, 15, 387–410. Gutman, A. (2002). Democratic education. Tel Aviv: Library of Workers. Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content Analysis: an Introduction to Its Methodology. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Shany, A. (2015). Cultural competence from Sudan and Eritrea in Israel. Jerusalem: Center for International Migration and Absorption (CIMI). Shapira, A. (2010). Foreign workers in Israel. Parliament, 67. Jerusalem: The Israel Democracy Institute. Shkedi, A. (2003). Words that try to touch: qualitative research - theory and practice. Raanana: Ramot. Soffer, A. (2009). Refugees or migrant workers from African countries. Haifa: National Security College Research Center and Chaikin Chair for Geostrategy Haifa University. Wächter, B. (2003). An introduction: Internationalization at home in context. Journal of Studies in International Education, 7, 5-11. Zur, A., & Eisikovits, R. (2015). Between the Actual and the Desirable a Methodology for the Examination of Students’ Lifeworld as It Relates to Their School Environment. Journal of Thought, 49 (1-2), 27–51.
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