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Multilingual and intercultural education in Swedish and Finnish curricula
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9024-330X
2016 (English)In: 2nd Biennial JustEd Conference: 'Actors for Social Justice in Education', 8–9 March 2016, University of Helsinki, 2016Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Multilingualism and interculturality are established concepts in the Nordic countries. Due to societal change and increasing diversity in schools, these concepts have been subject to constant re-conceptualizations within the educational field. In light of this, the present study explores Swedish and Finnish national school curricula, examining key concepts within the framework of critical multicultural education, including multilingual education. The aim is to investigate how the discourses on multilingual and intercultural education have developed in the Finnish and the Swedish national curricula from1994-2014. The study represents one part of the research project, MINTED (Multilingual and Intercultural Education in Sweden and Finland), investigating the relationship between education policy and teacher training programs in Sweden and Finland. The overall aim of MINTED is to acquire a deeper understanding of how both multilingual and intercultural education are embodied explicitly and implicitly in national policies, teacher training and teaching practice. While the focus is on the Swedish and Finnish contexts, how education policies have developed in relation to the concepts of multilingual and intercultural education is of international interest to scholars and practitioners involved in creating education policy for compulsory schools within an increasingly global context and a culturally and linguistically diverse world.

Methods/methodology

The curricula and policy texts were analyzed using discourse analysis. This discourse analytic perspective recognizes that language is not transparent but rather constitutive and represents a site where meaning is created and changed. The analysis searches for patterns in the curricula, which are associated with the topics of multilingual and intercultural education, seeking to understand the language linked to these terms as situated within the cultural contexts and positionings made within the documents. The Finnish documents included comprehensive school curricula from 1994, 2004 and 2014, as well as their amendments. Supporting documents included the government’s five-year Development Plans for Education and Research from 1991-2016. The Swedish documents comprised the following: the Swedish Curriculum for the Compulsory School System, the Pre-School Class and the Leisure-time Centre (1994); the Swedish Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the recreation centre (2011); and the Education Act (2010, last updated 2015).

Expected outcomes/results

The preliminary results reveal that in both contexts there has been a move away from a discourse on interculturalityas equivalent to othering, towards seeing interculturality as an intrinsic part of the school. In the Finnish curricula, this discursive development appears explicitly, as a movement from tolerance-oriented to pluralist-oriented education. Likewise, there is a development in Finnish curricula from promoting language as enrichment to enhancing multilingualism in education and in students’ identities. While language is key in the Swedish curricula, multilingual and intercultural education are not explicitly covered, but may be gleaned from the focus on human rights and respect for all. Thus, while there clearly is a movement towards more critical approaches to multilingualism and interculturality in the Finnish context, this is not evident in the Swedish context. A discussion on points of silence is thus necessary for understanding how the discourses on multilingual and intercultural education have developed.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
Intercultural education, multicultural education, multilingual education, national curriculum, discourse analysis
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Educational Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-144248OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-144248DiVA: diva2:1109816
Conference
2nd Biennial JustEd Conference: 'Actors for Social Justice in Education', Helsinki, Finland, March 8-9, 2016
Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-14 Last updated: 2017-06-20Bibliographically approved

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