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Understanding Culture and Youth within Educational Institutions: Beyond Cultural Definitions to Cultural Change Contexts


Understanding Culture and Youth within Educational Institutions: Beyond Cultural Definitions to Cultural Change Contexts Martha Montero-Sieburth, Ed. D. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Understanding Culture and Youth within Educational Institutions: Beyond Cultural Definitions to Cultural Change Contexts

Understanding Culture and Youth within
Educational Institutions Beyond Cultural
Definitions to Cultural Change Contexts
  • Martha Montero-Sieburth, Ed. D.
  • Research Fellow
  • Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies
  • University of Amsterdam
  • m.montero_at_uva.nl
  • European Conference on Educational Research
  • A Global Society Implications for Education and
    Educational Research Invited Symposium - in
    cooperation with WERA, World Education Research
  • Helsinki, Finland, August 26, 2010

Intent of Presentation
  • Intent is to discuss the role of culture as it
    relates to youth within educational institutions
    and what this means in terms of changes taking
    place in different contexts
  • Tendency to overemphasize formal schooling over
    the significance of informal learning which takes
    place in community settings and among peers
  • Essentializing of the concept of culture rather
    than contextualizing concept

  • Discuss ways in which cultural change has been
    thought of in the education of immigrant children
    to explain their academic achievement in schools
    and how such achievement and culture relates to
    their ethnic or indigenous group
  • Based on a review of secondary literature
  • Own research in the analysis of explanatory
    models used for the academic achievement of
    Latinos in the U. S., which has been researched
    extensively for close to 80 years
  • Research conducted in Latin American classrooms
    where the indigenous is compared to the normative
    schooling culture

  • Identify the explanations currently being used in
    Europe for academic achievement which focus on
  • Culture versus structure in the social mobility
    and school attainment of immigrants
  • Structural analysis of second generation research
  • Using own ethnographic research of Dutch second
    generation high school youth of Turkish descent
    in the Netherlands undertaken over a 3 year
  • Using research of Latin American immigrants in
    the Canary Islands, Spain where intercultural
    education is used as a mediating variable

  • Conclude by identifying implications of such
    explanatory models for youth within educational
  • In terms of local cultures and identities
  • Ignoring of youth
  • Suppression of youth
  • Need to examine the reinvention and extension
    taking place for youth through the creation of
    multiple identities in their negotiation of
    cultural change contexts

Reviews of Secondary Literature
  • Initial Review
  • Montero-Sieburth, M. and M. C. Batt (2001). An
    Overview of the Educational Models used to
    Explain the Academic Achievement of Latino
    Students Implications for Research and Policies
    into the New Millennium. In Robert Slavin and
    Margarita Calderón (Eds.). Effective Programs
    for Latino Students. Mahwah, N. J. Lawrence
    Erlbaum Associates, pp. 331-368.
  • Second Review focused on Reform Efforts
  • Montero-Sieburth, M. (2005). Explanatory Models
    of Latino/a Education During the Reform Movement
    of the 1980s. In Pedro Pedraza and Melissa
    Rivera (Eds.). Latino Education An Agenda for
    Community Action Research, Mahwah, New Jersey,
    Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 99-153.
  • Third review was on an overview of Latino
    academic achievement explanations and a critique
    of these
  • Montero-Sieburth, M. (2007). Academic Models
    Explaining Achievement. In Lourdes Díaz Soto
    (Ed.). Praeger Handbook of Latino Education in
    the United States, Vol. 1, Praeger Publishers,
    pp. 8-23.
  • Present review of research of a comparative
    nature of explanatory models used n the U. S. and
    Europe, particularly the Netherlands and Spain.

Educational Explanatory Models
  • Explanations based on social science research
    which has been conducted to identify and find
    solutions to deal with the attendant problem of
    why some students fail while others succeed in
  • Educational institutions are held to be the
    producers of opportunities for success, yet their
    underlying assumptions have implicit meanings
  • About what success is and who decides what it
    should look like.
  • About how such success is tied to culture, with
    the notion of what culture and whose culture?

Educational Explanatory Models
  • Such assumptions operate from the stance of
    normative cultures (dominant/subordinate,
  • In U. S., explanations abound about
  • Why Latino students fail in comparison to their
    White European counterparts or in relation to
    other ethnic groups
  • Failure is a code word and antithesis of success.
  • Academic achievement in attaining specific scores
    in testing and completion of grades.

Explanatory Models
  • In the case of youth in Latin America,
    comparisons are often made in terms of social
    class differences
  • Indigenous youth from rural areas are compared to
    those in urbanized centers thus failure refers to
    not measuring up to urban, civilized status
  • Indigenous youth from low socio economic class
    are often differentiated from middle class
    through schooling
  • Indigenous youth are compared on the basis of
    their social capital, while they often experience
    discrimination in schooling
  • A culture of exclusion rather than inclusion

Research Focus
  • Research focus for explanations about achievement
    arise from cross group and within group
  • Analysis of Latinos vis a vis White European
  • Latinos in relation to African Americans, Asians,
    Native Americans
  • Indigenous youth compared to middle class youth
    in Mexico, Guatemala, etc.
  • Latin American immigrant youth compared to native
    Spaniards and other immigrants
  • Such studies tend to be large scale and
  • They also tend to generalize disavowing for
    unique characteristics that are prevalent,
    differences from urban marginal experiences,
    gender, education of parents, etc.

Culture Concept
  • Culture is often defined in terms of the
    normative cultures value of wealth, knowledge,
    cultural and social capital.
  • Eric Wolf points out that the culture concept is
    a product of the age of nationalism.
  • Thus cultural incorporation is about becoming
    like the majority culture/society and in some
    countries is about
  • Assimilation
  • Integration

Power of Explanatory Models of Academic
  • Such explanations take on not only
    epistemological power, of being truths
    identified by social scientists, educators,
    policy makers
  • Assume the power of paradigms that represent
  • Eurocentric perspectives
  • a) Native Dutch interests over non-natives
    (allochtone versus autoctone)
  • b) Majority Spanish cultural norms over
  • Majority Culture power dynamics based on
  • c) Social Class differences as seen throughout
    Latin America
  • d) Dominant WASP culture in relation to newcomers
    and immigrants

Culture Concept
  • Hans Vermeulen (2000) alludes to the ways of
    speaking about culture as culturalistic and
    uses the idea of culturalistic fallacy to refer
  • those ways of speaking and writing about
    culture which depict cultures as sharply
    bounded, homogenous and relatively unchanging
    entities, transmitted on from generation to
    generation (p.2).
  • Culture is often used to explain behavior for
    which there is no explanation and alludes this to
    certain groups.
  • In research, we refer to this use of culture as

Attributes within Educational Explanatory Models
  • Measured in the U. S., Latin America, and Europe
    by competences achieved in
  • Language Learning
  • Standard versus non-standard
  • Passing of language examinations that are often
    part of national testing programs
  • Achieving Language communication for the job
  • Adaptation of social and cultural behaviors and
  • Un American to speak Spanish in certain
  • Enjoying privileges in the Netherlands requires
    learning the Dutch way of life
  • If they want to enjoy their livelihoods in
    Spain, they have to act as Spaniards
  • Love it or leave it
  • Civic responsibilities
  • Induced by strong coercive policies, you must be
    a responsible citizen
  • Characterized by using economic gains for process
    of democratization

Culture Linked to Explanatory Models
  • Explanatory models are historically and socially
    embedded and are linked to the social and
    cultural integration and normative cultural
    reproduction often spurned by policies. In the U.
    S., identified during these time periods
  • 1920s Great wave of immigration (melting pot
  • 1930s Nationalistic trends (cultural pluralism)
  • 1940s War time
  • 1950s Suburban expansion, white flight
  • 1960s War on Poverty, the Great Society
    (cultural deprivation)
  • 1970s New immigration (cultural differences)
  • 1980s Reform waves (NCLB)
  • 1990s Neo-liberalistic trends (cultural
    adaptation to economic structures)
  • 2000s Globalization and transnational
    influences (cultural resilience, multiple

Culture Linked to Explanatory Models in Latin
  • Historically embedded in pre-Colombian, Conquest,
    and Post-conquest ideologies of social, cultural,
    and racial class differences for Latin America
  • Mignolo (2008) attributes much of the
    post-colonialist thought to capitalism and which
    serves to devalue the humanity of competitors and
    those who offer low cost labor.

Culture Linked to Explanatory Models
  • He argues that social class differences were set
    up during the colonization process of Latin
    America and persist to the present.

Analysis of Dutch Explanatory Models for Turkish
Youth in Schooling
  • Analysis of secondary data Research studies
    conducted by social scientists in the Netherlands
    over the past twenty years on immigrant youth of
    second generation and their academic achievement
    have focused on
  • motivation, attitudes towards learning
    (psychological adaptation)
  • ethnic identity, (cultural identity)
  • acculturation patterns, (cultural identity)
  • engagement and tracking trajectories from
    elementary to secondary and higher education.
  • Culture has been treated in terms of specific
    ethnic groups but also psychological, and
    adaptation factors

Dutch Analysis
  • Growing numbers of qualitative studies in the
    Netherlands (Bowen Paulle, Yvonne Leeman)
  • Research regarding attitudes of native Dutch
    towards Turkish and Moroccan students
  • Meykel Verkuyten (2005) during the past 20 years
    as well as with his colleagues, Peary Brug
    (2001), Thijs (2001) has yielded some
    understanding of the enormity of this issue. They
    indicate the need to find alternative ways to
    study history, culture, ideology, power and
    contexts as well as discourse analyses and social
    representation theory.

Dutch Analysis
  • Research of the second generation in Europe and
    particularly the Netherlands
  • One of the most prolific researchers has been
    Maurice Crul and his associates, TIES Project,
    comparative analysis of second generation
  • Focus has identified 1) Access to pre-school, 2)
    opportunities for Dutch language development, and
    3) limited available opportunities for learning
    within schools, especially segregated schools.

Dutch Analysis
  • Own research during past three years in a
    zwarte (Black) high school due to concentration
    of Turkish and Moroccan students but which is an
    elite school because of its high academic
    programs and student outcomes in science and
    mathematics (ecological programs, Roboticus,
    science fairs, math fairs).
  • Findings issues of cultural dissonance between
    cultures of youth and expected academic schooling

Dutch Policies towards Educating Working Class
and Minorities
  • Policies aimed at reducing educational
    disadvantage of working class students (Driessen,
    2002 Rijkschroeff, R. G. ten Dam, J. W.
    Duyvendak, M. De Gruijeter and T. Pels, 2005).
  • 1960s as part of democratic and tolerance
    process, focus is on working class children
  • 1970s arrival of guest workers and changes in
    reunification laws for families
  • 1980s growth of children of 1.5 or 2nd
    generation in schools, however no official policy
    towards immigrants was warranted (Driessen,
    forthcoming). Bilingual and intercultural
    education were promoted.

Dutch Policies
  • 1985 Weight factors applied to ethnic and
    minority children and used by schools to provide
    homework assistance, reading, tutoring, etc.
  • 1990s Focus on minority children and less so on
    Dutch working class, support programs (Driessen,
  • 1994 minorities policy replaced by integration
    policy towards active citizenship with
    mandatory laws for newcomers to learn Dutch
  • 2000s Evaluation of effectiveness of
    disadvantage policies and movement towards
    decentralization, reduction of funding except for
    parental education
  • Paul Scheffers Multicultural Drama critique
  • Aim is towards more restrictive practices
    including stricter separation of church and state
    and more restrictions on religious freedom

Dutch Policies
  • Present Focus on what Driessen refers to as
    shared citizenship, replacing active citizenship,
    and this requires moving away from focus on
    differences towards focus on common core values
  • Onus is on the immigrant taking charge of
  • Shift in responsibility of the state towards
    greater decentralization and decision making at
    the local level
  • Closing of multiculturalism as a failed
    experiment towards greater accountability

Comparison of Educational Explanatory Models
  • Analysis of Latinos
  • Cultural deprivation and culture deficit
  • Cultural differences
  • Voluntary versus involuntary immigrants
  • Bilingual education model
  • Economic explanatory models (social/cultural
  • Analysis of Dutch-Turkish Students
  • Cultural disadvantage
  • Compensatory focus in schooling, remediation
  • Bilingual education (pillarization idea)
  • Intercultural education in schools
  • Additive resources

  • Analysis for Latinos
  • Co-Ethnic Peer Communities Explanation
  • Dual Reference Model
  • Academic At Risk Model
  • Success Factor
  • Transnational Adaptation
  • Comparative Analysis factors (structural,
    institutional, etc.)
  • Analysis for Dutch-Turkish
  • Awareness of Second Generation through dropout
  • Extensive research on failure of minorities
  • Structural analysis of how system operates,
    analysis of tracking, analysis of counselors,
  • Models of polarization become evident
  • Re-ignition of language focus, of bilingual

  • Focus on resilience of students
  • Analysis of funds of community knowledge
  • Use of H. Truebas theory of mestizaje towards
    multiple identities
  • Strong emphasis on language skills, social
    participation membership in associations,
    political participation, voting, cultural
    participation, museum visits
  • Focus on labor insertion as active basis of
  • Culture is minoritized

Research in Spain
  • Research of high schools conducted in situ in the
    Canary Islands, Spain show
  • Although well intended policies abound regarding
    the integration of immigrant children via
    intercultural education, gaps in the
    professionalization, training, and extension of
    intercultural experiences are evident
  • Reception programs appear to work but tend to
    often be the product approach to culture and not
    the process approach
  • Onus is on cultural mediator

Research in Spain
  • Targeting of immigrant children as in need of
    change, deflects from the purpose of
    intercultural education to create collective
    experiences for co-existence of all children in
    Spanish schools.
  • Geographic concentration of immigrants tends to
    create so called ghettos and an increase in
    ghetto schools.
  • Intent of intercultural education is lost from
    its dialogical and interactive purpose and its
    internalization of the non-differentiation of
    foreigners from Spaniards.

Implications of Explanatory Models
  • Parallels between explanations about failure as
    pathological, endemic
  • Explanations focus heavily on youth and their
    community including parents as in need of being
    changed and compensated for
  • The U.S. in terms of ethnic differences based on
    cultural deficits and race
  • Culture is an issue to be remedied
  • The Netherlands based on narrowing gap of
    economic differences
  • Disadvantages can be surmonted through economic

  • Both cases, the issue of pathways towards
    academic achievement are varied
  • In the U.S. segmented assimilation of upward and
    downward mobility and structural analysis
    persists, strong focus on peer culture and
    segregated schools, teacher normalization of
  • In the Netherlandsschooling is defined through
    tracking and insertion into programs.
  • Segmented assimilation is considered by Crul and
    others to be pessimistic.
  • Research explanations are national country
    analysis based on age of entry in school, pre
    school, tracking system, decisions made through
    counselors and stagnation with a longer academic

  • Explanations currently are about polarization,
    with some succeeding within the current system,
    and with others trailing behind
  • Variations between those in school and those who
    have left, bifurcated situation, segregated
    schools (zwarte schools)
  • Strong structural focus and analysis situating
    the need for pre school, mentoring programs,
    coaching, tutoring, community schools, additive
    resources, etc.
  • Understanding the length of movement through
    different tracks for Dutch Turkish students who
    are Dutch nationals, yet have Turkish
    backgrounds, speaking and using Dutch is one of
    the critical obstacles to be overcome

Local Culture Issues
  • Identities may be ignored through
    misunderstanding of youth context
  • Ignoring of youth
  • Suppression of youth
  • Cultural codes being applied to youth
  • U.S. Spanish is a code word for differences that
    surmount to being a challenge-represents
    ethnicity and race often related to the us and
  • Netherlands Islam as religion has become a
    cultural code that is essentialized
  • Aristide Zolberg and Long Litt Woon (1999).Islam
    is Like Spanish Cultural Incorporation in Europe
    and the United States. Politics and society, Vol.
    27, No. 1, pp. 5-38.

Need for Re-invention towards Cultural Change
  • Refocusing on what is meant by the success of
    youth in and out of schools and what is being
    labeled as failure, and whose failure it is
  • Detracking of schooling and promoting the
    advantages of youth over the disadvantages
  • Understanding language stands for much more than
    linguistic communication, and for the power
    dynamics it entails
  • Identifying the ways that curriculum is organized
  • Identifying the ways that academic engagement
    take place

Need for Re-invention
  • Focusing on the education of parents and their
    pre migration standing and working
    collaboratively with them as partners in
  • Understanding educational contexts from which 1.5
    generation youth come from, and for 2nd
    generation, their access to pre-school
  • Identifying social, cultural, and linguistic
    capital resources of these youth and their

  • Finding the resilience of Dutch Turkish students,
    immigrant youth in Spain or elsewhere despite the
    odds they face
  • Acknowledging their adaptive, multiple identities
    as part of the changing contextual landscapes,
    they too are changing.
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