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«A Comparative Case Study of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland by Melanie Liese B.A. School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies ...»

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3.3.4 Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in the Primary School Curriculum for the Subject of English in Ireland The Primary School Curriculum English Language demonstrates the functions of languages as well as the importance and influence of the “cognitive [...], emotional and imaginative development” (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 1999b, p.3) of children. It furthermore explains that “the process of language learning is linked inextricably with a growing knowledge of the world” (ibid, p.2).

The focus in language learning is on the three units, namely oral language development, reading and writing (ibid, p.35). Through reading children “develop[...] interests, attitudes, information retrieval skills and the ability to think” (ibid, p.35). As it is acknowledged that interests and attitudes are, among other things, also formed through reading, it is vital for reading material to “reflect the background and culture of all children in the class” (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 1999c, p.52). Additionally “the poems chosen should range widely in terms of cultural and historical origin” (ibid, p.69). In this regard The Primary School Curriculum English Language Teacher Guidelines offer a “check-list for selecting books for the school library” (ibid, p.52), which includes the request to choose books with a diverse content. At this point the curriculum states that “the language needs of children in any particular school will be influenced by their social, cultural and economic backgrounds” (ibid, p.12), and therefore recognises that many children in contemporary schools do not speak English as their first language.

So, overall the Primary School Curriculum for English Language encourages “a classroom environment in which tolerance for the views of others is fostered” (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 1999b, p.38).

3.3.5 The Intercultural Education in the Primary School Guidelines The Intercultural Education in the Primary School guidelines were issued six years after the Primary School Curriculum, that is in 2005. The guidelines “support the aims of the Primary School Curriculum in the context of a growing cultural and ethnic diversity” (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 2005, p.5).

The publication of both documents shows an important step in aspiring to an “education which respects, celebrates and recognises the normality of diversity in all areas [and] promotes equality and human rights” (ibid, p.3). While the curriculum acknowledges ethnic and cultural diversity, the guidelines are a further development from that recognition as they specifically discuss intercultural education in Ireland, give practical advice and assist “all those with a responsibility for and interest in primary education” (ibid, p.6) in implementing best practice.

With regard to teaching materials, the guidelines aim to promote inclusiveness. The key element is the representation of “diversity as a normal part of Irish life and human existence” (ibid, p.34). This includes, for example, the requirement “that representations of minority groups do not focus on spectacular or colourful events, as this may lead to stereotyping and may run counter to the aim of presenting diversity as normal” (ibid, p.34).

Practical advice is also given in choosing a “resource [which] realistically and positively reflects a diversity of ethnic groups in text, illustrations and exercises” (ibid, p.46). Specifically in English in third and fourth grade, teachers are asked to “use stories [...] to reflect the diversity of cultures in Ireland in a positive and accurate way [as well as to] use stories, poems and material from other cultures, or translated from other languages” (ibid, p.113).

Reference is also made to children who do not speak English as their first language.

In this regard, practical guidance is given on how to support these children in a positive manner (ibid, p.164). Additionally, the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the children‟s first languages is addressed (ibid, p.165).

In summary, it has been shown that although the Primary School Curriculum (1999) has generally recognised the topic of ethnic and cultural diversity, a more in-depth coverage is given in the Intercultural Education in the Primary School guidelines.

The 175-page document can therefore be seen as an extensive development of the Primary School Curriculum, where ethnic and cultural diversity is not just acknowledged and considered, but incorporated into almost every aspect of school life.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) recently published results from their “first large-scale national research” (ESRI 2009, p.1) entitled Adapting to Diversity: Irish Schools and Newcomer Students. The study examined how schools adjusted to the growing ethnic and cultural diversity which results from recent

immigration growth. In terms of diversity in the curriculum, the ESRI has found:

Generally, school principals consider more could be done to ensure the Irish education system is fully inclusive. Curriculum and textbooks are not seen as taking adequate account of diversity, although the flexibility of the primary curriculum is viewed more positively in this regard. Furthermore, the vast majority would like to see more professional development on intercultural education for teachers (ibid, p.XV).





From the perspective of this dissertation, which focuses on textbooks, it is significant that the study showed how principals perceived textbooks to be needing attention.

Therefore, this study aims to examine whether and if so, how the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is present in Irish textbooks. This study could then lead to a wider examination of textbooks with suggestions for development.

3.4 Summary

In conclusion, the curricula of North Rhine-Westphalia and Ireland have followed similar paths, since in both cases, early education policies have responded with a focus on assimilation. This was followed by the perception in education of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ as a „problem‟. Educational guidelines in both contexts today, however, are informed by an intercultural approach which sees ethnic and cultural diversity as an enrichment and opportunity, as well as a challenge. While the government in Ireland has published and is working on practical intercultural education guides for educational providers, the education department in North Rhine-Westphalia has not yet published a similar document. However, as the analysis shows, some advice in relation to best practice in intercultural education in North Rhine-Westphalia, including the development of intercultural resources, is given in the curriculum as well as the Education Act. Coming back to this research, the analysis of textbooks in both contexts, in relation to the representation of the ethnic and cultural „other‟, will help to establish to whether the educational policies described are evident in materials used by teachers and learners. However, before proceeding to the chapter on the analyses, the methodologies that have been applied will be explored in the next chapter.

Chapter 4 Methodology

4.1 Introduction Coming back to the focus of this research, this chapter addresses the methodologies applied. The purpose of this study is to establish to what extent the increased ethnic and cultural diversity, outlined in the introductory chapter, in North RhineWestphalia and Ireland is reflected in primary school textbooks of the respective countries and in what specific ways the ethnic or cultural „other‟ is presented.

Furthermore, this study aims to determine any differences and/ or similarities of representation between both contexts.

In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to look at it in a particular research context. Therefore, this chapter will first explain some practical issues and then focus on the general methodological framework. It will then describe the corpus selection.

4.1.1 Translation

As this study is a comparative study between North Rhine-Westphalia and Ireland, the textbooks used for comparison have been written in two different languages, namely German and English. Throughout the analysis and where secondary literature is quoted, the language of the original is used. Everything in German is written in italics except in references. Where possible, a direct translation into English is provided. In a small number of cases a translation might be paraphrased for the purpose of retaining the original meaning as much as possible. All translations and paraphrases are those of the author.

4.1.2 Terminology In this study people, who are understood to be different from the cultural majorities of either Germany or Ireland respectively on the basis of origin, language, skin colour, religion, culture, customs and traditions are referred to as ethnic and cultural „other‟ as well as „migrant‟, depending on the context. For example, in the Chapter 1, where the migration histories of both Germany and Ireland are described, the term „migrant‟ is frequently used in relation to historical events in line with the public discourse in Germany and Ireland. However, the term „migrant‟ did not fully suit the whole of this study, as it excludes, for example, the Traveller community in Ireland.

Furthermore, in German public discourse, the term „Ausländer‟ [foreigner] is also used to clearly denote someone, who is not German, i.e., ethnic Germans for example are migrants but not foreigners in the official sense. Therefore, where „Ausländer‟ has been used in an original quote, it is translated as „foreigner‟ in this study.

Because not all books examined in this study are strictly readers (some incorporate language and grammar and some include texts of a factual nature) the object of the investigation is referred to as a textbook.

4.1.3 Copyright The permission of the relevant publishers was sought and has been granted in many cases. In a number of cases a response was not received, partial copyright was granted or copyright was not granted. For this reason, the original textbooks containing the relevant texts will accompany this dissertation for the convenience of examiners. Where copyright was granted a copy of the text will appear in the Appendices.

4.2 Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)

Based on Foucault‟s theory of discourse and power, which states that “discourse transmits and produces power; reinforces it, but also undermines it and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart it” (Foucault 1990, in Hewitt 2009, p.101), Critical Discourse Analysts believe that discourse influences power

structures within a society:

Since discourse is socially consequential, it gives rise to important issues of power. Discursive practices may have major ideological effects – that is, they can help produce and reproduce unequal power relations between (for instance) social class, men and women, ethnic/ cultural majorities and minorities through the ways in which they represent things and position people (Fairclough and Wodak 1997, p.258).

Furthermore, they see discourse as a “social activity” (Stillar 1998, p.12) and “argue that science, and especially scholarly discourse, are inherently part of and influenced by social structure, and produced in social interaction” (Van Dijk 2001, p.352).

Critical Discourse Analysts believe that the relationship between discourse and society is one of interdependence as discourse has an effect on society, while society also informs discourse (ibid).

Van Dijk (2001, p.353) points out that there are many different approaches to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as no medium of discourse reproduction is the same. However, the aim of CDA is very similar in most cases, that is to establish how a certain discourse at micro level is constructed within, for example, a text and how this construction relates to the macro level of social structures and power relations (ibid, p.354).

Considering that “discourse is most simply understood today as a sort of unit of language organised around a particular subject matter and meaning” (Carling 2004), Critical Discourse Analysts presume that certain discourses exist so as to “produce and reproduce (unequal) power relations” (Fairclough and Wodak 1997, p.258).

Foucault argues that:



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