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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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Cultural diversity challenging history education: Why and how Arja Virta 147


147 Cultural diversity challenging history education: Why and how Arja Virta Introduction Cultural diversity is a challenge shared by all teachers, irrespective of school level or subject specialisation. There are, however, also subject specific ap- proaches to be considered. As to history education, these questions can roughly be categorised into two types, the first deals more directly with everyday life in classrooms and the practical problems in learning and teaching this subject. Like any teachers, history teachers are facing issues related to language and learning, but the linguistic issues have specific characteristics due to the nature of the sub- ject matter. The second group of questions is related to the nature of history, the philosophy behind the choice of content, and the significance of history for the culture, nation and ethnic groups. The basic problem is how—in a realistic and sensible way—to combine several perspectives of history and to teach it so that it may become meaningful to all students, irrespective of their ethnic back- grounds. This article will deal with both of these aspects. In the present article I am discussing the changes that cultural diversity brings to history teaching and teachers’ work. The article refers to the analysis of and examples drawn from teacher data in the author’s research on the impact of cultural diversity on history teaching, which examined teachers’, students’ and student teachers’ conceptions and experience (Virta, 2008). The teachers (n = 8) had all fairly long experience of teaching multiethnic classes. Societies and schools...

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