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Intercultural Education
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Intercultural education: teacher training and school practice, UNED, Madrid, 1517 March 2006
Teresa Aguado & Beatriz Malik
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National University of Distance Education, Madrid, Spain

Available online: 11 Dec 2006

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Intercultural Education, Vol. 17, No. 5, December 2006, pp. 447456

INTER Conference

Intercultural education: teacher training and school practice, UNED, Madrid, 1517 March 2006
Teresa Aguado* and Beatriz Malik
National University of Distance Education, Madrid, Spain TeresaAguado 0 500000December 2006 17 2006 & Francis Original Article 1467-5986 Francis Ltd Intercultural Education 10.1080/14675980601060401 CEJI_A_205946.sgm Taylor and (print)/1469-8439 (online)

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Introduction The organizers of the INTER Project1 are grateful to have the opportunity to report on the project in this focus issue of Intercultural Education. This paper gives an overview of the INTER Project, which was the starting point of the Conference, then it describes the INTER Guide as its main output and the Conference held to present the project results. We have also selected two keynote speeches from the conference and two additional presentations that we felt would be of interest to the readers of Intercultural Education. The INTER Project Social change and migratory movements over recent decades have deeply and extensively modified social structures and school populations all over Europe. However, cultural diversity is not new. It has always existed as a result of gender, social class, rural urban settings, ethnic minorities (e.g. Roma) and regional/linguistic differences. In spite of this diversity, only recent immigration from other countries has elicited reflection, legislation and educational concerns regarding these issues, raising two important elements in education: culture as a variable and heterogeneity as a norm. Building upon the teaching and research experience of the project partners,2 and the knowledge thus accumulated, we assume that it is essential to analyse what is happening in the educational system and within schools in order to design strategies that will deal with cultural diversity in a proper way, so that education becomes
*Corresponding author. Melndez Valds, 2, 5D 28015 Madrid, Spain. E-mail: maguado@ ISSN 1467-5986 (print)/ISSN 1469-8439 (online)/06/05044710 2006 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/14675980601060401

448 T. Aguado and B. Malik significant for all students, regardless of their background. In our opinion, schools should implement an intercultural approach in order to provide a fair and quality education for all students, as this perspective is the only one that can guarantee real equality of opportunities in education and the achievement of goals considered desirable. The term intercultural education has been conceptualized and used mainly in the European context. It is currently preferred to the term multicultural education, as it conveys more accurately the idea of exchange, communication and negotiation between different interacting cultural groups. The intercultural approach in education was initially defined in the project as:
An educational approach based on respect for and recognition of cultural diversity, aimed at every member of the society as a whole. It posits a formal and informal intervention model, holistic, integral and encompassing all dimensions of the educational process in order to achieve a real equality of opportunities/results, to promote intercultural communication and competency, and to overcome racism in all its expressions.

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Theoretical background work on this topic and findings yielded by recent research studies have led to a certain consensus in defining the aims and practical implications of an intercultural approach to education within European societies. However, there is still a great variety of conceptual frameworks and practices that reflect a lack of full consensus. One issue on which general agreement exists is the need to introduce this approach in initial as well as in-service training of teachers. If we intend to promote a real European dimension in education, we can go as far as to state that, if education is not intercultural in nature, it cannot be considered education. Objectives of the project Based on these assumptions, the INTER Project purported to improve the quality of education and contribute to innovation in schools by assisting them in the adoption/implementation of an intercultural approach, fostering the reflection on cultural diversity and providing a practical tool for training initial and in-service teachers. The project focused on developing, using and validating a practical and systematic Guide to provide support in analysing, implementing and/or improving intercultural education in school practices. Within this context, the key objectives of the proposal were: 1. To map out the cultural diversity of students and communities in European school settings and, more specifically, in those countries involved in the project. 2. To assess critically the educational policies and practices developed in relation to meeting the needs of culturally diverse students and communities. 3. To define and exemplify the intercultural approach in education in terms of theoretical foundations and practical implications. 4. To elaborate a systematic Guide as an instrument to analyse, support, manage and improve the intercultural approach in schooling practices, in relation to curricular and institutional dimensions.

INTER Conference 449 5. To elaborate a didactic video and a directory of resources, to be used in a complementary way. 6. To use and validate the Guide in the different teacher training institutions involved in the project. Target groups Target groups were both teacher trainees as well as in-service teachers and other school staff undertaking continuing education. More specifically, students in the undergraduate programmes of the participating institutions being trained as teachers (or guidance workers if this was the case), and students in post-graduate programmes, undertaking further training. Depending on the nature of the partner institutions, in-service target groups included headteachers, supervisors, teachers and school guidance workers enrolled in programmes related to intercultural issues or included in this dimension. Process and methodology The INTER Project took place during a period of three years (20022005). In the first stage (2002/2003), the current situation of intercultural education within the different local spheres of all the international partners was analysed and assessed, and teacher training needs were identified, as a basis for elaboration in the Guide. The analysis covered various sections: institutional context, cultural diversity map, educational policies, teacher training programmes and identification of resources and school practices. Work teams were formed at the end of this period in order to elaborate the different parts of the Guide. During the second stage of the project (2003/2004), the English version of the Guide was produced, together with two complementary products: a Directory of Resources and a video (the production of this latter was completed in the third year). The Guide focuses on promoting reflection on schools as transformative and intercultural environments and challenging some of the recurring ideas surrounding cultural diversity in education. It tries to place the readers (in-service or initial trainee teachers) in a position from which they will be able to:

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make explicit the ideas embedded in their current teaching and learning critically think about them in relation to actual practices consider different ways and ideas in order to teach/learn decide what they would like to change if they find discrepancies obtain information, examples, resources and materials to change their practices if they decide to do so.

Throughout the last year of completion of the Project, the INTER Guide was translated into the different languages of the project,3 adapted to the different contexts as much as possible, and implemented in the ten Higher Education Institutions of the partner countries, to be tested and evaluated before its final implementation. The

450 T. Aguado and B. Malik Guide, video and Directory of Resources were used in teacher training seminars and courses (face to face and distance learning) during the 2004/2005 academic year. From January to June 2005, each participating institution used the different formats of the INTER Guide (paper, CD ROM and on WebCT) according to their target groups and methodology. Some of these institutions delivered their courses using all the methodologies: face to face, ODL and virtual environments, others used only one. Around 500 participants (initial and in-service teachers) took part in this pilot process. From July to October 2005, once the validation phase was accomplished and according to the evaluation results, decisions were made in order to prepare the final version of the Guide and its complementary resource. The final version of the INTER Guide, Directory of Resources and DVD Kaleidoschool, have been available since October 2005, and are being used at universities (initial teacher training), in teacher training programmes (in-service teachers), educational administrations, teacher centres, etc. The Spanish Ministry of Education has recently published the Spanish version of the INTER Guide and DVD (INTER Project Partners, 2006a), which are being used in teacher training seminars promoted by teacher training centres, local authorities and universities. The English version has been published by Navreme Knowledge Development, one of the partners in the project (INTER Project Partners, 2006b). The working methods used to carry out activities included:

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cooperation and exchange among partners adoption of a participative approach in order to create a project culture of shared values, standards and rules effective communication by using ITC technologies (e-mail, virtual platform) sharing responsibilities among partners, balanced by coordinator leadership celebration of face to face periodical meetings (one in each of the participating countries) and virutal seminars.

A learning community was created to support cooperation among the INTER Project partners by means of a virtual platform that had been developed as part of another European project. Products and results Tangible products have been:

Needs Assessment Report, published by UNED in a bilingual version. INTER Guide on paper, CD ROM and PDF format downloadable from the Project web site, in six different languages: English, Czech, Latvian, Norwegian, Portuguese and Spanish DVD Kaleidoschool, in English and Spanish Directory of Resources, in English and Spanish.

One of the most valuable outcomes of the project has been the establishment of links between the members of the partner institutions, and the extension to other institutions. There has been ongoing cooperation among the partners, even after the

INTER Conference 451 project contract ended. As a consequence, two proposals have been submitted to transnational programmes for cooperation in education: the ALFA Programme aimed at promoting exchange and cooperation among educational institutions in Europe and Latin America, and a COMENIUS network. We are also preparing a Masters degree in intercultural education. The project received first prize in the Evens Foundation 2005 award competition for intercultural education. Some conclusions from our work Some of the main conclusions of the analysis (INTER Project Needs Assessment Report, 2003) pointed out the following.

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Diversity is persistently and firmly associated with deficiency or disabilities. The educational initiatives to meet the needs of different students are associated with special education, compensatory education or remedial programmes. Cultural diversity is associated with immigration, bilingualism or minorities. Intercultural education is poorly implemented in the places in which we have been working. The term intercultural is used to describe educational proposals that do not usually conform to the principles and objectives of an intercultural focus. In general, our underlying theoretical assumptions move away from educational approaches that address cultural diversity of student populations from a restrictive or compensatory perspective. We embrace an intercultural perspective aimed at all students; regarding diversity and cultural exchange as a valuable educational resource.

The INTER Guide The main output of the INTER Project was the INTER Guide. A Guide to Implement Intercultural Education At School. We shall briefly describe its objectives and content structure. Some of the main objectives of the Guide are to challenge:

the implicit goals of current education the homogeneity perspective the ideas of academic success and academic failure the idea that education should mainly be transmission of knowledge the association of cultural diversity with some social labels or categories (immigration, ethnicity, minorities, nationality) the idea that intercultural education consists only of celebrating diversity compensatory education as an integration/adaptation strategy the idea that intercultural education is a tool to give actual recipes to solve specific problems the myth that intercultural education evaluates only students academic performance.

452 T. Aguado and B. Malik The INTER Guide is a flexible training tool, capable of being adapted to different learning environments (face to face, distance learning), target audiences (initial training teachers, in-service teachers, other) and timing (regular classes, courses, seminars). It is divided into eight modules, combining theory and practice and focusing on how to implement the intercultural approach from a different angle. It also includes a glossary of terms. We have chosen the following ideas as perspectives to help the reader in understanding and implementing intercultural education: Module 1: Compulsory education. Challenges the reader to rethink the significance of compulsory education today, critically analysing its aims and functions and introducing the intercultural approach as a proposal for transformation of schools. Module 2: Diversity versus homogeneity in schools. We define here the ideas of homogeneity and diversity, helping the reader to identify both in her/his school environments. Module 3: School, home, community. Reflects on the importance of good relationships and collaboration among families, schools and other community agents, considering different alternatives of collaboration. Module 4: Theoretical assumptions. Focuses on identifying the implicit/explicit theories of teachers, showing theories underlying the intercultural approach (about teaching/learning/communication) and reflecting upon the practical implications of former analysis. Module 5: Educational policies. Analyses educational policies trying to go beyond the common understanding of laws, norms and regulations to identify and recognize the ideological interests underlying models and ideas which give reason to and drive all legislation. Module 6: Evaluation, student assessment and quality assurance. Encourages reflection on what evaluation is and what we think it should be. It goes beyond the testing of students academic performances and concentrates attention on the teaching and learning process. Module 7: School structure and organization. Tries to make explicit our mental images about schools, to reflect on the main dimensions in school organization, and to elaborate on the practical implications in order to build an intercultural school. Module 8: Teaching and learning strategies. Studies learners and teachers roles in depth, helps teachers be aware of and practice different strategies and makes known different experiences which teachers could apply. Each module has a similar structure, including the following sections: To start thinking; Information; Activities; Proposals for collaboration; Planning and adapting the curriculum; Specific resources and additional links; and, finally, Reflective questions and evaluation. In addition to the explicit and visible products of the project (INTER Guide on paper and virtual version; Directory of Resources, video), one of the most important achievements has been the cooperation developed during the process. At this

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INTER Conference 453 moment, the products and relevant information about the project are available at the following web site: http:/ (INTER Project web site). The conference The INTER Conference, held in Madrid from 15 to 17 March 2006, focused on intercultural education as a model for transformation and school improvement. Its aim was to promote discussion on the concept of intercultural education, the consensus reached so far on the subject, the research questions raised, and to provide teachers with strategies which can be put into practice to embrace an intercultural perspective in their classrooms. The organization of the Conference originated from a commitment to the European Commission, supporter of the INTER Project, to disseminate the process and outcomes of the project. The aim of the event was to show the results obtained and the cooperative activities carried out throughout the project, with the intention of reaching out to policy-makers, teachers and researchers interested in intercultural education. The objectives and the structure of the conference intended to reflect those that have characterized the work of the group. The idea was to facilitate a place for discussion and exchange of ideas between participants, promoting dialogue and the strengthening of networks to establish further forms of collaboration. Thus, the programme relied heavily on workshops and discussion groups, in order to foster communication and an exchange of work areas and projects. One of the desired and valuable outcomes of the Conference was to strengthen existing lines of work and to propose collaboration in joint projects within European and/or Latin-American programmes. Conference structure The INTER conference was structured around four types of activities: keynote speeches, discussion groups, workshops and research panels. There were also posters hanging in the main hall showing relevant experiences and research projects in the field of intercultural education. Two of the keynote speeches are included in this issue of Intercultural Education. We shall also briefly describe the discussion groups and workshops. Discussion groups The discussion groups were organized around four themes:

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Diversity versus homogeneity in schools: The focus was placed on ideas of homogeneity and diversity, discussing the benefits and difficulties in switching from a mostly homogeneous perspective (currently operating in most classrooms and other educational settings) to a diversity perspective in the learning process.

454 T. Aguado and B. Malik

Compulsory education: Challenged participants into rethinking the significance of compulsory education today, critically analysing the aims and function of compulsory schooling in our societies, and introducing the intercultural approach as a proposal for transformation of schools. Theoretical assumptions teaching and learning: Focused on identifying the implicit/ explicit theories of teachers, discussing the main issues underlying the intercultural approach (regarding teaching, learning and communication processes) and presenting different methodologies to address the needs of all pupils, in an inclusive setting. Educational policies: Analysed and discussed educational policies, trying to go beyond the plain understanding of laws, norms and regulations, in order to identify and recognize the ideological interests underlying models and ideas which give reason to and drive all legislation.

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Workshops These were conducted by members of the INTER Project, who led activities dealing with educational practice. The idea was to create a space where participants could engage in practical work, in a collaborative way. As in the discussion groups, each Workshop was run by two coordinators who facilitated communication and participation. The practical activities focused on the following four themes: 1. School, home, community: Reflecting on the importance of good relationships and collaboration among families, schools and other community agents, considering different alternatives of collaboration which may occur and to understand them as a continuum. Some examples of projects and practices which promote this kind of participation were shown. 2. Evaluation, student assessment and quality assurance: Encouraging reflection on what evaluation is and what we think it should be. It goes beyond the testing of students academic performances and concentrates attention on the teaching and learning process. 3. School structure and organization: Tries to make explicit our mental images about schools, to reflect about the main dimensions in school organization, and to elaborate on the practical implications in order to build an intercultural school. 4. Teaching and learning strategies: Has the aims of: studying learners and teachers roles in depth; to contribute to the improvement of competences that teachers have to attain; to help teachers be aware of and practice different strategies; to make known different experiences which teachers could apply. Conclusions Some of the general conclusions drawn from on-going debates in the Discussion Groups, the Plenary Sessions and the Workshops (although these were more practical in nature, there was also flow of ideas) are the following:

INTER Conference 455

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Intercultural education must be articulated with the participation of all educational agents, so that beliefs, values and initial knowledge are made explicit from the outset. Intercultural education implies a change of attitudes and teaching methodologies. It is necessary to promote networking and to establish learning communities where collaboration among all educational agents (students, school staff, families, community) is essential. There is a need to revisit teaching and learning theories, and the methodologies currently in practice in many classrooms, along with materials used. Intercultural communication and interactions need to be fostered, and further qualitative research is needed in order to advance knowledge and practice in this domain. The importance of focusing on individuals as human beings and not labelling or ascribing people to a specific group, without knowing what he/she identifies with. To focus on the strengths of students rather than on their weaknesses, contributing to their empowerment, and avoiding any kind of discrimination. To conceive cultural identities and diverse backgrounds as a richness and a useful resource to draw from in the educational process, promoting a genuine participation of students and their communities of reference. Communication must move beyond mere language to encompass a holistic way of approaching other people. Educational policies must promote recognition of and real participation of the diverse communities and social groups present in society, and facilitate development of intercultural competencies both in students and educational staff. Full access to social resources and citizenship rights should be ensured for all individuals.

In summary, diversity should be considered as the norm, and become the focus of educational processes. Homogeneity does not really exist, there are only processes that aim at achieving it, and practices that tend to uniform individuals, forsaking or denying diversity. Notes
1. 2. INTER Project (20022005). Started 1 October 2002 and concluded 30 September 2005. Partner Institution and Contact Person: Universidad Nacional de Educacin a Distancia (UNED) Coordinator: Teresa Aguado Odina; Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM): Caridad Hernndez; Universidad de Huelva (UH): Asuncin Moya; Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas (CSIC): Margarita del Olmo; Navreme Knowledge Development: Bernd Baumgartl; Universidade do Porto (UP): Alfredo Soeiro; Nottingham Trent University (NTU): Alan Browne; Universitetet I Oslo (UO): Jorun Buli Holmberg; GLOBEA: Laura Laubeova; Latvijas Universitate (LU): Vineta Porina; Charles University (KU): Martina Kalinova Except German, as the Austrian partner used the Guide in English.


Notes on Contributors Teresa Aguado is Professor at the National University of Distance Education (UNED) in Madrid, Spain. Her fields of research and teaching include intercultural

456 T. Aguado and B. Malik education and social mediation in educational contexts. She was the coordinator of the INTER Project, and is the director of the INTER Centre for Research in Intercultural Education (UNED). Beatriz Malik is Professor at the National University of Distance Education (UNED) in Madrid, Spain. Her fields of research and teaching include educational and career guidance, intercultural education and social mediation. References
Aguado, T. et al. (2006) Educacin intercultural. Necesidades de formacin del profesorado desde una perspectiva europea/Intercultural Education. Teacher training needs from an European perspective (bilingual edn) (Madrid: Universidad Nacional de Educacin a Distancia). INTER Project (20022005) INTER: A Practical Guide to Implement Intercultural Education at School. (Socrates-Comenius 2.1, European Commission) Contract 106223-CP-1-2002-1-ESCOMENIUS-C21. INTER Project (2003) Needs assessment report (internal document). INTER Project Partners (2006a) Gua INTER: Una Gua prctica para aplicar la Educacin Intercultural en la escuela (CREADE/CIDE/MEC). INTER Project Partners (2006b) Culture is Our Focus, Diversity is Our Normality [INTER Guide for Intercultural Education]. INTER Project. Series Navreme Print No. 4 (Madrid/Vienna, Navreme Knowledge Development).

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