20 SES 07 JS, Inclusion and Pedagogy Seen through Ethnographic Research Inspired Projects
Joint Paper Session NW 07 and NW 20
Genuinely innovative intercultural learning environments (Lee, Williams, Shaw, & Jie, 2014; Morris, Savani, Mor, & Cho, 2014) require long-term, situationally specific analyses of effective strategies to address complex and deeply embedded educational and social issues. This is particularly the case with interrogating claims about enhancing inclusion and minimising exclusion in diverse contexts. Significantly, the intercultural dimension highlights otherwise tacit and invisible evidence of the continuing negative impact of the marginalisation of certain individuals and groups, as well as demonstrating potential opportunities for contesting and transforming that marginalisation.
This presentation explores this inclusion–exclusion interplay in three distinct intercultural learning environments, one in Ireland and two in Australia. This selection of three research sites for this study illustrates the national and sectoral diversity of such environments, while also emphasising the commonalities and unifying elements that bridge that diversity.
The first site is an innovative education project with Irish Travellers, a socially excluded indigenous ethnic minority in Ireland (Kenny & Binchy, 2009). The presentation examines a series of transformative pilgrimages between 1989 and 1994 initiated by John O’Connell (then Director, Pavee Point Traveller Centre, Dublin). These pilgrimages were designed to build bridges and promote inclusion between Traveller and settled communities, through joint positive exploration of Traveller identity, and critical analysis of their exclusion – pillars of Pavee Point’s education initiatives (O’Connell, 1994).
The second site is selected aspects of Education and Training Reforms for the Future (ETRF), an initiative of former Governments in Queensland, Australia (The State of Queensland, 2002). Its primary aim was to integrate service provision for the inclusion of all youth (15–18 years) at the intersection of senior secondary schooling, alternative learning spaces, higher education, and technical and vocational education, including in regional and rural communities. The challenging pilgrimage for educational policy-making was then – and is now – to reposition inclusive senior secondary learning and teaching at the interface of sectoral, systemic and jurisdictional spaces and places (Harreveld, 2007).
The third site is the Queensland School for Travelling Show Children, which was established in 2000 to provide customised education for the children of the occupationally mobile Australian fairground or show community. Despite evidence of the school’s success at educational inclusion (Moriarty, Danaher, Kenny, & Danaher, 2004), the school was closed in 2012 by a previous Queensland Government, ostensibly for poor student results in standardised tests. The subsequent Queensland Government delayed but then implemented the school’s closure.
The presentation analyses the spatial and temporal locatedness of the inclusion–exclusion interplay as it was manifested in each of the three designated intercultural learning environments. The overarching research questions, linking the three research sites, was “Which forms of innovative and inclusive intercultural learning environments were enabled and constrained by the selected strategies related to pilgrimages, integrated service provision and alternative schooling?”. Theoretically, the analysis is framed by marginalisation, resistance and transformation conceptualised as being mutually constitutive, contextually situated and potentially dynamic signifiers of meaning-making (Graham, 2004) and hence as affording opportunities for generative social change (Campbell, 2014). From this perspective, assertions about the innovativeness and inclusiveness of particular intercultural learning environments (such as those analysed in this presentation) need to contribute to new understandings of the forces of disempowerment and exclusion, mediated and sometimes contested through specific intercultural interactions, and against the backdrop of the identified outcomes and impact of such environments. It is from these new understandings that wider lessons for educational policy-making and practice, beyond the presentation’s three examples from Ireland and Australia, will follow and flow.
Methodologically, this presentation draws on two distinct elements that underpin the authors’ research in the three selected intercultural learning environments that are analysed here. The first methodological element was self-study (Kenny, Harreveld, & Danaher, 2016), which is appropriate given the authors’ intensive and long running personal involvement in the issues raised by these environments, as educators, researchers, citizens and community members. In this regard, self-study is self-initiated and focused, and directed towards enhanced understandings and practices (LaBoskey, 2004), while acknowledging a “tension between relevance and rigour on the one hand, and…effectiveness and understanding on the other hand” (Vanassche & Kelchtermans, 2015), p. 508). For each author, then, this research mobilised significant experiences of autobiography, ethnography and personal investment. The second methodological element was comparative case study, deploying aspects of the diverse and sometimes contradictory approaches to case study research (Hancock & Algozzine, 2017; Yazan, 2015). To be useful, comparative case study depends on the clear identification of the cases to be compared, as well as the credible articulation of the criteria for comparison. In this study, the cases were three diverse intercultural learning environments with equally diverse experiences of the possibilities of and constraints on intercultural learning in those environments. The criteria for comparing these three cases included the breadth and depth of information yielded about the character of such learning and the evidence of innovativeness and inclusiveness in relation to such learning. The study exhibited features of qualitative education research (Creswell & Poth, 2018) and drew on the social constructivist paradigm, including the importance of approaching research as a creative and transformative activity and of establishing empathy with the research participants (Kim, 2014). Data for the three cases ranged from semi-structured interviews and focus groups to in situ observation to document and textual analysis. Data analysis focused on James Gee’s (2015) distinctive interpretation of discourse analysis, clustered around the distinction between “Big ‘D’ Discourse” and “little ‘d’ discourses” and the concomitant delineation among different kinds and levels of influence on how individuals and groups interpret the world. This delineation is particularly helpful when striving to analyse and explain how we perceive ourselves and others in the context of intercultural learning environments, especially when fundamental challenges and changes to those perceptions are potentially productive and transformative.
In markedly different ways, yet with some evident commonalities, the three research sites functioned as effective intercultural learning environments with some evidence of both innovativeness and inclusiveness. The Irish pilgrimages generated new and transformative understandings of Travellers and settled community members alike, and also of the historically constructed and socially mediated forces that created and sustained divisions between them. The ETRF elicited generally successful strategies directed towards integrated service provision for young adults, including in regional and rural areas in Queensland, Australia, thereby bringing together previously separate professional cultures in serving those young adults’ needs. For the period of its existence, the Queensland Show for Travelling Show Children sustained distinctive approaches to curriculum and pedagogy that reduced the previous dissonance between formal schooling and the show community’s distinctive lifestyle. More broadly, the presentation demonstrates that it is possible for intercultural learning environments to be both innovative and inclusive. At the same time, such environments are often fragile and vulnerable to the play of powerful external forces (such as social prejudice, corporate managerialism and current neoliberalism) that run counter to the intended aspirations of enhanced intercultural understanding and genuinely diverse approaches to educational policy-making and provision. From that perspective, these three accounts of innovative and inclusive intercultural learning environments are very much located in specific places and times, and they do not lend themselves to being transposed to other places and times. Nevertheless, separately and in combination, they yield important lessons for reimagining intercultural relationships that speak powerfully to the contemporary challenges and debates confronting our world today.
Campbell, C. (2014). Community mobilisation in the 21st century: Updating our theory of social change? Journal of Health Psychology, 19(1), 46-59. doi: 10.1177/1359105313500262 Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Gee, J. P. (2015). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses (5th ed.). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Graham, M. (2004). Empowerment revisited – social work, resistance and agency in black communities. European Journal of Social Work, 7(1), 43-56. doi: 10.1080/136919145042000217393 Hancock, D. R., & Algozzine, B. (2017). Doing case study research: A practical guide for beginning researchers (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Harreveld, R. E. (2007). The ETRF, robust hope and teacher education: Making practical reforms to the senior phase of learning. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 35(3), 273-289. doi: 10.1080/13598660701447221 Kenny, M., & Binchy, A. (2009). Irish Travellers, identity and the education system. In P. A. Danaher, M. Kenny, & J. Remy Leder (Eds.), Traveller, nomadic and migrant education (Routledge research in education vol. 24) (pp. 117-131. New York, NY: Routledge. Kenny, M., Harreveld, R. E., & Danaher, P. A. (2016). Dry stone walls, black stumps and the mobilisation of professional learning: Rural places and spaces and teachers’ self-study strategies in Ireland and Australia. In A. K. Schulte & B. Walker-Gibbs (Eds.), Self-studies in rural teacher education (Self study of teaching and teacher education practices vol. 14) (pp. 179-202). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. Kim, M. S. (2014). Doing social constructivist research means making empathic and aesthetic connections with participants. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 22(4), 538-553. doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2014.947835 LaBoskey, V. K. (2004). The methodology of self-study and its theoretical underpinnings. In J. J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. K. LaBoskey, & T. Russell (Eds.), International handbook of self-study of teaching and teacher education practices (Springer international handbooks of education vol. 12) (pp. 817-869). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. Lee, A., Williams, R. D., Shaw, M. A., & Jie, Y. (2014). First-year students’ perspectives on intercultural learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(5), 543-554. doi: 10.1080/13562517.2014.880687 Morris, M. W., Savani, K., Mor, S., & Cho, J. (2014). When in Rome: Intercultural learning and implications for training. Research in Organizational Behavior, 34, 189-215. doi: 10.1016/j.riob.2014.09.003 O’Connell, J. (1994). Introduction. In J. O’Connell (Ed.), Reach out. Report by the DTEDG on the Poverty 3 programmes, 1990–1994. Dublin: Pavee Point Publications. The State of Queensland. (2002). Education and training reforms for the future: A white paper. Brisbane, Qld, Australia: Author. Retrieved from https://det.qld.gov.au/det-publications/strategiesandplans/Documents/etrf-white-paper.pdf
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