Culturally responsive approaches to challenging behaviour of minority ethnic students
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Other TitlesThe Routledge International Companion to Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
AbstractDifferent 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).
CitationWearmouth J, Berryman M, Glynn T (2013) 'Culturally responsive approaches to challenging behaviour of minority ethnic students', in Cole T, Daniels H, Visser J (ed(s).). The Routledge International Companion to Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, First edn, London: Routledge pp.280-287.