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Emerging models of intercultural education in Irish primary schools: a critical case study analysis

Kavanagh, Anne Marie (2013) Emerging models of intercultural education in Irish primary schools: a critical case study analysis. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.

Taking account of the complex and fluid relationship that exists between social structures and human agency, this dissertation critically explores how intercultural education is conceptualised and practised by teachers and principals in three Irish primary schools. Adopting a whole school approach, it critically explores the models of intercultural education emerging in the schools and examines the extent to which selected variables (leadership, ethos, culture, curriculum, pedagogy, relations) support and determine these models. It also draws on the voice of students to illuminate aspects of teachers’ practice. A review of the literature indicates that while a small number of Irish studies (Bryan, 2008, 2009a, 2009b) have provided critical theoretical insights into intercultural education as conceptualised and practised at second level, no previously published Irish research has provided critical analysis of a whole school approach to intercultural education at primary level. Adopting a qualitative case study methodology grounded in critical ethnography, this study explores the whole school environments of three Irish primary schools. It employs the methods of semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews, observations and document analysis. The study’s empirical findings are integrated with concepts drawn from critical and poststructural social theories, including the theories of critical multiculturalism, transformative leadership theory, discourse theory and cultural reproduction theory. Findings indicate a predominance of weaker models of intercultural education ' underpinned by liberal ideology. However, elements of critical multicultural education underpinned by more radical ideologies are also evident. Analysis suggests that the three interrelated variables of power relations, patronage and ethos and school leadership are the most important factors in determining the models of intercultural education emerging in the three schools. Findings also indicate that a more traditional curricular approach may be preferable to the weak additive curricular approaches which appear to be endemic in many Irish primary schools. The data suggest that while well intentioned, teachers’ endeavours to include intercultural content in their lesson plans can sometimes do more to undermine than support migrant students’ sense of belonging and feelings of inclusion and nonmigrant students’ understandings of the “developing” world. Critical analysis of the three case study schools and the Intercultural Education Guidelines (IEGs) (NCCA, 2005) suggests that a re-conceptualisation of intercultural education is necessary in the Irish context if intercultural education is to realise its transformative potential. In this context, a justice and rights informed framework of critical intercultural education which foregrounds the principles of democracy, critical consciousness and equity is presented. It is argued that this framework has the capacity to transform inequitable school power relations, organisational structures, policies and practices.
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Date of Award:November 2013
Supervisor(s):Waldron, Fionnuala and Bryan, Audrey
Subjects:Social Sciences > Education
Social Sciences > Multiculturalism
Social Sciences > Racism
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Institute of Education
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:22493
Deposited On:27 Jul 2018 12:42 by Thomas Murtagh . Last Modified 28 Sep 2018 09:10

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