Preparing teachers for diversity

Paul Bartolo

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This paper reports the insights into the process of preparing teachers for responding to pupil diversity, based on the evaluation of the process of a three-year (2004-07) Comenius 2.1 project among teacher educators from seven EU countries. The paper is contextualized within the author’s move towards a social constructivist approach to education. It then describes the evaluation of the piloting of the DTMp project (Differentiated Teaching Module, primary) materials with groups of pre- and ins-service teachers in seven different countries in online and face-to-face courses in each of the seven partner institutions. A qualitative analysis of post-course evaluation data, collected from course participants and tutors, highlighted the following key processes for teacher educators: (1) Develop own openness to diversity; (2) Focus on the learner; (3) Build a safe, inclusive learning community; (4) Focus on learner reflection; (5) Focus on learner reflectionin-action; (6) Challenge assumptions; and (7) Use social interactive rather than individual learning.

Can the Migrant Speak? Voicing Myself, Voicing the Other

Simone Galea

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Voices of immigrants heard in local academic spheres are largely mediated through those of academics or researchers whose representation of the other is necessarily interpreted and understood through their privileged and powerful veils. This paper will draw on Spivak’s paper, “Can the subaltern speak?’ that refers to the work of the Subaltern Studies group committed to the postcolonial challenging the power and knowledge of the Western academic in speaking for the subaltern. Spivak’s discussion is particularly relevant to the increasing research interest in the local migrant. It calls for the epistemic responsibilities of researchers in persistently critiquing their textual representations of the migrant and the dangers of academic translation of migrants’ subjugated knowledges. In doing so, it will discuss the problematic interrelatedness of the migrant and the academic and researcher referring to the work of theorists that have instigated sensitivity to the general disregard of migrant knowledge as non-knowledge. The voice of the migrant in this paper is heard through a local migrant’s story that accentuates the need for a deconstructive approach to knowledge production in investigative research processes.

Why Are There No Great Women Artists (in the new Advanced Art syllabus)?

Raphael Vella

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This paper critically evaluates the appropriateness of the History of art component of the new 2008-2010 Matriculation and Secondary examination (MATSEC) Advanced and Intermediate Art syllabi. The syllabi propose a traditional ‘canon’ of eighty works of art for students to study, including some of the most wellknown painters and sculptors in the history of Western art. However, it simultaneously excludes several groups: in particular, women, non-Western and living artists. Modern and contemporary Maltese art are also omitted, while the artistic media represented in the list are very restricted. The paper argues that these exclusions are deceptive precisely because their omission from the list is ‘hidden’ behind a veil of inclusiveness (the list covers a very long period: from Palaeolithic cave-paintings to the twentieth century). Hence, students are led to think that this survey is the ‘story of art’, when it actually offers a very partial account of artistic expression. The concluding propositions offer directions that future re-evaluations of the MATSEC Art syllabi might take.

Maltese Sign Language in Deaf Children’s Education and Assessment

Marie Azzopardi-Alexander

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The view of the Deaf as a cultural-linguistic minority is considered as the desired basis for all educational arrangements including those for assessment. It is argued that Deaf children need to achieve good fluency in at least one language before starting their formal education. Children who are not in possession of a first language – spoken or signed – are greatly disadvantaged when they are included in literacy programmes for hearing children. In fact, some may never reach a satisfactory level of literacy and, therefore, will not learn to engage in literate thought. The need to promote access to bilingual (bimodal) education is emphasised. This implies facilitating competence in a sign language as well as a spoken language – preferably the two languages spoken in the Maltese educational system. It is argued that full access to the curriculum for Deaf children can only be achieved through Maltese Sign Language which, it is proposed, is the alternative route that will enable Maltese Deaf children to develop reflective and creative thinking resulting from full literacy.

Do I belong? Psychological perspectives and educational considerations of young immigrants’ school experiences

Juan Camilleri, Katrine Camilleri

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This article contributes to the investigation of refugee and immigrant education from a psychological perspective and could be said to be the first of this type locally. Within the context of the public debate that surrounds the immigration issue in Malta, as the number of arrivals continues to rise, this paper showcases the narratives of school experiences of three students who attend local mainstream State secondary schools. All of these children came to Malta accompanied, though irregularly by boat from the north coast of Africa (“klandestini”). The school experiences of these students are generally positive although it is also clear that they face the challenge of schooling without adequate preparation and support where individual resilience seems to play a decisive part. On the other hand, schools need to be prepared to teach student populations that are culturally and linguistically diverse by implementing practices that are inclusive and that reflect multicultural forms of education. This study also indicated that, in addition to the expected struggles that any immigrant child would face when starting school, the experience of these children is to some extent shaped by the fact that they are ‘klandestini’, due to the negative manner in which this category of migrants is generally perceived.

Classroom climate as perceived by Maltese and nonMaltese pupils in Malta

Brian Vassallo

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An increasing challenge in providing a quality education for all is the new reality of a mixture of ethnicities in Maltese classrooms. This study focuses on perceived differences in classroom climate between Maltese and nonMaltese pupils. A multi-method approach, using both quantitative and qualitative paradigms was used to investigate differences in classroom climate perception by Year 6 primary (10-year-old) pupils in a stratified sample of schools from State, Church and Independent sectors. Classroom climate was measured along the nine factors of Clarity, Environment, Fairness, Interest, Order, Participation, Safety, Standards and Support. Results showed that, overall and in the State and Church sectors, Maltese pupils had a higher perception of positive classroom climate, most strongly in the dimension of Fairness, Clarity, and Safety dimensions. However, in Independent schools non-Maltese students perceived a slightly better climate on 5 dimensions, namely Participation, Environment, Interest, Standards and Support. It is recommended that teachers and school managers be offered opportunities to develop higher multicultural competences.

Intercultural communication in institutional-bureaucratic settings: Case studies from the SPICES Project

Gabriella Brigitte Klein, Sandro Caruana

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The very fact that Europe is becoming increasingly multicultural, and consequently also multilingual, leads to communication problems. ‘Foreigners’ are considered to be so because they have a different cultural background and because they behave differently, if not strangely, when compared to natives or locals. They are often excluded from the general urban network, forming their own network through associations and neighbourhoods. Language, as well as communication habits and practices, are one of the main resources through which people are included or excluded from a community. In this paper we focus our attention on conversations between individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds in urban institutions and how certain conversation techniques and procedures become conversation strategies through which a person is constructed as being-a-foreigner. These conversations, recorded in Malta and in Italy, were collected during the SPICES (Social Promotion of Intercultural Communication Expertise and Skills) project 224945-CP-1-2005-1-IT-GRUNDTVIG-G11. The data presented is useful to reveal aspects which are taken for granted during conversations and in order to discuss the relevance of intercultural education in today’s multicultural society.

A Raison d’Etre for Multicultural Education in Malta

Andrew Azzopardi

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This paper aims at reflecting on the transformation of educational environments and practices into ones that are just and democratic in increasingly diverse communities. We need to critically analyze the discourses around ethnically diverse children within schools in Malta. Such analysis can raise awareness about their educational experiences and how these are influenced by the ideas, attitudes and actions of the members of mainstream schools. This can in turn lead to a greater commitment towards the democratization of educational practices and the development of educational environments that are responsive to cultural differences. The presence of minority cultures in our schools can thus become a stimulus for developing open-minded citizens that, instead of feeling threatened by the increasing diversity of people in our country, will feel that they have an opportunity for growing into more humane, engaged and active global citizens.