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Dialogs on Diversity and Global Education

Edited By Mirja-Tytti Talib, Jyrki Loima, Heini Paavola and Sanna Patrikainen

Intercultural and ethical issues are part of our daily lives. They share characteristics that make them particularly sensitive and sometimes volatile. The challenges that increasing diversity brings into education and schools in general are many as can be seen in this volume, for instance, in the Scandinavian countries, Estonia, United States, Canada, Japan and China. There are conflicting interpretations of multiculturalism and interculturalism. Culture plays a key role in different interpretations: North America is more tuned into hybrid aspects of students’ identities, while in many European countries ethnicity still dominates the discussion. Good teachers make a difference. They have an understanding of the socio-political context of education as well as intercultural competence. The essays in this book portray multicultural, intercultural, and global as well as theoretical and practical approaches to diversity and education.


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How to develop an intercultural school: Experiences from Sweden Pirjo Lahdenperä 107


107 How to develop an intercultural school: Experiences from Sweden Pirjo Lahdenperä Introduction: Multicultural Sweden During the thirty years of my employment, the world around me, including Sweden, has become more multicultural and diverse. This affects not only the resulting multicultural society for different ethnic groups, but also world views and values, ideologies and beliefs. People travel more and are easily informed about happenings around the world via the Internet. People move to different countries because of work, as victims of natural disasters, wars, for economic reasons and for love. Nationalistic views are starting to give way to more plural- istic and multicultural world views. In 2006, 13 percent of the Swedish population (c.1.2 million people) were born out of Sweden. The Swedish pre-school population today speaks more than a hundred different languages. Some of these children and young people speak languages of national minorities in Sweden: Sámi, Finnish, Meänkieli, Romani Chib and Yiddish. Approximately 15% percent of all pupils in primary schools have foreign backgrounds; they were born abroad or in Sweden of foreign-born parents (Skolverket, 2008). There are neighbourhoods in the major cities of Europe, including Swe- den, in which most residents have roots outside of Sweden and the EU area. In these type of suburbs in Sweden, there are schools in which the number of stu- dents with foreign backgrounds rises up to 90–100 percent (Skolverket, 2004). In everyday speech, the areas segregated by political and economic benchmarks are referred to as multi-ethnic neighbourhoods....

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