04 SES 05 A, Barriers for (Promoting) Inclusion I
Parallel Paper Session
This paper reports on efforts to engage politicians and policymakers in dialogue about diversity and inclusion and to facilitate changes in thinking and in policy. This took place within a Council of Europe Project, Policies and practices for socio-cultural diversity, and in several high level meetings with Ministers of Education, education administrators and key stakeholders including teacher educators and teachers across Europe (Council of Europe, 2008, 2009, 2010a & b).
The Council of Europe White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue: “Living Together as Equals in Dignity” (Council of Europe, 2008b), whilst underlining the common responsibility among us all for fostering intercultural dialogue, identifies educators at all levels as playing an “essential role” (p. 32). This role places obligations on teachers to promote tolerance and understanding among diverse populations and to challenge negative attitudes. Yet, as the social capital theorist Robert Putnam (2007) has argued, diversity produces fear and leads people to disconnect from one another. He contends that diversity is a threat to democracy, citing evidence that in areas of high levels of ethnic diversity, people desist from associating with others and “hunker down—that is, to pull in like a turtle” (2007, p. 149). Policy makers have an obligation to work towards producing policies that promote equality and inclusion but may also find dialogue about diversity challenging.
Key ideas from philosophy (prinicipally from Derrida, 1993, and Levinas, 1969) were infused within the dialogues with administrators and ministers and strategies for interrupting the hegemony of difference as deficit (such as the framing of policy obligations as aporias, Derrida, 1993) were deployed, whilst working within a familiar context of teacher competences.
Council of Europe (2008) Policies and practices for teaching sociocultural diversity: A Survey Report. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Council of Europe (2009) Policies and practices for teaching sociocultural diversity: Concepts, principles and challenges in teacher education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Council of Europe (2010a) Policies and practices for teaching sociocultural diversity: Concepts, principles and challenges in teacher education: Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Council of Europe (2010b) Standing Conference of Ministers of Education. Teacher education for a sustainable democratic society. 23rd Session, 4-5 June. Declaration on the conference theme. http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/standingconf/MED-23-14%20E%20Declaration.pdf Derrida, J (1993) Aporias. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Levinas, E (1969) Totality and infinity. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.
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