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Interrogating practice in culturally diverse classrooms : what can an analysis of student resistance and teacher response reveal?

Santoro, Ninetta and Forghani-Arani, Neda (2015) Interrogating practice in culturally diverse classrooms : what can an analysis of student resistance and teacher response reveal? European Journal of Teacher Education, 38 (1). pp. 58-70. ISSN 0261-9768

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Abstract

As classrooms have increasingly become diverse and complex, developing culturally responsive pedagogies is a professional imperative for teachers. However, considerable international research suggests that meeting the needs of diverse pupil cohorts is challenging for many teachers. In this article, we highlight how curriculum and teaching practices reflect hegemonic values and cultural practices, and can potentially marginalise minority ethnic students. We draw on data from a study conducted in a culturally diverse lower secondary school in Austria where mandatory swimming classes are a source of tension between Muslim female students and their teachers. Our analysis of the intersection of student resistance and teacher authority raises issues of power, compliance and the construction of cultural difference as problematic. We suggest that scenario-based learning and in particular, the analysis of examples of student resistance and teacher response may facilitate teachers’ reflexivity about the values and beliefs that underpin their practice.