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Sense and Sensitivity

Difference and Diversity in Higher Education Classrooms

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Elisabeth Lillie

This edited volume examines aspects of teaching and learning in situations where community or ethnic division may impact negatively on classroom experience and behaviour in tertiary education. The book considers cases from four locations where marked divisions in the wider society exert a continuing influence on the student body: Northern Ireland, England, France and the United States of America. All of these countries share certain underlying principles of governance and freedom as well as historical interconnections, but have within them particular groups characterized by various levels of separation and distrust. The sociohistorical context relevant to each case is outlined, followed by a discussion of the attitudes, opinions and reactions of the learners concerned. The volume concludes with a consideration of pedagogical approaches that may help to bridge difference and foster a more positive atmosphere. Although this study focuses on particular community environments, the techniques highlighted by contributors may be useful in any classroom setting where a heterogeneous mix of individuals has the potential to lead to dissension and conflict.

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Part III France

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Elisabeth Lillie 4 Voices from the Multi-ethnic University in France France and Immigration: The Context The main aim of this chapter is to consider aspects of the university expe- rience of French students with immigrant origins, However, France is a country whose national approach towards immigrants and multi-ethnicity dif fers from that of certain other comparable nations, its policies having evolved over the years in line with its political systems and mutations in its society. As this wider context inevitably impacts on attitudes and actions, the chapter begins with an introduction to immigration in France and ways in which the state has considered incoming settlers and their descendants. The French have a long tradition of immigration with dif ferent popula- tion movements welding together over the centuries to create the modern nation (Renan 1947 (1882); Kastory Ano 1994; Dewitte 2003; Noiriel 2006, 2007; Kiwan 2009). Yet, despite its open approach towards inward migra- tion permitting it to meet population deficiencies and labour needs, it was particularly in the post Second World War years of reconstruction that France had recourse to immigrant labour on a wide scale, to some extent Spanish and Portuguese but increasingly from non-European countries, in the main France’s colonies or ex-colonies, a situation which continued throughout the so-called trente glorieuses, the industrial boom years of economic prosperity spanning roughly the thirty-year period from 1945 to 1975 (Milza 1985; Kastory Ano 1994; Dewitte 2003). France’s immigration strategy was accompanied by a policy towards settlers in the country that...

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