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From policy to practice; how praxis works; enacting the intercultural guidelines in the classroom

Author Teresa Whitaker
Abstract Policy makers make policies based on national and international best practice evidence; however, policies may not get enacted on the ground due to the lack of knowledge of the policy by practitioners or it could reflect a lack of commitment or a lack of awareness of obligations. In this paper we examine how primary school teachers enacted the intercultural guidelines (NCCA, 2005) in the classroom. A cohort of teachers (n=25) undertaking a module on Intercultural education as part of a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL) conducted small scale action research projects in which they sought to practice intercultural education in the classroom and school. Interculturalism argues that normality is diverse and diversity is normal; it takes an anti-bias curriculum (Derman-Sparks & ABC Task Force, 1989) approach by eschewing discrimination of any kind whether it is based on race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, family or marital status, age and Traveller status. Policies encourage teachers to be political activists and to challenge discrimination of all kinds. The European Council emphasises the importance of intercultural competence and dialogue, exchange and education in building a common European future based on values and principles, so that human rights and democracy are safeguarded (Huber 2012). The Council of Europe further argue that there is a great need for education so that intercultural competence can be developed, learned and maintained throughout life. They go so far as to say that intercultural competence is at the heart of education. The paper will examine diversity in Irish society based on the results of the Irish census (2011) and provide a brief resume of current laws, policies and strategies on intercultural education. It gives examples of how teachers can promote an anti-bias curriculum in the classroom in relation to ethnicity, religion and Travellers
Keywords Intercultural, primary school teachers, ethnicity, religion, Travellers, policies, strategies, diversity, discrimination, racism,
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2013
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