ISSN : 2241-4665
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Ημερομηνία έκδοσης: Αθήνα 3 Νοεμβρίου 2014
Bullying around national diversity in Greece and Great Britain. Is "intercultural education" the proper solution?
MAKRIS ATHANASIOS and MARKOU PARASKEVI
Σχολική βία και εθνική ετερότητα στην Ελλάδα και τη Μεγάλη Βρετανία. Είναι η διαπολιτισμική εκπαίδευση η απάντηση στο πρόβλημα;
(εκπαιδευτής αριθμητικού γραμματισμού ΣΔΕ)
και ΜΑΡΚΟΥ ΠΑΡΑΣΚΕΥΗ
(εκπαιδεύτρια ελληνικής γλώσσας ως ξένης ή δεύτερης σε μαθητές αλλοδαπούς και παλιννοστούντες)
Σε παγκόσμια κλίμακα παρατηρείται ιδίως την τελευταία δεκαετία ένα ανησυχητικό φαινόμενο, αυτό της σχολικής βίας. Το εν λόγω φαινόμενο διακρίνεται για την πολυδιάστατη φύση του αναφορικά με τα αίτια εμφάνισής του αλλά και τις εκδηλώσεις του. Πρόκειται για μια εκδήλωση αντικοινωνικής συμπεριφοράς και χαρακτηρίζεται από τα στοιχεία της βίας και του εκφοβισμού. Στην παρούσα εργασία επιχειρείται πρωτίστως η παρουσίαση του φαινομένου σε συσχετισμό με την εθνική ετερότητα, βάσει της σχετικής βιβλιογραφίας, σε ένα συγκριτικό πλαίσιο, μεταξύ ελληνικής και βρετανικής σχολικής πραγματικότητας. Κατόπιν, προκρίνεται ως βασικό εργαλείο άμβλυνσης του υπό παρουσίαση φαινομένου η καλλιέργεια διαπολιτισμικής συνείδησης και εκπαίδευσης.
In an international level and in particular the last few decades the alarming phenomenon of bullying takes great dimensions. This phenomenon is differentiated because of his multidimensional nature regarding to his causes and his forms. In general, regards an expression of an antisocial behavior and it is characterized by violence and intimidation. In this paper it is partly attempted to show the extension of bullying both in Greece and Great Britain in connection with national diversity. Intercultural education is the first and basic step in order to identify the phenomenon through reflection, as well as the causes, the symptoms, the consequences and the confrontation in order to apprehend that diversity of any form is covetable and indication of creativeness, it is not a borderline but a convergence point of different elements that people create.
Bullying in schools is a worldwide problem that causes a negative school climate and cultivates an illogical fear not only during the school-life but life-long both for students who bully and for their victims. It is comprised of direct behaviors such as teasing or threatening and of indirect by causing a student to be socially isolated. International research suggests that bullying is common at schools and occurs at all grade levels. Dan Owles (1993),a researcher in Norway, exposed the widespread nature and harm of school bullying, which is documented in Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia.
This paper attempts to show the extension of the phenomenon in Greece and Great Britain compared with national diversity. Multicultural societies are a reality, so how does it affect the coexistence of people who own different national identities? In particular are multicultural schools affected in a positive or negative way due to the national diversity of their students?
It becomes obvious from the relevant literature that both in Greece and Great Britain bullying, to some extent, is a consequence of the difficulty for different cultures and national identities to coexist. In this hard context, experts seem to suggest a direct solution, intercultural education, which promotes the understanding of different people and cultures. It includes teaching that accepts the normality of diversity in all areas of life and tries to sensitize the learner to the notion that we have normally developed in different ways.
2. Clarify terms
In recent years the phenomenon of bullying gains great concern fron the international literature as increasingly more and more cases of aggression, delinquency and problematic behavior occur. The main component of these behaviors is violence. According to Owles (1993), bullying is the repetitive exposure of a student in the negative actions of a schoolmate for a long time. Respectively, Rigby (1996) defines bullying as a cruel, repetitive pressure, physical or psychological in nature, derived from a strong pupil against a less powerful. Farrington (1993) taking into consideration the several definitions about bullying concludes that bullying is related to physical, verbal or psychological aggression, to the conscious provocation of fear or pain to the victim, to the imbalance in power between the perpetrator and the victim, to the inability of the victim’s side to react and to the recurrence of the negative action for a long time.
The factors that activate the onset of school violence are varied. The individual characteristics of students, like their biological or psycological changes and subsequently their configuration, the family backround as well as the wider social environment where children live, the schooling conditions, the policies of the educational system (Artinopoulou, 2001), the way that violence is presented by the media and the extensive exposure to violent actions from wherever they come from, general social problems like financial crisis, inequality and meritocracy, create tension in children and play a significant role in shaping their bahavior (Debarbieux, 2003).
It is obvious that violence at school is a multivariate phenomenon, a consequense of different components, either individual, or relevant to school and extracurricular, wider social as well (Li, 2008). From this point of view, school violence is a reflection of the community life, the problems that society faces and within which itself is reproduced (Rigby, 2004).
Of course, school as an institute of education and socialization plays a determinant role regarding to violence. It is plain that students do not get stimulus only from school but school is the social incubator of the future civilians, it is the environment where students form consciously relations, they undertake further roles, socially determined and for this reason the school must be primarily seen and studied accordingly (Yoneyama & Naito, 2003). According to Baker (1998), bullying certifies the inability of school to operate as a community which is able to develop and cultivate common values, ideals and ordinances in the members of the community.
Violence and intimidation provoke severe consequences in students’ psycological temper and social life. Anxiety, insecurity, phobias, introversion, depression, school refusal and subsequently school failure are the aftermaths of being bullied (Roland, 2002). But also children who are in the abuser’s position cope with social exclusion and can be diverged from school and in their later life they are in risk to be developed into adults with offending behavior at a percentage of 50% (O.PS.H.CH.T.).
The phenomenon of bullying presents a diversity not only as regards the causes but also the forms in which it is manifested. Firstly, it occurs whithin the school area but quite often on the way to school or in places whwrw students hang out (O.PS.H.CH.T.). The most common acts are (Rivers & Smith, 1994):
1. physical violence (gestures, beatings)
2. verbal abuse (insults, threats)
3. blackmail (for money or other errands)
4. social bullying (social isolation)
5. cyberbullying (via mobiles or computers)
6. sexual abuse (sexist comments, obscene gestures and sexual harassment)
7. racist violence (the stigma of racial, national, religious, cultural or social diversity).
2.2. Bullying and national diversity
Bullying at school seems quite often to be an aftereffect of racist perception and other stereotypes relevant to race, ethnicity and culture. At this point we will examine whether the different nationality triggers violent behavior. According to Artinopoulou (2001), the feature of ethnicity plays a determinant role in the genesis of violence. Respectively, it was presented by DCSF (2008b) that race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation and disability are possible factors, leading to the outbreak of school violence.
National diversity and subsequently cultural or different origins form as well and the cultural lifestyle, the language, the traditions enen the religion and differentiate individuals in groups. This distinction becomes apparent when it produces minority groups, numerically, within a statous quo of a society. For instance, national diversity appears for first time in central and north Europe in ‘70s, when we discern minority groups of immigrants of different origin but mainly from Asia and Africa. And this diversity was exactly the cause of a necessity for the indigenous to have a distinctive identity (Perselis, 2002). This distinctive identity was simultaneously prevailing over others. And in this situation racicm is born and as school is a part of the society it can not remain unaffected. Moreover, as noted by Maniatis (2010), the cultural composition of the student population reflects the multiplicity which is observed in our society, while the students are the carriers of the categorizations which are dominant in the social environment and based on this determine their attitude and behavior (Maniatis, 2010). Therefore, bullying can be directly related to racicm and be the result of social and cultural factors. Thus, it can be interpreted as a result of the existence of social groups of different power (Rigby, 2004).
Racism, according to Stephen’s Lawrence Report (1999: paragraph 6.4), can be interpreted as a behavior, words or actions which depreciate some people and praise others due to their color, their culture or their national origin. He also characterizes as a racist incident any action which is perceived as racist by the victim or other people (Stephen Lawrence, 1999:Recommendation 12). In Northern Ireland, they use the following definition for the racist incidents in schools: “Behaviour or language that makes a pupil feel unwelcome or merginalised because of their colour, ethnicity, culture, religion or national origin” (DfES, 2006: 32). The definition above focuses on victims-students feelings which are similal to those caused by the other forms of violence and intimidation. To summarize, a definition that combines both the the two concepts of racicm and bullying is as follows: “The term racist bullying refers to a range of hurtful behaviour, both physical and psychological, that makes a person feel unwelcome, marginalised, excluded, powerless or worthless because of their colour, ethnicity, culture, faith community, national origin or national status” (DfES, 2006: 33).
Bullying as a result of cultural diversity has two sides. We have already mentioned the first occasion, in which students with a different ethnic identity are the victims. On the other side, pupils with a different ethnic identity play the role of the abuser. It is mainly about foreign students who are marginalized in their school environment or they are socially excluded and due to this exclusion they turn to antisocial behavior and violence (Maniatis, 2010). The children in this case feel that their different origin stigmatizes them and their school fails to integrate them in its own culture which is the culture of the prevalent social group. Thus, the weakest pupils are leaded to failure and social margins. And as Bourdieu (1977) claims it seems like school to legitimize the culture of the socially powerful, exercising a form of violence against the weakest ones.
In both cases, there are common with the other forms of school violence, since there is deliberate action, repetition and power display (DfES, 2004). On the other hand there are differences as racist violence is a more traumatic experience and affects not only a person, the victim, but the entire group to which the victim belongs (Eslea & Mukhtar, 2000). Also, in the same context the perpetrator decriminalizes as it appears to be the protector and guardian of the interests of the group to which he is a member (Maniatis, 2010).
3. The dimensions of the phenomenon in Greece
The phenomenon of immigration from the end of 1980 in Greece and the various immigration policies adopted during that period were agents of social change for the greek society (Champion & Fielding, 1992). And of course the school community as a vital part of the social system was affected by these changes, as it is recorded in researches relating to violence. The greek society’s transition from a native status quo in a multicultural led to the emergence of racist attitudes towards the foreign and the unknown (Dodos, Kafetzis, Michalopoulou & Nikolakopoulos, 1996).
According to research by the General Secretariat for Youth, instances of violence between Greek and foreign students are making a rising progress. One in three students has witnessed violent and racist acts between Greek and foreign students. More specifically, a 29% of cases is noted between Greek and foreign students while a 26% regards clashes only between foreigners (Houndoumadi, Pateraki, Doanidou, (2001). The rates given by the nationwide survey V-PRC are respective as regards the conflicts between greek and foreign students (Papamattheou & Nedos, 2005). The National Centre for Social Research notes that the incidence of aggression between native and immigrant students reaches a 30%, while over 60% of headmasters report incidents against weak or maladaptive pupils (Maniatis, 2010).
In conclusion, any racist attitude of Greek society seems to affect the student world, as well (Dimakos & Tasiopoulou, 2003). So, in this case, students go to school carrying preformatted perceptions, stereotypes and behaviors they have been cultivated by the family or the wider social environment and manifeste them in a hostile behavior towards foreign students (Mitilis, 1998).
4. The dimensions of the phenomenon in Great Britain
Racist bullying is a phenomenon well known in Great Britain as well. As far as the relation between racist bullying and ethnicity is concerned, pupils from minority ethnic and religious backrounds are likely to become victims of bullying due to their diversity. In 2003 a quite high percentage 30% of pupils from several ethnic groups reported being bullied (British Educational Research Association, 2010). Respectively, in 2009 two thirds of teachers claimed that racist bullying was a real situation they had to deal with in their schools (British Educational Research Association, 2010). In the same year the NASUTWT teachers’ union highlighted an increase in bullying as far as immigrant children from eastern Europe was concerned (British Educational Research Association, 2010). In Hampshire, in 2005, a study which involved a sample of 34,428 pupils estimated that a fifth of Year 9 pupils had a bullying experience within the last twelve months and in Years 6 and 7 almost a quarter of the pupils had a similar experience, while in Year 2 the percentage was more than a third (DfES, 2006).
It is a fact that all the relevant studies to racist bullying created an awareness of the phenomenon in schools, as all the surveys showed that a quite great number of children from ethnic minorities had been bullied (British Educational Research Association, 2010).
On the other hand, a survey (Eslea & Mukhtar, 2000) showed that the possibility for Black and Minority Ethnic clildren to be bullied was mainly by children from other ethnic minorities than by the white. That means that bullying due to ethnicity is a complicate issue, particularly if we take into account another survey (DCSF, 2008), which found that children from ethnic minorities were less likely to be victimized than white people. Another study (Moran, Thompson & Whitney, 1993) found that there is no difference regarding to the likelihoods of being bullied either for the minority students either for the prevalent ones.
In conclusion, despite the contradictions between different surveys we cannot ignore that a sufficient percentage of pupils from minority ethnic backrounds claimed that it had experienced racist behavior especially verbal abuse due to the different ethnicity. Ofcourse, that does not mean that the native pupils in english schools are less likely to become victims probably in schools where the proportion of ethnic minorities is prevalent (Eslea & Mukhtar, 2000).
5. The need for intercultural education
As we have already discussed, school is a fundamental statute, which functions in the society and in which several national groups coexist and interact but not always properly and harmoniously due to the different cultural and lingual origin. This causes the stereotypical treatment of students who belong to the minority ethnic groups. Subsequently, it is significant to have skilled and conscious educators in order to prevent stereotypical attitudes and violent behavior between pupils of different national backgrounds. Educators can help students to obtain positive attitudes for other students of a different ethnicity (Pappas, 1998). Intercultural education stands for the discover of new pedagogical and teaching approaches which fulfil the need for communication, interaction, mutual understanding, mutual respect and the development of emotion in the school environment.
But what intercultural education is? According to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (Intercultural Education Strategy 2010-2015:1) intercultural education has the following defining characteristics:
· It is education which respects, celebrates and recognises the normality of diversity in all areas of human life. It sensitises the learner to the idea tha humans have naturally developed a range of different ways of life, customs and worldviews, and that is the breadth of human life enriches all of us.
· It is education, which promotes equality and human rights, challenges unfair discrimination and promotes the values upon which equality is built.
Nowadays, more than ever, the intercultural feature in education is neccessary, especially if we take into consideration what the EU Council (Intercultural Education Strategy 2010-2015:3) notes about education: Education has an important contribution to make to the successful integration of migrants into European societies. Starting with early childhood education and basic schooling, but continuing throughout all levels of lifelong learning, targeted measures and greater flexibility are needed to cater for learners with a migrant background, whatever their age, and to provide them with the support and opportunities they need to become active and successful citizens, and empower them to develop their full potential.
According to Kanakidou and Papayianni (1997), intercultural education focuses on creating positive attitudes between different cultures, respect and peaceful coexistence of people of different national origin. Kossivakis(2002:37-45) summarizes the goals of intercultural education as follows:
1. Contact and approach the different
2. Foundation of tolerance
3. Acceptance of student’s nationality and promotion of his/her mother tongue
4. Overcoming racism and ethnocentrism
5. Identifying common elements of cultures in a spirit of teamwork to avoid nationalistic and racist tendencies
6. Promote solidarity between the majority and minority groups in society
7. Conflict resolution and peaceful approach to cultural differences
8. Mutual cultural enrichment
According to the final essay of the European Council about education and pupils’ cultural development (Project No7:1980-1985), the intercultural education model has the following characteristics:
· It is the main principle and goal of any school activity
· It regards the direct experience of children in host countries
· It reviews and revises the ethnocentric goals of school
· It creates the necessary conditions for the acceptance of the new cultural reality in host countries
· It is the mean to achieve maximum social and economic inclusion of minority children in the host country.
According to Markou (1996:26-27), the main principles of the intercultural model are: i. Empathy, videlicet understanding of educational problems faced by foreigners students, ii. solidarity, which sidesteps the inequality and injustice, iii. respect for cultural diversity, and iv. Elimination of stereotypes, prejudice and nationalistic tendencies in order to achieve the harmonious coexistence of people of different ethnic origin.
Based on the above literature, the evidence suggests that intercultural education as a pedagogical principle is a necessary intervention and simultaneously an interference in management of cultural diversity within school society. Especially if we consider that intercultural education does not only address to foreign students but all students. The main objective is indigenous students to experience different cultures and then to develop attitudes of acceptance and respect for the different, so that people of different cultures to be able to coexist and cooperate smoothly despite their differences. In fact, according to Damanakis (2002), intercultural education does not mean preoccupation with education only of foreign students, but aims at inclusive education of indigenous and foreign students, so that through this process the diversities to meet, to interact and complement each other. Intercultural education has as object to educate the next generations to be able to respond to the requirements of modern multicultural societies with main strategic guidelines recognition, equity and tolerance. In this effort innovative actions are required, able to activate children in this direction. Adopting instructional practices that ensure inter-communication, mutual awareness and interaction is essential. Towards this direction, intercultural education proceeds to use school subjects like Arts or Music and activities such as role play, drama and cross thematic work which requires the active participation of students in the learning process. These techniques help students interpret and experience situations in the other's position (Nikolaou, 2000:237). Of course the student must have the ability of empathy in order to reach this point, that means to be able to feel whatever the other feels and be capable of recognize and understand these feelings. Therefore, this ability is not natural but is acquired through techniques that intercultural education adopts. Also, intercultural education, as we said, cultivates attitudes and obviously it can and alter behaviors, as well. However, this change, as the evidence suggests, requires another process, that of reflection. That is because through reflection we thing about how we thought, how we acted and why, and then what was the final result. In fact we become observers of ourselves and we make a self-evaluation. Therefore, reflection is an integral part of intercultural education, since it leads to de-learning bad conquered and adopted attitudes in life. Then the teacher must make primarily a self-evaluation and afterwards he should push his students to evaluate in turn their own positions. Moreover, intercultural education adopts some techniques like role play and dramatization, which are based on reflection as a process. For instance, according to Yannopoulou (2006:271) dramatization... uses techniques which enable people to act, to start from their own needs, to create situations understanding of themselves, others and life in general. Through this experience the road to knowledge and understanding of differences is opened.
Incidents of violent behavior are common in school societies and cause a worry about the factors which generate the problem and its confrontation as well. Nowadays, it is like a divine law that a society can give birth to violence and as a consequence there is a risk for the school system to be transformed to a kennel of violence, if the problem is not treated immediately.
Of course prevention is the optimum measure in case that bullying is not yet appeared. So, now we can only talk about drastic measures which are required to address bullying. Society has to function in an inhibitory way. In particular, the school system and especially teachers, the neuralgic part of any school community, can cultivate values which favor a peaceful coexistence climate. And as it has been found that diversity is the point that incites violence in and out of school, the adoption of intercultural education is necessary within the modern, intercultural as regards the national characteristics of students, schools. Through reflection and empathy, the respect for the different and adaptability, school can function properly like an incubator of emotionally mature and educated people.
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