Success in Diversity: Culture, Knowledge and Learning in Ethnically Diverse Classrooms

Conteh, Jean. 2000. Success in Diversity: Culture, Knowledge and Learning in Ethnically Diverse Classrooms. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis is a longitudinal, critical ethnographic study of interaction in ethnically diverse classrooms. It tracks the mainstream school experiences of a small group of successful bilingual learners from Year 3 to Year 6. It examines the structural and contextual factors which influence children’s success in learning. A model of concentric layers of interaction is proposed to illustrate the children's intersecting experiences in school, home and community. Analysis of chosen samples of teacher- teacher, teacher-child and child-child talk in classrooms using a critical discourse framework indicates the importance of talk for children's learning, and the need for models of language and learning to underpin pedagogies which reflect the complexities of the children's experience. A key element of the theoretical stance and methodology is the attempt to valorise the viewpoints of all participants in the classroom and other contexts. The use of semi-structured interviews and other forms of data collection elicited evidence of these from the children's teachers and their parents in home contexts. These are analysed using the same frameworks as those suggested above. The findings are positioned in the historical and political contexts from which they arise and to which they contribute. The contradictions and tensions inherent in the various contexts are thus revealed. The study reveals a very complex picture of interaction in ethnically diverse classrooms with children and teachers involved in mutual negotiation and culture-creating to construct curriculum knowledge, as well as what it means to be a pupil. The conclusions of the thesis argue for the urgent need to take such evidence into account when developing policy and curricula for primary children's learning and the education of teachers. It questions the adequacy of current centrally developed models to prepare both teachers and learners to become full participants in a genuinely diverse, multicultural society.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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Date Deposited:

15 Jul 2020 11:09

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 14:11


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