10 SES 09 C, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education
Paper/Ignite Talk Session
The developments of multiculturalism have been highly related to the transitions of politics, economy and society in Taiwan. When ‘pluralism’ becomes a representative of modernized progressive democracy, ‘plural’ or ‘multicultural’ becomes a kind of popular vocabulary very quickly. The vague or association between ‘plural’ and ‘multicultural’ in Chinese seems to build up the bridge of discursive formulations of ‘multiculturalism’ in Taiwan. The terminology of ‘multicultural education’ appeared in the 1990s; however, its implications range from issues of aborigines, ethnicity, and gender to the people with disabilities. For the past decade, the focus seems to move to the new immigrant women in Taiwan. Additionally, the Taiwanese government has been intending to initiate multicultural education in educational settings.
According to Curriculum Guidelines of 12-Year Basic Education, announced by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan, the multicultural perspectives shall be adopted, ranging from curriculum development, textbook selection, curriculum design, to the development of teacher profession. ‘Multicultural and International Understanding’ thus becomes one core competence in future curriculum and pedagogy. In this sense, teachers are supposed to improve their multicultural literacy in order to enhance teaching and counselling capabilities. However, the complexities of discursive formulation in Taiwan made the discourses and texts of multicultural education, both in policy and academia, appear inconsistent, discrepant, and vague. Additionally, with globalization in 21th century, the number of newly arrived immigrants to Taiwan has risen so rapidly in recent years that the ‘new immigrant women’ from South-East Asia have accounted for a significant part in Taiwanese population structure. Their position in the global economic-cultural hierarchy, along with media discourses, may influence teachers’ concepts and practice. Facing with complicated discourses of multicultural education, the ways teachers interpret ‘multicultural education’, to some extent, demonstrate their level of multicultural literacy. This research finds that educators interpret ‘multicultural education’ as education related to ethnic cultures, in which‘respect’ is the first and foremost idea. However, educators’ interpretations of respect are shown to provide a means of understanding the gap between policy and practice. In this research, the author also characterizes ‘multicultural literacy’ through analyzing educators’ interpretations of multicultural education and policy.
This is a consecutive study, beginning from 2012 when the researcher conducted fieldwork in Vietnam and Indonesia in order to depict the contexts of society, culture and economic developments prior to this research. Given the socio-cultural nature of this project, policy-related documents were considered a crucial source of data. By themselves, however, such documents could not illuminate the inner workings of policy; rather, documents left a research gap that could only be filled by interviews. Interviews yield rich insights into people’s biographies, experiences, opinions, values, aspirations, attitudes and feelings. In this regard, in-depth semi-structured interviews were adopted to understand teachers’ interpretations of multicultural education. In addition, observation provided contextual data characterising non-written sources, e.g. school atmosphere, culture and micropolitics. Observation is useful comprehensively to understand the environment captured by my interview data. Research were conducted between May 2013 and January 2017. The sampling strategies used in research are both purposive and snowballing in design.
This research also discovered that local teachers' resistance takes many and increasingly subtle forms, including certain actions and interpretations, indifference, and diverse re-interpretations/redefinitions. This alerts us to the need to look for both overt and covert forms of resistance in registering teachers' views on multiculturalism. The research concludes that gender equity policy was in effect reconstructed through teachers’ interpretations, which rested on contradictory, even paradoxical ideas of multiculturalism. It also suggests that enquiry into policy delivery on ‘multicultural education’ must take account of the relations of power and resistance, in which interpretation must not be seen as neutral. Teachers' interpositions of their own attitudes represent a force powerful enough to countermand the development of multicultural education in Taiwan.
[Chinese] China Education Society (Ed.). (1993). Multicultural education. Taipei, Taiwan: Taiwan Book Store. Wang, Y. -H. (2010). Examining the legitimate basis of ‘Multicultural Literacy Scale’ in terms of connotation construction. In Chen, C. -H. (Ed.), Cultivate Educational Planning for high quality modern and world citizens (pp.4-29). New Taipei, Taiwan: The National Academy for Educational Research. Mao. C. -J. (2001). An analysis of Curriculum Reforms in Taiwan from the perspective of political sociology. Taiwan Journal of Sociology of Education, 1(1), 79-102. Chang, C. -C. (2000). A monolith or an umbrella: the multicultural predicaments. Bulletin of Educational Research, 53(2), 103-127. [English] Arnot, M. (2006). Gender equality, pedagogy and citizenship: affirmative and transformative approaches in the UK. Theory and Research in Education, 4 (2), 131-150. Fraser, N. (1997). Justice Interruptus: critical reflections on the ‘post-socialist’ condition. London: Routledge. Glazer, N (1997). We are all multiculturalists now. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Kincheloe, J. L. and Steinberg S. R. (1997). Changing multiculturalism. Buckingham: Open University Press. Maxwell, J.A. (1998). Designing a qualitative study. In L. Bickman & D. J. Rog (Eds.). Handbook of applied social research methods. London: Sage.
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