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Culturally responsive approaches to challenging behaviour of minority ethnic studentsDifferent ways of conceptualizing the human mind, the development of learning and how learning and behaviour are interrelated lead to different approaches for dealing with issues schools have in relation to behaviour experienced as challenging or otherwise difficult. As Bruner (1996) notes, there are two ‘strikingly different’ ways of thinking about how the mind works. One of these is to conceptualize the mind in cognitive terms, as operating like a computer in processing the information it receives. Here, however, we are concerned with the second conceptualization, what Bruner terms ‘culturalism’, which has rather different implications for addressing behavioural issues. ‘Culturalism’ assumes that the development of the human mind depends on its evolution within a society in which the ‘reality’ of individual experience is represented through a shared symbolism, for example verbal or written language, where the community’s way of life is organized and understood. The cultural context in which a child is reared shapes his or her thinking and provides tools, a ‘cultural toolkit’ (Bruner, 1996) for organizing meaning in ways that can be communicated to others. In Bruner’s view, meaning-making is situated in a cultural context as well as in the prior conceptions that learners bring with them into new situations from other contexts. New learning is a product of the ‘interplay’ between them. To understand and respond appropriately to challenging behaviour at school requires us to understand the cultural contexts of both home and school. In this chapter we examine some of the evidence related to the relative under-achievement, disaffection and exclusion from the education system of students from particular minority ethnic groups and investigate a number of theories that attempt to explain these phenomena. We go on to use the communities of practice framework (Wenger, 1998; Wenger,McDermott & Snyder, 2002) to examine how drawing on community values and individuals’ responsibilities within communities can enable movement from retribution to a focus on ‘putting things right’ between all those involved or affected by wrong-doing. The particular examples given here are from Aotearoa New Zealand and relate to restorative practices influenced by traditional Māori cultural values and preferred responses to wrongdoing. The process associated with hui whakatika (hui: meeting; whakatika: to put things right) emphasizes restoration of harmony between the individual, the victim and the collective (Berryman & McFarlane, in press; Wearmouth et al, 2007a, 2007b).
Handling difficulties in social, emotional and behaviour developmentThis chapter focuses on difficulties experienced by children who demonstrate features of social, emotional and behavioural problems in schools, and ways to minimise the incidence of problematic behaviour. Schools play a critical part in shaping a young child’s identity as a learner (Bruner, 1996). Use of the terms ‘emotional and behavioural difficulties’ (EBD) (Warnock, 1978), or ‘social, emotional and behavioural difficulties’ (SEBD), as a label for some students who behave inappropriately is not always helpful. Poulou and Norwich (2002: 112) conclude, from a review of international studies, that the more teachers think student behaviour stems from problems within those students, such the ‘child’s innate personality’, ‘the more [teachers] may experience feelings of “stress” and even “helplessness” ’, and the less they may feel able to cope with difficult behaviour. The new Teachers’ Standards for Qualified Teacher Status, introduced in England from September 2012 (DfE, 2013), require teachers to take responsibility for promoting good behaviour in classrooms and elsewhere, have high expectations and maintain good relationships with pupils. Teachers can minimise the possibility of poor behaviour in classrooms if they recognise that appropriate behaviour can be taught (Rogers, 2013). Children can learn to make conscious choices about behaviour, even where it is associated with a genetic or neurological condition (Wearmouth, Glynn and Berryman, 2005). The chapter aims to familiarise teachers-in-training with * frames of reference commonly used in schools to research and understand social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and form the basis for effective responses; * a range of effective responses in relation to these frames of reference; * an understanding that learning environments that are designed to support children to engage with their learning will reduce the possibility of undesirable behaviour in the first place.