Teaching Methods & Intercultural Education Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

That model has been adapted from their work and is shown in the following illustration labeled Figure 1 in this study.

Figure 1

Personality Development and Cultural Socialization

Source: Finkbeiner and Koplin (2002)

Finkbeiner and Koplin additionally relate that the constructivist view is one that holds that "individuals construct the world in ways that help them make meaning of it and from it. Thus our cultural identity is the result of cognitive and constructive processes. From early childhood we categorize what we perceive, we form concepts and prototypes and we attribute meaning to our experiences." (2002) Accompanying these cognitive processes are brain activities in the domain of emotions in which feelings and perceptions are associated with the concepts that result form the process of constructing meaning and self-identity. The result is that the individuals develops not only a cultural identity but also, due to the emotional connection develops cultural preferences in regards to the social environment of the individual which is referred to an "ethnic images." (Garcia, 1999 in Finkbeiner and Koplin, 2002) Finkbeiner and Koplin states that the learning process is one that is similar to a hermeneutic circle as it takes place. The Hermeneutic Circle of Acquiring Cultural Knowledge is shows in the following illustration which has been adapted from the work of Finkbeiner and Koplin (2002).

Figure 2

Hermeneutic Circle of Acquiring Cultural Knowledge

Source: Finkbeiner and Koplin (2000)

The work of Verstraete (2007) entitled: "Flemish Teaching Resources Under the Magnifying Glass: In Search of Intercultural Content" states that the school is "an important actor in helping children and young people to function in a multicultural society, to be able to cope with diversity in a positive way, and to be able to look at the world around them from the perspective of others." (Verstraete, 2007) The presupposition is that pupils are provided with the necessary skills in deal with this diversity and that this provision is made by management teams, teachers and others in today's schools and classrooms. This however, can only take place when teachers and school teams are in possession of necessary resources for teaching that "exhibit multiculturality and resources which enable them to teach "from an intercultural perspective" and that "support them in working on pupils' competencies in dealing with diversity." (Verstraete, 2007) Verstraete (2007) states that work on diversity in education implies "a twofold mission" as follows: (1) Dealing with diversity as an objective of citizenship in a democratic and plural society; and (3) Diversity as means to achieving equal educational opportunities. (Verstraete, 2007) There are stated to be six objectives specifically required when conducting research on diversity. Those six objectives are stated as follows: (1) Normality -- seeing diversity as a normal phenomenon which everyone encounters in various situations on a daily basis; (2) Absence of Prejudice and non-discrimination -- avoiding prejudices and generalizations, where possible and desirable; refraining from combating any form of discrimination; (3) Multiperspectivity - Looking at events, contexts and people from a variety of perspectives; (4) Capacity to Adapt - Functioning in different contexts in continually changing circumstances and new situations; (5) Dialogue and Collaboration - Opting for dialogue and collaboration; and (6) Learning from Each Other -Learning from each other's visions, experiences and competencies. (Verstraete, 2007; paraphrased)


Diversity policies in schools must be the starting place for intercultural education and this is evidenced in the work of Verstraete who describes a diversity policy as "a continuous process of innovation aimed at adapting an organization in all its aspects to our pluriform, democratic society." (2007) The requirement of this process in education is one of adaptation and of a "fundamental transformation of the basic attitude and vision of the school teams." (Verstraete, 2997) What results when there is a failure of innovation and changes and encouragement for these changes in the "attitudes and conceptions of teachers and school management teams" is that whatever initiatives take place "at the pupil level are not likely to achieve much." (Verstraete, 2007) Therefore, school diversity policy must necessarily institute the following five objectives: (1) Acknowledging at all times that diversity is an objective and goal among all teachers, students and others in the school and ultimately in the community; (2) Creation of the pedagogical and didactic conditions for an effective approach to diversity at class and school level, with the community level in view; (3) Transforming the school into an organization that is "an active and learning organization"; (4) Having a keen focus on diverse composition of ethnicities and cultures in all areas, departments and classrooms of the school; and (5) Positioning the school as "a learning and living environment within a wide network of partners. (Ibid, paraphrased, 2007)


This study is one that is longitudinal in nature and the reason that the timeline which is related in the following section is proposed is because of the necessity of an ongoing intercultural activity in the school that is formalized in nature and that will be implemented in part due to a requirement or expectation that this study will be ongoing and primarily because it is the belief of this researcher that a study that intends to actually accomplish important research findings that can be effectively and meaningfully applied in the study of intercultural education is one that obtains enough data to actually demonstrate how to deal effectively with an ongoing and dynamic intercultural environment. In other words, today's schools are increasingly comprised by not only high levels of diversity but as well they are characterized by ever-shifting and changing demographics. When schools experience an influx of a specific cultural group or ethnicity and when this influx is one of a 'sudden' nature the importance of studying and understanding this process becomes additionally complex. For this purpose this proposal is for both a longitudinal study and a study that will be limited in its findings due to the time allotted for research which is to be stated the length of six months time.


The primary study in this proposal is that of an ongoing qualitative study of a longitudinal nature that is designed for the purpose of understanding the most effective methods of intercultural education in the classroom and is one proposed for a five-year period to implemented in participating schools and their appointed classrooms in the study as proposed herein. The second study proposed herein is one that will be implemented in schools which are yet to be identified and that will take place for a period of six months time. The same methodology insofar as the data collection and analysis process will be that as set out and identified earlier in this document as the ABC's of Cultural Understanding and Communication model.


Both studies as proposed in the progression of this work in writing are critical in nature because this knowledge is needed in today's schools. In some cases this knowledge is needed quickly as school districts are presently consolidating schools in their districts due to lack of funding. These consolidations are creating new mixtures of cultures and diversities which previous knowledge does not provide the answers that teachers will need to successfully navigate this new cultural and ethnic mix and the intercultural demands that will be placed upon them. Teachers are not prepared to fill these roles and this will impact the educational initiative negatively is not mitigated successfully. Just this issue will soon be faced in some Alabama school districts as segregated school will be consolidated from one end of the county to the other in a sudden move due to lack of funding of schools. (Decatur Daily, 2009) This work has demonstrated the critical need for study to understand the 'Intercultural' needs of today's students, teachers, and schools.


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