Reclaimed – “Site Visits and Multiculturalism”

August 18, 2012 Off By JR

Well the day began with some networking, several of the DETEF students gathered at Minerva before our little field trip to discuss what we have learned, as well as learn more about each other. The group is interesting in that we can come together and move apart so fluidly. It really reminds me of ETAD802 and communities of practice. This morning we were headed to a primary school (years 1-6), today was the first day of classes.

We arrived at the school, a multistory traditional brick building, and were greeted by two teachers. We moved onto the library, a small area with high book shelves, with table chairs, and beanbag chairs (cool!). The principal talked about her school and research a little and then we were able to go see some of the classrooms, chat with some of the teachers, and then come back to ask more questions. This school is unique as about 50% of it’s population is of students from other countries, and it also has a strong French program. Maybe you could call it a multicultural school, but what I found was that it did not match what one might expect from that label. Support for the students seemed like it could be good; a preparatory Finnish Language setting for those who do not have Finnish as a language upon arrival. They are collected into the same class for all subjects, so they still learn core subjects, as well as the language. We were also told that as soon as students could be integrated into classes like art and gym etc, until they were fully integrated into the school. This process usually takes about one year.

The facility was not like the newer designs for environments I had seen in the architecture museum last year. Everything was quite traditional looking, with the odd Smartboard or projector. Students still sat in desks and faced the front (again this was just the first day). The music room had a variety of instruments, not just a classroom set of one type. This room also had a poster of rocker bass players next to a picture of Beethoven (how cool is that), and one of our classmates played a piece for us on the piano.

I managed to find the crafts shop, I was surprised to see all kinds of hand tools for wood and metal working as well as some stationary power tools. It was pretty slick. There was also a regular looking computer lab, and a sewing/art room as well. 

The day structure is interesting. We had all heard students do not have to attend school until age 7, but it seems up to 92% of students still attend some type of kindergarten, giving them an opportunity to gain reading skills. Also in years 1 and 2 the days may only be half days, but then there are “afternoon clubs” students can attend (not for free, I think), and these clubs can also help them in their studies. My question is, what happens to the students that cannot afford that?

Our day ended up not really being about multicultural education after all, but we have a lot to think about, so again maybe I will leave off with some short points:

  • be aware of researchers’ intentions when talking about multiculturalism
  • when using the word “culture” we need to be aware of how we are using it
  • identity vs. identification: ‘the same and the same’ and ‘process’. There is you in me and me in you. 

Tonight Amanda, Tuuli, and I went bouldering. I have been rock climbing (wall climbing) before back home but this place was radical. We did not use harnesses and there were some “mushrooms” that looked like, boulders of course. My hands are still healing from it, and my arms ached. It really made me want to continue this at home.