Scholarly article on topic 'Practical Guide of Intercultural Education'

Practical Guide of Intercultural Education Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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{"trans-disciplinary approach" / "multicultural competencies" / "a psycho-pedagogical experiment"}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Monica Filpisan, Adriana-Elena Tomuletiu, Manuela Gyorgy, Traian Moldovan

Abstract Nowadays, we are living in a world wherein the education is becoming more and more a self-development process for both its ends – teacher and student. The former must apply a trans-disciplinary approach during the development process of student's knowledge. In my point of view, when planning classes and curriculums, it is crucial to take into consideration the psycho-social traits and particularities of the participants and to elaborate methodologies based on active, non-formal strategies. In order to accomplish this very purpose, the institution of school must be cultural first but also multicultural.This should be the main objective of education in the Romanian society, given that several nationalities coexist for centuries in the same geographical area, especially in Transylvania (i.e. Hungarians, Germans, Gypsies). This research is a psycho-pedagogical experiment consisting in the implementation of an intercultural educational program, addressing teenagers in two of the most representative high-schools in Targu-Mures (a city from Transylvania renowned for its diversion of minorities). The stated purpose of the project is to develop the student's multicultural competencies and give a “wake-up call” to teachers in particular and the community in general about the need of multicultural education.

Academic research paper on topic "Practical Guide of Intercultural Education"

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Procedía

Social and Behavioral Sciences

ELSEVIER Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 (2012) 5523 - 5528

WCES 2012

Practical guide of intercultural education

Monica Filpisan a *, Adriana-Elena Tomuletiu a, Manuela Gyorgy a Traian Moldovana

Nowadays, we are living in a world wherein the education is becoming more and more a self-development process for both its ends - teacher and student. The former must apply a trans-disciplinary approach during the development process of student's knowledge. In my point of view, when planning classes and curriculums, it is crucial to take into consideration the psycho-social traits and particularities of the participants and to elaborate methodologies based on active, non-formal strategies. In order to accomplish this very purpose, the institution of school must be cultural first but also multicultural.This should be the main objective of education in the Romanian society, given that several nationalities coexist for centuries in the same geographical area, especially in Transylvania (i.e. Hungarians, Germans, Gypsies). This research is a psycho-pedagogical experiment consisting in the implementation of an intercultural educational program, addressing teenagers in two of the most representative high-schools in Targu-Mures (a city from Transylvania renowned for its diversion of minorities). The stated purpose of the project is to develop the student's multicultural competencies and give a „wake-up call" to teachers in particular and the community in general about the need of multicultural education.

© 2012 Published b y Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Hüseyin Uzunboylu Keywords: trans-disciplinary approach, multicultural competencies, a psycho-pedagogical experiment;

1. Introduction

The school is one of the main institutions capable of promoting interculturality because within it the foundations of creation of new cultural expressions are achieved, it is the matrix of interpersonal relationships in which the adolescent personality is asserted and structured, is the institution that cannot be separated from social life and the rules involving adaptation and relationing in a social environment often contradictory and dynamic. For this reason, intercultural approach should not focus on differences, it requires consideration of the similarities between cultures. As O. Klineberg states (Cuco§, C. 2000, p. 262), psychologist G. Allport emphasize that educators insist too much on the differences between people by: undeserved sacralization of cultures, cultural identities in schools - which are perceived by students as "a stunning corset", drawing differences and stigmatizing them, but they must be put on equal standing, to achieve the optimal balance of external and internal problems that they face. School should not be the one which draws students' identity, nor to choose an identity for them (of origin or of receiving). It is important that it give them the means to diversify.

* Monica Filpisan Tel.: +40-0724-262-283 E-mail address: http//www.cantemir.ro

'Dimitrie Cantemir, Bodoni Sándor no. 3-5, Targu Mures 540545 , Romania

Abstract

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.469

2. What are the multicultural competencies?

We can be experts in intellectual knowledge of a culture and at the same time to feel a more or less powerful dislike for the groups and individuals that are part of it. The individual has no ability to object by himself in its group of membership or reference, gestures, choices and behaviors fundamenting and reflect on them. This ability must be developed to communicate with "other" and also in communication with "other". For this to be possible, we need the development and education of cultural competence. Once acquired, we are able to understand our own cultural traditions, many ways to express and affirm them. All these specific attitudes and abilities of relationing to diversity are cumulative named multicultural competence or capacity of Interculturality, defined by the following elements (Nedelcu, Anca, 2003, p. 16):

- Attitudes: cultural curiosity, openness to others, tendency towards combating stereotypical views about other groups and about the self;

- Knowledge on: various cultural groups, "products" and practices of their culture or others, the general processes of social interaction at macro and micro society levels;

- Ability to interpret and relation: balanced interpretation of an event belonging to a culture, adequate explanation and correlation of such elements with those of the own culture;

- Skills of interaction and discovery: the ability to receive new information and specific practices of other cultures, to operate knowledge, attitudes, skills in communication and interaction of the constraints of real;

- Skills of reflection and critical evaluation based on criteria, perspectives, practices and products of their culture and otherness.

Behold the school is not only a place of training, acquisition of knowledge, is also an area of life and experience, knowledge acquisition, is also an area of life and experience, solidarity and mutual acceptance. Such a climate can not be made by itself. It is necessary that teachers themselves live the communication (intercultural) and it is real and positive within the institution, because students are equally receptive to what their teachers live as to what they say or teach. It involves organizing the school and classroom in a manner favorable to this experience (Dasen, P., Rey, M., 1999, p. 186).

3. The intercultural education programme

In a school where students are exclusively Hungarian or Romanian is needed to create opportunities for intercultural encounters, embodied in the common school activities, workshops on topics of inter-acquaintance, case studies, exchange experiences, debate etc. We believe that mixed classes would be interesting, where some of the subjects to be taught in the language of that country, other subjects in their native language, and some subjects in foreign languages. Based on this information, I attended a few classes on topics aimed at the Romanian-Hungarian relations. These are four ninth grade classes of Romanian high school and four high school classes in Hungarian. When creating an intercultural education programme, taking into consideration the factors mentioned above, it is necessary „to lay it out and perform it in the specific context", which includes: the school - getting to know other cultures by studying the subjects in the school programme (history, geography, economy, sociology); the family - it is the one who most strong touches the child in regard to the system of values, most often accompanied by a set of prejudices to what is „different" from an ethno-cultural point of view; the Government authorities - by a legal framework favorable to studying subjects in the mother tongue by the minorities.

In this respect, in co-operation with school psychologists, the class masters of 8 Romanian and 8 Hungarian classes were involved in implementing a program of intercultural education with the following objectives:drawing lesson projects on intercultural topics which to give pupils the information needed to achieve a change in attitude towards Interculturality, starting with their cognitive register; developing the pupils' capacity to identify the prejudices distorted by the multicultural reality where they develop themselves and where they are relationing with the others; supporting the pupils in making and developing some intercultural competences.

The duration of the project was one school year, when the pupils were in the ninth grade. In this respect, students have participated to master classes where were taught lessons on multicultural themes made by their class masters -during the first semester; during the second semester they participated to several workshops by which to identify their own prejudices that may distort the authenticity of intercultural interactions.

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The interaction between me as researcher and the two distinct cultural groups was to be observer during the workshops developed and designed by me on topics such as prejudice, discrimination, intercultural communication. The greatest difficulty had been to maintain objectivity, by detachment from own values and beliefs.

Based on the statistical analysis and processing was designed an experimental program which consisted of teaching five lessons on Interculturality and organizing workshops that focused on identifying the negative social attitudes, forming and development of intercultural skills.

Using didactic methods adequate to teaching lessons on intercultural subjects and making workshops: the case study, the problem-solving, learning by discovery etc.

During the entire development of the program the following activities were performed:

- Lessons with intercultural concepts as topic;

- Workshops on the subjects of: defining interculturality, culture profile of Romanians and Hungarians, prejudices and discrimination.

The lessons have been thought in the following order in the first semester of the ninth grade to a number of 100 de Romanian pupils and 100 Hungarian pupils, noting that to the latter activities were conducted in the native language, namely:

1. Adolescent personality: through this lesson students get an overview of biological-psychological-social transformations and on their influence on personality development.

2. Coordinates of Interculturality: through this lesson students get familiar with the general terms that describe the intercultural phenomenon, which was also taught in the stage of ascertaining investigation.

3. Negative social attitudes: in this lesson, the students identify stereotypes, prejudices and discriminatory behaviors that appear as their product.

4. Intercultural communication: used by students to understand what happens upon the interaction between members of different ethnocultural groups.

5. Intercultural competences: is the lesson that provides basic information on the need to conduct cross-cultural training, especially when you live in a multicultural space, as is the case of Tg. -Mures. Here are some details on the design and development of the classes.

Following these lessons discussions with the class masters took place for identifying the students' behavior and reactions during these classes: The general idea was that students showed high interest to these topics, openness in approaching delicate topics as stereotypes and prejudices. The conclusion reached with the class masters and students was the need for teaching these lessons in all schools in Romania.

Openness to otherness cannot be achieved overnight, it is a lengthy and complex process with ups and downs. We cannot detach the students from own culture archetypes and attitudes to implement the concepts of empathy, equality, understanding. In this context, we face the stereotypes and prejudices that can be removed only by a direct approach materialized in concrete actions in some workshops.

In the second semester, we issued and implemented three workshops in the two high schools, in cooperation with the school psychologists and class masters of those classes: 1. Defining the multicultural - cross-culture education; 2. Achieving „ the cultural profile ";3. Stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination.

1. A first activity that took place had been that of acquaintance of the students with the Interculturality phenomenon.

a. The class master begins with a definition as concise as possible: interculturality is the sign of respect to the right of equality and difference, the sign of dialogue and equilibrium; it aims an open relation to „the others" close

or far from diversity.

Subsequently, the flowchart below is filled with the key-concepts together with the students. The flowchart below shows the concepts identified by the class masters and students together (Nedelcu, Anca, 2003, p. 14 - See fig. 1). b. Once familiarized with the key-concepts, the students are asked to find synonyms for them, as well as other values as: dignity, pride, prejudice, ethnicity, vanity, minority - for example for minority - small community.

Fig. 1. Interculturality Key-Concepts

In the first part of the exercise the first key concepts which the students have identified were: equality, diversity, difference. Within this activity we have observed a certain difficulty of the students concerning the definition of the term of ethnic, prejudice, dignity. The attempt to define these terms is a first step in becoming aware of the apparition of the prejudices. The students have asked the formmasters about what can be done in order to avoid the apparition of the prejudices. The solution which was presented to them was the obtaining of as many information as possible about their own culture and about the "other culture". In this sense, at the next discussion it was resorted to the exercise from below.

2. Follows the description of the own culture and of the "other" - "The cultural profile": It is necessary to remind the students about the fact that, the culture "must be understood as being represented by values in a continuous change, of traditions, social and political relations, created everywhere, characteristic to a group of persons gathered together, by a combination of factors in which are included the common history, the geographical location, the social class or religion, as well as the modalities in which these are transformed by those whom share them. As a result, it does not include only tangible elements as food, holidays, clothing, artistic expressions, but also less tangible manifestations such as the style of communication, the attitudes, the values, the family relations" (Nedelcu, Anca, 2003, p. 20 - 21). The task which is given to the students is to try to identify based ont the image of the "cultural iceberg" the examples from their own culture both fot surface and depth culture.

Surface culture

Depth culture

The conception concerning friendship, beauty, modesty, the concept of justice, leadership, subordination models, of taking decisions, the social mobility, the distribution of the roles in the relationship, the class, the occupation, the models of visual perception, the body language, , the preference for cooperation or competition, the rate of the social interactions.

Fig.2. The Cultural Iceberg Protocol:

In both categories of Romanian and Hungarian students there did not exist any difficulties concerning the description of the elements which constitute the contact culture. For example, Romanians as well as Hungarians talk about the diversity of the folk music, of the dances, of the folklore in general. When we talk about the problem of the culture in depth - the Romanians talk about the strong solidarity of the Hungarians, and the Hungarians talk about the hospitality of the Romanians. The most important aspect in the accomplishment of the cultural profiles which we have noticed was "the impact area" between the cultural icebergs, namely: the Romanians identify at their own group the tolerance and the desire of cohabitation in the same school, and at the Hungarians they identify the need of differentiation as a distinct group. This endeavor can repeat itself, accomplishing another "cultural profile", the profile of the Hungarian students with whom the Romanian students interact in school or outside the school.

Once accomplished "the cultural profiles" identify the similar points, but also the differentiation points and the eventual "impact" zones between the cultural icebergs (Nedelcu, Anca 2003, p. 21).

The constitution of the "cultural profiles" together with the Romanian and Hungarian students have unearthed a series of stereotypical attitudes. For these we propose a series of practical activities, by means of which the students to become aware of them in order to avoid them in the future.

3. The first activity aims the generalizations and the stereotypes:

a. This activity has as a purpose the awareness of the generalizations and of the stereotypes, their notice in the own attitude and in the behavior of the members of the community from which the students are a part of.

- The teacher writes on the blackboard a few categories of people (elders, girls, disabled people, Romanians, Hungarians, Gypsies, Germans, etc.), and the students are asked to suggest ideas for the their description ("The girls are dreamy", "The Romanians are undisciplined", "The Hungarians are united", "The Gypsies do not respect the rules."). The teacher gathers their opinions, establishing connections between these categories and decides together with the students if the mentioned attributes are positive, negative or neutral. Then it is mentioned the distinction between the stereotype (harmful in the interpersonal relations) and the generalization (useful in the knowledge process), as for example "the Romanians are divided", as a stereotype versus "the Hungarians are good friends" as a generalization.

Protocol: It was noticed a certain retention of the students in to expressing their negative attributes towards the other group. The students could make a much better distinction between generalization and stereotype.

b. Once the stereotypes and the prejudices are indentified, let us see what can be done for the dismantling of the prejudices and of the stereotypes, especially the ones concerning certain nationalities, referring with priority to the nationalism.

During these workshops, although the students have identified and became aware of the "harmful effect" of the discriminatory phenomena, they have realized together with the teachers the fact that the intercultural relations bring

the benefice of the change of the values, convictions, beliefs and behaviors which can enrich the own culture, but also the experimenting of certain social negative attitudes. They have discussed about their rights, one of them beeing the righ of studying in their native language (Emilia, Cotoi, 2010).

By means of this program of "Education for interculturality" we have became aware once again of the fact that the change of attitudes and of multicultural perceptions is a complex process, which, in order to have an impact over the teenagers, it is needed a collaboration between the schools, the local and governmental authorities, by means of which the multicultural education can begin from early ages and can continue during the entire life.

Also it is very important that school to prepare the students as a citizen of an extended multicultural society such as European Union, because on January 1st 2007, Romania joined the European Union, along with Bulgaria. It was the latest expansion of the EU, considered by the European Commission as part of the same wave (the fifth) i.e. enlargement of the European Union in 2004 (Brandusa, Gorea, 2010, pp.2927-2931).

References

Cuco§, C. (2000). Education. Cultural and Intercultural Dimensions (pp. 148). Iasi: Polirom Publishing House. Dasen, P, Rey, M., (1999). Intercultural Education (pp 186) . Iasi: Polirom Publishing House.

Emilia Cotoi.Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (2010). Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences.,.1877-0428. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Gorea B., Tomulejiu, E. A., Costin, M. D. et a! (2010). Educating law students as good citizens. Is the Romanian legal education system ready to fulfill its social mission?. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume II. no. 2. 2927-2931. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Nedelcu, Anca, (2003).Intercultural learnig — guide for teachers (pp.14-21). Bucharest: Humanitas Publishing House.