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Title: European teachers’ concerns and experiences in responding to diversity in the classroom
Authors: Bartolo, Paul A.
Humphrey, Neil
Mol Lous, Annemieke
Wetso, Gun Marie
Keywords: Diversity in education -- Malta -- Congresses
Multicultural education -- Malta -- Congresses
Inclusive education -- Malta -- Congresses
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: Purdue University Press
Citation: Bartolo, P. A., Humphrey, N., & Lous, E. A. M. (2003). European teachers’ concerns and experiences in responding to diversity in the classroom. Education and Culture, 35, 39-44.
Abstract: There seems to be a higher challenge today for teachers across Europe and the USA to respond to an increasing diversity of students. Responding to diversity implies understanding individual student characteristics and matching differentiated teaching within an inclusive atmosphere to enable everyone to participation actively in all classroom activities (see e.g., Gay, 2000). Student diversity is seen as arising from three main sources: (a) A cultural one due to the impact of an increasing number of immigrants and increasing mobility within and across countries. Recent EU reports note that “Teachers may be confronted with different cultures, religions, and languages in a single learning environment” (Eurydice, 2002, p.48); “Teachers/ trainers are faced with socially, culturally and ethnically diverse pupils/trainees and challenges them to deal with more and more heterogeneous classes” (EC Directorate General for Education and Culture 2003, 35). (b) Both the above reports add a second major factor: the policy of mainstreaming of students with impairments or special needs, which calls “for the acquisition by teachers of specific skills, such as the ability to offer teaching geared to individual needs and adapt the curriculum accordingly” (Eurydice 2002, 47). One may add to this the wider democratic concerns on the entitlement of each student to reach his or her potential, whether as gifted or as having a different learning style: “It is unacceptable for any teacher to respond to any group of children (or any individual child) as though the children were inappropriate, inconvenient, beyond hope, or not in need of focused attention” (Tomlinson 2001, 21). “The teacher ... has to adapt or prepare the curriculum in such a way that the needs of all pupils, those with special educational needs, gifted pupils and their peers, are sufficiently met” (Meijer 2003, Para 3.2.2). (c) There is also a new concern about the difficulties that are faced in modern society by youths who fail to achieve adequate levels of literacy or drop out of school, together with an awareness of the multiplicity and complexity of competencies required in today’s society (Gregory and Kuzmich 2005). This concern has been strong in Europe but is also a worldwide concern: In the learning society, social stratification is increasingly based on a division between the haves and have-nots in terms of skills and qualifications. Dropping out from school, therefore, has much more lasting consequences than it had in the past, since it can mark an individual for life and greatly narrow the range of career choices open to them. Schools are at the centre of the learning society and life-long learning begins there. (EC 2001, Sect. 4.5, see also Eurydice 1994, UNESCO 2004)
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