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ERIC Number: ED567115
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 24
Constructivist Foundations of Intercultural Education: Implications for Research and Teacher Training
Leutwyler, Bruno; Petrovic, Danijela S.; Mantel, Carola
Bulgarian Comparative Education Society, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Bulgarian Comparative Education Society (10th, Kyustendil, Bulgaria, Jun 12-15, 2012)
Research uncovering different images of Intercultural Education seems to be relevant in various contexts. This paper describes and compares two, the Swiss and the Serbian contexts; two countries with very different histories and with very different political and social constellations. For the Swiss context, migration flows have changed dramatically in the last decades. Migration is qualitatively different than migration 20 years ago. Whereas two decades ago, migrants came largely from socio-economically deprived classes looking for low-skilled jobs, migrants come nowadays from very diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, including more and more highly educated specialists with high affinity to educational issues. Therefore, Intercultural Education is no longer limited to issues of integration of disadvantaged minority children. Consequently, Intercultural Education is prompted to consider different constellations and challenges in schools than 20 years ago. However, teacher educators, pre-service and in-service teachers might still cultivate the image of an "immigrant child" as 20 years ago. In the "Serbian context" teachers' attitudes towards social and educational inclusion are recognized as an especially strong challenge (Pantic, Closs & IvoŇ°evic, 2010, p. 64). This challenge reflects the fact that Serbia has undergone various transitions: from a socialist country (with a strong emphasis on "homogeneity" and "uniformity") to an era of war (with its strong focus on ethnicity) and later on to the post-war constellation (dealing with requirements of the European Union that puts a stronger focus on the recognition of plurality and heterogeneity). Focus on "diversity" or "plurality", traditional views emphasize more the notion of "homogeneity". Pupil diversity was not addressed in teacher training and mainstream schools and teachers were, therefore, never equipped with the knowledge, strategies and tools to address differences at all, and even less to address them inclusively (Macura-Milovanovic, Pantic & Closs, 2012; Zlatkovic & Petrovic, 2011). These two very different contexts illustrate why it seems relevant to consider constructivist approaches in Intercultural Education and, therefore, to uncover different images of Intercultural Education. The relevance of uncovering these images of Intercultural Education is evident both on a theoretical and a practical level. The specific challenge in the school context seems twofold: First, there is the challenge to deal with cultural difference and to include the diverse cultural backgrounds; and secondly, there is a duty and a mission of modern schools to function as norm-setters. Intercultural competence of teachers has specifics that have largely remained undefined until now. The knowledge about deeply held beliefs then is a basic prerequisite to prepare pre-service teachers for dealing effectively with culturally diverse settings. It allows for a better understanding of teachers' role conceptions and of the subjective meaning, importance and challenges regarding teaching in a culturally diverse setting. This allows movement of Intercultural education training from mostly ineffective top-down training to a need-based support of teachers. Uncovering images of Intercultural Education plays, therefore, an important role for preparing teachers to deal with the challenge of providing quality education for all and of preparing future generations for a just, democratic and pluralistic society. [For complete volume, see ED567040.]
Bulgarian Comparative Education Society. Blvd Shipchenski prohod 69 A, 1574 Sofia, Bulgaria. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Serbia; Switzerland