CGC Seminar Series
“Knowing Ourselves and Others: Reflections on Canadian Teachers’ and Students’ Understandings of Ethnic Diversity”
Professor Alan Sears
Visiting Professor, Centre for Governance and Citizenship, HKIEd; and
Professor, Social Studies Education, University of New Brunswick, Canada
Date: 28 April 2015 (Tuesday)
Time: 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Venue: Room B1-1/F-14,1st Floor, Block 1, Tai Po Campus, HKIEd
In 1972 then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau rose in the Canadian House of Commons to deliver a speech outlining the country’s first multiculturalism policy. Since that time multiculturalism has been enshrined in the Canadian constitution, further elaborated in a Multiculturalism Act, and infused in the official curricula of school systems across the country. Political philosopher Will Kymlicka argues that Canadians have adopted multiculturalism as a key aspect of their national identity. This presentation will report on early findings from a four-province study of Canadian teachers’ and students’ understandings of ethnic diversity. A key finding from the teachers’ data in particular is a significant lack of self-awareness in terms of their own ethnic identities and positions of power within schools and society. Both teachers and students create we-they binaries about diversity and largely assume that people who are visibly diverse are foreign to Canada when that is often not the case. Particularly important for a country where official language policy is often contested, neither group understands the integral connections between language and culture. Implications of these and other findings for policy, curriculum development, and pedagogy will be explored in the presentation.
Professor Alan Sears is also Associate Editor for the journal Citizenship Teaching and Learning, and he regularly conduct workshops with teachers on social studies and citizenship education. His most recent research has focused on how children and young people understand key ideas related to citizenship, leading an SSHRC project designed to map how young people in Alberta and the Maritimes conceptualize democratic participation. He also co-led a similar project looking at how young people and teachers conceptualize diversity in Canada. He is the domain leader for Citizenship for the Measuring What Matters Project sponsored by People for Education since January 2014. His latest journal article included “We’re Here to Teach About Democracy Not Practice It. The Missed Potential of Schools as Democratic Spaces.” One World in Dialogue, 3(3), 1-9. (co-authored with Peck, C., and Herriot, L. in 2014).
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