Training bi-lingual teachers for the multi-racial society

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NOTES - BERICHTE 393 TRAINING BbLINGUAL TEACHERS FOR THE MULTI-RACIAL SOCIETY One of the major problems faced by the industrialised societies of Western Europe over the past twenty years has been the influx of 1arge numbers of immigrants with cultures offen considerably divergent from those of the host country. The problem of the immigrant worker and his family is well known and even to some extent res- ponded to at the level of social and economic policy. Less, however, is known of the educational strategies which member countries of the E.E.C., and the countries of Europe in general, have adopted in their attempts to tackle extremely difficult and diffuse social and cultural problems by deliberate and systematic policies of educational and more narrowly curricular innovation. Yet the issue is no less than the survival of the increasingly divergent, pluralist and, in some cases, multiracial societies within which we live and the need to rec- ognize educational institutions as the major agencies through which the social dis- integration and alienation so readily generated by the industrial society is avoided. Whereas the concept of multiracial studies is now firmly established in a number of teachers' colleges in Europe and more specifically in the United Kingdom, the con- cept of a multiracial education drawing its strength from the multiracial character, organisation and curriculum of the institution concerned is a relatively untrodden path. Only a few institutions have attempted to reorganise the whole of their curri- culum on an integrated basis deriving from the social functions and values of educa- tional institutions in the multiracial society. Fewer still have harnessed the thrust of this multicultural integration and focussed it towards the training of teachers. One of the major curricular problems inherent in such a reorganisation is that the tradition of educational studies over the past ten years in England at least, if not in the whole of the U.K., has been one which has adopted a strongly disciplinary approach to the study of the phenomenon of education seen particularly through the disciplines ofhistory, sociology, philosophy and psychology. And yet it is ap- parent that no one established educational discipline can provide sufficient purchase on multiform problems encountered within the multiracial context. The functional inadequacy of undisciplinary approaches has led to a serious gap in the study and practice of multicultural education and has led to a dangerous intellectual parallel- ism and a blinkered, exclusive and unidimensional approach to real problems of educational provision, content, context and interrelationship within societies which are increasingly multicultural-many of them predominantly multiracial. The corol- lary of this at the school level has been the provision of a "box" within the school curriculum labelled "immigrants", equated with cultural disadvantage. This curricular malfunction is particularly acute in the provision of courses pre- paring teachers for the multiracial society. Yet the basic function of a professional B. Ed. degree, attuned to the work of the teacher in urban multiracial settings, is to take account of the commonalities and clifferences amongst a variety of different cultures and project these in a functional and synthetic way into the praxis of edu- cation. It is apparent that such an approach to knowledge cannot rest upon the dominant culture of any one particular group whether ethnic or social, without being exclusive and purblind. In England there are clearly definable historical factors which have led to the conventional definition of degree level work, and particularly honours degree work. 394 COMMUNICATIONS These have grown out of a specific socio-cultural context and epistemological ideo- logy in the Unitecl Kingdom as representecl by its ancient universities ancl dominant social groups. In the multicultural society such a tradition can represent only one of a number of permissible approaches to human understancling and acaclemic ex- cellence. The dominant paradigm has been one based on subjects. There is no unc- tional social reason, however, why a field of knowleclge, such as the cross-cultural stucly of eclucation, should not be taken as a basis for degree level and even honours clegree level of performance as an alternative to a clearly clefinable, conventional form of knowledge whether in the form of a readily recognisable school subject or one of the disciplines of educational stucly referred to above. No stucly of educa- tional theory, no practice of eclucation, coulcl be described as satisfactory unless it represents a clear recognition at least of the concomitance of that activity and the environment where it is carriecl out. Where account has to be taken of a pluralism of forms of knowing and sources of academic authority, which are available to a variety of ethnic and social groups, the intellectual requirement is rather a cross- cultural perspective. One institution where an attempt has been made to aclopt such a functional ap- proach to the newly arising problems of preparing teachers to work within the multi- racial school in the context of a multiracial society is the Margaret McMillan School of Eclucation at Bradford Cotlege. The course for the B.ECl. Unclassified and B. Ed. Honours degree constitute, respectively, the thircl and fourth years of a programme of full-time study of which the first two years are the Diploma of Higher Eclucation. The programme as a whole represents an innovatory approach to the development of expertise, skiUs, insights and the necessary momentum to work within areas of substantial social and economic difficulty, particularly as de:sribed within the phrase the urban multi-racial society". The major alm is to prepare teachers to take the cultures of others on their own terms. The first two years of the programme have a broacl vocational framework and this is then given a more clefinitive and clistinctive orientation towarcls teacher train- ing by focussing on the clesign, organisation ancl implementation of the school cur- riculum, particularly within the age range, three to nine, or seven to thirteen. One major unit in the first two years of the programme which leads to the awarcl of the Diploma in Higher Eclucation, is a unit called Asian Studies. Asian Studies offers an opportunity for stuclents from the diverse immigrant communities, within the Bradforcl area, hut also on a national and even international levet, to unclertake at least part of their higher eclucation studies in their own mother tongue. Five Asian languages are offered in which students may undertake their work and in addition the rest of the stuclents' higher eclucation studies are undertaken in English. This clevelopment is unique in the United Kingdom and the hope is that a num- ber of stuclents who undertake Asian Studies, and are from immigrant backgrouncl, will then proceed to their third and eren fourth year of stucly for the B. Ed. and B. Ed. Honours. Through this process it is hoped that bi-lingual teachers, who had unclertaken their higher education degree studies on a bi:lingual basis, will be able to enter the eclucation and the contiguous social services as fully qualified teachers with a normal English Qualified Teacher's Status award. The potential social bridging role of such teachers will be apparent. Whilst there is insufficient opportunity in a brief report such as this to inclicate NOTES -- BERICHTE 395 the details of the four year programme, at any level of specificity, it is important to indicate that the programmes for the last two years, that is for the B. Ed. Unclassi- fied and B. Ed. Honours, have attempted to tackle the tough problem of identifying those priorities which are essential to teachers in the multiracial society. One major problem of English teacher education in the past has been the over-burdening of the curriculum and this programme has sought to overcome this. The result is that the programme focusses on the activity of teaching within the urban multiracial school, providing basic areas of skill such as reading, writing and arithmetic and focussing on the need for a fostering of the linguistic and broader communicative competence of all groups of children who attend multiracial schools. Complementary to this has been the attempt to foster similar sldlls of communica- tion in the prospective teacher. Thus the major alm of the B. Ed. programme is to build on the foundation pro- vided by the first two years of the programme leading to the award of the Dip. H.E. and to prepare the student to become a competent teacher of children in inner-city multiracial schools. At the end of the programme the teacher should have a parti- cular understanding of the relationship between school and the community, of the circumstances and pupils within that community and of attendant schooling prob- lems. More specifically, he should be capable in the teaching of literacy and numer- acy, have a special expertise and understanding in the field of development of child- ren's language skill and of the teaching of multicultural studies, and above all have the ability to identify the educational needs of children within inner-city urban multicultural schools and to devise, implement and evaluate curricular strategies to attempt to meer those needs. In addition, options are provided in the form of cur- riculum studies and curriculum workshops. The teaching practice of the student, some fifty days undertaken in two blocks, is in predominantly inner-city, urban, multicultural areas. Whilst it is as yet too early to monitor this innovation, it is important to dis- tinguish the attempt to develop an integrated, functional approach to the provision of teacher education in the United Kingdom from the "tandem" approach to multi- racial studies which has been adopted in a number of other institutions. The hope eventually is that the personnel trained through these programmes will adopt an important intermediary role between the pupils and staff in multiracial schools and the surrounding communities and thus facilitate the process of social integration. Only in this way, it seems, can the maximum and crucial contribution of the schools to social cohesion in the context of an appreciation and tolerance of difference be achieved. JAMES LYNCH Margaret McMillan School of Education, Bradford, England


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