TITLE OF THE PUBLICATION
Intercultural skills at school: between diversity and equality
« Compétences interculturelles à l’école : entre diversité et égalité »
SURNAME AND NAME OF AUTHOR(S)
Article by Audrey Heine and Laurent Licata
Magazine “l’Agenda Interculturel” no 309 – Dossier “Egalité et/ou diversité à l’école”
Centre Bruxellois d’Action Interculturelle (CBAI)
PLACE AND DATE OF PUBLICATION
Brussels – January 2013
TYPE OF PUBLICATION
Newspaper / Magazine article
LANGUAGE OF THE DOCUMENT
LANGUAGE OF THE REVIEW
Integration of immigrants students
DESCRIPTION OF CONTENTS
Knowing the other cultures and relations between cultures are the themes opening this article, starting from the expectations of a teacher having an intercultural training who says he wishes to better know his students’ cultures and does not want to commit blunders with them.
Following this example, the authors address the concept of intercultural skills and the importance for the members of educational teams to be able to use those skills.
They start with recounting the four explicative perspectives that overlapped, to represent the relation between the school and students of foreign origin:
• the “paradigm of cultural assimilation”
• the “paradigm of multiculturalism”
• the “paradigm of criticising multiculturalism”
• the “pluralism and accepting heterogeneity”.
Then, they explain how complex achieving intercultural skills is and requires a faire balance between taking into account cultural differences and the principle of equality. Should students be at all cost treated equally (even if it means ignoring the cultural difference) or on the contrary should one apply a differentiated pedagogy to each student depending on their multiple belonging? The happy medium is sometimes difficult to reach.
They develop the three key steps in the process of intercultural communication:
• “Be less focussed on oneself”: it is an introspection process. It is the attention brought to our current thoughts and behaviours.
• “Understanding the other’s system”: it consists in penetrating the other’s system, in trying to know them from the inside.
• “Cultural mediation or negotiation”: this is the step of conflict solving.
Finally, they finish their analysis highlighting the contextual and institutional aspects that can hinder intercultural communication at school.
COMMENTS ON THIS PUBLICATION
This article shows that achieving intercultural skills is not easy.
It involves to-ing and fro-ing between equality and diversity and implies the ability to be less focussed on oneself in relation to one’s own references: working on the nature of one’s representations and on the opportunity to deconstruct these. Indeed, individual perception of social objects objectively or individually-based, it is based on a collectively and socially-based reality. It is therefore important to be able to analyse this socially-shared reality.
Let’s note that the authors are part of the Social psychology Unit of the University of Brussels and that Audrey Heine has joined the working group set up by Inforef for the projects “I Am Not Scared” and “Stay@School” between 2010 and 2013.
Let’s also note that the “Agenda intercultural” is the monthly magazine of the “Centre Belge d’Action Interculturelle”. It includes special reports, tips, opinion articles ...
All the sections deepen topic related to immigration and interculturality. Analyses, interviews, experiences, real-life accounts form the pattern of the reports.
Name of Compiler
Name of Institution
Role in the institution
Translator – project assistant