07 SES 08 B, International Encounters
Social justice, intercultural exchange and education: interrogating inequality with university students.
This paper is based on the premise that an understanding of social justice must inform the educational experiences of under graduate students- particularly those who wish to take up teaching as a profession. Not to enable this is a lost opportunity for all those who will one day take up positions of responsibility and in their professional lives. This paper is based on the experiences of undergraduate students and future trainee teachers who have lived and been educated all their lives in almost all-white areas in England. For these students their first real encounter with questioning inequality and problematizing diversity took place after they joined the university. Interrogating inequality, questioning stereotypes and trying to understand contemporary challenges facing schools in the British society requires stepping out of their comfort zone. It requires unlearning and reflection. The students found discussions of issues such as ethnicity and racism difficult and unsettling. Discussions of social class and gender are relatively easier. Why is it challenging to work with issues such as race and inequality with under graduate students in university? This paper looks at the silences in the students’ past educational trajectories, and at the extent of their willingness to engage with issues they find challenging and threatening.
What happens in one university in one country in Europe has implications for other similar students in other countries. As this research raises questions of identity and self-perceptions, ethnicity and inequality and personal responsibility, it touches on issues of global significance.
Bourdieu, P and Wacquant, L. (1992) An invitation to Reflexive Sociology, Cambridge: Polity Bradford, S. and Hey, V. (2007) Successful Subjectivities? The successification of class, ethnic and gender positions. Journal of Education Policy, 22: 595-614 Griffiths, M. (2003) Action for Social Justice in Education, Buckinhgam, Open University Press
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