07 SES 06 B, Narratives
This paper examines student teachers’ reflections of cultural diversity, struggles and citizenship to explore teachers’ role as agents for social change.
In order to make schools inclusive for everyone, not only encouraging minority and/or marginalized pupils, but also developing respect for diversity and dispositions to social justice among powerful majority group would be vital to construct inclusive schools. Therefore, teachers have to be capable to cultivate classrooms as inclusive and culturally sensitive learning community. This teachers’ role as agents of social justice can be considered as an extended professionalism that needs to be addressed in initial teacher education (Pantić, N. and Florian 2015).
Adopting Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a lens, this paper scrutinizes student teachers’ reflections on cultural diversity, struggles and meaning of citizenship and draw implications for teachers’ role as agents for social change within and beyond European context.
CRT recognizes ‘race’ as socially constructed and pervades in society and in individual’s everyday life. It provides conceptual tools to analyze how ‘race’ has been institutionalized and how unequal power relation derive from ‘race’ is maintained. Therefore, it scrutinizes not only minority experiences, but also privileges of hegemonic mainstream groups.Yosso (2005) suggests placing greater focus on the cultural capital of racially minoritized communities, such as their cultural knowledge and skills, experiences and strategies- instead of promoting a deficit view of these communities. Nevertheless, minorities tend to be underrepresented in teaching professions compare with actual demographic compositions in many societies, which implies lack of role models for minority children and embedding of exclusive national identity in public education.
Drawing upon CRT, Volpp (2011) points to a popular discourse that casts immigrants’ cultural practices as ‘backward, barbaric, primitive and misogynist’ (Volpp, 2011:92). Such selective stereotyping and culturally focused discourses about migrants and immigration politics have been widely adopted, not only by the populist right, but also by some left. This trend of culturalization is problematic, however, as it may attribute to the culture of minority groups consequences that actually reflect the complex influences of structural inequalities, such as racism, unequal distribution of wealth, and asymmetric power relationships between different groups (Kitayama, 2018). Moreover, the populist right typically presents immigration as a cultural threat by emphasizing and stigmatizing the cultural differences of a certain group, such as Muslims. This cultural focus has been adopted by the mainstream right, and consequently brought the culturalized immigration debate to the centre of political discourse (Yilmaz, 2012). This trend of cultural focus of immigration discourses are observed in many European countries and also in Japan (Brubaker, 2017; Kitayama, 2018).
Hence, this paper examines interview data of student teachers in Norway and Japan, adopting CRT as a lens to analyze discourses on cultural diversity and citizenship so that it can identify structural inequality and power relations, rather than problematizing minority culture or religion as sources of conflicts. While Japan and Norway have a long history of immigration, not until a rapid increase of immigration become recognized a few decades ago had both Japan and Norway possessed a self-image as homogeneous nations despite their history if immigration and national minority populations (Eriksen, 2012, Kitayama, 2018). Analyzing data from this two countries provides alternative insight staying away from simplistic dichotomy of the east and west about social issues, as culturally focused discourses on immigration, othering and alienation of immigrant groups are observed both in Norway and Japan, as well as in other European countries.
This study adopted semi-structured interviews to allow interviewees a degree of flexibility at the same time responding to common questions. Participants of the interview are all enrolled at state universities and have been trained to be primary and/or secondary school teachers. Ethnic backgrounds of interviewees are mixed, both from mainstream and minority groups. Interviews were conducted with ten student teachers and in Norway and ten student teachers and newly-qualified teachers in Japan. As for Japanese data, it includes a few newly-qualified teachers in order to obtain reflections from their experiences in schools. This is because a number of hours for teaching practices at schools is much less in Japan than Norway and students are usually allocated at practice schools in the fourth year of the program, whilst many Norwegian student teachers have the first placement at schools in the first year. This study adopts a multistage model analysis, starting with interview data. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed in full. I first examined the focus group data by country by categorizing paragraphs into meaning units. Then I conducted an intensive analysis with interview transcripts comparing with the categories identified from the first analysis. Curriculum and related documents were also collected analyzed to examine the findings from the interviews.
The findings from the interviews identified some common features regarding student teachers’ narratives on cultural diversity and citizenship. 1. Student teachers representing changing citizenship Some interviewees both Norwegian and Japanese groups identify themselves as ethnic minorities, and mentioned that they would like to be a role model for minority children. Some interviewees from mainstream ethnic background describe themselves as being raised in culturally diverse environments and believe that it brought them a strength as a teacher in a diverse classroom. 2. Structural inequalities and struggles for justice As neither Norway nor Japan accepts dual citizenship (recently Norway change its policy to allow some cases, for mostly stateless refugees, to retain original citizenship even after naturalization), several Norwegian and Japanese interviewees mentioned that they have nationalities other than Norway/Japan. Since most of municipalities in Japan require Japanese nationality for managerial positions, they are frustrated about the fact that that non-Japanese nationals are excluded from promotion. Some Korean teachers even pointed out about structural discriminations in recruiting non-nationals as teachers. Although there is no different treatment for teachers based on nationality in Norway, an interviewee with non-Norwegian citizenship recalled the time that she was embarrassed for not having full political rights despite living in Norway for most of her life. Also, some with ethnic minority background suggest a fear of assimilation 3. Culturalized discourses The analysis of the interview data found that culturalized discourses about problems of children and parents from immigrant backgrounds both in Norwegian and Japanese data, often resonated common discourses driven by xenophobic right-wing populism. It suggests that culturalized discourses driven by right-wing populism commonly pervade in both Japan and Norway, regardless of the ethnic, cultural, or religious backgrounds of the targeted minority group.
Brubaker, R. (2017). Between nationalism and civilizationism: the European populist moment in comparative perspective. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(8), pp. 1191-1226. Eriksen, (2012) Immigration and National Identity in Norway. In Stiftung, B and Migration Policy Institute (eds.) National Identity in the Age of Migration : The Transatlantic Council on Migration. Gutersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung Kitayama, Y. (2018) The rise of the far right in Japan, and challenges posed for education. London Review of Education, 16(2): 250-267. Pantić, N. and Florian, L. (2015) Developing teachers ad agents of inclusion and social justice. Education Inquiry, 6(3): 333-351. Volpp, L. (2011) ‘Framing cultural difference: Immigrant women and discourses of tradition’. Differences, 22 (1), 90–110. Yılmaz, F. (2012) ‘Right-wing hegemony and immigration: How the populist far-right achieved hegemony through the immigration debate in Europe’. Current Sociology, 60 (3), 368–81. Yosso, T.J. (2005) ‘Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth’. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8 (1), 69–91.
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