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Encouraging Participation, Expression and Culture in a Highly Diverse Environment: Intercultural Practices of a School Library Network
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Literacy Research. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Teaching and Learning Language, Literature and Media. Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Other School Based Research.
2013 (English)In: Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research, 2013Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The European Community has a clear policy in favour of multilingualism and diversity. For instance, Figel (2006), responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, has stressed that:

"Respect for diversity is a key element of creativity and innovation, and is central for solidarity and mutual understanding."

In the Commission’s consultation on multilingualism 57 different languages were included. Ten per cent of the respondents declared their mother tongue to be other than one of the 23 official languages of the EU (European Commission 2007, p. 6). With changing and volatile global conditions, this diversity steadily increases, posing practical problems in terms of how to organise multilingual and inclusive education. Also, despite formal policies at the European level, in practice native-like competence in the language of instruction is assumed to function as a basis to develop knowledge and competencies at school. While some localities may comprise a small number of languages, others are highly diverse, posing a particular challenge in terms of providing mother tongue support as well as for accommodating cultural diversity.

 The situation in European urban environments can today be compared to traditionally highly diverse countries, such as Bolivia. In Bolivia, where bilingual intercultural education has been practiced for many years, EIB programmes appeared successful in rural localities with relatively homogenous  populations, while they encountered less success among the mixed populations of urban conglomerations (Arrueta & Avery, 2012). High diversity thus poses a different type of educational challenge than environments that comprise a limited number of linguistic minorities.  Identifying promising approaches to inclusive intercultural forms of education that are well adapted to highly diverse communities is therefore an urgent issue.

In a recent literature review by Pihl (2012), it appeared that the role of the library in intercultural education has been very little researched to date. Libraries further occupy a priviliged position allowing them to bridge formal and informal learning contexts. Finally, they are not bound by the constraints of school curricula, and can therefore to a higher extent base their activities on the learner’s own interests and intrinsic motivation (Fink & Samuels, 2008), which also are important factors in developing creativity (Hennessey, 2004).

The present study investigates the practices of the school library network of a multiethnic neighbourhood in the outskirts of Lund, Sweden. The network was awarded for best librarians in 2009 and received the national prize as the best school library in 2011, motivated by the exemplary practices in integrating library and school activites. The library in question is an integrated network of school libraries and public library, working in very close collaboration with the local schools, special needs resource centres, activity centres and various NGOs. The study proposes to look closer at which aspects in the library’s practices may be particularly significant for its success.  

Method

The study is a case study based on semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted 2012 with librarians and staff at activity centres. Interviews focused on their short and long term aims, relationships with local residents and organisations, as well as striving to obtain a detailed description of both organisation and practices. Steering documents and locally formulated action plans were analysed. The analysis aims to capture how library practices and collaboration impacted the collective dynamics in the neighbourhood, rather than focusing correlations between isolated practices and individual library users. The present situation has also been interpreted against the background of how the neighbourhood and its institutions have evolved over the past decades. The neighbourhood has a very diverse population, and nineteen main languages are spoken, as well as a number of less common languages. Inhabitants include recent refugees, a large proportion of first and second generation immigrants, foreign students and university staff, as well as several Roma groups. Educational backgrounds are highly diverse, and social and cultural cohesion therefore pose an additional challenge. The lower secondary school in the neighbourhood has a cultural profile and works with an inquiry-based and collaborative approach inspired by Vygotskyian pedagogics. The pre-schools largely work with Freirian pedagogics.

Expected Outcomes

Preliminary results indicate a number of factors that contribute to successful practices. Multiple complementary approaches mutually support each other in developing creative competences: - The library actively supports mother tongue literacy irrespective of whether the language is large or small. - Multi-modal literacy is supported, as well as multiple forms of cultural expression. - Active participation is encouraged, learning to produce culture rather than only consume. - There is close collaboration between school library and activity centres for extra-curricular activities. - Librarians work both with specific individual interests and peer-group dynamics. - An exploring attitude is encouraged and initiatives are welcomed, rather than focusing on steering, evaluating or assessing academic achievement. - Multiple opportunities are provided to express ideas concretely in the local community – becoming visible and assuming an active role in the public space. The study hopes to describe practices and interaction with sufficient detail to be of use for professionals working with both school and public libraries, as well as administrators and decision-makers, particularly in the fields of educational planning and coordination at neighbourhood and local community levels. It additionally presents a contribution to research on intercultural education, with respect to strategies that support plurilingual literacy and develop creative competences in highly diverse environments.

References

Arrueta, J. A. & Avery, H. (2012) Education Reform in Bolivia: transitions towards which future?, Research in Comparative and International Education, 7(4), 419-433. Ball, J. (2011). Enhancing learning of children from diverse language backgrounds: mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in the early years. Analytical review commissioned by the Unesco Education sector. Cheesman, E. & De Pry, R. (2010) A Critical review of culturally responsive literacy instruction. Journal of Praxis in Multicultural Education. 5 (1), 83-99. Cohen, L, Manion, L & Morrison, K. (2000). Research Methods in Education. London and New York: Routledge. European Commission (2007). Outcomes of the European Commission’s public consultation on multilingualism 14 September – 15 November 2007. Figel, J. (2006). Multilingualism: a key component of the European Union’s strategy. Speech given at Bridge Forum Dialogue, Luxemburg, June 15. Fink, R. & Samuels, S. J. (2008) Inspiring reading success: Interest and motivation in an age of high-stakes teaching. International Reading Association. Florida, R & Tinagli, I. (2004). Europe in the Creative Age. London : Demos. Garcia, O. & Fishman J.A. (2012). Power sharing and cultural autonomy: some sociolinguistic principles. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 213, 143-147. Hennessey, B.A. (2004). The Social Psychology of Creativity: The Beginnings of a Multi-Cultural Perspective. In S. Lau (Ed.), Creativity: When East Meets West (pp. 201-226). Hong Kong: World Scientific Publishing. Parlement européen (2010) Résolution du Parlement européen du 18 mai 2010 sur les compétences clés dans un monde en mutation. Pihl, J. (2012) Can library use enhance intercultural education? Issues in Educational Research. 22, 1, 79-90. Street, B.V. (2001). The New Literacy Studies. In E. Cushman, E.R. Kintgen, B.M. Kroll, & M. Rose (Eds.), Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook. Boston: Bedford St Martin’s. Yin, R. K. (1984). Case study research: Design and methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
Keyword [en]
school library, public library, community building, multilinguism, immigrant background, literacy, engagement, multimodality
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-22951OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-22951DiVA: diva2:683832
Conference
European Conference on Educational Research, 9-13 September 2013 Istanbul
Available from: 2014-01-07 Created: 2014-01-07 Last updated: 2017-02-27

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