07 SES 16 B, Different School Actors Dealing with Diversity
The current migrant situation in Europe and Norway calls for special attention on educational systems ability to create equal educational opportunities for all students and for teachers’ ability to teach in increasingly linguistically, socially and culturally diverse classrooms. The Norwegian compulsory education system has a long tradition for integration and inclusion of all children. Measures to improve, change and reform the educational system to include and accommodate for diversity have been an ongoing process for half a century. However, there has been an increased focus on diversity-related issues in the last decades. Partly because the student population is increasingly diverse, and partly because the earlier measures to create equal learning opportunities for all students have been found flawed.
The latest years Norwegian teacher education reform is the first to set linguistic and cultural complexities as the base for all teaching (Skrefsrud and Østberg, 2015), in all subjects. Earlier, diversity-related themes were part of special subjects and education beyond qualification. Also in compulsory education, the latest reforms have increased emphasis on the interdisciplinarity of multicultural/ intercultural issues (Ludvigsen et al., 2015). However, we know that implementations of educational reforms into educational practice take time. At the same time, teachers already perform their profession in this “new” climate.
This article is based on a discourse analysis of teacher discourses on diversity in the current climate, with the following research question;
How does Norwegian compulsory education teachers construct meaning of the term “diversity”, and which implication does this construction give for educational practices?
The empirical data for this project is semi-structural interviews with approximately 15 teachers from a handful of different schools. These schools will differ in size, location, and the population of minority students. The interviews will be analyzed through a critical discourse analytic perspective. Discourse is in this case identified as “a social practice that systematically forms the object of which it speaks” (Pihl, 2015, p. 47). In other words, discourse analysis is preoccupied with language and the role it plays in the construction of social reality (Willig, 2008: 160). Theories affiliated with discourse are based on structural and post-structural philosophy of language, proclaiming that our access to the world or reality is through the language. Jørgensen and Philips (1999, p. 17) complement this notion by saying that the language creates representations of reality that never just mirrors this reality; the representations are also creating it. To analyze educational actors’ language use, in this case, teachers, with this understanding is of great significance because language reflects educational practice. Therefore, it is essential to put a critical light on the language used to constitute and construct meaning in education (Biesta, 2004). The dominant perspectives on education have discursive power because they set the agenda for the educational discussion and draw up boundaries for what is possible to say and what is not (Møller, 2007: 45).
Based on earlier research (Haugen, 2018) it is expected that the language discourse will be strongly present in the teachers’ discourse. It is also expected that the teachers draw on the adaptive education discourse as the leading pedagogical ideal to deal with diversity related issues in education.
Biesta G. (2004) Against Learning: reclaiming a language for education in an age of learning. Nordisk pedagogik 24: 70- 83. Jørgensen MW and Phillips L. (1999) Diskursanalyse som teori og metode, Roskilde: Roskilde Universitetsforlag. Ludvigsen S, Gundersen E, Rege M, et al. (2015) Fremtidens skole: fornyelse av fag og kompetanser. NOU. Haugen I B. (2018). Construction of diversity in Norwegian educational research. Unpublished work. Møller J. (2007) Educational leadership and a new language of learning. International Journal of Leadership in Education 10: 31-48. Pihl J. (2015) Epistemological and Methodological challenges. In: Sheri B and Halla BH (eds) Youth `At the Margins`. Germany: Springer Verlag. Skrefsrud T-A and Østberg S. (2015) Diversitet i lærerutdanningene - bidrag til en profesjonsorientert forståelse av fag og kunnskapsområder. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift: 208-219. Willig C. (2008) Discourse Analysis. In: Smith JA (ed) Qualitative Psychology. A Practical Guide to Research Methods. London: Sage, XI, 276 s.
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