Strengthening Practices of Intercultural Education in Ireland – A Critical Overview and Reflections on Teaching Practices

Strengthening Practices of Intercultural Education in Ireland – A Critical Overview and Reflections on Teaching Practices
Malgorzata Machowska-Kosciak, PhD
(Dublin City University, Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education, School of STEM Education , Innovation and Global Relations)

Cultural and linguistic composition of Ireland is becoming more diverse with each new year, offering great potential for even faster and greater human development. Nevertheless, cultural diversity and linguistic enrichment is often portrayed as ‘challenging’, or ‘being in some kind of crises’ (Modood). As many studies report there is still a huge misrecognition of students’ linguistic capabilities by their schools (McGorman and Sugrue, 2007; Nowlan, 2008; Wallen and Kelly-Holmes, 2006) presenting students from ‘deficit’ perspective Devine (2005) and this is likely to have damaging effects on the students (Ortega, 2014). Building on strong intercultural approaches, fostering social justice and global citizenship on the other hand, would have offered greater potential to cherish diversity in Irish schools. This paper takes on a critical perspective by positioning existing national intercultural policy, intercultural guidelines and primary schools practices within the framework of critical multiculturalism. In this perspective, it is claimed that educational context can effectively ‘empower’ or ‘disempower’ its students as some researchers demonstrated (Kirwan, 2019, Machowska-Kociak, 2019 ). This work builds on Round Table Discussion that took place in March 2019 a part of SPIEPS project.“Strengthening the practice of intercultural education in Primary Schools” is the project promoting and supporting the positive integration of migrants within Irish primary schools, through effective intercultural education for all children, which engages the wider school community, contributes to an alternative narrative on migration and fosters global citizenship. So far, numerous barriers to successful integration of migrants have been identified within the context of Primary schools. This situation might show a limited readiness of the educational system to embrace linguistic and cultural diversity. However, it is within capacity of schools to create policies and practices that can challenge both structural and more local discriminatory practice and create equitable and inclusive school cultures which foreground human/children’s rights, wellbeing, engagement and achievement. The theoretical and analytical approach implemented in this study combines Mixed Methods approaches (Cresswell, 2014) with Critical Discourse Analysis approaches ( Duff, 1995; Davis & Harre 1990, Van Dijk).

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