Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education [1st ed.] 9783658298081, 9783658298098

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Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education [1st ed.]
 9783658298081, 9783658298098

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xiv
Front Matter ....Pages 1-1
Shared Reading for Valuing Diversity and Fostering Language Acquisition (Johanna Quiring, Franziska Vogt)....Pages 3-22
Integration Migration and Islam as a Challenge for Early Childhood Education (Nausikaa Schirilla)....Pages 23-32
The Role of Socialization Processes and “Cultural Concepts” in Cooperation with Parents of Migrant Backgrounds in Institutions of Early Childhood Education (Leonie Herwartz-Emden)....Pages 33-50
Attitudes Towards Religion in Kindergartens—an Ethical Discussion (Sturla Sagberg)....Pages 51-72
Interreligious Education with Young Children: A Neglected Factor of Integration (Friedrich Schweitzer)....Pages 73-86
Early Childhood Education and Islam (Ednan Aslan)....Pages 87-99
Identity Negotiations in Early Childhood—the Kindergarten as a Central Place for Cultural and Religious Encounters (Bettina Brandstetter)....Pages 101-114
Finnish Early Childhood Education and Care: Why Worldview Sensitivity Matters (Liam Gearon, Arniika Kuusisto)....Pages 115-135
Segregated but Equal? the Case of (Dis)integration in the Israeli Early Education System and its Effect on the Arab Minority Population in Israel (Yair Ziv)....Pages 137-151
Front Matter ....Pages 153-153
Islamic Education in Belgium and the Netherlands, Challenging and Promising (Ina Ter Avest)....Pages 155-174
Obstacles in Multicultural and Peace Education (Zvi Bekerman)....Pages 175-192
Religious and Ethical Orientations of Muslim Refugees (Ednan Aslan)....Pages 193-202
Recent Immigrations in Spain and a Brief Approach to Unaccompanied Foreign Minors (Juan Ramón Ferreiro Galguera)....Pages 203-224
Frameworks of Otherness: The Challenges of Integrating Immigrant Children in Greek Cypriot Public Schools (Spyros Spyrou)....Pages 225-237
The Problems of Syrian Students Concerning the Adaptation Process to Schools in Turkey: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis (Mualla Yildiz)....Pages 239-261
Correction to: Shared Reading for Valuing Diversity and Fostering Language Acquisition (Johanna Quiring, Franziska Vogt)....Pages C1-C1

Citation preview

Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung

Ednan Aslan Editor

Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education

Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung Series Editor Ednan Aslan, Institut für Islamisch-Theologische Studien, Universität Wien, Wien, Austria

Die Buchreihe “Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung” beschäftigt sich mit interdisziplinären Studien aus den Fachbereich der Islamischen Theologie und Religionspädagogik sowie der Religionswissenschaft und Philosophie. Die Forschungsschwerpunkte des Herausgebers, Professor Ednan Aslan, liegen auf Themen wie Islam in Europa, der Theorie der islamischen Erziehung in Europa sowie Fragen zu Muslime an öffentlichen Schulen und Islamischer Theologie mit europäischer Prägung.

More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/13592

Ednan Aslan Editor

Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education

Editor Ednan Aslan Institut für Islamisch-Theologische Studien Universität Wien Wien, Austria

ISSN 2570-222X ISSN 2570-2238  (electronic) Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung ISBN 978-3-658-29808-1 ISBN 978-3-658-29809-8  (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Planung/Lektorat: Katrin Emmerich This Springer VS imprint is published by the registered company Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH part of Springer Nature. The registered company address is: Abraham-Lincoln-Str. 46, 65189 Wiesbaden, Germany


Migration and related challenges dominate current political, economic and religious debates in Europe. In Germany, 1,46 million people have applied for asylum since 2015. According to data from the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Austria, a total of 88,340 people, primarily from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, sought asylum in Austria in 2015 alone. The following year there were 42,073, and by July 2017 about 14,627 people had applied for asylum. Nevertheless, during the first phase of the wave of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, there was a great desire among Austrians to be helpful—so great that some people voluntarily waited at train stations for the incoming refugees to take care of them. Soon, however doubts and questions arose concerning the capacity of European countries to integrate all the people—after all, they came from a completely different culture. Next, there was a series of terrorist attacks in Europe, which made the dispelling of the now skeptical attitude even less likely. Hardly surprising, therefore, was the fact that the attacks were chosen as the central theme for political campaigns in nearly all the European countries. Minds were divided as to whether Europe was able to meet this challenge, and the responses, which included calls for the suspension of the Schengen Agreement, were loud (FAZ 2015). Even today, no consensus has been reached on the question of the distribution of refugees in the European Union. Many EU countries seek their own solutions and European solidarity seems to be dissipate even further. Another sign that European countries are overburdened is the fact that an ever-increasing number of them want to distance themselves from the migration pact. But regardless of the solutions the EU countries agree on a short or long term, they must enable the integration of refugees who are fleeing civil unrest and wars in their countries of origin, and who have no other alternative, but to seek




potential opportunities for recognition in Europe. Austria has launched a variety of integration measures enabling recognized refugees to gain a foothold in society as quickly as possible. In spite of this, half the population in Europe in 2017 rated the possibility of cohabitation among refugees and natives as negative. In comparison to the previous year, the mood of the population worsened (51%), and this is where the relationship between the majority society and migrants is particularly affected. (Hajek and Siegl 2017, p. 11) This has resulted in one of the most important political and social tasks of the near future: the integration of the refugees in European countries. A more intensive approach to the religio-cultural reality of these people is inevitable for this to succeed. Only in this way can targeted measures be taken. Unfortunately, however, debates about the integration of refugees are heavily influenced by prejudices and emotions. This lack of objectivity is not only making it difficult to arrive at a comprehensive picture of the refugees’ ethical and religious beliefs, but it is also preventing a constructive reflection on how societal tranquility can be guaranteed. The current situation urgently requires a solid foundation for the development of effective concepts for the integration of people migrating to Europe. As can be seen in the status quo in big cities, the integratory concepts in place since the 1980s, which have hardly considered the religious and cultural reality of migrants, have not achieved their goals. An examination of the relationship between religion and migration can shed light on the importance of religion in the process of situating the migrants and, where appropriate, on ways to redefine the place of religion in a largely secular society. In answering such questions, particularly region-specific approaches and the possible influence of cities and municipalities throughout Europe are gaining importance. Although it is rarely given sufficient consideration in either scholarly or political debates, early childhood education plays a crucial role in the integration process of young immigrants in European countries, since it not only enables the children to be integrated into society, both linguistically and culturally, but it also provides their parents with the opportunity, through their children, to view the society more directly and to reflect on their own values in the encounter, or to potentially seek new orientations. The quality of young migrants’ educational achievements, which have repeatedly caused current political debates in European countries, should not be considered independently of the elementary education measures since they are very closely related. For this reason, while the value of elementary education institutions in Europe has changed in the last two decades, further efforts are needed to strengthen the



position of elementary education in the educational process. Particularly due to the goals established in Barcelona in 2002, attending elementary educational institutions in Europe is increasingly interpreted as a right for children. These institutions should help the balance of different opportunities that arise from families’ various life circumstances. Education issues are per se issues of the future because they affect the adolescent generation. At its meeting in Barcelona in 2002, the European Council set the following targets for high-quality care facilities for children between birth and compulsory school age: “Member countries should remove obstacles preventing women from participating in employment opportunities, and strive to provide for at least 90% of children between the age of three and compulsory school age by 2010, in line with the demand for childcare facilities and in line with national pension provision requirements, as well as childcare for at least 33% of children under the age of three.” (European Commission 2013, p. 4)

These Barcelona goals have created a significant momentum in elementary education in many member countries. In Austria, the Ministry of Education has placed an emphasis on elementary pedagogy, reaching a 33% care rate among children under 3 years, which is far from the 90% care rate of 3 to 5-year-olds. Not least in order to achieve the goals established in Barcelona, not only was attendance in kindergarten officially exempted from fees in Vienna in 2009, but also a compulsory kindergarten year, which has been in force since 2010/2011, was introduced throughout Austria. With these measures, the Ministry of Education sought to reach mainly the children in immigrant families, since their (above all) language deficits prior to school attendance gave them an irreparable disadvantage for their integration in school as well as in society. For this reason, this topic was of particular relevance to the conference in Zagreb in 2018, since our goal was to raise awareness of this opportunity and challenge, not only among scholars, but also among politicians and within the broader society. Within the framework of the conference in Zagreb, Migration, Integration and Early Childhood Education were discussed from a variety of perspectives. This volume grew out of the contributions to this conference, which the authors later expanded and broadened. The contributions were reviewed by internationally recognized colleagues to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude. The volume consists of three sections. In the first section, the authors concern themselves with the demands and challenges of the religious and cultural variety of Early Childhood Education.



The colleagues Johanna Quiring and Franziska Vogt, in their contribution “Shared Reading for Valuing Diversity and Fostering Language Acquisition”, write about children with immigrant backgrounds, who are less likely to achieve the required accomplishments in their school careers. Nausikaa Schirilla’s contribution “Integration, Migration and Islam as a Challenge for Early Childhood Education” examines the attitudes of primary school professionals, emphasizing the importance of considering Muslim beliefs and practices as “normal” in an effort to strengthen the ability of educators to work with children from Muslim backgrounds, since they constitute a part of the children’s daily life environment. In her contribution “The role of socialisation processes and “cultural concepts” Leonie Herwartz-Emden pays particular attention to the question of how socialization functions under intercultural/migration-related conditions, since it ultimately influences essential development and learning processes”. In his contribution “Attitudes towards Religion in Kindergartens—An Ethical Discussion” Sturla Sagberg deals with two questions that were raised in the conference invitation, firstly: How can teachers be better prepared for religious and cultural diversity? and secondly: How can religious educational planning counteract possible indoctrination? In his contribution “Interreligious Education with Young Children: A Neglected Factor of Integration” Friedrich Schweitzer discusses the religious dimensions of early childhood education which also have a great influence on children’s social attitudes in later life. Bettina Brandstetter’s contribution “Early Childhood Education and Islam” deals with the position of early childhood education in Islam. It reflects critically on the importance of early childhood education in Islam from theological and ideological perspectives and points out the current practices. The author views kindergarten as a social place, which is characterized by cultural differences, religious plurality and linguistic diversity. Her contribution focuses on how educators deal with different languages and religious pluralism in kindergartens. In their contribution “Finnish Early Childhood Education and Care: Why Worldview Sensitivity Matters” Liam Gearon and Nausikaa Schirilla make the case for the importance of worldview sensitivity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Finland, with its systems for intercultural understanding in ECEC, with particular reference to PISA/OECD’s (2018) Global Competence Framework, is used here as a case study setting. Yair Ziv addresses the challenges of the Israeli early education system in his contribution “Segregated but equal? The case of (dis)integration in the Israeli



early education system and its effect on the Arab minority population in Israel”. He focuses on whether or not equality among children is possible within this separate state system and whether or not the traditions of the minority group within this system can be respected and maintained. The second part deals with the integration process of migrants in the school system. Ina Ter Avest describes the domain of education as an important contextual domain for the development of Islamic religious identity in Muslim youngsters in a Western context. Her contribution “Islamic Education in Belgium and the Netherlands, challenging and promising” focuses on the state of the art of Islamic religious education in Belgium and the Netherlands in formal and informal education. In his contribution “Obstacles in Multicultural and Peace Education”, Zvi Bekerman shows the complex and dynamic negotiation of individual and group identities and cultures among communities involved in multicultural and peace education. According to him, the children, teachers and parents in an integrated bilingual Arab-Hebrew school are often able to go beyond the boundaries of ethnicity and religion. Ednan Aslan presents the results of a study that investigated what ­ethical-religious ideas and attitudes the Muslim refugees come to Austria with and what consequences these ideas and attitudes can have for plural-secular societies in his contribution “Religious and Ethical Orientations of Muslim Refugees”. The article shows the complex and dynamic negotiation of individual and group identities and cultures for communities involved in multicultural and peace education. Similar is the contribution “Recent Immigrations in Spain and a brief approach to unaccompanied foreign minors” by Juan Ferreiro Galguera, who, after a historical introduction that progresses from a general point of view to the contemporary immigration in Spain, deals with the current legal, political and social questions of the new migration. Spyros Spyrou, using a case study, demonstrates the challenges of integrating children with a migration background into the public education system in Cyprus in his contribution “Frameworks of otherness: The challenges of integrating immigrant children in Greek Cypriot public schools”. Although the contexts examined at are not early childhood education, the studies’ results clearly substantiate the efforts exerted in the context of early childhood education that can deal effectively and sensitively with the diversity of immigrant students. Mualla Yildiz’s contribution “The Problems of Syrian Students Concerning the Adaptation Process to Schools in Turkey: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis” aims



to evaluate and discuss possible solutions to problems faced by Syrian children during the education process. Qualitative research on the school experiences of Syrian students educated in pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools and high schools are included in this study. In addition to the authors, many colleagues made major contributions to this book’s success. I would hereby like to thank the colleagues who have tirelessly contributed to the conference in Zagreb. First of all, I would like to thank my colleague Dinka Marinović Jerolimov whose commitment and efforts made the conference in Zagreb possible. She and her team tirelessly and efficiently carried out all the work in Zagreb. They deserve our respect and recognition. I would also like to thank my colleague Ms. Sonntag who took on the work for the success of the conference and the book, managing the organizational duties with great skill. My hope is that, from this book, we will be able to send impulses that will be experienced and heeded by politics and academics, and that the status of measures regarding elementary education in the integration process of migrants will be sufficiently appreciated and promoted. Vienna January 2020

Ednan Aslan

References European Commission. (2013). Barcelona objectives, The development of childcare facilities for young children in Europe with a view to sustainable and inclusive growth. https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/130531_barcelona_en_0.pdf. Accessed 21 May 2019. Hajek, P., & Siegl, A. (2017). Integrationsbarometer 2017. Wien: Österreichischer Integrationsfonds. http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Asylwesen/statistik/files/2016/Asylstatistik_Dezember_2016.pdf. Accessed 28 August 2017. Haneke, A., & Bubrowski, H. (2015). Sind Grenzkontrollen eigentlich erlaubt? September 14, 2015. http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/fluechtlingskrise/wie-die-aussetzung-des-schengenabkommens-funktioniert-13803053.html. Accessed 20 May 2017.


Religious-cultural diversity and Early Child Education Shared Reading for Valuing Diversity and Fostering Language Acquisition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Johanna Quiring and Franziska Vogt Integration Migration and Islam as a Challenge for Early Childhood Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Nausikaa Schirilla The Role of Socialization Processes and “Cultural Concepts” in Cooperation with Parents of Migrant Backgrounds in Institutions of Early Childhood Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Leonie Herwartz-Emden Attitudes Towards Religion in Kindergartens—an Ethical Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Sturla Sagberg Interreligious Education with Young Children: A Neglected Factor of Integration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Friedrich Schweitzer Early Childhood Education and Islam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Ednan Aslan Identity Negotiations in Early Childhood—the Kindergarten as a Central Place for Cultural and Religious Encounters. . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Bettina Brandstetter




Finnish Early Childhood Education and Care: Why Worldview Sensitivity Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Liam Gearon and Arniika Kuusisto Segregated but Equal? the Case of (Dis)integration in the Israeli Early Education System and its Effect on the Arab Minority Population in Israel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Yair Ziv Integration and Migration Islamic Education in Belgium and the Netherlands, Challenging and Promising. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Ina Ter Avest Obstacles in Multicultural and Peace Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175 Zvi Bekerman Religious and Ethical Orientations of Muslim Refugees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193 Ednan Aslan Recent Immigrations in Spain and a Brief Approach to Unaccompanied Foreign Minors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 Juan Ramón Ferreiro Galguera Frameworks of Otherness: The Challenges of Integrating Immigrant Children in Greek Cypriot Public Schools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225 Spyros Spyrou The Problems of Syrian Students Concerning the Adaptation Process to Schools in Turkey: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis. . . . . . . . . . . 239 Mualla Yildiz

Editor and Contributors

About the Editor Ednan Aslan  is Professor of Religious Education at the University of Vienna. Austria.

Contributors Zvi Bekerman,  PhD, teaches Anthropology of Education in the School of Education at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Israel. Bettina Brandstetter  is University Assistant Post-Doc at the Institute for Practical Theology of the Theological Faculty at the University of Vienna. Austria. Juan Ramón Ferreiro Galguera is Professor of Law at the University of A Coruña. Spain. Liam Gearon  is Associate Professor for Religious Education at the Department of Education, Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford. England. Leonie Herwartz-Emden  is Professor Emeritus of Pedagogy at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Social Sciences at the University of Augsburg. Germany. Arniika Kuusisto  is Professor of Child and Youth Studies, with a focus on Early Childhood Education and Care, in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Stockholm University. Sweden.



Editor and Contributors

Johanna Quiring, MA, is a Research Assistant at St. Gallen University of Teacher Education. Switzerland. Sturla Sagberg  is Professor Emeritus in Religion, Ethics and Life Philosophy at Queen Maud University College in Trondheim. Norway. Nausikaa Schirilla is Professor of Social Work, Migration and Intercultural Competence at the Catholic University of Freiburg. Germany. Friedrich Schweitzer is Professor of Religious Education and Practical Theology at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at the University of Tübingen. Germany. Spyros Spyrou  is Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at European University. Cyprus. Ina Ter Avest  is Professor of Education and Philosophy of Life at the University of Applied Sciences in Holland and Senior Lecturer for the Pedagogics of Religion at VU University in Amsterdam. The Netherlands. Franziska Vogt  is Professor and Head of the Institute for Research into Teaching and Learning at St. Gallen University of Teacher Education. Switzerland. Mualla Yildiz,  PhD, teaches on the Psychology of Religion at the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Ankara. Turkey. Yair Ziv, PhD, is Researcher at the Department of Counselling and Human Development of the University of Haifa. Israel.

Religious-cultural diversity and Early Child Education

Shared Reading for Valuing Diversity and Fostering Language Acquisition Johanna Quiring and Franziska Vogt


It is not unknown that children with a migration background often have fewer chances for a successful school career. Traditionally, a lack of skills in the common language is considered the cause of this inequality. Current discussions however offer multidimensional approaches and emphasise the fact that there are many more factors that account for this development. Nonetheless, good knowledge of the common language does support school success and thus remains an important factor. From an early childhood education perspective, the approach of incorporating language acquisition into it in everyday activities seems to be auspicious. Specific strategies to foster language skill acquisition in children that can be incorporated into everyday activities have been discerned. Among other methods, dialogic book reading is widely accepted as an evidence-based method to support children in enhancing their language skills. As important as the development of a conductive environment for the acquisition of language skills in institutions is the inclusion of the children’s parents into this discussion. One possibility is to encourage parents to invest in the children’s first language.

J. Quiring (*)  Winterthur, Switzerland e-mail: [email protected] F. Vogt  St. Gallen, Switzerland e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_1



J. Quiring and F. Vogt


Shared reading · Picture books · Early childhood education · Integration · Sequence analysis · Video analysis

1 Introduction According to the Swiss Education Report 2018 (Wolter et al. 2018) and the UNICEF Report 2018 (UNICEF 2018), children with first languages other than the local language are subject to an educational disadvantage: the achievement gap in cantonal performance tests compared with other children increases throughout their primary education. At the age of 15, nearly 30% of ­second-generation immigrants do not reach a basic level of reading proficiency in the local language—compared to approximately 15% of the children without an immigration background. In Germany, children with migration background are still underrepresented at grammar schools (Gymnasium) that prepare for university and consequently, they are overrepresented at the schools with lowest academic demands, which prepare for vocational studies (Hauptschulen) (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung 2018). Traditionally, these pupils’ deficits in German language skills are considered to be the cause of such inequality. Sufficient language proficiency is viewed as a prerequisite for education (Allemann-Ghionda 2006). However, there are other contributing factors too: for example, the structure of the educational system dividing pupils into different levels at an early age (Gomolla 2013), inadequate instructional quality and a lack of culture-sensitive diagnostics and assessments to just name a few (Allemann-Ghionda 2006). Nevertheless, German language proficiency does indeed support a successful school career (Dollmann and Kristen 2010). This will probably be the case as long as German remains the predominant language of schooling. It seems that in order to participate in society it is inevitable to acquire certain skills in the local language. Mecheril (2005) warns that the sole focus on language proficiency in the dominant language leads to a pedagogy of assimilation, and instead calls for a pedagogy acknowledging identities with multiple affiliations. Such a pedagogy would strive to recognise and value diversity as well as to encourage a sense of belonging to different cultures. This chapter aims at exploring ways to foster the acquisition of local language skills in a way that does not ask for assimilation but values diversity. For this purpose, the first section of this chapter describes acculturation outcomes and their interrelations with personal well-being, mental health and social

Shared Reading for Valuing Diversity and Fostering …


competences. Furthermore, the contribution of early childhood institutions as well as parents supporting the children in order to facilitate a positive acculturation outcome is discussed. The second section addresses ways of establishing a culture of recognition in early childhood institutions, which values children’s individual characteristics such as their first languages. As a possible practical implementation, the third section introduces shared reading as a setting, which is already widely acknowledged for its positive effects on language acquisition. Shared reading is dialogic at its core and may therefore be a suitable setting to create a space to converse about sensitive topics like personal identities and backgrounds. Having laid out the theoretical and empirical contributions on valuing diversity and the potential of shared reading, the research question is examined based on a videotaped sequence. Sequence analysis was used to explore speech and multimodal aspects (Deppermann 2008; Mondada 2014). The explorative analysis of the video allows the identification of strategies and opportunities, which the educator may use in shared picture-book reading in order to value diversity. In the selected sequence, a multilingual picture book serves as a starting point to talk about languages in an institutional setting. Finally, hypotheses for further research as well as practical implications are discerned.

2 Fostering Language Acquisition and an Adaptation Profile of Integration Rather Than Assimilation In this chapter, the acculturation process of young people with a migration background will be discussed in order to allocate the respective contributions of early childhood institutions and parents, aiming towards a healthy acculturation outcome for the children. Berry discerns four adaptation profiles for people living in a different culture than the one they originate from: assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization. Assimilation is described as a tendency towards “relinquishing one’s cultural identity and moving into the larger society” (Berry 1994, p. 240). In contrast, immigrants with an integration profile cultivate their heritage culture, while being in close contact with the dominant society at the same time. Immigrants with a separation profile are “primarily oriented towards their own ethnic group with limited involvement with the national society” (Berry et al. 2006, p. 232). Marginalization entails stress, loss of identity and rejection of the larger national society (Berry 1994).


J. Quiring and F. Vogt

Integration seems to be the least stressful adaptation strategy and is obtained through maintaining social relations within the heritage culture and cultivating traditions (separation) while also participating “in the national institutions” (assimilation) (Berry 1997, p. 28). In an international study including thirteen countries (e.g. Germany, France, USA, Australia and Israel) with 4,334 immigrant youth between the ages of 13 and 18, Berry et al. (2006) found that young people with an integration profile (36% of the sample) scored highest in scales of personal well-being, mental health and “social competence in managing their daily life in the intercultural setting” (Berry et al. 2006, p. 306). Young people with an ethnic profile (tendency towards separation) scored second best on positive outcomes. They included 23% of the sample, whilst the national profile (tendency towards assimilation) included 19%. 22% displayed the diffuse profile with a tendency towards marginalisation. These findings imply that individuals should not be pushed towards assimilation by “denying ethnic cultural and language rights” (Berry et al. 2006, p. 328). On the contrary, “youth should be encouraged to retain both a sense of their own heritage cultural identity, while establishing close ties with the larger national society” (Berry et al. 2006, p. 306). For early childhood education, these findings imply that the well-being of children can be sustainably fostered by enabling children to find their place in their heritage culture as well as the larger national society. According to Berry (1997, p. 28) also societies as a whole can contribute to the integration of immigrants by valuing “the benefits of pluralism” and taking a stance against discrimination and prejudice, while also supporting an integrational rather than an assimilatory adaptation approach. This could be achieved through “public education about the value of diversity” (Berry et al. 2006, p. 328). It is therefore not enough to focus on the immigrants and their adaptation processes: “A mutual accommodation is required for integration to be attained, involving the acceptance by both groups of the right of all groups to live as culturally different peoples” (Berry 1997, p. 10). According to Diehm, respect and recognition cannot be taught explicitly. Those values need to be lived and experienced rather than discussed in order to be passed on (Diehm 2010). For institutions of early childhood education to develop a culture of respect and recognition would include recognising and valuing the different languages that children speak (Edelmann 2018, p. 127). In their study, Berry et al. (2006) found that young people with an integration profile viewed themselves as highly proficient in the local language and averagely proficient in their ethnic language. This implies that it is wise to foster proficiency in the local language while being aware that the ethnic language should not be

Shared Reading for Valuing Diversity and Fostering …


neglected. A Swiss research project showed, that the use of German at home in addition to the child’s first language does not necessarily mean better German language skills in the long run (Troesch et al. 2017). Children’s parents with migration background can thus be encouraged to speak their own language with their children. However, the attendance of an institution for early childhood education is a strong predictor (Grob et al. 2014). Parents can help their children to move towards an integration profile and to obtain good German language skills— which supports educational success—by maintaining their heritage culture and language at home and sending their children to an institution of early childhood education at an early age, where they learn the local language embedded in everyday interactions with professionals and peers. However, not only attendance of such an institutional setting is of importance but also the quality of the institution (Grob et al. 2014). Pianta et al. (2009, p. 50) emphasise interaction quality in early education and care: “for children enrolled in preschool, features of their experience in those settings are important—particularly, the ways in which adults interact with them to deliver developmentally stimulating opportunities”. Research examining the quality of interaction yield unsatisfactory results for Germany (Fried 2010; Stuck et al. 2016) and Switzerland (Perren et al. 2016). Encouragingly, intervention studies in German-speaking regions (Jungmann et al. 2013; Kucharz et al. 2014; Vogt et al. 2015) indicate, that professionals’ competencies to provide cognitively stimulating instructional support for language learning can be increased through specific training. Girolametto et al. (2003) showed in a Canadian setting that professionals’ gains of competencies lead to positive effects at child-level. To sum up, on one hand, children need a decent language proficiency in the local language to be successful at school. On the other hand, they should remain involved with their ethnic culture to be able to adopt an acculturation profile of integration. Adolescents with this profile reported a high proficiency of the local language, an average proficiency of the ethnic language and a balanced use of both languages (Berry et al. 2006). The findings provide succours to the demand that knowledge of the ethnic language should be maintained. Parents need to be encouraged to offer their children a linguistically stimulating environment to develop and maintain proficiency in their ethnic language. Also, first languages should be recognised and valued in institutional settings of early childhood education (Edelmann 2018). In addition, early childhood education plays a crucial role in providing children with migration background with a learning context to get in touch with the larger society and learn the local language. It seems


J. Quiring and F. Vogt

h­ owever, that interaction quality needs to be improved in such institutions in order to enhance the language acquisition and ensure the valuing of diversity. This can be obtained through professionalisation of educators. The next section addresses the question how institutions can establish a culture of recognition in which children’s individual characteristics such as affiliations with an ethnic group and different first languages are valued.

3 Culture of Recognition According to Honneth (1996), recognition plays an important role in the development of a person’s self-concept. Individuals need all forms of recognition (love, legal recognition and solidarity) to become self-confident and to develop both self-respect and self-esteem. The only way in which individuals are constituted as people is by learning to refer to themselves, from the perspective of an approving or encouraging other, as beings with certain positive traits and abilities. The scope of such traits—and hence the extent of one’s positive relation-to-self—increases with each new form of recognition that individuals are able to apply to themselves as subjects. In this way, the prospect of basic self-confidence is inherent in the experience of love; the prospect of self-respect, in the experience of legal recognition; and finally the prospect of self-esteem, in the experience of solidarity (Honneth 1996, p. 538 f.). As Mead (2013 [1934]) points out, the personality of an individual forms itself by belonging to a community; language is an important medium in this process. Children learn at home and in early childhood institutions what is common within these respective communities. They learn the meaning of gestures and words and develop their own image of themselves from the reactions of others (Mead 2013 [1934]). Unfortunately, children with a minority language as their first language often experience that their first language does not receive the same recognition as other languages that are associated with higher degrees of prestige ­(Herwartz-Emden et  al. 2010). Generally, children with a migration background face additional challenges in the development of their personality, as they have to go through the process of acculturation in addition to common developmental tasks. According to Herwartz-Emden et al. (2010), the successful outcome of this process depends on whether the children receive appropriate support and recognition as well as experience success. Recognition can therefore be seen as a basic moral principle (Balzer and Ricken 2010). It is within the remit of pedagogy to develop (teaching) concepts that enable each individual to experience social recognition (Schäfer and Thompson 2010).

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The concept of recognition, however, is not without its paradoxes. To recognise someone positions the person as being capable of acting, but the recognition itself simultaneously underlines the assumed inferior status of the one being recognised (Mecheril 2005). The dominant culture determines which identities are preferred and which ones are not. When granting recognition, there is the danger of “othering”, as it is made visible, which characteristics are subject to recognition and which ones do not need to be recognised, as they are perceived as “normal”. Recognition therefore reproduces power imbalances between the ones granting recognition and the ones being recognised. Of course, the power imbalance between professionals and children is constitutive for the pedagogic setting and can never be levelled out entirely (Bettmer 2008, p. 217). Consequently, it is even more important for educators to critically reflect their own actions (Mecheril 2005). Diehm (2000) highlights another problem of the processes of granting recognition for ethnic differences in early childhood education: categories that work for politics do not per se work for young children. Young children do not perceive ethnic differences the same way as adults do. When adults apply those categories to children, there is a danger of reproducing a certain image that goes along with the identified difference. These political categories are unlikely to be differentiated enough to reflect the individual situation of each child. As a consequence, “doing difference” equals “doing inequality” (Mecheril and Plösser 2009, p. 201). Even if these categories are reflected in order to teach tolerance, stereotypes are passed on at the same time. In other words, recognition and misjudgement lie close together (Schäfer and Thompson 2010, p. 29). As was pointed out, recognition is a vital concept for the development of children’s personality. Children’s diverse identities need to be valued. Paradoxically, to treat all children the same would lead to inequality (Diehm 2000; Mecheril and Plösser 2009). At the same time recognition is in danger of reproducing power imbalance and stereotypical categories. Mecheril (2005) and Diehm (2000) do not resolve those paradoxes, but demand that professionals are aware of them and reflect their actions. Schäfer and Thompson (2010) suggest, that educators should analyse the mechanisms of ascriptions critically and recognise the “other” as a source that helps to learn about how s/he is different from oneself. Berry (1997) describes the most favoured adaptation style “integration” as a strategy in which aspects of assimilation and separation are merged. Children who are still in the process of acculturation and of personality development may not need recognition for the same characteristics. What one child would like to be recognised for may therefore change over time or from situation to situation. For example, a child might sometimes need recognition for local language skills and at other times for his or her multilingualism or ethnic language skills.


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To sum up according to Mead (2013 [1934]) and Honneth (1996), belonging to a community and to experience recognition are vital for the development of children’s personality and positive self-concept. As recognition and misjudgement lie close together it is suggested that the individuals in the position of receiving recognition have a say in determining what they want to be recognised for and that educators need to keep in mind that these aspects may change over time and depending on the situation. In the following section, research results on the effects of shared reading on language acquisition are summarised and the potential of shared reading for opening a space to talk about different languages, cultures and identities is ­discussed.

4 Shared Reading Shared reading is characterised by the active involvement of all participants in communicative interactions that evolve around a picture book. The participants are an adult person and one or more children (Ezell and Justice 2005). In 1988, Whitehurst et al. presented results of an experimental study showing that this form of picture-book reading actively involving children in the process of storytelling, can lead to a significant increase in the expressive and receptive vocabulary of two-year-olds. Whitehurst et al. (1988) called the approach ‘dialogic reading,’ it is however more widely known as ‘shared reading’; with both terms having the same meaning. Shared reading has since been described as an effective form of language promotion, both when parents practice shared reading with their children (Whitehurst et al. 1988) as well as when the method is employed by educators (Lonigan and Whitehurst 1998; Whitehurst et al. 1994). Positive effects were also obtained with children with a low socio-economic status (Lonigan and Whitehurst 1998; Valdez-Menchaca and Whitehurst 1992; Whitehurst et al. 1994), with second language learners (Ennemoser et al. 2013; Hartung 2015; Roberts 2008) and with children at risk of developing language impairments (Ennemoser et al. 2015; Hargrave and Sénéchal 2000; Hartung 2015). The principle of shared picture-book reading was applied worldwide with good results, for example in Turkey (Simsek and Erdogan 2015), Chile (Valdez-Menchaca and Whitehurst 1992), Australia (Fitzgerald et al. 2016), Canada (Hargrave and Sénéchal 2000), Israel (Aram 2006) and Germany (Ennemoser et al. 2013). During the dialogic interactions of shared reading, the adult person uses specific strategies to foster the child’s language acquisition: language modelling (corrective feedback, expansions), asking specific questions (differentiating between

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closed, alternative and open questions) as well as extending vocabulary (Löffler and Vogt 2015). Shared reading is especially suitable to promote vocabulary because of the wide range of words depicted in the books that can be reproduced by the child itself during conversations (Wasik et al. 2016). A meta-analysis (Flack et al. 2018) confirmed a shared reading style as moderator for learning new words. In addition, other skills benefit from shared reading, for example phonological awareness (Aram 2006; Lonigan et al. 1999), language comprehension (Ennemoser et al. 2015; Hartung 2015) and letter knowledge (Aram 2006; Mol et al. 2009). In institutions of early childhood education, the small group setting is often chosen over a one-to-one setting for reasons of capacity (Egert and Hopf 2018). The findings regarding the effectiveness of the small group setting are inconsistent and incomplete (Mol et al. 2009; Morrow and Smith 1990) and need further investigation. In any case, the simultaneous coordination of the participation of several children with heterogeneous language proficiencies and interests poses a challenge, but children also learn from their peers (Knapp et al. 2010; Wong Fillmore 1979). Thus the diversity of cultural and language backgrounds in one group supports discussing language(s) (Knapp et al. 2010). As was described above, shared reading can be a powerful tool to support the acquisition of the local language. As shared reading requires teachers and children to engage in conversation, this setting provides a space to talk about different languages and cultural identities. Children might use this space to show aspects of their identity if the teacher restrains from making homogenising or pluralising comments (Brandstetter 2019). This leads to the question of how educators should address and recognise cultural backgrounds and language diversity exactly, minimising the danger of misjudgements and of reproducing stereotypes. In the following section, a sequence of a shared reading session in a Swiss kindergarten will be analysed and suggestions for practical implementations of the ideas described above will be made.

5 Sequence Analysis of a Shared-Reading Situation Videos constitute a way of recording and preserving interactional events in image and sound (Tuma et al. 2013). For pedagogical questions, there are several approaches to the analysis of videos. A qualitative approach was adopted here. Dinkelaker and Herrle (2009) suggest qualitative video analysis as a form of analysis that keeps in close contact with the original video. The goal is to depict a variety of interaction processes and patterns, while maintaining their complexity.


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Through the lens of relevant theories, the interaction processes and patterns are analysed in order to discover the interrelations between the observable events and to extend or generate new theoretical concepts. Sequence analysis was chosen as a methodological framework for the analysis as described by Deppermann (2008), focusing not only on speech but also on multimodal aspects (Mondada 2014). The transcription was conducted by the authors (using the programme Exmaralda) following cGAT-conventions (Schmidt et al. 2015). The analysis of “timing” was focused on (Deppermann 2008): when does the speaker change occur? Do speakers select themselves as next speakers or does the current speaker select the next speaker (Sacks et al. 1974)? How are verbal and nonverbal aspects of the conversation coordinated? Then the context was taken into account and alternative courses of action were discerned. Furthermore, aspects of language fostering as described by Vogt et al. (2015) were taken into account. The analysis was discussed in the research team for validation. The sequence described in this chapter was selected because the conversation touches on questions of language and identity: a kindergarten teacher and three children (one of them with an Arabic-speaking-background) talk about Arabic letters in a bi-lingual picture book and about their personal relation to that language. The analysis of the sequence aims at depicting the conversational interactions and exploring how diversity is being valued. The sequence was video recorded by the authors within the framework of a comprehensive research project called SpriKiDS1 sponsored by interreg (Löffler et al. 2017) dealing with language promotion integrated into everyday life in German-speaking regions around Lake Constance (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). For this project, kindergarten teachers were filmed on two mornings, the camera followed the teacher. Kindergarten teachers were asked to read from a picture book provided by the researchers to a small group of children at some point during the morning. The sequence was videotaped in a Swiss kindergarten where Swiss-German is the predominant language. At the beginning of the lesson, the kindergarten teacher assigned a certain task (crafts and games) to each child by putting their nametag


partners are the University of Education Weingarten (Germany), the St.Gallen University of Teacher Education (Switzerland), the Swiss University of Speech Therapy Rorschach (Switzerland), the University of Education Graubünden (Switzerland) and the University of Education Vorarlberg (Austria). The project team includes: Cordula Löffler (Lead), Franziska Vogt, Andrea Haid, Alexandra Zaugg, Eva Frick, Mirja Bohnert-Kraus, Oscar Eckhardt, Johanna Quiring, Laura von Albedyhll, Alexandra Waibel, Martina Zumtobel.

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next to it. Three children, Ali (m), Noah (m) and Mia (f) found their nametags next to a book. Noah let the teacher know, that he had the same book at home. While the teacher assisted the other children to get started with their tasks, Ali, Noah and Mia sat down around the book. Mia and Noah sat in small chairs, Ali sat on the ground. When the teacher joined the group, she sat on the floor as well, facing Ali. Mia and Noah sat to her left on the chairs. The teacher picked up the book called Mr. Rabbit and Mrs. Bear (Kempter and Weldin 2008) and asked Ali and Mia whether they also knew the book which they then denied. After a short introduction of the protagonists shown on the book’s cover, Mia and Ali helped to turn the first pages. The following dialogue occurred right after turning to the first page and had a duration of 65 s (not including an interruption of 20 s after second 35 that is not taken into account in the transcript and the analysis). Noah and Mia grew up speaking Swiss-German. Ali grew up speaking Arabic. In this sequence he spoke a mixture of Swiss dialect and Standard-German. All three children were six years old and about to enter first grade. In this version of the book, the text is written in German as well as in Arabic. The original ­score-transcript is reproduced as follows in a concise version for improved legibility: 1 Fachperson (FP): Gseht diis Buech au gnau so us Noah? (Noah nickt) Hä, isch nüt andersch? (Noah schüttelt den Kopf) Teacher (T):  Does your book look exactly the same, Noah? (Noah nods) Is there any difference? (Noah shakes his head) 2  Noah: Nur das häts nöd (zeigt im Buch auf die arabischen Schriftzeichen) Noah:  Only this isn’t there. (points at the Arabic letters in the book) 3 FP: Das da häts nöd. (zeigt auf die arabischen Schriftzeichen im Buch) Was chönnt ächt das sii? T:  This here isn’t there. (points at the Arabic letters in the book) What could it be? (looks at Mia) 4 Mia: (zuckt mit den Schultern) Uf e anderi Sprach. Mia: (shrugs) In a different language. 5 FP: Uf e anderi Sprach ja genau. (nickt) Chönd ihr das läse? (FP schaut zu Mia und Noah, welche den Kopf schütteln, FP schüttelt ebenfalls den Kopf) Ich ä nid. T:  In a different language, yes, exactly. (nods) Can you read it? (the teacher looks at Mia and Noah who shake their heads, the teacher shakes her head as well) Me neither.


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6 Ali: (überlappend) Aber mein … Aber mein Bapi scho. (Augenkontakt mit FP) Ali: (overlapping) But my … But my Daddy can. (eye contact with T) 7 FP: Gäll din Bapi scho und dis Mami ä? (Ali senkt den Blick) T:  Your daddy can and your mummy too? (Ali lowers his gaze) 8 Ali: (nach einer Pause von 0.59 s) Nein. Ali: (after a pause of 0.59 s) No. 9  FP: Ned? FP:  No? 10 Ali: (überlappend) Doch doch doch (fährt mit dem Finger auf dem Teppich herum, der Blick ist gesenkt) Ali: (overlapping) Yes, yes she can. (moves with his fingers along the carpet, his gaze is still lowered) 11 FP: Doch doch doch. Weisch dänn du was für e Sprach das isch? T:  Yes, yes she can. Do you know what language it is? 12 Ali: Hmmm. (kurzer Blickkontakt mit FP) Ali:  Hmmm. (short eye-contact with T) 13  Mia: Kroatisch? Mia:  Croatian? 14  A girl approaches the teacher and asks for help. The teacher helps her. After 20 sec the girl goes away and the teacher resumes the dialogic book reading. 15 FP: Was chönnts ächt für e Sprach sii? (schaut ins Buch und zeigt auf die arabischen Schriftzeichen im Buch) T:  What language could it be? (looks at the book and points at the Arabic letters in the book) 16  Mia: Kroatisch? Mia:  Croatian? 17  FP: Kroatisch. T:  Croatian. 18 Ali: Oder Arabisch. (Blickkontakt mit der FP) Ali:  Or Arabic. (eye-contact with the teacher) 19 FP: Ich gläbs ä, ich gläb s isch Arabisch. (FP nickt, Ali beginnt die Däumchen zu drehen) T:  I do think so too. I think it’s Arabic. (T nods, Ali starts to twiddle his thumbs)

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In this sequence, the joint focus of the teacher and the children was on the Arabic writing in the book. The teacher opened up a discussion by asking the open question “What could it be?” The teacher looked at Mia who then suggested that it might be a different language. The teacher answered in the affirmative and asked the rather rhetorical question if the children could read it. Most children are not yet able to read in kindergarten. With this question the teacher managed to create a personal link to the introduced topic. Ali selected himself as next speaker by saying that his father was able to read it. This passage can serve as an example how well-chosen questions posed by the teacher can lead to dialogues that evolve over multiple turns and include all participants. Further possible strategies to foster language skills (Vogt et al. 2015) like introducing, illustrating and repeatedly using new words or to model the children’s utterances (e.g. to give corrective feedback or the expand on what the child said) cannot be observed in this sequence. At the beginning of the sequence, the teacher and the children followed the typical pattern found in pedagogic settings described by Mehan (1979): The teacher asks a question, a child suggests an answers, which is then evaluated by the teacher. The teacher selects the child/children that is/are expected to give an answer by calling a name or looking at the child/children. Ali who is not addressed directly speaks up after the teacher has admitted that she cannot read the Arabic letters in the book (line 5). The teacher had asked the research team for the book with Arabic letters because of Ali’s Arabic background. If he would not speak up, would the teacher keep on pressing on this matter or just go on talking about different languages in general or start to read the German text? If she would insist on Ali to mention his Arabic language background this could be viewed as an external categorisation, similar to what Diehm (2000) observed in a German kindergarten where the teacher addressed children as not having originated from the city they lived in. If the teacher would just carry on discussing languages in general or reading the book, the Arabic letters would serve as an opportunity for Ali to let the others know more about his Arabic background, but it would remain his choice whether he would like to do so or not and this choice would be respected by the teacher. Here, Ali speaks up (overlapping the teacher’s statement) and mentions that his father can read this (line 6). The teacher immediately reacted to this statement by affirming what Ali had said, adding the closed question about Ali’s mother. Was she able to read it too (line 7)? Ali answered with “no”. The teacher then reframed this “no” into a question and Ali took it back indicating that she could (line 10). After the teacher’s question about Ali’s mother, there was a pause of half a second. Ali broke eye


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contact with the teacher and lowered his gaze. Overlapping the teacher’s evaluation (“no?”) he said “yes yes she can” hastily. In her reaction to Ali’s statement, the teacher did not remain in the realm of what had been said. Instead, she asked him about his mother. It is not clear what caused him to deny the teacher’s question and then to take his word back again. It is obvious though, that the teacher did go beyond the information Ali shared and seemed to push him into a defensive position, being asked a series of closed questions (lines 7 and 11). A different reaction by the teacher would probably have led to a different continuation. For example, after recognising the fact that Ali’s father was able to read the letters in the book (that even the teacher cannot read), she could have encouraged Ali to continue talking. She could have said “Wow, your daddy can read this? Would you like to tell us more about it?” With this strategy, Ali could have taken over the lead in the conversation and decided, what he would like to talk about with the group or he could signal the teacher that this was all he was ready to share. The conversation is interrupted by another child asking the teacher for help with a toy. As soon as that child has gone, the teacher asked again what language it could be (line 15). This time, the question is not only directed at Ali. The auxiliary verb “could” is rather more reminiscent of a guessing game than of the interrogatory question before “Do you know …?” (line 11). The teacher looked at the book rather than at a specific child or a group of children. Mia repeated her guess, lifting her voice at the last syllable of “Croatian” to make it sound like a question. Ali added “or Arabic”, letting his voice become deeper at the end of the word, making it sound more like a fact than a question. The “or” framed his answer as another possibility next to Mia’s suggestion. Although he could be considered as an expert in this matter (he already recognised earlier that his father would be able to read the letters), he seemed not too keen to be viewed as such as he did not claim to know it for sure. It is possible that he rather wanted to fit in joining the “guessing game”. Interestingly, Ali did not answer the teacher’s question about what the language is called when she directly addressed him (line 11), but when the teacher asked the group after the interruption again (line 15) he spoke up and mentioned the name of the language he grew up with. This may be an indication that he felt less pressure to answer a question when he is not addressed directly, but when the teacher addressed the whole group and he could take his time to answer as and when he feels ready to do so. The following section will discuss these findings regarding pedagogical implications about how to handle conversations with young children, especially when addressing a topic of personal identity.

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6 Implications for Pedagogy The observations made in the particular situation underline the importance for the teacher to choose specific questions to provide cognitive activation and engage the children in sustained dialogues. By responding appreciatively to the children’s contributions, the teacher maintained an extended dialogue with all children. A sustained dialogue is fundamental in providing children with opportunities to advance their language proficiency (Girolametto et al. 2000; Vogt et al. 2015). The analysis also leads to a few suggestions how teachers can create and handle situations in such a way that children can talk about identities, languages and cultural differences in a self-directed way. These implications serve as hypotheses for further studies. First, when the teacher chooses a book that includes the opportunity to talk about a certain topic, it should remain the children’s choice if they wanted to talk about their personal link to this topic. This can be realised by asking general questions addressing the whole group. If the children do not jump to the opportunity to talk about their specific knowledge or experience, the teacher may keep the discussion at a general level or proceed to a different topic. When not dealing with topics that are linked to the children’s personal identities the teacher can also address children directly who would otherwise remain silent in order to provide opportunities for language acquisition and participation. The teacher might, for example, ask how the story might go on or how a protagonist feels etc. Second, the teacher should listen carefully to what a child shares about his or her identity or background as this information can serve as a foundation to know what the child would like to be recognised for at this moment in time. Also, the teacher’s comments of recognition should remain in the realm of what the child was ready to share and not push the topic any further with closed or directive questions, especially if the child signals that s/he is not ready to be addressed as an expert on this matter (for example his/her first language). This way the teacher has the chance to incidentally recognise and value shared differences, keeping the danger of misjudgement at bay and giving an example for a culture of recognition (Diehm 2010). The suggestions made here are based on the analysis of a single case and should not be generalised. Analyses of more cases are needed to create a collection of comparable phenomena to finally extract generic patterns that lead to reliable results (Deppermann 2017). The analysis of this one sequence leads to a hypothesis that provides a starting point for further analysis. It also displays the complexity of the pedagogical setting and the high demands on the professional competence of early childhood educators.


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7 Conclusion As was shown, Berry’s (1994, 1997; Berry et al. 2006) findings support Mecheril’s (2005) idea for a pedagogical approach that takes identities with multiple affiliations into account. An acculturation profile of integration includes aspects of both, the ethnic and the local culture, and leads to the best adaptation outcomes with regard to personal well-being, mental health and social competences. To support the development of personality, belonging to a community and experiencing recognition are vital (Honneth 1996; Mead 2013 [1934]). However, “recognising” can also lead to the reproduction of stereotypical categories and power imbalances (Diehm 2000; Mecheril 2005). Recognition and misjudgement lie close together (Schäfer and Thompson 2010). By means of analysing a conversation between a kindergarten teacher and three children during a shared-reading session, several hypotheses were developed as starting points to reflect on ways to practically handle this paradox. It is proposed that the potential of shared reading for fostering language skills (Flack et al. 2018; Mol et al. 2009) but also for conversing about languages and cultural backgrounds (and other diversities like gender, religion etc.) can be harvested. If the teacher respects the children’s boundaries concerning what they are ready to share about themselves and if they recognise the personal characteristics they mention, children will have the opportunity to create a link between their cultural background and the surrounding culture, while experiencing diversity being valued and recognised. This could be a possible approach to foster the acquisition of local language skills in a way that does not ask for assimilation, but values diversity.

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Mead, G. H. (2013). Mind, self & society. Berlin: heptagon. (1934). Mecheril, P. (2005). Pädagogik der Anerkennung. Eine programmatische Kritik. In F. Hamburger, T. Badawia, & M. Hummrich (Eds.), Migration und Bildung. Über das Verhältnis von Anerkennung und Zumutung in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft (pp. 311–328). Wiesbaden: Springer. Mecheril, P., & Plösser, M. (2009). Differenz. In S. Andresen, R. Casale, T. Gabriel, R. Horlacher, S. Larcher Klee, & J. Oelkers (Eds.), Handwörterbuch Erziehungswissenschaft (pp. 194–208). Weinheim: Beltz. Mehan, H. (1979). Learning lessons. Social organization in the classroom. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Mol, S. E., Bus, A. G., & de Jong, M. T. (2009). Interactive book reading in early education: A tool to stimulate print knowledge as well as oral language. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 979–1007. Mondada, L. (2014). The local constitution of multimodal resources for social interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 65, 137–156. Morrow, L. M., & Smith, J. K. (1990). The effects of group size on interactive storybook reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 25(1), 213–231. Perren, S., Frei, D., & Herrmann, S. (2016). Pädagogische Qualität in früh kindlichen Bildungs- und Betreuungseinrichtungen in der Schweiz. Erste Erfahrungen und ­ Befunde mit dem CLASS Toddler Beobachtungsverfahren. Frühe Bildung, 5(1), 3–12. Pianta, R. C., Barnett, W. S., Burchinal, M., & Thornburg, K. R. (2009). The effects of preschool education: What we know, how public policy is or is not aligned with the evidence base, and what we need to know. Psychological science in the public interest, 10(2), 49–88. Roberts, T. A. (2008). Home storybook reading in primary or second language with preschool children: Evidence of equal effectiveness for second-language vocabulary acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly, 43(2), 103–130. Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50(4), 696–735. Schäfer, A., & Thompson, C. (2010). Anerkennung. Paderborn: Schöningh. Schmidt, T., Schütte, W., & Winterscheid, J. (2015). cGAT – Konventionen für das computergestützte Transkribieren in Anlehnung an das Gesprächsanalytische Transkriptionssystem 2 (GAT2). https://ids-pub.bsz-bw.de/frontdoor/deliver/index/docId/4616/file/ Schmidt_Schuette_Winterscheid_cGAT_2015.pdf. Accessed 17. April 2019. Simsek, Z., & Erdogan, N. (2015). Effects of the dialogic and traditional reading techniques on children’s language development. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 197, 754–758. Stuck, A., Kammermeyer, G., & Roux, S. (2016). The reliability and structure of the classroom assessment scoring system in german pre-schools. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 24(6), 873–894. Troesch, L. M., Keller, K., Loher, S., & Grob, A. (2017). Umgebungs- und Herkunftssprache: Der Einfluss des elterlichen Sprachengebrauchs auf den Zweitspracherwerb der Kinder. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 31(2), 149–160. Tuma, R., Schnettler, B., & Knoblauch, H. (2013). Videographie. Eine Einführung in die interpretative Videoanalyse sozialer Situationen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.


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Integration Migration and Islam as a Challenge for Early Childhood Education Nausikaa Schirilla


In Western Europe Islam is not treated as a religion as such. Whether attitudes towards Islam are conceived of as Muslimphobia, there is evidence that believing and cultural Muslims are confronted with many kinds of stereotypes on different levels. These attitudes can also be found with professional staff in elementary education and they present a challenge for education of professionals in elementary education. Existing approaches are mostly focused on an interreligious dialogue and tolerance, and, recently, on the prevention of radicalization. They also treat Islam as “something special”. On the other hand, Muslim religious education or practices form part of the life world of children in migration societies. This chapter argues that in order to strengthen the capacity of educational staff working with children from a Muslim background it is important to regard Muslim faith or practices as “normal” as they present a part of the children’s life world. Keywords

Islam · Religion · Elementary education · Radicalization · Religious education

N. Schirilla (*)  Freiburg, Germany e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_2



N. Schirilla

Early childhood institutions in Germany and Austria are facing growing diversity concerning differences in life styles, family patterns, religions etc. One of the factors that furthers diversity is migration and the resulting growing number of Muslims in Western Europe. An estimate of 500.000–700.000 Muslims are living in Austria (El Menouar 2017, p. 11) and about 4–5 million live in Germany (El Menouar 2017, p. 12). Their children visit early childhood institutions in both countries and thus contribute to the religious plurality. How do early childhood institutions deal with religious diversity? One of the approaches to religious plurality is the promotion of interreligious dialogue or interreligious learning. Frieder Harz for example argues that when children discover that human beings adhere to different religions (or have no religion at all) for the first time, the pedagogical answer in early childhood education to these phenomena should be an education that fosters tolerance and dialogue (Harz 2014). For Harz, intercultural and interreligious education are strongly related to each other and should also be promoted in kindergarten. When conceiving of religious plurality concerning Muslim faith institutions of early childhood education often chose concepts within the framework of interreligious education. In this contribution I will argue that, although interreligious education presents a very important approach, it is not appropriate for challenges resulting from religious plurality and for the dealing with Muslim families in early childhood education in general. I will present an alternative general approach on the political level and an alternative particular approach on the pedagogical level. Why is interreligious education or dialogue not an adequate answer to questions arising from religious plurality in early childhood education in general? First of all, interreligious dialogue is a dialogue among believers and only has a limited scope. Most early childhood educational institutions are public or are subsidised by the public, in Germany many institutions are private or run by confessional associations, but they receive public subsidies—both from the federal states (Bundesländer) and from the municipalities. Even in religious or confessional institutions religious education presents just one aspect among others as early childhood education promotes a variety of social, emotional and cognitive competences, and not only religious competences. Second, children are not only Muslims, but also boys or girls, tall or small, lively or quiet—and they are foremost children. Religious education—as important as it is—addresses children primarily as coming from different religious backgrounds. A perspective that is concentrating on the differences of religious backgrounds stresses differences and not commonalities among children, it reduces them to their religious background and thus to being “different” and

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implicitly presents the danger of “othering”. It is interesting to note that the idea of interreligious education is very often mentioned in the context of religious plurality and Islam, not in the context of religious education in general. In a perspective of religious education all Christian or all Muslim children appear to be the same disrespectful of the different religious orientations of their families, different migration patterns and their parents’ countries of origin. In reality, adhering to Muslim faith or being addressed as Muslims can take many different shapes and influences personal and social realities of children’s upbringing. To give an example: pedagogical challenges for early childhood institutions while working with a five-year-old Muslim boy from a Syrian family of engineers migrated a year ago might be completely different than working with a child from a Turkish family, born in Austria whose parents are both doing low-skilled work in the cleansing industry. Even though both children are Muslims, the challenges are of a completely different nature. This aspect—reducing the children to their religious background and thus to differences—leads to the third, and maybe the most important, argument. Debates in educational sciences frequently elaborated the idea that the subject of educational debates is constructed by the debates themselves (Diehm and Kuhn 2005). Following this line of argument, there is a strong faction within intercultural education that demands not only the pedagogical comprehension of how to deal with differences, but also the reflection of how differences are (re)produced in educational settings. Concerning children from Muslim families or Islam in general, there is an academic challenge that asks for a reflection of how religious plurality is linked to images and stereotypes about different religions in society. This perspective then also leads to the question on how the construction of differences can be integrated into pedagogical concepts. So from an academic point of view we cannot talk about Muslim families, but rather talk about families who are being addressed as Muslims or understand themselves as Muslims, whereas their way of being Muslims might be very diverse (Blaschke-Nacak and Hößl 2015, p. 8). Blaschke-Nacak and Hößl argue that research still has to explore the relation between Islam and socialisation processes in migration societies. For them it is a question of what it means to be placed in a certain religious environment or to identify with Islam on one hand and to grow up being categorised or addressed as Muslim on the other. This entails different dimensions of categorisation and self-identification, of fields of recognition, of aspirations in the educational sector, moral convictions, aesthetical ideas und conceptions of gender roles in relation to Muslim faith (Blaschke-Nacak and Hößl 2015). Religious plurality has a clear impact on society, both in Austria and in Germany, and we know religion presents an important factor for migrants in g­ eneral


N. Schirilla

and for Muslim migrants in particular (El Menouar 2017, p. 6; Bertelsmann Stiftung 2015). There is a strong presence of children with Muslim backgrounds in early childhood education. In Germany, Muslims constitute between 4.6 and 5.2% of the German population, most of which are migrants. Figures for children with migrant background show a higher number, it is more than 36% (Schirilla 2016, p. 17). And as about 88% of migrant children attend Kindergarten it is clear many Muslim children are present in early childhood education institutions (Schirilla 2016, p. 48). As we know from studies on people with Muslim faith in Germany and in Austria there is a great variety in beliefs, values and important daily practices of Islam in both countries, but they all put the same emphasis on its importance (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2015; El Menouar 2017). For example, according to the Religionsmonitor by the Bertelsmann Stiftung—a representative study—about 40–42% of Muslims in Germany and in Austria regard themselves as highly religious, and about 50% regard themselves as rather religious (El Menouar 2017, p. 8). Yet forms of practising faith do vary: whereas 80% of Muslims in Germany say that feasts, ceremonies and the shahada are important to them, only 70% say they keep all the rules and rituals like Ramadan, and only 40% stated that they performed the daily or weekly prayers (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2015). Another field displaying the variety of Muslim orientations are ideas on religious education. As Ayse Uygun-Altunbas has shown in a study on religious families in Germany coming from Turkey there is a wide range of ideas on what religious education means and entails (Uygun-Altunbas 2017). The study differentiates between four different approaches to religious education based on qualitative interviews with religious parents: the idealist type of religious education is striving for giving children a sense of life and orientation, and is based upon a conception of Islam that stresses values and orientation (Uygun-Altunbas 2017, p. 155). The ritualist approach to religious education aims at teaching children to know and keep religious rules and regulations, thus understanding Islam mostly as a set of rituals and religious duties (Uygun-Altunbas 2017, p. 168). The identity approach understands Islam as a central element of migrants’ identities and intends to strengthen children’s identities by referring to the Muslim religion as a family heritage and common good (Uygun-Altunbas 2017, p. 176). The goal of the ethical approach to religious education is the development of children’s ethical competences. The underlying idea of Islam is mostly to provide guidance and ethical orientation while religious teaching and duties are of minor importance. These different stands entail different patterns of religious education and importance of a Muslim “peer world” like mosques, imams, religious schools etc. The types of religious education are related to a special understanding of the Muslim

Integration Migration and Islam as a Challenge for …


religion and its place in society, to dogmatism, conservatism, reform or criticism and to different expectations concerning the educational system in the host country. So according to Uygun-Altunbas, there is a great variety of ideas on Muslim education even among families who see themselves as Muslims. Dominant concepts of Islam also influence pedagogical interaction, though, as they are part of the convictions and (un-)conscious attitudes of pedagogical staff, as for example Carolin Demuth (2015) argues. Demuth conducted a qualitative study on the perception of mothers from Turkey in early childhood education (2015). She found out that mothers whose parents had migrated from Turkey had different aims and leanings in their education according to cultural and historical contexts. They also switched between different orientations while their overall aim was their children’s integration. Yet the educational staff in early childhood education does not take these flexible educational orientations of mothers into account and adheres to stereotyped deficit-orientated images of the educational competences of mothers. So Islam plays a role in early childhood education and the question on how to address religious plurality resurfaces. Furthermore, how do we integrate Muslim or religious beliefs into early childhood education without producing “others” (of different faith) and without giving up a secular perspective in early childhood institutions (if secularism is part of the conception)? First I want to argue that religious plurality—at least in democratic societies— does not have to do with tolerance or openness but first and foremost with democratic rights. There is a strong faction in political philosophy adopting a human rights approach concerning ethnic or religious minorities in democratic societies. The most important argument put forward by authors like Heiner Bielefeldt or Seyla Benhabib asserts that citizens in democratic societies have individual rights like religious freedom, the right to education etc. and so migrants do have the same rights and can perform their religion, determine the education of their children etc. (Benhabib 1999; Bielefeldt 2007). This idea is founded on human rights in general and citizens’ rights in particular as democratic societies implement the norms of the universal declaration of human rights into national legislation. So freedom of religion and education are the citizens’ democratic rights, based on human rights, but they are also confined by human rights. There is no right to practice religious or cultural rituals that would lead to human rights violations. Heiner Bielefeldt for example argues in an essay on forced marriages that—even though families are free to practice different forms of how to choose their daughters’ or son’s spouses—forced marriages present a violation of human rights (Bielefeldt 2005).


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Bielefeldt and Benhabib argue that ethnic or religious minorities can refer to conceptions of human dignity, human rights and basic freedom as individual citizens, not as groups. According to theses authors at least in Western democracies there is no lawful protection of (imagined) collectives but only of individual citizens. The state is not obliged to protect cultures or religions, but public institutions are obliged to create spaces and conditions that enable members of minorities to practice their religion and other convictions as long as these do not violate human rights. That means that cultural/religious differences are just rights of individual citizens. The denial of rights that are associated with practising religions can be examined under the anti-discrimination legislation. So there exists a right to be different (for a citizen, not for a collective) and human rights protect religious aspirations of minorities—therefore questions of religious freedom also arise in early childhood education. Bielefeldt (2003) stresses that this protection of religious freedom does not contradict the conception of the secular state. He argues that the German state is secular, but this secularism does not mean hostility towards religion but equal distance to all religions. According to Bielefeldt, at least the German traditional secularism is “friendly towards religions” in the sense that it does not ban religion in general from all public spaces. It rather means that the state may not privilege only one religion. This idea of secularism as supporting religious neutrality relates to Bielefeldt’s idea of integration of the protection of minorities into the human rights discourse (Bielefeldt 2007). Concerning early childhood education this would mean that children or parents have the right to live their religion, and thus dietary rules, festivities etc. should be respected to some extent and integrated into the pedagogical concepts. Following these different lines of thought, my argument is that Islam or Muslim faith has to play a role in early childhood education but the approach should be much broader than just implementing interreligious education. I want to argue for an adoption of a lifeworld-orientated approach. My presentation of the approach of lifeworld (German: Lebenswelt) orientation goes back to Hans Thiersch, an educational scientist who adopted lifeworld orientation for social and pedagogical work (Thiersch 2005, 2015). In his perspective the focus of a lifeworld orientation is on individual social situations of subjects in their everyday life. This encourages the focus on how subjects view and construct their social situations and everyday life, and how subjective orientations, ­problem-resolving capacities and subjective aspirations can be analysed. Pedagogical interventions integrate the subjective constructions of the target group’s social world, therefore, Thiersch demands the addressing of target groups with respect and benevolence (Thiersch 2005).

Integration Migration and Islam as a Challenge for …


This approach focusses on general structures of everyday life as objective conditions and as perceived by the subjects. It means for early childhood education that a focus is needed on children’s and their families’ everyday life, as well as on their social and cultural backgrounds and aspirations. Religion might be an aspect of the lifeworld, yet in this approach it is not isolated from other factors, but rather integrated into other elements that form the lifeworlds of children. In Thiersch’s view lifeworld-orientated social work is a concept for action that is grounded in the resources and potentialities of subjects, it aims at their support and development, but also at widening options and opening up new resources of target groups (Thiersch 2005). Thiersch’s theory focusses on relationships between people and their environment as well as on relationships between pedagogical staff and target groups. The basic idea is to solve problems in a combination of supporting existing coping strategies of subjects and in developing them further to a new level (Thiersch 2005, p. 163). A lifeworld-orientated approach addresses Muslim children and families as individuals, as subjects who life their faith according to their subjective orientations, who adopt their faith to their situation or who assimilate as believers to situations. This theory implies flexibility in order to address Muslim children and families as diverse acting subjects and it does not reduce them to just their religion or to a certain conception of their religion. Lifeworld-orientated approaches are apt to take into account the different religions of children and thus also of Muslim children, they demand to see how faith is lived and what kind of consequences this entails for early childhood institutions, but it is also open for the variety and the flexibility of living Muslim faith in a Western country. There are not many studies on the lifeworlds of Muslim children. The basic outcome of a selection of studies on lifeworlds of Muslim youths in Germany is to stress the interrelationships between subjective aspirations and social constraints in the sense of social imaginary of Islam (Behr et al. 2010). Behr et al. (2010) argue in the introduction to their volume that there is a connection between how people perceive themselves in their social field and how religious communities are seen by the society, how subjects view their way of belonging and how society regulates belonging. These interactions present important challenges for Muslim identities in migration societies. One of the important concepts of lifeworld orientation is integration, which is understood as a result of integrating a subjective lifeworld with the challenges and needs of an (objective) environment (Thiersch 2015). Pedagogical staff is seen as a support of these integrative efforts on an egalitarian basis and professionals need to recognize differences on the same basis. Respect and openness are very important competences needed to guide and support theses integration


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p­ rocesses. Therefore, in Thiersch’s conception, pedagogic staff have to reflect their interpretations of others’ actions and question their frames of references in interpreting the actions of target groups (Thiersch 2005, p. 173). Thus the challenge for pedagogical staff lies in perceiving and exploring the diverse lifeworlds of Muslim families and children, and to address Muslim families and children with respect and benevolence. To come back to the question on how differences are constructed in educational sciences I want to argue that lifeworld orientation presents an alternative approach either to ignoring differences and to stress differences by “othering”, as it takes culture, religion etc. into account, insofar as they belong to the lifeworld, without essentializing them at the same time. But the construction of differences cannot be overcome just by idealistically concepts. Pedagogical interventions also must take into account how Muslims are seen in the Western European society. This perspective is of importance in two respects. First the way the “other religion” is constructed in social and political discourses influences how educational staff view their target groups—if problems and deficits or differences come to the fore or if individual aspiration will be observed in multi-perspective views. These ideas also influence the pedagogical relationship that is so central in the ­lifeworld-orientated approach. Secondly there is evidence from studies that the way Muslims are seen and represented in Western societies influences the way they interact with the society, how they integrate into society and how they develop their faith and religious aspirations (El Menouar 2017, p. 6). Research on discrimination shows that stereotypes present barriers to integration. So is it is important to consider stereotypes of Islam prevalent in Western European societies (Attia 2009; Shooman 2014). As Yasemin Shooman has shown in her topography of dominant anti-Muslim discourses and narratives there are certain patterns that form the image people have of Muslims (2014, p. 45). Beyond this construction as the “others” there are conflicting images of Muslims as inferior and backwards vs. Muslims as powerful and threatening. Shooman demonstrates a shift in the imaginary from “the enemy” to “the other” and to “the foreigner” (among us), in the sense that they threaten culture and social cohesion of Western European societies. Muslim faith is very often used as an ethnic category, but ethnic background from the Middle East etc. will often also be used as a religious category. The idea of Muslims as foreigners or enemies is expressed in the slogans of an “Islamization of Europe as a threat” (Shooman 2014 p. 136). Like so many others, Shooman’s study shows that in Western European imaginary Islam is not seen as a religion among other religions but as a particular religion, as a threat, particularly inferior, violent or threatening. This imaginary cannot be isolated from different forms of perception of Islam and it can be found

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in political statements, in media and culture and in extreme right-wing propaganda. We know from studies on radicalisation of terrorists that negative stereotypes of Muslims are used by jihadist propaganda. But Shooman argues that for the majority society anti-Muslim discourses function as the basis for the construction of national identities—by distinguishing “us” from “others”, and the denigration of the “other” serves to upgrade “us” and to legitimise social inequalities. After describing the context of how differences are constructed and presenting approaches on how they can be conceived of without being reinforced I want to, in conclusion, ask what these ideas mean for academic education of pedagogical staff in early childhood education. First I think it is important for pedagogical staff to learn to regard Islam as one religion amongst others and to develop an attitude that is neither hostile nor particularly friendly. For practice and research in early childhood education it is important to explore and integrate the lifeworld of children (from all ethnic origins) and thus also of Muslim children (or children being addressed as Muslims) and to find adequate pedagogical reactions. In order to establish egalitarian relations with Muslim children and their families, it is necessary for pedagogical staff to question anti-Muslim discourses and to engage in self-reflexion. And last but not least curricula should include human rights as well as human rights education, so that migrants, Muslims, target groups etc. are conceived of not as members of religious groups but as subjects of democratic rights and of pedagogical interventions.

References Attia, I. (2009). Die „westliche Kultur“ und ihr Anderes. Zur Dekonstruktion von Orientalismus und antimuslimischem Rassismus. Bielefeld: transcript. Behr, H. H., Bochinger, C., Rohe, M., & Schmid, H. (Eds.). (2010). WAS SOLL ICH HIER? Lebensweltorientierung muslimischer Schülerinnen und Schüler als Herausforderung für den Islamischen Religionsunterricht. Berlin: Lit. Benhabib, S. (1999). Kulturelle Vielfalt und demokratische Gleichheit: politische Partizipation im Zeitalter der Globalisierung. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp. Bertelsmann Stiftung (Eds.). (2015). Religionsmonitor. Verstehen was verbindet. Sonderauswertung Islam 2015. www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de. Accessed: 22. November 2016. Bielefeldt, H. (2003). Muslime im säkularen Rechtsstaat. Bielefeld: transcript. Bielefeldt, H. (2005). Zwangsheirat und multikulturelle Gesellschaft. Anmerkungen zur aktuellen Debatte. Berlin. www.deutsches-institut-menschenrechte.de. Accessed: 03. March 2019. Bielefeldt, H. (2007). Menschenrechte in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft: Plädoyer für einen aufgeklärten Multikulturalismus. Bielefeld: transcript.


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Blaschke-Nacak, G., & Hößl, S. (2015). Einleitung. In G. Blaschke-Nacak & S. Hößl (Eds.), Islam und sozialisation (pp. 39–68). Wiesbaden: Springer. Blaschke-Nacak, G. (2015). Muslimische Religiosität aus der Perspektive von Elementarpädagoginnen. In G. Blaschke-Nacak & S. Hößl (Eds.), Islam und sozialisation (pp. 39–68). Wiesbaden: Springer. Demuth, C. (2015). Ich nehme das beste von beidem. Ethnotheorien türkischstämmiger Mütter in Deutschland. In G. Blaschke-Nacak & S. Hößl (Eds.), Islam und Sozialisation (pp. 39–68). Wiesbaden: Springer. Diehm, I., & Kuhn, M. (2005). Ethnische Unterscheidungen in der frühen Kindheit. In F. Hamburger, T. Badawia & M. Hummrich (Eds.), Migration und Bildung. Über das Verhältnis von Anerkennung und Zumutung in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft (pp. 221– 231). Wiesbaden: Springer. El Menouar, Y. (2017). Muslime in Europa, Integriert, aber nicht akzeptiert? Ergebnisse und Länderprofile. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung. de/de/unsere-projekte/religionsmonitor/projektthemen/religionsmonitor-2017-muslimein-europa/. Accessed: 22. Nov. 2018. Harz, F. (2014). Interreligiöse Erziehung und Bildung in Kitas. Göttingen: V&R. Schirilla, N. (2016). Migration und Flucht. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Shooman, Y. (2014). „… weil ihre Kultur so ist.“ Narrative des antimuslimischen Rassismus. Bielefeld: transcript. Thiersch, H. (2005). Lebensweltorientierte Soziale Arbeit. In W. Thole (Ed.), Grundriss Soziale Arbeit. Ein einführendes Handbuch, (2. ed, pp. 161–177). Wiesbaden: Springer. Thiersch, H. (2015). Soziale Arbeit und Lebensweltorientierung: Konzepte und Kontexte. Weinheim: Beltz. Uygun-Altunbas, A. (2017). Religiöse Sozialisation in muslimischen Familien. Bielefeld: transcript.

The Role of Socialization Processes and “Cultural Concepts” in Cooperation with Parents of Migrant Backgrounds in Institutions of Early Childhood Education Leonie Herwartz-Emden Abstract

Particular attention will be given to the question of how socialization works under intercultural/migration-related conditions, because essential development and learning processes are thereby fundamentally influenced. The socialization processes that children and adolescents undergo in the process of growing up provide the basis for their participation in society. Socialization against the background of experiences of migration/flight as well as integration takes place under specific conditions and is subject to a variety of influences. Acculturation is involved in these processes. The specific structural and institutional conditions offered by the local and social context are important for the outcome of all these processes. Acculturation processes of children are known as learning processes in educational situations. Children and adolescents are changing as their development progresses. All of these processes need time and the institutions’ special attention. Keywords

Shared reading · Picture books · Early childhood education · Integration · Sequence analysis

L. Herwartz-Emden (*)  Augsburg, Germany e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_3



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1 Introduction During the International Conference on Migration, Integration and Religion in Early Childhood Educational Institutions (November 23–25, 2018) an extensive discussion of questions concerning the specific position of early childhood education in the process of migration was under way. Due to the growing number of migrants and children with migration experience in European countries (for Germany: Statistisches Bundesamt 2018) early childhood educational institutions are confronted with challenges and tasks that have been entirely unknown or extremely rare in their history. The situation puts pressure on these institutions. The aim is that children with migration experience attending an early childhood educational institution should have the same educational opportunities as native children. This should happen regardless of their cultural and religious origin. Kindergarten should enable them to develop the same capacity to actively participate in society as all other members of the majority do. Despite public debates on cultural and religious diversity in kindergarten, the implementation of “integration” as an institutional effort in the area of early childhood education, its individual approaches and topics has neither been sufficiently implemented (Herwartz-Emden and Hopf 2006) nor sufficiently researched. The scientific ­ question is still open: do the institutions possess sufficient background and training to successfully integrate these children linguistically and culturally, in order for them to qualify for preschool? All the children growing up in Germany today do so in a multicultural society. The multicultural diversity of the children in day-care centers also means the presence of different religions, which directly affects everyday life in the facilities: day-care centers are now multi-religious, and religious issues are present in the institutions’ everyday life. In view of the growing number of Muslim religious affiliations in Germany, it can be assumed that day-care centers are particularly encouraged to expand their efforts towards inter-religious education. Children—and adults—with very different nationalities, culture and religion come together here. For a successful interfaith educational work in day nurseries, parental work is a separate activity field. Parents encounter the educators on a daily basis when the children are brought to and picked up from the day-care centers. Many institutions systematically offer low-threshold entrances to also encourage dialogues. Often there are offers of parenting, there are parents evenings or special events. Amongst all these offers, one of the different objectives is to strengthen the parents’ pedagogical competence in terms of religion as well and to clarify the religion-sensitive approaches in the day-care center. It must be signaled to the parents that they themselves are perceived openly and sensitively

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in the i­nstitution. It is avoided to make general, sometimes biased classifications only by religious affiliation. A productive organization of cooperation with parents is a necessary prerequisite with regard to inter-religious education. My contribution deepens with the question of the determinants of cooperation with parents as an essential aspect of this educational work. I will focus on the German situation and widely on ­German-speaking research results on cultural diversity in educational institutions, including my own broad empirical research in questions of migration, immigrant families and education (immigrant families: Herwartz-Emden 1995, 2000; and for example primary school: Heinze et al. 2009). But the need to equip the institutions with special competences and capabilities for dealing with the current diversity is a requirement in most European countries. Particularly urban centers, with their large population, are experiencing an increase in linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of children and families. Dealing with diversity in a qualified manner in early childhood education is a challenge as it means to interact successfully with families of diverse backgrounds—due to the importance of integrating children into the educational system.

2 Different Parent and Family Models In the German public debate stereotypical images are often part of the discourses when a migration context is under discussion. Despite many stereotypes, families with a migration and refugee background focus on integration. Social inclusion in the local context is particularly important for “newly-arrived” families, so highquality cooperation and relationships with educational practitioners are important. For the handling of concrete cultures and the practices of d­ ifferential-sensitive relationship work professional actors have to deal with different parent and family models (BMFSFJ 2017). The most important requirement is a basic understanding of the life situation of minorities, i.e. in terms of their social participation and affiliation (Herwartz-Emden 2000). One of the prerequisite for this is knowledge of societal structures, hierarchies and the central factors which determine a successful integrative process. Extensive knowledge of the countries of origin and living conditions, gender relations and gender roles, religious affiliation and religious practices of the different groups are other important aspects worth knowing. A prerequisite is basic knowledge on what “culture” in general means and specifically in the field of education. Subjective theories of education and parents’ beliefs in educational behavior are culturally shaped and vary greatly. How does a child develop between parental offerings, their rules and the


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environmental influence? What can a child learn, what does it learn on its own or which offers are necessary (Otyakmaz and Westphal 2018, p. 172 f.)? Culture is a dimension that shapes people’s thinking and behavior in addition to other dimensions. Also entanglements and overlaps to other dimensions such as social status, legal status, age, gender, religious affiliation as well as differences in thinking style and personality are important (Mecheril 2004, p. 116 f.). Culture is dynamic, is subject to constant change and stands in an interaction with other factors. Culture-driven notions of what is important and good during early childhood change over time, from region to region, they are not rigid and firmly anchored, but rather changeable. Besides, it should not be forgotten that affiliations suggest a specific behavior to the individual. However, individuals can always counteract these offers (consciously or unconsciously) and behave in an individual way.

3 Ahistorical Thinking and Monocultural Perceptions in Institutions Institutions act on a monocultural and monolingual basis. Though European societies have their own history with the changing of educational goals and values, in institutions they are communicated as being universal. On the other hand, the values of immigrants are also considered as particular and unchangeable. Parents with other educational goals are not given the chance to express and negotiate their own goals or their personal adaptations, which they use as a change of integration into the social system. Immigrants are going through a fast process of acculturation, but usually do not have a chance to communicate the changes in their world. Institutions as a whole, their leading programs and various educational approaches as well as any single professional educators are “transporters” of monocultural, qua “universal” and timeless values. Historical perspectives as well as the validity of cultural differences are not part of the institutional logic. In Germany (and other countries of Central Europe), educational goals have changed since the Second World War—the goals of autonomy and independence, as they seem desirable for the child today, became very popular in Germany in connection with the student movement of the 1968s, then truly developed in the 1980s. Notions of obedience, religiosity or attachment to tradition have been superseded—all values and objectives of education still very popular in many migrant families, for example. Educational goals and their interplay in the definitions of autonomy and relationality are currently present in institutions and shape their image of the child. Education goals of the local educator: child autonomy and self-employment (Ziehm 2014). The accompanying task is to educate the

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child to autonomy, independence, self-determination and self-responsibility. In non-Western cultures group orientation is in the center of educational goals. The dominant educational style is the authoritative style of education—by democratic means. Individualism is not particularly appreciated (Ziehm 2014). More important than in Western cultures is the group well-being and harmony. The primary task is to provide for the child for it to become a valuable member of the community (Mihciyazgan 2010), with love and respect, on the background of authoritarian parenting. On the background of inflexibility, ahistorical thinking and unreflected educational goals and cultural patterns it comes to confrontations in early childhood education institutions and conflicts with parents are often unavoidable. Example: migrant Mexican parents in the United States believed, that if their children are quiet and obedient, they will succeed in school whereas their Anglo-American teachers expected them to be autonomous (Kagitcibasi 2005 refers to Nunes 1993). The typical misunderstanding also for German kindergartens, lies in the question of whether the child is too “adapted” (educator’s perspective: deficits in autonomy/independence) or perfectly educated—because it fits into the group (mother with a migration background).

4 Family Images in Institutions and Demands of Institutions A second experience of migrants is the presence of not being meant: family images in institutions are images of the indigenous family: “The family”=“Normality”. Modern European families are characterized by a high degree of heterogeneity and pluralization. On the other hand: common features of “modern” European family life are structurally reduced because of decreasing number of children and the absence of other generations in the “everyday” family life in the past decades. Also a functional reduction has taken place, but the functions of securing the offspring (birth, care and upbringing of children), the psychological and physical regeneration, and stabilization of all their members from young to old have remained (Nave-Herz 2015, p. 994). A broad exchange of all family members has developed in the growing of negotiations and the widening of communication. Over the past decades, there has been a change in the history of family relationships that has brought about a structural change in interactions in German families, and with it the keyword from childhood research ‘From Command to Negotiation Family Household’ (du Bois-Reymond 1998) was ­concisely identified.


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What happened exactly—what is the background of these changes? The increase of intra-family negotiation in the generation and gender relationships is due to changes in the following dimensions: parent-child relationships have changed into a partnership style of education, partnership communication and an increase of the importance of children and their associated emotionality. The ­couple-parent relationship has changed in the following dimensions: modern families are childcentered, the demands for women’s equal rights are growing, and a big change has taken place in gender-specific tasks and role distributions (Walper et al. 2015). Families who migrate to Germany meet the sketched native family cultures. Comprehensive task in the “modern” family is: negotiation and communication. Institutions act on this background and make the following demands: (1) Negotiation and communication between parents (and children) and the institutions; (2) high commitment on the part of the parents in the family, and for the relationship between family and institution; (3) comprehensive support by the parents for everyday needs of the education of children and adolescents (Herwartz-Emden 1986). What does this mean for the migrant family? Challenges in their everyday life are: requirement of continuous communication on education and care issues with all institutions operating in their surrounding—early childhood education, kindergarten, preschool, primary school etc. A problem area is to been seen in the fact that all communication acts have to take place in the field of intercultural encounters and in connection with multilingualism as a communication basis. In interactions with educational institutions, images of the family, parents and childhood are activated on both sides. The background is that images are anchored in cultural models as well as societal structures and arise as fits to specific socio-cultural living conditions. Images are complex societal and historical constructions, and are often contradictory. By culture contact, for example, by migration processes, images are activated. In interactions with institutions, images are interwoven and dominated by power structures. In the case of intercultural encounters they often become simplified in discourses and are represented only as being culturally based. In the dynamics of intercultural encounters confrontations may arise—which are then usually attributed to the immigrant family and their “cultural” problems. The image of the Western middle-class family dominates in science and practice simultaneously. In contrast, the image of the traditionally living, non-Western peasant family is very simplistic. It is usually this picture that is subordinated to migrant families from non-Western countries. The migrant family seems to be a family with “traditional” gender roles. Women and mothers are not seen as emancipated, traditional in their orientations and depending on their husbands—in other words, families and gender roles are stereotyped (Herwartz-Emden 1991, 1995).

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5 Images of the Child Institutions prefer the Western-oriented middle-class educational ideal which promotes the child’s autonomy and self-determination. The linguistic development plays a major role in educational principles, specific of urban middle-class families. Comparable to images of the family, the child of the migrant family was in research and literature often seen as a child with deficits during its first socialization. Its family was considered to be the “cause” for deficits. In the German debate, the image of the child with a deficit had dominated the discourse, in which children are essentially measured against monoculturally growing children and potential resources are not taken into consideration. These two images characterized of the child become contrasted, the one which dominates the Western middle-class family, the science and application practice, and that of the ­traditionally-living, non-Western farming family, which bring most of the migrating families to Western countries. Both images are contradictory in many ways, so it often comes to misunderstandings or conflicts in kindergarten and school. Subtle discrepancies which are not explained to the child and processes of not being recognized have consequences for the development of children who, in addition to dealing with general developmental tasks, also have to master “acculturation” processes. That means they have to deal with a new environment and culture, they have to negotiate. The migrant family is the transnational place for education (Westphal 2018). Until today, not enough attention has been paid on the resources and competences of migrant families and the migrant child: the bior multicultural child negotiates different cultural identities in its self-concept, with various possibilities, coexistence and/or fusion. Images determine the subjective perspective of the educator, the child itself, but also the parent’s perspective (Keller 2011). Conflicts arising from these discrepancies have consequences for the children’s development. This puts a particular burden on the child as it has to not only experience the general developmental stages but also the process of acculturation. Thus, the institutions of Early Childhood Education have to keep an eye on the subtle images in their communicative processes, as they mostly represent the middle class family despite the cultural diversity they have to deal with.

6 Background: Migration and Flight Expulsion, persecution, war and then flight are events that can lead to a violent break and burdens in their life situation and biography—even to the activation of resources. Dynamics of familial socialization in the entire process


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of ­escaping—before, during and after the escape—have been examined in a slightly differentiated way until today (Lutter and Westphal 2015). It is wellknown that recently migrated or migrant people often have months of escape routes behind them and have experienced escape, war and displacement. But families with migration and flight history differ strongly from each other and their specific background, resources, interests and strengths. Resilient data on refugee families are not sufficiently available in German-speaking research. How well the families can manage the life situation and their acculturation in Germany depends on various factors: central aspects to differentiate the situation are the individual migration or escape history; experiences before, during and after the flight; mental stress; the family’s arrival and living situation; personal and life situation in general; familial embedding, social and economic situation; gender-typical aspects of the biography and situation in the country of origin; educational history and work experience etc. Successes and failures are first and foremost the result of the efforts of the individual and the positive force of family cohesion (Bommes 2007). Family life often has to be carried out in extreme circumstances and—usually burdened with separations—mothers and fathers with an escape background often have to deal with the dramatic consequences of fleeing as well as help their children processing them. Thus, parental services and necessary adjustments are required under particularly difficult conditions. Migration (also flight) as a transition from one society to another requires adjustments, related to the individual, an extensive transformation, similar to a “second” socialization (Herwartz-Emden 2015); as acculturation: Zick 2010) Acculturation processes are learning processes. The transformation affects adults, children and adolescents alike. There are basically three contexts involved: the context of origin, the context of migration or the “community”, the host country. Increasingly, a transnational perspective shapes the acculturation, which becomes very clear in refugee families. Changes affect individual self-concepts: leading norms, concepts and standards of behavior that the surrounding German context, the educational and children’s care facilities practice are often experienced as being fundamentally different from the parenting styles and modes of socialization known from their own childhood (Otyakmaz and Westphal 2018). These changes trigger uncertainty—which means: understanding the family requires recognition of uncertainties and fears resulting from different lines of confrontation (LeuzingerBohleber and Lebiger-Vogel 2016). Acculturation achievements need space and time. To acknowledge the efforts of acculturation means to give room for it and to explore the concepts of families related to socialization. But concepts change

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s­imultaneously due to the acculturation or the integration into the new context. Integration needs broad efforts of kindergartens and families. In all areas of education, learning the host country’s language is an important goal, but not the only one for the acculturation of children and adolescents (acculturation in primary schools: H ­ erwartz-Emden et al. 2006).

7 Experiences of Devaluation and Intercultural Reflection The view of educators on families with migration or escape background is often characterized by a deficit perspective (Krüger-Potratz 2013). For example, it is assumed that parents are not very interested in the overall success of their children and their specific success of learning German (if the family language continues to be spoken at home). High educational aspirations of parents are often devalued as unrealistic. Strong family ties are seen as an obstacle to becoming independent and not as a support resource (Leyendecker 2011). Since families with a migration and refugee background, like all other families, are heterogeneous, stereotypical ideas do not do justice to these groups. Expectations are addressed to parents, which are often contradictory to their own expectations and experiences. Cooperation with parents must be free from ­prejudice-biased assumptions and start with resources. Parents must be respected in their ­day-to-day socialization and educational achievement, and there must be, for example, knowledge of which concepts parents follow in education (Nauck 2006). What are their ideas about learning, which educational goals do they pursue, what are their concepts of parenting, what is the division of labor between parents, how do they see the tasks of mothers and fathers? How the migrant’s self-concept presents and changes in the context of the family’s life was the main focus in one of my own empirical studies in the field of migration research. The Project FAFRA (financed by the DFG) is historically important as the first empirical study of German-speaking migration research on families (Herwartz-Emden 2000; Herwartz-Emden and Waburg 2017). The most interesting and very far-reaching result in the study was the description of the changes in orientations and self-concepts of migrant families. It was a pioneer research project in family research, because migrant families (mothers and fathers) as well as their family relations were researched—comparing between different migrant groups and native families (Herwartz-Emden 1993, 1995). The migrant women were not always the so-called traditionally oriented, ­non-emancipated women, who ought to be guided by modernity of the “equal”


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Western world. Their concepts, each differentiated according to context of origin, also include a so-called “non-Western” modernity orientation (Herwartz-Emden 1995). Different aspects are important for a comprehensive understanding of these groups of families. Successful interactions with families have to recognize a complexity of facts. For all individuals deep changes takes place on the background of migration and flight. These changes take place in all interactions with the surrounding context (Zick 2010). Cooperation with parents requires an advanced competence of the educators and all professionals in this field. First of all, early childhood practitioners need extensive knowledge of migration processes and its consequences for individuals. One of the central experiences of migrants is the loss of their significance—which becomes a big challenge in the cooperation with parents. The experience that the own or group related religious or ideological core concepts become devalued is quasi unavoidable in contact with educational institutions of the dominant context. Personal orientations (even religious orientations) must be realized as a particular orientation among many—coping strategies and educational processes become more diverse. The experience of being devalued is often accompanied by structural strategies and ideological stereotypes which are anchored in racism (Arndt and ­Ofuatey-Alazard 2015). If, for example, the knowledge and ideas of education by a mother from an African country is not taken serious or the local ideas per se are subordinated, constitutes a racist demotion of their knowledge—even if this is involuntary and done without evil intent. Unfortunately, many migrants and refugees experience discriminations and everyday racism in addition to the different forms of institutional and structural racism. Only from one position, which has the power of interpretation, can it be determined what is considered “different” and what is the normality (Hall 1989). Socialization transmits whom we have to take more seriously and whom we can feel superior to. Racism is not an attitude but an institutionalized system, in which people are socialized. Racist acts or utterances have so nothing to do with personal intentions, but with effects. Research on racism therefore also reflected on ‘racism against will’ (Weiß 2013).

8 Ethnocentrism and the Need of Intercultural Competence For all initiatives it has to be considered that they take place within the framework of intercultural communication. The term interculturality refers to a relationship between two or more cultures, where on one hand difference is

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e­ xperienced, but on the other the possibility of exchange is given. Cultures are already heterogeneous in themselves: between people who have been similarly socialized and who are domiciled within a culture, there are already fundamental differences of opinion concerning crucial questions such as lifestyles. Cultures are not that much separate that exchange would be impossible. Intercultural processes do not consist of two dual perspectives, the strange views of two alien individuals on each other. Rather, it is the processual relationship between different, overlapping cultural forces, in which there is always mutual influence, dependence and interconnectedness (Nadig 2000a, b). It is important to consider this because there is a change in the process of this relationship. All participants involved in intercultural communication need to be self-reflective in their awareness of their prejudices and positions. The interaction partners involved in a cultural overlap are often under the influence of their own ethnocentrism, a world view based solely on their own culture. This can lead to stressing and disrupting the above-mentioned process-related process if, for example, stereotypes play a role in the communication, then devaluations of the opposite or racially motivated exclusion take place. Prejudices and positions in communicative acts also depend on the linguistic competences of individuals, the background they have and their legal status, their role in the specific context the communication takes place in. Intercultural relations and encounters are almost always characterized by power asymmetries, which refer to status and legal inequality as well as to a wealth gap and social disadvantages, which are due to the inequitable distribution of resources and options for action. Intercultural overlapping situations are mostly associated with hierarchies and power gradients. The role of the power component is often not determinable in advance. However, power asymmetries do not only exist between majority and minority members, but also power negotiations may take place between different minority groups. The room for the competence to act needs to be redeveloped in the specific field. Educators can acquire appropriate competences in the context of intercultural training. Intercultural communication is fundamentally dependent on the willingness of the clashing individuals to communicate with each other. On the other hand, it has to be clear what the prerequisite for a respectful and appreciative communication is. Intercultural competence: is (1) a disposition that is constantly reapplied in the process of lifelong learning and in concrete situations; the specific field needs to be redeveloped as a competence to act. (2) The key component of intercultural competence is (self-)reflexivity! (3) In (self-)reflexive processes socially and structurally related asymmetries of power, cultural affiliation and cultural relativity, cultural and individual affiliations as well as individual and group-related resources have to be considered. (4) The institutional mechanisms


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limiting educational action (for example, institutional discrimination) should also be reflected (Herwartz-Emden et al. 2010, p. 210). In summary, intercultural competence deals with the central concepts: power asymmetries, hierarchies, structural discrimination.

9 Cooperation with Parents: Formats and Offers The co-operation with immigrant parents in early childhood education facilities and a quality offer of intercultural parental education initially requires a sensitivity for the experiences of immigrants on the part of professional educators. Acting in a culturally-sensitive way means being generally sensitive to differences, but to not over-evaluate them. Early childhood practitioners have to know how to respectfully interact with parents and how to effectively incorporate the parents’ values and beliefs. The intention to communicate with each other can be signaled, for example, with a welcome culture: parents should feel welcome in the institutions. This can be done by communicating on equal footing, recognizing and appreciating the different cultural backgrounds and languages that are part of the pedagogical concept, reducing access barriers for migrants, and building a multicultural team. The formats should offer the possibility of informal contact between teachers and parents. So it is more likely that the conversations taking place there are not only focused on problems, as is often the case in parents’ talks. For parents with a migration or refugee background, it is of particular importance to report on their children’s progress and success (Shah 2015). The willingness to communicate is most important. Often before intercultural communications can even begin, they fail due to language barriers, which means that essential forms of parental work, such as exchange and cooperation, cannot even be initiated. For the competent handling, educators need supportive structures. They usually cannot handle the language barriers themselves, as they often speak no and never all of the languages of the parents’ origin. In some cases, it is possible to refer to the linguistic competencies of colleagues who have a migration background themselves and who are proficient in (some) languages of origin. It is not recommended to use children as a translator (Fischer 2017). One possibility of external support for parental work is the establishment of cultural mediators or parents’ volunteers (see for a model project in schools Gröschner and Musial 2015). However, these offers can only be realized if funds, personnel and a supporting infrastructure are made available.

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10 Diversity as Background of Institutional Offers and Practices—Conclusion Achievements in acculturation need space and time, a deeper understanding and more efforts on the side of the kindergarten. In all areas of education, learning the host country’s language is an important goal. But learning language is embedded into complex learning processes and activities of child and family. Fixed images of “the” family and “the” Child as well as its culture or religion, images of “the” Immigrant are outdated—and should not be considered as given and unchangeable. The process and idea of acculturation as individual process of the integration of immigrants should get more attention by the institutions of early childhood education (Herwartz-Emden 2015). Educators have to acknowledge “acculturation” processes of children and parents, their achievements in it and give room for it. It can be assumed that the culture, language and ethnicity of children are important resources in their entire socialization and developmental process. Pedagogical approaches have to be applied to that fact (Herwartz-Emden et al. 2010) and, in particular, cooperation with parents needs to focus on their specific capabilities and resources. Educators need intercultural reflection and action skills in order to be able to react adequately in communication and conflict situations (Karakaşoğlu et al. 2011). Contact with migrants or refugees can make it difficult to listen to perspectives, experiences and ideas without prematurely evaluating them or rejecting the problem. But individuals who are in responsible positions in the educational system should have extensive knowledge on the functioning of the subtle mechanisms of institutions. They should take the chance to acknowledge and ask for the parents’ special competences of in respective situations: the term intercultural competence should also cover the special skills that immigrants themselves have developed through personal experience (Westphal 2009, p. 93 f.). Insofar, educational professionals need a scientifically sound reflection on how to deal with cultural or ethnic differences and linguistic diversity. This includes information, exchange and a joint effort for the educational success and children’ and adolescents’ development. An appreciative handling of differences means that uncertainties in dealing with them should be replaced by an open communication in the institution, and thus be pushed back. Respectful recognition needs naming and negotiation. In order to cooperate successfully with migrant families, possible confrontational lines must be outlined—this needs the reflection of communication standards and institutionally expressed expectations and demands. To make


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cooperation with parents successful in that dimensions means that it is all the more important to have offers that make it possible for families to express themselves (Abdallah-Steinkopff and Akhtar 2015). They need a ‘sheltered’ space of communication in which they share their experiences, their desires, and can communicate ideas in an appreciative atmosphere. Without this their knowledge and ideas are subordinated, and thereby degraded. Educational institutions as kindergartens in their complexity are challenged to deal with their multicultural reality. Education is embedded in higher social structures and movements, individual behavior and educational programs are located in specific contexts. Specific power relations and the results of socialization in these contexts have broad influences on all existing programs and approaches. Certain ideas—such as appreciation and devaluation—are internalized knowledge and interwoven. In this respect, it becomes indispensable to examine educational programs in relation to the held perceptions, subtle messages and value worlds. Also Programs of Interreligious Education are impossible without reflection of this background. Institutions need to become more sensitive in their entire programs so they can be culturally sensitive, thus they may recognize that they have to work against the ignorance towards other beliefs and behaviors. There is some empirical research to be found on the question of segregation and discrimination of minorities in institutions. But not so much research on the ‘cultural’ aspects of institutions itself and its subtle racism has been done. Thus we underestimate the influence of schools and pre-schools as well as the ‘cultural’ power of professionals, their decisions and interpretations. For the institution as a whole as well as for individual behavior in general, it is most important to develop more sensitivity against discrimination and racism on all levels—and their concrete influence in all acts of cooperation with families (Herwartz-Emden et al. 2010). Insofar, institutions need intercultural openness in their entirety (Herwartz-Emden and Schultheiß 2015; Herwartz-Emden and Waburg 2017). ­ Interculturally competent action thus goes far beyond the individual competences of individuals and their possible knowledge of the culture and living conditions of migrants. It requires the ability and willingness to reflect on the practitioner’s own behavior and point of view—and endure ambiguous situations. However, this requires the appropriate context of opening the institution to intercultural dialogue. And besides that: the institution’s staff should represent the cultural diversity of the population and children in the kindergarten. A concrete cultural change in this respect would lead to broad changes in institutions (Herwartz-Emden et al. 2010). It will give a chance for training and the establishing of an awareness of both verbal and nonverbal cultural communication practices in the context of

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group meetings. This also should result in improved parenting and parental participation. Increased understanding of the premises of parental involvement will lead to a more collaborative home-school partnership and ensure the long-term success of parental involvement. Institutions have to develop the sensitivity for more than one perspective and have to establish culturally sensitive programs as well as corresponding attitudes and perspectives on all levels of their practice. Changes of that kind in early childhood education would help the improvement of social justice in educational participation.

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Leuzinger-Bohleber, M., & Lebiger-Vogel, J. (2016). Migration, frühe Elternschaft und die Weitergabe von Traumatisierungen. Das Integrationsprojekt ‚Erste Schritte‘. Mit einem Vorwort von Patrick Meurs. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Lutter, E., & Westphal, M. (2015). Familie im Kontext von Fluchtmigration. Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, May 12, 2015. https://www.bmfsfj.de/blob/119734/9715f7 20b0090d71d4cbe797586a9cec/kurzgutachten-gefluechtete-familien-data.pdf. Accessed 23. Dec. 2019. Mecheril, P. (2004). Einführung in die Migrationspädagogik. Weinheim: Beltz. Mihciyazgan, U. (2010). Elternschaft im interkulturellen Vergleich. In G. Romeike & H. Imelmann (Eds.), Eltern verstehen und stärken. Analysen und Konzepte der Erziehungsberatung (pp. 103–119). München: Juventa. Nadig, M. (2000a). Zur (Re)Konstruktion gemeinsamer Bedeutungen im interkulturellen Begegnungsprozeß. In J. Schlehe (Ed.), Zwischen den Kulturen – zwischen den Geschlechtern. Kulturkontakte und Genderkonstrukte (Vol. 8, pp. 37–52)., Münchner Beiträge zur interkulturellen Kommunikation Münster: Waxmann. Nadig, M. (2000b). Interkulturalität im Prozess – Ethnopsychoanalyse und Feldforschung als methodischer und theoretischer Übergangsraum. In H. Lahme-Gronostaj & M. Leuzinger-Bohleber (Eds.), Identität und Differenz. Zur Psychoanalyse des Geschlechterverhältnisses in der Spätmoderne (pp. 87–101). Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Nauck, B. (2006). Kulturspezifische Sozialisationsstile in Migrantenfamilien? In C. Alt (Ed.), Bedingungen des Aufwachsens von türkischen, russlanddeutschen und deutschen Kindern (Vol. 4, pp. 155–183)., Kinderleben. Integration durch Sprache Wiesbaden: VS Verlag. Nave-Herz, R. (2015). Familie heute: Wandel der Familienstrukturen und Folgen für die Erziehung (6th ed.). Darmstadt: WBG. Nunes, T. (1993). Psychology in Latin America. The case of Brazil. Psychology and Developing Societies, 5, 123–134. Otyakmaz, B. Ö., & Westphal, M. (2018). Kritisch-reflexive Erwartungen von Eltern an die Erziehungs- und Bildungspartnerschaft zwischen Kita und Familie im Migrationskontext. In C. Thon, M. Menz, M. Mai, & L. Abdessadok (Eds.), Kindheiten zwischen Familie und Kindertagesstätte. Differenzdiskurse und Positionierungen von Eltern und pädagogischen Fachkräften (pp. 169–186). Wiesbaden: Springer. Shah, H. (2015). Flüchtlingskinder und jugendliche Flüchtlinge in der Schule. Eine Handreichung. Stuttgart: Ministerium für Kultus, Jugend und Sport Baden-Württemberg. Statistisches Bundesamt. (2018). Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund. Statistisches Bundesamt (Destatis) Pressemitteilung Nr. 282 vom 01.08.2018. https://www.destatis. de/DE/PresseService/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2018/08/PD18_282_1251. Accessed 1. Nov. 2018. Walper, S., Langmeyer, A., & Wendt, E.-V. (2015). Sozialisation in der Familie. In K. Hurrelmann, U. Bauer, M. Grundmann, & S. Walper (Eds.), Handbuch Sozialisationsforschung (pp. 364–392). Weinheim: Beltz. Westphal, M. (2009). Interkulturelle Kompetenzen als Konzept der Zusammenarbeit mit Eltern. In S. Fürstenau & M. Gomolla (Eds.), Migration und schulischer Wandel. Elternbeteiligung (pp. 93–103). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag. Westphal, M. (2018). Transnationaler Bildungsort. Familie: Elterliche Erziehung und Bildung in der Migration. In E. Glaser, H.-C. Koller, W. Thole, & S. Krumme (Eds.),


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Attitudes Towards Religion in Kindergartens—an Ethical Discussion Sturla Sagberg


This chapter combines two questions: How can teachers be better prepared with regard to religious and cultural diversity? How can religious education framework planning counteract possible indoctrination? A short summary of the development of laws and framework plans in Norway concerning kindergartens and religious diversity is provided as background. In short, it can be described as a journey from antagonism between religion-based pedagogy and secularist ideology via pragmatic cooperation towards some converging interests and a common framework plan open to religious diversity. Against that background I discuss the following issues in more general terms: (1) The meaning of religious truth in an educational context; (2) attitudes to religion in kindergartens (based on empirical research)—a typology; (3) understanding the relationship between religious and cultural identity. Based on the discussion, I suggest a few theses for holistic religious education for discussion and possible application on early childhood education in Europe. Keywords

Kindergarten · Childhood education · Religious identity

S. Sagberg (*)  Trondheim, Norway e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_4



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1 Introduction This paper relates to two questions that have been raised in the context of religious diversity in schools and kindergartens: (1) How can religious educational framework planning counteract possible indoctrination? (2) How can teachers be better prepared with regard to religious and cultural diversity? Major European traditions of early childhood education rest on an awareness of the child as a subject of its own, not as the parents’ property. Educational pioneers like Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827) and Friedrich Fröbel (1782–1852) based their pedagogies on a sense of human dignity derived from a religious world perspective. Pestalozzi coined the concept of ‘human dignity’, working with street children during the Napoleonic wars. His vision was to give children words and concepts of human dignity so that they could understand themselves in relation to all circles of life, the relation to God being at the centre of this worldview. Fröbel, the father of “kindergartens”, understood his mission as ‘making the human being aware of himself, at peace with nature and in union with God’ (Myhre 1981, p. 288, my translation).1 Learning from these pioneers, educational philosophers like Maria Montessori and Janusz Korczak became advocates of all children’s right to be regarded with dignity, regardless of mental abilities, race or religion. In 1919, Korczak wrote his Magna Charta Libertatis, inspiring what later came to be the first declaration of children’s rights, namely, the Declaration of Geneva of 1924. To Korczak, recognising the rights of children meant a willingness to see the child as s/he is, and be there with the guidance and support necessary for the child to develop her/his willpower and identity.2 The rights of children and a concern for personal formation or Bildung have spurred the development of kindergartens. It is only natural that a great number of kindergartens have been initiated and run by faith communities or religiously affiliated associations, and Norway is no exception. The first Norwegian kindergarten was established in 1837 by Trondhjems Asylselskap,3 with the purpose of creating a safe space (asylum) for children during the tough decades following the Napoleonic wars. It was more or less taken for granted that kindergartens should not only have a socio-ethical purpose as a place of care and protection

1Norwegian texts are translated into English, as few readers outside Scandinavia understand Norwegian. 2https://www.korczak.org.uk/korczaks-rights.html, accessed October 29, 2019. 3http://www.asylselskapet.no/index.cfm, accessed October 29, 2019.

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when parents had to work, but also an educational purpose as a place of moral upbringing. And moral upbringing was mostly connected to values and norms in a religious (in casu Christian) culture. Very few kindergartens were, however, established with the intention of promoting or fostering specific religious faith. For that purpose, there were Sunday schools in addition to what took place in the family. Yet, when the process towards a comprehensive law on kindergartens started in the early 1970s a heated debate about the role of religion in value statements and educational practice started. The debate is not as heated as it was, but it has taken some new turns as a consequence of increasing religious diversity. This paper takes an ethical approach to the issue, focussing on how attitudes among educators, concepts of truth and the understanding of religion as culture may influence theory and practice. As background information the process that brought about a national framework plan is presented. It should be noted that “educators” in this context includes both certified kindergarten teachers and other personnel with educational tasks. All certified kindergartens in Norway must be in charge of teachers with a bachelor degree. The major issues underlying the questions raised in this paper were burning issues a few decades ago, but not so much today, largely because of a general agreement of the authority and significance of the Framework Plan that has developed in the course of some forty years. This development is part of the reason why I find it pertinent to present the Norwegian case in an attempt to answer the first question raised above (Chap. 2), followed by a discussion of the second question in terms of general issues that should be relevant to other countries and contexts as well (Chap. 3), ending with a final discussion (Chap. 4).

2 The Significance of Framework Planning and the Issue of Indoctrination 2.1 The Process Towards a National Framework Plan The need for a law that could encompass all kindergartens had several reasons. Owners needed public financial support, municipalities were entrusted with responsibility for the rights of all young children, and kindergartens were increasingly understood in continuity with primary school. This led to an increase of public kindergartens, which again presupposed requirements and regulations in terms of building standards as well as the educational standards of educators and routines of cooperation with parents and local communities. At present (2019) 91.8% of all Norwegian children from the age of 1 to 5 are in kindergartens. The


S. Sagberg

concept of kindergarten is applied to all educational institutions for children prior to primary school, including what in other countries is called “nursery”. 47% of these are public and run by local municipalities, while the private kindergartens are partly run by churches or faith communities and partly by commercial owners or by parent associations.4 The development of a law on and regulations of all kindergartens took place at a time when the process of secularisation was quite strong. The 1970s were years of heated debate concerning the value basis of kindergartens. The Kindergarten Act of 1975 was, consequently, passed without connecting the value basis to a specific worldview or religion, leaving it up to owners to add statements of specific values or religious affiliation. During this process some kindergartens were accused of religious indoctrination, while some were accused of secularist indoctrination. The role of Christian traditions in Norwegian kindergartens has, however, been ascribed to culture and morality, not to the fostering of faith, also by owners with a religious affiliation. The process took a turn a few years later when a majority of owners, both public and private, had passed statutes that stated a Christian basis of values. In 1983 the Kindergarten Act was amended with the following statement added (“Lov 6. juni 1975 om barnehager m. v. med endringer ved lov 27. mai 1983”; my translation): ‘The kindergarten should aid [parents] in giving children an upbringing in accord with Christian fundamental values. Private kindergartens may have statutes without this clause.’ It was emphasised that if this clause was omitted, owners were obliged to state an alternative clause concerning the basis of values.5 The following decade was marked by a flow of didactical projects, and the antagonism between religious and secularist ideologies yielded more or less to practical pedagogy. In 1996 a national framework plan for the contents of kindergartens was made mandatory for all kindergartens (BFD 1996). This document came to be the most important document for all kindergartens, public and private, with amendments in 2005 and 2008, following amendments to the Kindergarten Act. These amendments came partly because of increased cultural and religious diversity. In 2008 similar statements of core values were made mandatory for kin-


English version, accessed October 29, 2019. 5The present Framework Plan for Kindergartens (English version) has an introduction that reflects the process (Ministry of Education and Research 2017), available at https://www. udir.no/in-english/, accessed October 29, 2019. The laws of 1975 and 1983 are listed in governmental publications, but not in translation.

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dergartens and school (“Act no. 64 of June 2005 relating to Kindergartens (the Kindergarten Act)”):6 ‘The Kindergarten shall be based on fundamental values in the Christian and humanist heritage and tradition, such as respect for human dignity and nature, on intellectual freedom, charity, forgiveness, equality and solidarity, values that also appear in different religions and beliefs and are rooted in human rights.’

The change of wording is significant: Religion is explicitly connected to ‘heritage and tradition’, and to values supposed to be shared by several religions, with documents on human rights as a test. The new clause recognises the historical and cultural context of religion, but it does not mix the purpose of kindergarten/school with the educational task of a faith community. The latest version of the Framework Plan dates from August 2017 (Ministry of Education and Research 2017).7 The statement on core values is included in the first chapter. Some key values are emphasised as well: democracy, diversity and mutual respect, equality, sustainable development, life skills and good health. The Framework Plan recognises religion and spirituality as relevant topics in kindergarten education. However, the main keyword is ‘diversity’: ‘Kindergartens shall highlight differences in values, religions and world views. There must be room for a spiritual dimension in kindergarten which should be used to instigate dialogue and respect for diversity’ (p. 9). Owners of private kindergartens are still at liberty to determine alternative formulations than ‘Christian and humanist heritage and tradition’. Such kindergartens may operate with statutes that leave more space and time for specific religious or worldview-based traditions than is usual. They are still obliged to ‘uphold those values described in the objectives clause which are entrenched in human rights law’, that is: ‘respect for human dignity and nature, freedom of thought, compassion, forgiveness, equality and solidarity’ (Ministry of Education and Research 2017, p. 12). Summing up, the legal and statutory process concerning the value basis of kindergartens has moved from antagonism or polarity towards more converging educational thinking, accepting religious diversity without severing the strong bonds to Christianity and humanism. These are interpreted as values that are supported

6 https://www.regjeringen.no/globalassets/upload/kd/vedlegg/barnehager/engelsk/act_ no_64_of_june_2005_web.pdf, accessed October 29, 2019. 7https://www.udir.no/globalassets/filer/barnehage/rammeplan/framework-plan-for-kindergartens2-2017.pdf, accessed October 29, 2019.


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by other religions and worldviews as well. Statements on human rights function as a test on possible interpretations of the values mentioned. The long process of law-making and development of framework plans has created a high degree of consensus concerning ‘core values’, reflected in the first chapter of the latest version of the Framework Plan.

2.2 Core Values and Learning Areas Learning areas in kindergarten are not to be regarded as subjects like those in school, but as recurring themes that should reflect core values and support the process of formation, while also preparing children for school subjects. They are mandatory for all certified kindergartens, including those with statements of purpose that are linked to different religious or philosophical beliefs than ‘Christian and humanistic’. The themes are described under seven categories (Ministry of Education and Research 2017, Chap. 9): 1. Communication, language and text, 2. Art, culture and creativity, 3. Body, movement, food and health, 4. Nature, environment and technology, 5. Quantities, spaces and shapes, 6. Ethics, religion and philosophy, 7. Local community and society. For the purpose of this paper the 6th category is of special interest. The following quotations indicate trends and tasks (pp. 54–55): Kindergartens shall enable the children to • learn about the fundamental values of the Christian and humanist traditions and familiarise themselves with the religions and world views represented in kindergarten, • explore and wonder at existential, ethical and philosophical questions, […] • develop an interest in and respect for each other and understand the value of similarities and differences within a community. Staff shall …

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• tell stories and make room for the children’s own discoveries, conversations, experiences and thoughts concerning religion, world views, ethics and existential questions; • explore and wonder at existential, ethical, religious, spiritual and philosophical questions together with the children; • help develop the children’s tolerance of, interest in and respect for each other and people with different cultural, religious or spiritual affiliations; • introduce the children to and observe important dates, holidays and customs in the Christian tradition and those of other religions and world views represented in the kindergarten; • converse with the children about religious and cultural expressions and be conscious of how their own participation can support and broaden the children’s thinking; • identify everyday value conflicts, reflect on own values and attitudes and be conscious of how these are expressed when working with the children. These are but a few of a number of tasks and purposes that kindergarten educators are supposed to integrate into their annual plans. The task of introducing children to specific religious traditions while at the same time ‘highlighting differences in values, religions and world views’ is demanding (for a detailed discussion: Sagberg 2015a, b). Identifying ‘everyday value conflicts’ and dealing with these may involve issues like rules concerning food (for Muslims, Jews and others), gender roles, or what is allowed or forbidden for religious reasons. Knowledge about values and value traditions are therefore important elements of early childhood teaching curricula. Private Christian and Muslim kindergartens have statutes that promote their particular faith traditions as part of the upbringing. The annual plan of Kvås kindergarten, belonging to a major owner of private Christian kindergartens, has the following description of that purpose: ‘We will present God as creator and friend, as someone who is with us and loves everything he has created. At least once a week we have a Christian gathering, using Bible texts, Christian stories, songs and prayers. We integrate the Christian message during the day by listening to and taking part in Christian song and music. We read Christian books and sing Christian verses before meals.’8


accessed January 12, 2019, my translation.


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A case study of a Muslim kindergarten was carried out by researchers from Oslo University College a few years ago, resulting in a compilation of texts of which the following describes a purpose for this particular kindergarten ­(Rhedding-Jones et al. 2011, pp. 173–174): ‘We regard kindergarten as a micro version of an Islamic society. […] We want children to have a natural relationship to the fact that there is a God. And God (Allah) is one we can address. Children say grace, and they observe adults praying. They celebrate holidays connected to God. They learn attitudes and values that grow out of that. […] Children shall be brought up to be good Muslims, while finding their place in the Norwegian society.’

Both the Christian and the Muslim kindergarten operate within the national Framework Plan. This does not prevent them from being clear on the task of promoting Christian or Muslim beliefs, respectively, while stating the need to respect other faiths and beliefs. The Framework Plan requires educators to be “conscious” of how values are expressed, and work towards tolerance of and respect for diversity. This is, of course, a task that may be demanding at times, but there should be no room allowed for indoctrination. Parents who send their children to a municipality kindergarten may choose to supplement kindergarten with Qu’ran school or Sunday school. In some places the same house that is used for a (private) kindergarten during the week is used for Sunday school as well. However, teachers take care to state the difference between kindergarten and Sunday school. Other studies show examples of Muslim parents who choose to combine kindergarten with Qu’ran school, realising that Norwegian kindergartens can hardly supply the degree of Islamic teaching that they want (Moen 2017). Private Muslim kindergartens seem to integrate Islamic teaching more. A study from Austria shows an example of Qu’ran teaching integrated in kindergarten (Stockinger 2017, p. 133). It should be added that the same study does not show evidence of indoctrination; teachers emphasise that the time set aside for Qu’ran teaching is not Qu’ran school, but an attempt to build a bridge to society and to school, supporting sound faith and counteracting both fundamentalism and atheism (p. 135).

2.3 Preliminary Discussion The first question raised in this paper concerns the possibility of indoctrination in kindergartens. The question requires a clarification of “indoctrination”. The

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British educationalist John M. Hull defines indoctrination as a way of communication that ‘disguises in order to subvert,’ seeking to secure adherence to certain doctrines by irrational commitment (Hull 2004, p. 13; Sagberg 2012, p. 204). He understands education and indoctrination as opposite and contrasting poles of a conceptual circle. Both are charged with ethical content, while the ethical character of other processes depends on the actual content of what is learnt or taught. From time to time there have been allegations of religious indoctrination in Norwegian, Christian kindergartens. There is, however, no serious research that can underpin these complaints. Important to our topic is the fact that when the complaints are discussed, the Framework Plan is called upon to settle what is permissible or acceptable, and that seems to end the discussion. Judging from such debates it seems that a national framework plan and the process behind it has had an effect of counteracting indoctrination while creating openness for ethically acceptable introduction to religious culture. Neither is there any reason to suspect kindergartens of indoctrination just from the fact that they teach children traditions from a specific religion or worldview. On the other hand, if such kindergartens leave out critical thinking they operate against the Framework Plan’s objective of promoting formative development (Ministry of Education and Research 2017, p. 21). Statutes and stories from Christian and Muslim kindergartens convey openness to difference, with a wish to support a specific religious tradition. To understand and discuss the way this is done in practice requires hermeneutical and qualitative studies. A narrative approach seems to be important for the discovery of what really happens. The case study of a Muslim kindergarten in Norway is a good example of this approach (Rhedding-Jones et al. 2011). The book presents itself with many voices, using stories from a great number of people involved in the kindergarten as well as articles by the researchers from Oslo University College. The significance of the Framework Plan may seem surprisingly high, but it is referred to in all known public discussions of the issue. It is also found in my own encounters with kindergarten teachers during my three decades of teacher training, reflected in studies from the 1990s (Sagberg 2001) as well as during the last two decades (Sagberg 2006, 2010, 2015a, b). In general, it reflects the strong tradition of developing laws and regulations in cooperation between lawmakers and educational institutions and experts. It may also be due to the fact that the planning process has been developing over a period of forty years with a relatively high degree of continuity and only slight changes from time to time, as pointed out above. In terms of ethical theory, it is possible to understand religion in Norwegian kindergartens as an expression of political liberalism. Charles Taylor, a Canadian


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philosopher, has described two kinds of liberalism. One is interpreted as the kind of liberalism that advocates a rigorously neutral state, committed to individual rights and no collective goals beyond personal freedom and physical security and welfare. The other allows for a state that is committed to the survival and flourishing of a particular nation, culture or religion, so long as the basic rights of citizens who have different religious or philosophical ‘commitments’ are protected (Taylor 1994). Michael Walzer (1994, p. 100), commenting on Taylor’s essay, claims that most liberal nation-states (like Norway, France or the Netherlands) follow the second kind of liberalism. Norway is a society with a high degree of transparency and homogeneity within its educational institutions, including kindergartens. This is reflected in the strong emphasis of shared basic values, while geographical and cultural diversity also leaves space for various ways of expressing these values when it comes to religious traditions. The other side of the coin is that many educators are hesitant to make traditions of religion and worldviews known to children at all, let alone indoctrinating them, either because they feel incompetent or because their personal worldview is at odds with the tradition in question. Recent studies show a great deal of uncertainty and also negligence concerning the learning area of Ethics, religion and philosophy (Østrem et al. 2009; Johansson et al. 2015). This reflects the process of secularisation, pushing issues of religion more into the private sphere. It should, however, be added that the same studies indicate that educators involved experienced the process of research as a positive challenge to develop their own literacy concerning ethics and religion. Summing up, the Framework Plan is, firstly, an ethical-educational instrument that stimulates cultural formation as well as an education open to religious traditions. Secondly, it may also be used as a bulwark against indoctrination if it is combined with ethical competence. Since the Framework Plan was made mandatory for all kindergartens to be certified as such there has, to my knowledge, not been any substantiated claims of religious indoctrination. This applies to private kindergartens as well as to those owned and run by the secular municipalities. So far, I have used a narrow understanding of indoctrination, finding the process of framework planning a tool for safeguarding democratic values also concerning religion in kindergartens. This does not mean that attempts towards religious or anti-religious indoctrination do not happen at all, but the role and position of the Framework Plan has a strong critical effect against such attempts. Differences between public and private kindergartens concerning religious traditions in everyday practice is one of degree, and not of principle, meaning that private kindergartens may support “more” or “less” use of particular traditions, like stories and songs. The issue connects to the more general issue of the ethical

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requirements concerning the role of religious traditions at all in a liberal democracy of today. The complaints and uncertainty mentioned above pertain not only to statutes and institutional practices in kindergartens, but also to the ethical demands related to individual educators’ attitudes.

3 How Can Teachers Be Better Prepared with Regard to Religious and Cultural Diversity? 3.1 Religion in Kindergarten and Educators’ Attitudes A large German study finds that the personal religious view of educators is of key significance in their attitude to religion in kindergarten, including interreligious encounter (Schweitzer et al. 2011, pp. 53, 213). Across differences of ownership educators display a general openness to religious topics and support of religious formation (Bildung): ‘This openness is, however, often not mirrored in practice’, the researchers conclude (Schweitzer et al. 2011, pp. 53, my translation).9 They, based on their material, point to several possible reasons for this. One is that educators express an attitude of openness in theory without exploring practical consequences. Another is understanding religion in terms of spirituality, while being sceptical to or even negative to specific religious traditions and faith communities. Some educators show a kind of shyness or fear of influencing children religiously. Some are afraid of being judged by parents or owners. In positive terms the expressed openness may be a good starting point for developing greater awareness of the task of education that includes religion: ‘The task is to connect this openness to conceptual understanding, not least in both basic and further education’ (Schweitzer et al. 2011, p. 53, my translation).10 Since I began teaching religion and ethics in early childhood education around 1990 the task of developing conceptual understanding or religious literacy, has been an ever recurring issue. For that purpose, I made a study in the late 1990s of educators’ attitudes towards religion in kindergarten. At the time the only religion in question was Christianity. Later research showed, however, that my findings


Offenheit wird aber weithin nicht in eine entsprechende Praxis umgesetzt’. Aufgabe dürfte hier darin bestehen, an diese Offenheit konzeptionell anzuknüpfen, nicht zuletzt auch bei der Aus- und Fortbildung’.



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Fig. 1   A map of attitudes towards religious traditions in kindergartens. (Source: Sagberg, S. (2015a, b). Holistic Religious Education- is it possible? Münster: Waxmann, p. 15)

may still be used as a hermeneutical starting point, also in the context of religious plurality. The study has a material of interviews with 20 kindergarten educators in 8 kindergartens about their attitudes towards religion in kindergarten. While analysing the material, I found two recurring themes: one was the ideal of being authentic, but interpreted in two ways, either in terms of being true to one’s own worldview or in terms of giving children authentic encounters with a religious culture. The other theme was the understanding of religion. Religion was viewed in terms of normative, institutionalised religion and actual religious practices on one hand versus religion in terms of culture on the other hand (Sagberg 2001, p. 144; 2015a). I have tried to illustrate these ideals as positions on a map with two axes, the horizontal indicating understandings of religion and the vertical interpretations of authenticity (see Fig. 1). The faces represent views expressed by educators in my study, and the names given to positions on the map reflect my

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interpretation of the expressed attitudes. This creates a typology that may be used hermeneutically. ‘The theatre’ denotes an attitude towards religion where religion is interpreted in terms of cultural history, aesthetics and narratives that are elements of a wider cultural identity. In terms of education this means that religious stories, texts and expressions of art are used along with other cultural expressions without connecting them to specific personal faith. ‘Work of duty’ denotes attitudes where educators may have personal philosophies or beliefs that are perceived as being different from or opposed to the actual subject matter they are supposed to use, when following the Framework Plan, but they are loyal to their task as educators without taking their own views into account. The result is that children may have more or less authentic encounters with religious traditions, but do not necessarily get a chance to talk with adults about their possible significance or meaning. ‘The narthex’, the hall in front of a sanctuary, denotes an attitude where educators consider places of worship as an integrated element in public life. Taking part in religious life is not part of education as such, but they will not hide their own faith and are willing to talk with children about religious experiences and practices. It should be added that this position was held by educators in kindergartens with explicit Christian statutes. ‘Religious no-man’s land’ represents attitudes where educators consider matters of religion as a non-subject, for various reasons. In my study this connected to their understanding of religion only in terms of personal faith, which they regarded as a matter of private concern only. ‘The town square’ is the position where most educators in my study found themselves. It means they were aware of the presence of church or of other symbols of religion, and they could talk about the meaning of religion without giving it a special focus or truly involving themselves, be it in terms of using religious traditions as cultural resources or of visiting places of worship. Some found this position difficult because they had an ideal of a more holistic education, while some were rather indifferent. More recent studies indicate that similar positions are found today as well, even when accounting for changes in concepts of what really is the subject matter of religion. I present this typology as a possible starting point for dialogue and conceptualisation of attitudes and their impact on the way religion is perceived and the way kindergarten educators understand their own positions. Schweitzer et al. (2011) found in their study on German kindergartens that educators’ own religiousness had a positive correlation with interreligious practices. On that background they recommend that educating early childhood educators should


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put more emphasis on the educators’ own biography and experiences of religious upbringing. My research points in the same direction. When students and educators get the chance to enter into a dialogue about their own background and what it may mean to the way they work, they get the chance to sift out prejudice while rediscovering cultural values worth passing on. Psychological research on how attitudes are shaped and changed ascribes a high degree of significance to dialogues about the process, as shown in a classical study by Fishbein and Ajzen (in Berkowitz 1986). Summing up, throughout three decades of educating early childhood teachers I find that conceptualising religion and culture, personal faith and professional practice appears to be a recurring task. This need is evident in German research as well. My attempt to describe a typology of attitudes is just a humble invitation to encourage dialogues where educators’ own biography and attitudes are taken into account in their process of education. I think such dialogue is of the utmost importance for preparing teachers for religious and cultural diversity, including their own religion and culture. So far, I have used the concepts of religion and culture without contrasting the one against the other, despite the fact that this is done by some. For clarification I hold the position that whatever religion is, it is also culture. This makes it difficult to differentiate between the concepts in a general sense. The meaning of each concept must be discussed in context. In terms of a kindergarten the concepts relate to the meaning of identity and literacy (see below). Before entering that discussion, I find it, however, necessary to clarify levels of truth claims.

3.2 The Meaning of Religious Truth One of the topics that most educators refrain from concerns the question of religious truth. This is understandable on the background of many conflicts in which claims of religious truth are involved. However, children search for truth, and an educator must develop a way of talking about truth as well without indoctrinating or spurring conflict. Again, there is a need of conceptualisation. Then it is necessary to turn to philosophy or theology of religions. There are many theories of truth in philosophy but discussing them would go far beyond the scope of this paper. I choose to present a discussion from the theology of religions by the German theologian Carl Heinz Ratschow (1979). He describes levels of claims to absolute truth, an issue that has led to religious conflict repeatedly in history. Based on his discussion (p. 126) I have constructed the Table 1:

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Table 1   Levels of truth claims. (Source: Sagberg, S. (2015a, b). Holistic Religious Education- is it possible? Münster: Waxmann, p. 15) Level of truth

Claims to absolute truth

Absolute truth claims considered

3 Contextual and culturally specific

‘Absolutheit der religiösen Nomoi’: Theologies, ethics, spirituality, rites and customs associated with my religion are absolutely true

True within a context, but to claim absolute truth on this level is to make one’s religion into an idol

2 Comparative

‘Absolutheit einer Religion’: My religion is true; the other religions are either not true or are only partly true

It is logically absurd to claim absolute truth for one’s religion, considering that there are several candidates of truth. It is equally absurd to claim that incompatible views of the same question are equally true

1 Existential

‘Absolutheit der eigenen Religion’: My God is ground and limit, possibility and future for all my life

It is irrational to expect or demand anything other than absolute truth claims on this level

Religious faith has an existential level where truth has an absolute character. If it were otherwise, it would be folly to put one’s life at stake by trusting in this truth. However, as soon as we start comparing our own faith in God with others’ faith, we move to another level. On the level of theology or philosophy, especially theology of religions, it is possible to argue that some expressions of faith carry more meaning or truth than others, be it in matters of coherence or in correspondence with some reality, but it is absurd to claim absolute truth. In preaching and apologetics it is acceptable to argue for truth, but it is insulting and illogical to disclaim any other religion’s knowledge of truth. It would as well be a denial of a belief in God as creator of mankind. Any preaching which is not spiritual manipulation has to presuppose that the listeners are able to recognise and give their assent to truth. There is a third level: religious norms, rituals, theologies. On this level truth is about being in concord with specific interpretations of the Bible or the Qu’ran or an accepted confession, normative for all who claim to represent that confession. Truth claims on this level cannot be absolute without becoming oppressive and at


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the same time vesting human constructions in divine attributes, or in other words, turning faith into idolatry. Many norms for expressing faith belong to the third level. Yet children’s faith is basically found on the ground level, at least with the very young. It is not a faith based on comparison nor a faith qualified by normative theology. It will still be coherent according to the child’s own logic. It is a faith which is at one with their worldview, a faith in which they live and move. It may be argued that young children hardly move beyond an existential level in anything. I think that is only partly true. At a very early age children are able to pretend, thus discerning reality from fantasy. My point is that when children express matters of faith, they do so in ways that are very close to descriptions of existential faith. It is also quite clear that children can have doubts and that they can move on several levels of truth claims. I have evidence of children at the age of four and five discussing the reasons for believing. However, children very rarely let religious diversity turn into absolute truth claims. They realise that it is possible to believe existentially in different ways, if adults let them do so. That is the paradox of existential faith: it is not competitive. We see in a mirror darkly and know in part (quoting St. Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians, Chap. 13), yet we may do so with confidence. Summing up, I argue that when children believe, they relate to the object of faith primarily in an existential way. However, when adults communicate matters of faith to children, we tend to mix faith with social and moral norms that operate on many levels of truth claims. This mixture is difficult to deal with for children as well as for adults and should be an issue in teacher education together with the study of religious traditions, and of how religious, moral and cultural norms are interrelated.

3.3 Religious and/or Cultural Identity I have above claimed that the concepts of religion and culture must be understood contextually. In a pedagogical context they are both related to the development of identity and literacy. UNESCO (2004, p. 13) has put literacy at the heart of its concerns, understanding literacy as ‘the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts’. This ability is perceived as a prerequisite for individuals to participate fully in their community and in wider society: ‘It is shaped by social as well as educational institutions: the family, community, workplace, reli-

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gious establishments and the state’ (UNESCO 2004, p. 13). Promoting literacy is challenged by cultural webs of language, identity and religion, like the following: • In a Norwegian setting, language has developed closely knit together with a Christian tradition in terms of worldview, concepts and values, with the result that most people ‘think Christian’ regardless of personal faith. In positive terms this has to do with assessing sources of important cultural values. In negative terms there has been a history of excluding people who do not share the culture of Lutheran Christianity. • In the Arab world there is a close historical and ideological connection between Arab language and Islam. In the Middle East this has put ­Arab-speaking people who are not Muslims in a difficult position, to the extent that in countries like Iraq, Egypt and Syria many Christians leave, thus breaking up from a cultural history dating back two thousand years. In both settings the cultural webs may work either positively for exploring the cultural aspects of one’s faith and religion, or negatively to estrange those who share many cultural aspects but not religious adherence. How is it then possible to discern between cultural and religious identity? When we dislike acts carried out in the name of religion, it is easy to claim that ‘This is not religion but culture’— meaning that the actual religion does not support such acts, but one’s culture may permit them. Philosophically this is problematic when other people refer to religion as a basis for the same act. It makes more sense to talk about religious culture and non-religious culture, but hardly religion vs. culture. Two interpretations of the claim above are possible: 1. Some cultural expressions completely contradict the religion. This interpretation indicates that religious identity is something different than cultural identity. An act is either based on religion or on culture. 2. Some cultural expressions contradict a religion’s core. This interpretation admits that there are aspects of a religion that can support different cultural identities. The latter interpretation does not support a complete separation of religious and cultural identity but leads to internal critique of religious cultures. Most conflicts with religious overtones have arisen following claims that contemporary religious culture is in need of reform, while neglecting the internal critique of one’s own religious culture.


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Concerning conflicts that refer to religion, I accept Samuel Huntington’s evidence for the claim that the distribution of cultures in the world, including religious cultures, reflects the distribution of power (Huntington 2011, p. 91). This may be explicit, like Cujus regio, ejus religio, or implicit by curricula and educational policy—and informally by structures of authority between generations, genders and groups of people. Huntington’s study deserves more positive attention than it often gets concerning religious or cultural identity. His point seems not to be that civilisations of the world need to clash, but that in order to promote world order it is necessary to be aware of the social mechanisms within main civilisations: ‘The security of the world requires acceptance of global multiculturality. […] Cultures are relative, morality is absolute. […] Instead of promoting the supposedly universal features of one civilization, the requisites for cultural coexistence demand a search for what is common to most civilizations. In a multicivilizational world, the constructive course is to renounce universalism, accept diversity, and seek commonalities.’ (Huntington 2011, p. 318)

The question of religious or cultural identity is, if we follow Huntington, not so much one of being either religious or cultural, but of exploring religious cultures ethically. There are elements within any religion that can support morally good or morally bad culture, but it is naïve to postulate a religious identity apart from a cultural one, above critique on moral or philosophical grounds. This is, of course, a very difficult balance that has led to the need for stating basic rights of religious freedom and tolerance. One perspective can be added to this: On a micro level (in person to person relationships) the meaning of religious culture may be quite different from what happens on a macro level (in public policy and politics). Jews, Christians and Muslims lived peacefully together in Sarajevo for centuries until conflicts with a religious overtone were triggered by Serb expansion in the 1990s. After the war, Muslim culture in Bosnia has in part turned towards a more reformed, radical Islam. Power conflicts on the macro level have affected the way religion is understood. In the case of Norway, the identification of Norwegian culture with Christianity needed a revision related to the fact of religious pluralism. The revision has partly taken place in curricula and statements of purpose for schools and kindergarten. In this process it is also easy to neglect the re-articulation of the actual Christian contribution to our culture when religious education no longer can presuppose the power and authority of the Lutheran Church. That is part of the challenge we now encounter in our educational institutions.

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4 A Final Discussion, and Some Theses About Religion in Early Childhood Education In this paper I have tried to deal with two difficult questions: (1) How can religious educational framework planning counteract possible indoctrination? (2) How can teachers be better prepared with regard to religious and cultural diversity? Instead of searching for a universal answer I believe we need to listen to each other, compare different solutions in different contexts, and try to implement the result with a good chance of failing. But listening to each other, we will try again. My contribution has gone via research on attitudes towards religion in kindergarten to the more general issues of truth claims as well as the relationship between religion and culture. I found recurring motifs that I could place in relation to the ideal of authenticity and the understanding of religion, thus creating a kind of typology—work of duty, theatre, no man’s land, town square, or narthex. This paper is, of course, quite limited in its scope. It relies on studies in a Norwegian context. The positive outcome of this scope is that it reflects a planning process that has been gradually going on for forty years, followed by some changes as the society has become more pluralistic, but without losing a sense of continuity. This makes it possible to draw on and compare sources (statutes and research) from different stages in the process. The two questions raised in this paper were discussed at length and in principled terms some years ago. Recent discussions have focussed more on the practical consequences of the resulting Framework Plan. For example, the question of kindergarten as an arena for preaching or missionary activities has not been relevant for a long time. Already the first Framework Plan stated that, on one hand, children from different religions should be allowed to feel proud and happy about their own religious background, and, on the other hand, ‘the individual child should not be or feel challenged to adhere to certain religious views or traditions or experience that their own background is not respected’ (BFD 1996, p. 23, my translation). It may be asked whether the Norwegian context limits the discussion too much. In my own research I have found that using a specific context enables a discussion of important issues in ethics and education that are discussed in many contexts. Similar questions are asked, and the various discussions and conclusions illustrate the importance of viewing religion in education ethically and interrelated with educational policies. In the actual paper this is indicated by pointing to the idea of a liberal democracy in various interpretations. The paper invites more research on actual educational practice and the role of religious tra-


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ditions in Europe. A caveat against indoctrination is only part of the challenge. Equally important is the task of enabling educators to use the resources of religious traditions in an ethically sound way. The process of framework planning has proved useful in Norway, without safeguarding a sound education. A framework plan cannot be a bulwark against indoctrination without the formation and education of the educator as well as cooperation between makers of laws and policies as well as practitioners in educational institutions. Concluding, I will suggest a few theses concerning religion in early childhood education: 1. It is not possible to deal with religion in education as non-culture, but teachers must be willing to study religious cultures to explore their meaning to individuals and communities. 2. Being aware of the cultural aspects of religions may have the effect of relativizing hegemonies, both religious and secularist. Religious language should not be reduced to secular language, but rather explored as to its meaning for believers and significance for humanity in general. 3. In a process of becoming aware of one’s own attitudes to religion and dialogue with others it should be possible to create some mutual understanding, and possibly also make changes in one’s own attitude. On the micro level— person to person—this requires dialogue and honesty. On the macro level— institutional policy and politics of religious education—it requires a process of framework planning that combines cultural and contextual knowledge with openness to the quest for meaning and truth. 4. Kindergarten educators are in need of developing literacy competence concerning existential issues, religion and values. 5. Education in general and with regard to religion in particular may be understood as being on a journey, on a pilgrimage. The pilgrim motif is present in research on children’s spirituality as well as in philosophy with children (Champagne 2008; Coles 1990; Olsholt 2009). The image of education as a pilgrimage is found in most religions but usually not with a reference to children. If life as such is understood as a pilgrimage, children are, however, absolutely pilgrims, only just starting on their journey. The metaphor of pilgrim has some characteristics that make it educationally relevant: pilgrims move, physically and mentally. During their journey thoughts, emotions and perceptions are sifted until some remain as more important than those that, so to speak, vanish into thin air. Going on (short) pilgrim walks has become one activity also for kindergarten children in Norway.

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On a pilgrimage all people are of equal status—young or old, rich or poor, regardless of their background. This makes the image very fruitful in intercultural and interreligious encounter. At the same time, a pilgrim is, literally, a foreigner (lat. peregrinus). Being on a pilgrimage implies that there is a goal. Mecca, Jerusalem, Rome or Trondheim do not carry the same meaning, but it is possible to recognise the differences while sharing the longing or the hope of reaching a goal. Truth is not irrelevant, but every pilgrim has to admit that s/he is a foreigner like all the other pilgrims. Education as pilgrimage is but one metaphor that may make sense in late modern Europe, but it is a living metaphor with a wide scope of meaning and should be of relevance to all education where religion, culture and the search for truth are involved.

References Act no. 64 of June 2005 relating to Kindergartens (the Kindergarten Act). Berkowitz, L. (1986). A survey of social psychology. New York: CBS College Publishing. BFD. (1996). Rammeplan for barnehagen Q-0903 B. Oslo: Barne- og familiedepartementet. Champagne, E. (2008). Å leve og å dø: Et vindu mot (kristne) barns spiritualitet. In S. Sagberg (Ed.), Barnet i trosopplæringen. Pedagogiske og teologiske refleksjoner over barneteologi, spiritualitet og livssyn (pp. 167–182). Oslo: IKO-forlaget. Coles, R. (1990). The spiritual life of children. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Framework Plan for Kindergartens (2017). Oslo: Ministry of Education and Research. https://www.udir.no/in-english/. Accessed: 29. October 2019. Hull, J. M. (2004). Practical theology and religious education in a pluralist Europe. British Journal of Religious Education, 26(1), 7–19. Huntington, S. P. (2011). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order., New York New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. (Initial publication: 1996). Johansson, E., Fugelsnes, K., Mørkeseth, E. I., Röthle, M., Tofteland, B., & Zachrisen, B. (2015). Verdipedagogikk i barnehagen. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Lov 6. Juni 1975 om barnehager m. v. med endringer ved lov 27. Mai 1983 (Law of June 6 1975 on kindergartens etc. with amendments by the law of May 27, 1983). Ministry of Education and Research. (2017). Framework plan for the content and tasks of kindergartens. Oslo: Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. Moen, K. (2017). Mot til å formidle verdier – også i kulturelt mangfold. In S. Sagberg (Ed.), Mot til å være barnehagelærer. Verdier som omdreiningspunkt (pp. 25–52). Bergen: Fagbokforlaget. Myhre, R. (1981). Pedagogisk idéhistorie fra oldtiden til 1850. Oslo: Fabritius Forlagshus. Olsholt, Ø. (2009). Filosofiske samtaler i Den norske kirke. Rapport fra prosjektet “På vandring gjennom livet”. Eidsvoll: Barne- og ungdomsfilosofene.


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Østrem, S., Bjar, H., Føsker, L. R., Hogsnes, H. D., Jansen, T. T., Nordtømme, S., et al. (2009). Alle teller mer. En evaluering av hvordan Rammeplan for barnehagens innhold og oppgaver blir innført, brukt og erfart. Tønsberg: Høgskolen i Vestfold. Ratschow, C. H. (1979). Die Religionen (Vol. 16). Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn. Rhedding-Jones, J., Nordli, H., & Tanveer, J. (Eds.). (2011). Beretninger fra en muslimsk barnehage i Norge. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget. Sagberg, S. (2001). Autentisitet og undring. En drøfting av kristendommens plass i norsk barnehage i institusjonsetisk og personetisk perspektiv. Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk Forlag. Sagberg, S. (2006). Teachers’ lives as wonder journeys. Ethical reflections on spirituality in education. In K. Tirri (Ed.), Nordic perspectives on religion, spirituality and identity. Yearbook 2006 of the department of practical theology (pp. 286–300). Helsinki: University of Helsinki and Department of Practical Theology. Sagberg, S. (2010). Kinder als spirituelle Subjekte und die Bedeutung von erzieherischen Umgebungen. In P. Freudenberger-Lötz, A. A. Bucher, G. Büttner, & M. Schreiner (Eds.), “In der Mitte ist ein Kreuz” – Kindertheologische Zugänge im Elementarbereich. Jahrbuch für Kindertheologie (Vol. 9, pp. 28–44). Stuttgart: Calwer. Sagberg, S. (2012). Education and nurture revisited in the light of spirituality. In T. van der Zee & T. J. Lovat (Eds.), New perspectives on religious and spiritual education (pp. 197–214). Münster: Waxmann. Sagberg, S. (2015a). holistic religious education – is it possible? The complex web of religion, spirituality and morality. Münster: Waxmann. Sagberg, S. (2015b). Interreligious and intercultural competence in early childhood education: Norwegian perspectives. In F. Schweitzer & A. Biesinger (Eds.), Kulturell und religiös sensibel? Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Kompetenz in der Ausbildung für den Elementarbereich (pp. 125–142). Münster: Waxmann. Schweitzer, F., Edelbrock, A., & Biesinger, A. (Eds.). (2011). Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Bildung in der Kita. Münster: Waxmann. Stockinger, H. (2017). Umgang mit religiöser Differenz im Kindergarten. Münster: Waxmann. Taylor, C. (1994). The politics of recognition. In A. Gutmann (Ed.), Multiculturalism. Examining the politics of recognition (pp. 25–74). New Jersey: Princeton University Press. UNESCO. (2004). The plurality of literacy and its implications for policies and programmes., UNESCO education sector position paper Paris: UNESCO. Walzer, M. (1994). Comment. In A. Gutmann (Ed.), Multiculturalism. Examining the politics of recognition (pp. 99–104). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Interreligious Education with Young Children: A Neglected Factor of Integration Friedrich Schweitzer


Most often, migration and integration are discussed in terms of social and political aspects, while the religious dimensions involved are given much less attention. This is even truer concerning early childhood education although it may be safely assumed that, just like in other respects, experiences during early childhood are of great influence in later life as well, for example, laying the ground for prejudice and mutual exclusion but also for acceptance and inclusion. Against this background, this chapter raises the dual question of how young children view religious differences and of how institutions of early childhood education are prepared for accompanying children in this respect. These topics are addressed on the basis of a number of empirical and theoretical research projects carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Tübingen (Germany). The results presented refer to both the children and the teachers. Particular emphasis is given to the special ways in which children deal with religious differences, concerning, for example, their awareness of such differences, the ways that they make sense of them and their reactions to them. Concerning the teachers, respective results refer to the role of interreligious topics in their training, which is considered decisive for the interreligious competence needed for successful elementary education in the context of migration and integration.

F. Schweitzer (*)  Tübingen, Germany e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_5



F. Schweitzer


Kindergarten · Integration · Religious education · Germany · Kindergartens

1 Introduction: Education—Religion—Integration The expectation that education should contribute to integration is probably quite wide-spread. In the media and in politics it seems to be taken for granted that contributing to integration must be a core function of religious education today, especially in the context of state-sponsored educational institutions like kindergartens or schools. It would indeed be difficult to contradict this expectation. The majority in many countries would like to see immigrants better integrated, for example, by sharing the traditional values in the respective country and adopting a lifestyle which is in line with what people consider normal. Immigrants themselves are often looking for successful perspectives within their new countries and societies, in many cases especially in respect to their children who attend educational institutions and who should be able to fulfill society’s expectation for integration. Yet this is also the point where the difficulties with integration begin. What does integration mean? And what is needed for it? When the so-called guest workers came to central and northern Europe 40 and 50 years ago there seemed to be no question that minimal adaptation to the central and northern European culture would be sufficient since these workers would be leaving again soon, in any case after a few years of having worked there. However, things have clearly changed with the realization that many immigrants have in fact come to stay. With this realization immigration and integration have become a core issue— and a contested one. Does integration mean one-sided adaptation only of those who are (relatively) new to a country? Should the traditional population also be expected to change? Should traditional culture change? Is integration even a suitable concept for the complex tasks to be mastered in the context of migration? This chapter with its focus on education is not the place to discuss these ­far-reaching questions concerning the understanding of integration which have been subject to political debates in many places. Yet it should be clear that the concept of integration cannot be used in a naïve manner in any academic context where critical reflection and scrutiny should prevail over popular assumptions and sentiments. It should also be clear, however, that living together in peace and tolerance, mutual respect and recognition must indeed be an aim in relationship to the changing situations of societies characterized by an increasing degree of

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multicultural and multireligious presences. As far as integration is taken to mean that the presuppositions for this kind of living together have to be secured and supported it makes sense to consider it an aim of politics as well as of education. Yet even with this caveat against naïve views and understandings of integration, it remains important in the present context to be aware of the danger that education can be functionalized for other purposes outside of education. This clearly is the case if integration is made the first and decisive task of education. Education then is no longer about children and youth who should be supported in their development by education but its meaning and scope are determined by its contribution to integration which is defined politically instead of educationally. The danger of being functionalized applies even more to religious education. Religion is often seen as an obstacle to integration, especially concerning Islam and Muslim immigrants. Religious education therefore is expected to influence a person’s religiosity in such a way that it becomes more suitable for integration. From this point of view, religious education should work as an antidote to fundamentalism, intolerance and extremism—an understanding which is less likely to be found in academic articles than in popular media (for a recent discussion see Aslan and Rausch 2018). However, to the degree that political expectations determine the aims of religious education, education ceases to be about human development and about the role of religion in this context. Its first aim becomes integration while religion is reduced to a carrier of possibly well-adapted attitudes to society. At the same time, there also is the complementary danger of overlooking the importance of education and religious education in respect to integration because integration is assumed to exclusively hinge upon other factors like language or educational attainment (critical discussion see Biesinger et al. 2012). Religious education then becomes a neglected factor because it is simply considered of little importance. It is this aspect—neglecting religious education—on which the present chapter will focus. Particularly in the context of elementary education, the religious dimensions of integration have in fact been widely neglected. This is certainly true for Germany where I live and work but it also seems to be the case in other European countries. For example, there are no official statistics concerning the religious composition of the groups of the children in kindergartens in Germany. Social science surveys may include the so-called background of migration (more than 30% of the children in Germany today fall into this category with rates still increasing) but they make no mention of the religious backgrounds of these children and their families (for an influential example see the series published by the Arbeitsgruppe Bildungsberichterstattung; most recent volume Arbeitsgruppe


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Bildungsberichterstattung 2018). Reasons for this neglect are not stated. It just seems to be taken for granted by the researchers responsible for such studies that religion does not play a role, not for working with the children nor for integration. It is against this background that the research questions pursued in the following should be viewed.

2 The Research Questions In light of the situation described above and the lack of basic information concerning even the religious affiliations of kindergarten children, the first decision was to collect data referring to the religious composition of the groups of the children in kindergartens in Germany. In a representative study, the kindergarten teachers were asked to indicate the religious composition of their groups (Schweitzer et al. 2011). Of course, this procedure implies that the data are in fact the kindergarten teachers’ estimates which, most likely, are not fully accurate. Yet until today, the data gathered in this research project have remained the only such available information. Moreover, it can be assumed that the kindergarten teachers are indeed the first experts to be asked in this case. The results of the survey indicate that kindergarten groups in Germany include a share of Muslim children of about 16% while close to 70% of the children are Christian. Children without religious affiliation amount to about the same percentage as the Muslim children. All other groups, such as Jewish or Buddhist children, do not reach comparable percentages but often remain below the one percent level. In other words, as far as the religious traditions and adherences are concerned, German kindergartens are a place of potentially intensive encounters between Christian and Muslim children who, in any case, spend major parts of their everyday life together there. By now, the results of this survey are almost ten years old. The patterns of immigration characteristic for Germany in this period of time lead one to expect that the percentage especially of Muslim children is somewhat higher now but there are no representative data for checking this expectation. Reports from individual teachers, however, clearly speak in support of it. While the multireligious composition of kindergarten groups makes it very likely that first experiences which are relevant to integration clearly occur before entering school, the consequences of this situation are less clear. It can be assumed (hypothetically) that experiences in early childhood are of great influence, for example, for laying the groundwork for prejudice and mutual exclusion but also for acceptance and inclusion in later life. Yet no studies have become

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available which could show how experiences with different religions and encounters with children with different religious backgrounds in childhood are in fact related to later attitudes, be it in adolescence or in adulthood. Although such studies would be quite demanding methodologically, the lack of such studies may also be considered another example of the general neglect of the meaning of religion and religious education for integration. If religion in childhood is not viewed as important and influential, for example, concerning children’s attitudes towards each other, religion will not be researched. Against this background, the present chapter will consider three research questions: 1. Do religious differences play a role for young children? Or is it true as it has often been claimed that they are too young to consider such differences or that they are not even able to clearly perceive such differences? 2. If religious differences do in fact play a role for young children, how do they view and interpret such differences? In other words, more needs to be found out about the ways in which children perceive religious others in more detail. 3. How are institutions of early childhood education (in the present context, most of all the kindergarten teachers) prepared for accompanying children in relation to religious differences? These research questions will be addressed on the basis of empirical and theoretical work carried out at the University of Tübingen from 2005 to the present. Most of all, the empirical research projects which were part of this work must be mentioned here. The first step included a pilot study exploring areas with high numbers of immigrants (Schweitzer et al. 2008). This study was followed by the representative survey with kindergarten teachers mentioned above (Schweitzer et al. 2011), accompanied by a smaller study with parents (Biesinger et al. 2011) who, however, proved much harder to be reached by a survey than the teachers so that the results are not representative. A qualitative study with children concerning their views of religious differences followed (Edelbrock et al. 2010). Together with a collection of so-called best practice examples (Edelbrock et al. 2012) the three interconnected studies mentioned last tried to capture the situation of religious education in German kindergartens from different angles—from the perspective of the teachers, the children and the parents. In another step, the Tübingen team turned to the related question of the training of future kindergarten teachers which, in Germany, takes place in special schools or other training institutions and universities. In this case, the main interest was on how competences related to working with children with different


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religious backgrounds are acquired or not acquired as part of this training (Schweitzer and Biesinger 2015). Moreover, in an ongoing project the attempt has been made to design study units for classroom use with future kindergarten teachers in order to support the development of interreligious competence. Finally, for the last four years the Tübingen team has been involved in a study on kindergartens which give special emphasis to interreligious education in a number of different ways (the results are expected to be published in 2020). While it cannot be claimed that these studies are exhaustive in terms of covering the situation of religious education in German elementary education, the studies can be considered a good basis for answering the research questions described above.

3 Religious Differences: The Children‘s Views From the point of view of religious education it is of crucial importance to start with the children. Today’s understanding of education does not make the interests and expectations of society or of institutions like churches and other religious bodies the starting point. Instead it starts from the needs and expectations of the children and from the rights of children, including children’s right to religion (cf. Schweitzer 2013). This also applies to the expectations of the state or of politics which often do not refer to religion or religious education as such but tend to utilize them for other, i.e. non-religious purposes, like the transmission of values for the maintenance of public order and peace in society. While such purposes can also be accepted on religious grounds and for religious reasons, they should not be the starting point for a truly religious education. From the perspective of the religious traditions, particularly in the present context of Christianity and Islam, peaceful aims can be shared but it must be clear that religious education is about religion in the first place and not about other effects for society. In order to do justice to a child-oriented understanding and approach, the Tübingen projects included a special study on the children’s ways of viewing and making sense of religious differences (Edelbrock et al. 2010). This study was innovative in that it was not possible to rely on earlier research in this case, neither in terms of research results nor in terms of research methods. In fact, only very few studies had been available concerning young children’s views of religious differences when this project started and not much other research has been carried out since then. How do children deal with religious differences and how can this be researched? In a first step, children’s awareness of such differences had to be

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established. Further steps then looked into their making sense of the differences and their reactions to them. The method developed for this project consisted in oral interviews with children at a number of different kindergartens. The interviewer visited the kindergartens several times in order to make contact with the children and to establish good relationships with them. After contact was secured and the children became acquainted with the interviewer, the conversations took place in small groups. Among others, the interviewer showed the children different pictures and artefacts and asked the children to describe and explain what they saw. In addition to this, the children were asked to take part in a role play which indicated how the children related to each other. Altogether, interviews with 140 children (age 4–6 years) were conducted in this manner. The interviews were taped and then transcribed for evaluation and interpretation by the research team. The responses from the children clearly show an early awareness of religious differences. In describing what they see in the pictures or how they named and interpreted the artefacts shown to them, at least some of the children most naturally used religious terms like minister or imam, church or mosque, etc. The fact that there were differences between the children in this respect indicates that religious socialization clearly plays a role for what children see and for what language they use in their descriptions. In this sense, the understanding should not be that all children react the same way to religious differences. What the results show is the possibility that children are able to perceive religious differences and that children can also be interested in talking about such differences. In other words, the understanding that children are just too young to notice and to communicate about religious differences cannot be maintained in light of these results. Some examples show the kinds of conversations captured by this research (the examples are taken from Edelbrock et al. 2010; also see Dubiski et al. 2012). The first example comes from a role-play which included the invitation to visit a church together with Christian children. Two Muslim children (E and J) are responding to the questions of the interviewer (= I). I: Would you like to come? Both: No. I: Do the children come and watch it? E: No. You can only sit there. I: You think one can only sit there? E: Yes. I: Have you ever been there? J: No. They also pray. But they don’t pray to the God above but they pray to the God they have created themselves


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This example indicates both, the understanding that a church is different from what these two Muslim children consider their own place (they refer to the people who attend worship services in a church as “them”) as well as a critical evaluation of what is done in a church. The God people are praying to in a church is not acceptable from their point of view. Although the designations of “Christian” and “Muslim” are not used in this conversation, it is obvious that the children show some awareness of the difference between the two traditions. In other conversations with different children, there were also examples of how children made use of the different designations (although sometimes in a somewhat unintentionally corrupted manner, for example, speaking of “Lims” instead of “Muslims”). Critical views and attitudes were not only found with Muslim children. A Christian girl clearly distinguished between her own way of praying and the way Muslims pray (she was commenting on a picture of Muslims in prayer). Moreover, she said that she only “likes” her own way of praying while she calls what she sees in the picture “ugly”. In another discussion, Muslim children report that their families do not celebrate Easter: “I do not like it […] my mother also not, my sister also not, my brother also not”. The other child adds: “All of us do not like it”. These statemenst indicate that the children should not be viewed in isolation. They are part of familial communities (at least in this case where such commuities seem to exist) and what they say does not just come from their own voices. They call Easter “haram” and doing so they may well quote a parent as their authority (“my mother told me”). Yet this should also not be taken to mean that children only are their parents’ voice. Instead, it seems more appropriate to speak of processes of co-construction in which both sides, children as well as parents, contsruct certain views togehter. Fortunately, critical and negative views of the other religion(s) were the exception in the interviews, although they should not be overlooked. The sample for the interviews was not representative but aimed at identifying the range of possible views and attittuides mainatined by the children. In sum, the interviews led to a number of interesting conclusions: • Children can be aware of religious differences at an early age. They encounter other children who have different religious or non-religious backgrounds and the different experiences the children have can be part of their exchanges in kindergarten, just like everythig else in their lives. At the same time, it also became obvious that children are often lacking information about the different backgrounds involved or that they do not have a language to describe, for example, religious rites practiced in their families. The lack of language

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appllies both to a terminology adequate to such rites as well as to the concrete designations sometimes in other languages like Arabic for which they have no translations. The limited abilities to describe religious contents and express religious views is accompanied by also limited abilities to reason about differeing religious outlooks with others. In some cases, the children ended up just repeating their own views over and over, for example, concerning the divinity of Jesus (the “son of God”), while others did the same with their views. In this case, the children found no way of getting beyond the stalemate which indicates that there clearly is a need for educational support and impulses in this respect as well. Not only children’s religious ideas but also their views of religious differences appear to be socially embedded. Sometimes the children pointed out that their parents told them what is good or bad. In other cases, the “we” the children apply to themselves seems to refer to a wider commuity like Christians or Muslims although the children do not express this very clearly. The social embeddedness of such opinions should not be taken to mean that what the children say is not really their own views. It seems more appropriate to assume that co-constructions, in which children and parents share their views and come up with opinions or attitudes which are then characteristic for both, children and parents alike exist. The interview material includes many peaceful views of religious differences. Sometimes the children even suggest strategies how different groups can be respected in kindergarten, for example, if one allows them to pray one group after another. Yet there also were negative views which, in later times, could turn into real prejudice. Children should never be idealized. It does not seem be the case that children tend to be peaceful with each other while adults tend to become negative or even aggressive and hostile. Again, it is important to be aware of how the children’s and the parents’ views are intertwined. In a society in which negative stereotypes abound, children will not be exempt from their influence from early on.

4 How Well are Kindergarten Teachers Prepared for Interreligious Education? Another main question for this chapter refers to how well institutions of early childhood education are prepared for accompanying children in relation to religious differences. This question can be applied at a number of different levels


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and to a number of different aspects. It may refer to how such institutions present themselves, for example, in their official descriptions in terms of educational goals and their ethos. It may also be applied more specifically to how such institutions relate to different groups of parents by addressing or not addressing aspects like cultural and religious backgrounds. All of this also has to do with different sponsorships. It makes a difference in the present context if such institutions see themselves as state-sponsored institutions or as the results of shared initiatives from non-state actors like parents, churches or other associations and organizations. As a result of different forms of organization the composition of the children in kindergartens may vary. As recent research results from Vienna have shown, some parents may have the feeling of not being welcome, for example, as Muslims with special needs and expectations and as a consequence, they may not send their children to certain kindergartens (cf. Hover-Reisner et al. 2018). While it would definitely make sense to take all of these aspects into consideration in research as well, there is no doubt that the kindergarten teachers play a key role for how successful children will actually be accompanied in relation to religious differences. It is these teachers who are responsible for the children on an everyday basis and it is their styles of working with the children which determine what the children will experience or not. This is why the question how well kindergarten teachers are prepared for interreligious education was chosen as the main question in the following. In the Tübingen research projects on which this chapter is based, this general question was investigated in a number of more concrete directions. Three aspects are especially important: • How much do the teachers know about different religions? • Do the kindergarten teachers feel that they are prepared for interreligious education? • How much emphasis do they give to interreligious education in their work? How much do the teachers know about different religions? It seems obvious that knowledge concerning the religious traditions which have been influential in the lives of the kindergarten children is a necessary presupposition for successful pedagogical work in multireligious contexts. In many cases, the needs of a child cannot be understood without such knowledge. This becomes especially visible in times of crisis, for example, after a serious accident or a death in the family. In order to be able to give support to a child in

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such a s­ ituation, one needs to know how life-threatening situations are dealt with in a certain cultural tradition and what religious rituals are practiced in the case of death. Yet the need for knowledge about different religions is not limited to extreme situations but also apply in less dramatic processes of everyday life. In the studies carried out with the kindergarten teachers (Schweitzer et al. 2008; 2011), most teachers said that they are familiar with Christianity. This is in line with their own religious adherence. Only a few teachers indicated that they were also familiar with Islam (or other non-Christian) religions. It seems then that neither their initial training nor later kinds of ongoing education have provided the kindergarten teachers with a good knowledge base concerning the different religions which they inevitably encounter in their everyday work. In our most recent study which has not yet been published, the results concerning kindergarten teachers’ familiarity with different religions appear to be unchanged. Moreover, in order to go beyond the self-estimated state of knowledge, this study introduced a test in which kindergarten teachers were asked to actually show their respective knowledge. The results of this test supported their self-perceptions. In other words, knowledge about different religions is by no means guaranteed with kindergarten teachers. Do the kindergarten teachers feel that they are prepared for interreligious education? When asked about how well the teachers felt prepared for taking over tasks of interreligious education the responses were similar as in the case of knowledge relating to different religions. This makes sense in that this kind of knowledge should indeed be considered a presupposition of quality interreligious education. Yet knowledge certainly is just one component in this respect. Other components which refer more to general educational insights, to attitudes as well as to procedures and adequate methods most likely also contribute to the sense of being ready and well-prepared for certain educational tasks. According to the teachers’ responses in the studies mentioned above, their training has not been very helpful in terms of preparing them for tasks of interreligious education. In order to achieve more objective insights in this case as well, different forms of training for future kindergarten teachers were examined and interviews were conducted with representatives responsible for this training at different levels (cf. the studies in Schweitzer and Biesinger 2015). The results of this examination confirmed the impressions related by the kindergarten teachers. The training systems in Germany have not found successful ways to include religious and interreligious questions in their programs. While there certainly are exceptions and


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while some institutions have gone further in this respect than others, it seems fair to state that, at least in general, preparing kindergarten teachers for interreligious education still is an aim for the future. How much emphasis do the kindergarten teachers give to interreligious education in their work? This question refers to the actual practice of the teachers, not only their feelings about it or their impressions. The answer cannot be just deducted from the earlier questions concerning the training of these teachers. In many cases, educational work requires the personnel to take on new tasks for which they have not or not sufficiently been trained. Yet this does not seem to be the case with interreligious education. In this case, lack of preparation seems to directly lead to a respective lack of practical realizations which, in turn, again underscores the importance of including the acquisition and development of interreligious competence with the training of future kindergarten teachers. It was also noted in the studies mentioned above that the kindergarten teachers felt even more insecure concerning Muslim children and their religious education. Only a very small percentage of the teachers indicated that there was any attempt in their kindergartens to make special religious or religious educational offers to Muslim children although the percentag of such children in their groups was quite substantial (as mentioned above, on the average about every seventh child in German kindergartens is affiliated with Islam). While again there are notable exceptions which can be described as examples of “good practice”, in this respect, the general picture is quite different. Interreligious education and especially attempts to do justice to Muslim children in terms of their religious needs have remained rare.

5 Conclusions This chapter pursued three questions, one general question and two more specific research questions concerning the children and concerning the teachers in kindergarten. At the end of the chapter, three claims can be raised which correspond to these questions. First, the importance of religion in elementary education has obviously been clearly underrated, in terms of education as well as integration. At least in some countries, there is still no awareness of the fact that elementary education has turned into the first meeting place for children with other children with different

Interreligious Education with Young Children: A Neglected …


religious backgrounds or with no such background. It is very unlikely (although the question is in need of more rigorous research) that these encounters are of no consequence in later life, be it for better or for worse. Consequently, the issue of interreligious education with young children clearly deserves more attention, in research as well as in politics. Second, young children are quite able to understand differences between different religions and worldviews. The traditional view that children should first develop a religious identity before they encounter other religions fails the reality of most elementary educational institutions with their increasingly broad mix of children from different backgrounds, specifically including religious backgrounds. Moreover, children raise questions concerning different religions, no less than in other respects about the realities they encounter in growing up in today’s societies. While not all of the understandings which children develop in such contexts appear adequate from the perspective of adults, the examples quoted above clearly indicate that children are willing and able to make sense of religious diversity. They do so in their own ways—as children—and they should be supported by religious education in further developing their views as they grow up. Third, kindergarten teachers need to be trained for tasks of interreligious education. This last point seems more than evident in a situation in which multireligious encounters have become part of the everyday work of these teachers. Yet the training of kindergarten teachers obviously has not kept pace with such practical exigencies. This is why preparing kindergarten teachers for the task of interreligious education should be viewed as a key to the future—for the teachers no less than for the children and for society at large.

References Arbeitsgruppe Bildungsberichterstattung (Ed.). (2018). Bildung in Deutschland 2018. Ein indikatorengestützter Bericht mit einer Analyse zu Wirkungen und Erträgen von Bildung. Bielefeld: wbv. Aslan, E., & Rausch, M. (Eds.). (2018). Religious education between radicalism and tolerance. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Biesinger, A., Edelbrock, A., & Schweitzer, F. (Eds.). (2011). Auf die Eltern kommt es an! Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Bildung in der Kita. New York: Waxmann. Biesinger, A., Schweitzer, F., Gronover, M., & Ruopp, J. (Eds.). (2012). Integration durch religiöse Bildung. Perspektiven zwischen beruflicher Bildung und Religionspädagogik. New York: Waxmann.


F. Schweitzer

Dubiski, K., Maull, I., & Schweitzer, F. (2012). How many Gods in heaven? Young children and religious plurality—Results of a qualitative study. Journal of Empirical Theology, 25, 99–122. Edelbrock, A., Biesinger, A., & Schweitzer, F. (Eds.). (2012). Religiöse Vielfalt in der Kita. So gelingt interreligiöse und interkulturelle Bildung in der Praxis. Berlin: Cornelsen. Edelbrock, A., Schweitzer, F., & Biesinger, A. (Eds.). (2010). Wie viele Götter sind im Himmel? Religiöse Differenzwahrnehmung im Kindesalter. New York: Waxmann. Hover-Reisner, N., Schluß, H., Fürstaller, M., Andersen, C., Habringer, M., Medeni, E., et al. (2018). Pluralität in Wiener Kindergärten. Prozesse und Strukturen von In- und Exklusion. Wien: Lit. Schweitzer, F. (2013). Das Recht des Kindes auf Religion (New edition ed.). Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus. Schweitzer, F., & Biesinger, A. (Eds.). (2015). Kulturell und religiös sensibel? Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Kompetenz in der Ausbildung für den Elementarbereich. New York: Waxmann. Schweitzer, F., Biesinger, A., & Edelbrock, A. (Eds.). (2008). Mein Gott – Dein Gott. Interkulturelle und interreligiöse Bildung in Kindertagesstätten. Basel: Beltz. Schweitzer, F., Edelbrock, A., & Biesinger, A. (Eds.). (2011). Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Bildung in der Kita. Eine Repräsentativbefragung von Erzieherinnen in Deutschland – interdisziplinäre, interreligiöse und internationale Perspektiven. New York: Waxmann.

Early Childhood Education and Islam Ednan Aslan


There is an increasing interest in professional preschool education in Muslim countries. This creates a previously unknown challenge for Muslims: how can they establish the education of their children with modern pedagogical insights on one hand and Quranic-Prophetic interpretations of education on the other. Islamic preschool establishments tend to make a special effort in maintaining the traditional religious upbringing, but also, from the outset, try to appear to be no different from other mainstream preschool establishments. There seems to be an increasing paradoxical phenomenon in Islamic preschools as attempts are made to achieve the Islamic concepts of education within the framework of Western pedagogy. This creates unexpected theological issues, which Muslims are unfamiliar with their own history of educating children. The theology of early childhood education is pushed into a corner by modern pedagogy, which increasingly limits the playing field of Islamic traditions. This then leads to the creation of establishments that try to either protect and defend the traditions with radical ideas, or establishments that are open to new insights and also critically question their own traditions. In an attempt to illustrate the current debate in early childhood education, this contribution presents examples from Turkey, Palestine and Austria to give an insight into educational concepts and theological positions.

E. Aslan (*)  Vienna, Austria e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_6



E. Aslan


Islam · Hadith · Qur’an · Early Islamic education


education · Turkey · Palestine ·

1 Introduction As in all religions, religious education also has a special place in Islam. A child can only be saved from divine sanctions both in this world and in the hereafter through religious education. Accordingly, it must be at the center of parental care: ‘O YOU, who have attained to faith! Ward off from yourselves and those who are close to you, that fire (of the hereafter) whose fuel is human beings and stones.’ (Qur’an 66:6). Detailed indications as to what education one has to observe in order to avert the punishments of this world and the hereafter cannot be found in the Qur’an, but there are numerous recommendations for a just and responsible life. After Islam as a religion with all its rituals was established, it also became necessary to organize education according to certain norms in order to encourage children to respect the moral norms of Islam and to obey the religious practices properly. Knowledge of God and the faith should protect children from all of this world’s harm, and education for an Islamic life would be the parents’ natural task.

2 The Child as Something Entrusted to the Parents According to one of the Prophet’s statements, every person comes into the world as a “Muslim”—which means nothing more than “God-given-one”: ‘Every child is born in the original form. Thereafter the parents make him a Jew, Christian or Zoroastrian’ (Al- Buḫārī, ǧanāiz 79). A Muslim family must therefore be built on Islamic foundations and it is recommended that men marry religious women in order to ensure that their children receive a religious education (Ibn Māǧa, Nikah 6). The introduction to Islamic life begins with the adhān (prayer call) being spoken into the child’s ear, the child being given a Muslim name and a sacrificial animal being slaughtered right after the child’s birth. When it gets older it starts to learn to read the Qur’an (Canan 2000, pp. 50 ff.). The core of Islamic education is, in addition to these rituals, the children’s religious knowledge. In this process, the parents – as the authority the children emulate—play a central role.

Early Childhood Education and Islam


Although the debate about professional early childhood education in Muslim countries is not new, the family’s role in it has never been called into question because the sources of religion do not provide a substitute for the family (Gül 2009). This is also the reason why the steadily growing number of kindergartens in Muslim countries is making some clergy increasingly uneasy: ‘Because mothers no longer stay at home, we now have kindergartens (Turkish: anaokullari), more precisely: “mother schools”. And because we no longer have peace of mind at home, we have also opened old people’s homes (Turkish: huzurevleri, more precisely “serenity or peace of mind houses”).’ (Kıranşal 2017)

Since early childhood education, in the Islamic countries, as an independent educational concern, only became important at the beginning of the 1990s, it has not yet succeeded in establishing itself as an object of research and teaching at the state universities. Anaokullari, or educational institutions for preschool children, are therefore a relatively new and modern phenomenon (Gül 2009, p. 269). As a fairly recent development, the president of the Turkish Religious Affairs Bureau also wants to institutionalize religious elementary education at the country’s universities (Erbaş 2018). Following a brief introduction to Islamic education, this article will focus on the theory and practice of early childhood religious education using the example of two Muslim countries. Also of interest is a brief examination of how the kindergartens in Muslim countries differ in terms of religious education in kindergartens for Muslim children in Europe and, if necessary and possible, reciprocally inspire and influence each other. This study is based on curricula used in early childhood educational institutions in Turkey and Palestine, as well as the curricula used in some kindergartens in Austria.

3 Religious Education in Elementary Education Institutions in Turkey A project carried out by the Turkish Ministry of Education in cooperation with the Office of Religious Affairs from 2013 to 2014 focused on the institutionalization and implementation of religious education for preschool-aged children (Ilerihaber 2017). Within a short period of time, hundreds of thousands of families could be reached, who had registered their children for the program. Teachers entrusted with religious education in kindergartens were recruited from existing Qur’an schools following a job interview (Öztürk 2018). The Turkish Religious


E. Aslan

Authority considers this an important step because, in their view, the children of this age group needed professional education: ‘The impact of religious and moral education on the personality and socio-cultural identity of children in the four-to-six-year age group requires moral and religious education. If children’s interest and curiosity are answered in an unqualified manner or left unanswered, this can result in negative attitudes and thoughts in later years.’ (Başkanlığı İşleri Diyanet 2017, p. 5)

The curriculum elaborated by a commission covers the central themes of the Islamic religion, i.e. love and grace, duty and responsibility, justice, patience, supplication, gratitude, prophets, Qur’an, love of the homeland, respect for Islamic holidays and the martyrs of Islam. On the basis of these topics, the following should be achieved at preschool-age level: • • • • •

an awareness of the meaningful power of Islamic values, the will to put these values into practice, the ability to read and understand the Qur’an, a readiness to acknowledge God and the Prophet Muhammad, a solid religious and ethical education. (Öztürk 2018, p. 15)

The curriculum’s core is the ability to read the Qur’an, which is a highly valued and necessary qualification expected by parents. According to this curriculum, the children should be able to • • • •

read the Qur’an in Arabic, learn, if possible, the entire Qur’an by heart (hafizlik), memorize and recite the call to prayer, internalize knowledge of the basics of the Islamic religion.

In order to evaluate their success, i.e. to determine whether the content of the individual units was understood, the children must be able to answer certain questions. For example, after the unit “memorization of supplication and surah” the following questions are asked: ‘What is a supplication, what supplications have we learned, when do we pronounce the supplications?’ ‘What does surah mean? Which surah did we memorize? What does it mean (in Turkish)?’ (Öztürk 2018, p. 19)

Early Childhood Education and Islam


Fig. 1   From a Qur’an group for children aged four to six of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Turkey (Yeniakit 2019)

Furthermore, the curriculum recommends teaching the children religious songs and offering them leisure time activities (Öztürk 2018, p. 19). Some religious educators in Turkey critically examined the curriculum. In particular, they assigned pedagogical values to the requirements formulated in it, as they do not adequately address the developmental psychology of children (Tosun and Çapcıoğlu 2015). In fact, the curriculum may well reflect the department’s efforts to incorporate new psychological and pedagogical insights on education at the pre-primary school level, albeit using their instrumentalization to convey religious contents. So when the children are asked about what they have learned and understood at the end of each unit, the goal can hardly be the promotion of their individual strengths, interests and talents, and the stimulation of independent thought processes. Instead, the children are being trained in certain types of religious behaviors. In this regard, for example, the central theme of the curriculum ‘I know the Qur’an’ (see Fig. 1) can be cited as an example: ‘Activity: The educator forms a learning circle. The individual children are given a Qur’an. The educator asks the children to look at the Qur’an and examine it. Then she lets them listen to a Qur’an recitation. The educator explains that the Qur’an is the revelation of God and that the children should listen to it respectfully. Afterwards, the educator asks the following questions to evaluate her lesson: Evaluation of the activity: What is this book called? Did you see this book?


E. Aslan Did you listen to the Qur’an? Who sent this book down? What does this book contain?’ (Başkanlığı İşleri Diyanet 2019, p. 252)

This way of mediating aims at the reproduction of factual knowledge. Whether or not it has meaning in the children’s lives or can be applied by them is not discussed in the curriculum. As a result, the children’s religious understanding and experiences are conceivably one-sided in character. Mehmet Nas (2018) asked in his study, among other things, about the children’s ideas about hell and paradise (see Fig. 2), and found that they were strongly associated with God’s punishment: ‘If we love God, we will go to paradise, otherwise we will go to hell. […] Some children […] gave good and bad deeds as examples, as a result of which people either go to paradise or go to hell’ (Nas 2018, pp. 83, 93).

Fig. 2   Drawings by five- to eight-year-old children on their ideas of paradise and hell. (Nas 2018, p. 100)

Early Childhood Education and Islam


On the other hand, the recommendations of the Department of Religious Affairs certainly indicate an effort to strengthen the love of God, albeit on the basis of and according to the conception of God prescribed by theological teachings. The children are not at all encouraged to develop their own images of God.

4 Religious Education in Pre-Primary Education in Palestine Religious education in Palestine is subject to special conditions, which is why it can only be compared to other Islamic countries to a certain extent. For this contribution, Palestine is relevant because Islam unfolds there in the context of tensions between Israel and Palestine. In particular, its appearance is offensive under the special circumstances, which are endorsed and supported by the Islamic ­countries. In the introduction to the curriculum, the Palestinian Ministry of Education notes that it covers Islamic education under Palestinian conditions (Mustafi 2014, p. 2). In the following is a list of topics important for the preschool education of children: • everything begins with “in the name of God”, • the creed • love for God’s creation, • reading (the pictures prove that this is about reading the Qur’an!), • prophets • parents • short surahs from the Qur’an, • rules of conduct in Islam (greeting, mutual help, respect for the elderly, visiting the sick, celebrating festivals, etc.) • ritual prayer, • significance of Jerusalem, • longer surahs from the Qur’an. The books produced by the Ministry of Education for elementary education in kindergartens show a very traditional image, one that has endured for centuries throughout Islamic history: girls wearing headscarves, women in traditional roles, hell, reward, punishment, God’s power, recognition of God on earth, prayer, memorization of the Qur’an, the significance of the Qur’an surahs for the people, see Fig. 3 (Mustafi 2014, p. 7)


E. Aslan

Fig. 3   Hell, reward, punishment, God’s power in Understanding of children (Mustafi 2014, p. 7)

This image seeks a child-oriented account of the meaning of the two āyāt (verses): “Lead us to the straight path, the way of those to whom you have shown mercy and those who have not fallen into the wrath of Allah (God) and not gone astray!” (Qur’an 1:6–7) This illustration is intended to provide a description of those people who have caused God’s wrath (Mustafi 2014, p. 9). Compared to the Palestinian books and curricula, the Turkish curricula, teacher manuals and teaching materials put more emphasis on psychological and pedagogical developments, but no significant differences in content or religious beliefs are discernable. In both curricula, religion is presented as a kind of knowledge package that leaves very few or no opportunities for the children to focus on and give expression to their own experiences and discoveries. On the other hand, both curricula demonstrate that efforts were made to ensure that the teaching of religion is based on current scientific knowledge, even though its application is in the foreground.

Early Childhood Education and Islam


5 Islamic Kindergartens in Europe Exemplified by Austria The idea of stay-at-home mothers taking over the educational tasks no longer corresponds to the social reality of Muslim families in Europe. Muslims increasingly appreciate and take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by elementary education institutions and seek to establish such facilities or to meet the cultural and religious needs of their children in existing institutions. The opening of Islamic kindergartens in European countries repeatedly raises the question of whether these institutions are really intended to ensure the Muslim children’s linguistic and social integration. Not infrequently, in addition to constituting political debates, Muslim kindergartens have been the focus of various European court proceedings (Hudec 2016; welt.de 2019). Overall, it is not easy for Muslims to establish an Islamic kindergarten in Europe. In Austria, the situation for Muslims regarding the establishment of educational institutions is more favorable compared to other European countries, since Islam is perceived as a public corporation and thus has the same rights and obligations as churches and other religious communities (Bundesministerium Europa 2019). Until the publication of a study by the author of this article (Aslan 2016) titled Evaluation of Selected Islamic Kindergartens and Groups in Vienna, both politically responsible people and the Austrian public only superficially and inadequately dealt with the topic of Islamic kindergartens and children’s groups. These kindergartens have been largely absent from scholarly research, which is why almost nothing is known about the methods and values that are used in Islamic kindergartens and other children’s groups. Because the names of the sponsoring associations or the publicly accessible concepts of the institutions seldom explicitly point this out, it is not always easy to identify an elementary-pedagogical institution as an Islamic institution (Aslan 2017). In this study, elementary education institutions are classified as “Islamic” if they attach great importance to compliance with halal regulations, or if the organizational sponsors refer to themselves as Islamic in their statutes and attach particular importance to Islamic education as part of their activities. An even clearer indication of a decidedly Islamic institution is the offering of lesson on Islam and the Qur’an (Aslan 2017, pp. 11–16). The overwhelming majority of the operators of Muslim institutions have set up kindergartens with the intention of providing Muslim children with a safe and secure environment:


E. Aslan ‘We all agree that our children should grow up in an Islamic environment and with an Islamic education from an early age. The “Integrative Education and Information Center” has already laid a good foundation for this with a number of kindergartens in Vienna (iqra, Yasin, Furqan, Baraka): More than 1000 children between the ages of two and six have been cared for, educated, prepared for school and taught in these institutions. Unfortunately, however, many children go on to public schools without an Islamic environment and Islamic education for lack of Islamic alternatives. The gap is particularly large and dangerous for 10-to-15-year-old children, since there is no sophisticated Islamic primary or secondary school available in Vienna. Our goal is to look after the Muslim children after kindergarten, especially adolescents, and prepare them with God’s help for their future lives.’ (Aslan 2016, p. 145)

Similarly, another kindergarten operator comments on the Islamic environment and on the promotion of Islamic values: ‘We are committed to helping children to follow them in their development, to accompany them, to help them develop their Islamic personality, and to encourage them through a well-prepared environment. Value systems and Islam as overarching concepts are a part of our lives, which of course is also reflected in the daily routine of the children’s group. The focus is on the playful mediation of the German language, Islamic manners (adab) and the Arabic literary language.’ (Aslan 2017, p. 146)

In this sense, parents also think that they can protect their children from the dangers of Western-oriented society with its values that are contrary to Islam. Muslim parents choose an Islamic educational institution because they feel that their children are better looked after there. Religious education is seen as a guarantee of respect for one’s own tradition; Muslim operators are given more confidence and recognition for linguistic and cultural reasons. Furthermore, it is especially true for Muslim mothers since they know Austria only from their limited everyday experiences and therefore judge it in a way that is then used as a basis for their decision-making. In this regard, the Islamic kindergartens also serve, among other things, as a protective space recognized by the parents (Aslan 2017, pp. 64 f.).

6 Contents of Religious Education An annual plan of an Islamic institution operated by a Europe-wide organized association reveals topics that are very similar to those of the Turkish and Palestinian curricula:

Early Childhood Education and Islam


• Qur’anic alphabet—spread out over the year: half of the Arabic alphabet, the whole Arabic alphabet, Arabic drawings, words to read; • Hifz (memorization), various Arabic supplications, Surah 1 of the Qur’an, the Creed, Surahs 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 114, 113, 112, 103 from the Qur’an, prayer for fasting, supplications for entering and leaving the house; • Asma al-Husna—throughout the year, the ninety-nine names of God are memorized; meaning of pilgrimage, sacrificial feast, alms tax, meaning of prayer, Qur’an and other sacred books, angels, Lailat al Mi’raj (Prophet Muhammad’s Heavenly Journey), fasting during Ramadan; • beliefs • God, good and bad deeds, patience, gratitude, paradise; • prophets—Abraham, Nuh, Muhammad, Yusuf; • seasons • sacrifice, Islamic New Year, the birth of the Prophet, holy nights in Islam. Following the publication of the study on the position of religion in Islamic elementary school institutions, many kindergartens changed their concepts and reduced the amount of religious content. However, the annual plan above offers insight into what the facilities would like to do if they had the necessary freedom and financial support (derstandard.at 2017). After the institutions either reduced or completely eliminated their religious offers, many parents refused to entrust their children to them—with serious consequences for the operators: ‘This situation poses great challenges to the operators, not only in terms of their theological ideas, but also in terms of parents’ expectations—in order not to lose the parents who secure their livelihoods, they must succeed in developing alternatives to religious education.’ (Aslan 2017, p. 50)

In addition to Austria, the tendency to found Muslim elementary education institutions is also observable in other European countries. In the process, they are increasingly challenged with meeting parents’ theological expectations, on one hand, and the pedagogical requirements of a plural society, on the other. The extent to which the associations can free themselves from their theological and ideological constraints as well as reflect their religion within the context of a secular-pluralistic society will become evident in the coming years. One thing, however, has become very clear to Muslims: that the concepts and conceptions that they brought with them from their countries of origin need to be thoroughly revised, and that an updated contemporary orientation toward religiosity must be sought.


E. Aslan

7 Closing Remarks The emergence of denominational elementary education institutions in Muslim countries is a relatively new phenomenon that could be observed in Western countries for the last two decades. It is a well-known fact that there have been Qur’an reading courses for preschool children in Muslim countries since time immemorial (Başkanlığı İşleri Diyanet 2019, p. 16). What is new, however, is the emergence of kindergartens that seek to combine traditional religious education with modern pedagogically didactic methods. Nonetheless, both in the Muslim countries and with regard to Muslims living in Europe, it can be said that, in view of the sometimes highly traditional ways of thinking and behaving, it has so far been impossible to develop viable educational concepts. In many cases, the prevailing understanding of religion is too impedimentary for the basic principles of didactics and pedagogy in order for them to find their way into the curricula of elementary educational institutions attempting to adopt didactic concepts from the West. But how should the children develop a healthy religiosity if they are unable to think and act independently or question their parents’ religiosity? Recent trends can be observed in the elementary education facilities and curricula of the institutions studied, but lasting changes in the mindsets and practices of these institutions seem to take time, above all, in people who are committed to them.

References Al-Buḫārī, M. (1992). Ğāmiʿ ṣ-ṣaḥīḥ. Istanbul: Çağrı Yayınları. Aslan, E. (2016). Evaluierung ausgewählter Islamischer Kindergärten und -gruppen in Wien. https://www.bmeia.gv.at/fileadmin/user_upload/Zentrale/Integration/Studien/ Abschlussbericht__Vorstudie_Islamische_Kindergarten_Wien_final.pdf. Accessed: 22. Jul. 2019. Aslan, E. (2017). Islamische Kindergärten und -gruppen. https://www.bmeia.gv.at/fileadmin/user_upload/Zentrale/Integration/Studien/Islamische_Kindergaerten_und_-gruppen-_Ednan_Aslan.pdf. Accessed: 12. Jun. 2019. Bundesministerium Europa (2019). Islamgesetz. https://www.bmeia.gv.at/integration/islamgesetz/. Accessed: 11. Apr. 2019. Canan, I. (2000). Hz.Peygamber’in Sünnetinde Terbiye. Istanbul: Işık Yayınları. derstandard.at (2017). Religionspädagoge: Islam-Kindergärten vor Zulassung kontrollieren. https://www.derstandard.de/story/2000059686992/aslan-kindergarten-betreibervor-zulassung-kontrollieren. Accessed: 12. Jun. 2019. Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı. (2017). Kur’an Kursları Öğretici Kitabı 1/2. Ankara: Diyanaet İşleri Başkanlığı.

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Erbaş, A. (2018). Diyanet İşleri Başkanı Erbaş: “Üniversitelerde ‘Okul Öncesi Din Eğitimi’ bölümünün açılmasını istiyoruz”. September 06, 2018. https://www.diyanet. gov.tr/tr-tr/Kurumsal/Detay/11930/diyanet-isleri-baskani-erbas-universitelerde-okuloncesi-din-egitimi-bolumunun-acilmasini-istiyoruz. Accessed: 11. Jul. 2019. Gül, E. (2009). Çocuğun Dini Eğitimi Nasıl Olmalı?. Istanbul: Çıra Yayınları. Hudec, J. (2016). “Al-Huda” zu Recht abgelehnt. https://www.nzz.ch/zuerich/aktuell/ islamischer-kindergarten-al-huda-zu-recht-abgelehnt-ld.126389. Accessed: 11. Jul. 2019. Ibn Māǧa, M. b. (1896). Kitâb Sunan al-Imâm Muḥammad b. Yazîd Ibn Ibn Māǧa. Cairo: al-Maṭba‘at al-‘Ilmiyya. Ilerihaber (2017). Anaokulunda Kuran müfredatı resmen ilan edildi! https://ilerihaber.org/ icerik/anaokulunda-kuran-mufredati-resmen-ilan-edildi-79709.html. Accessed: 08. Sept. 2019. Kıranşal, A. (2017). Evde ana kalmayınca anaokulları açtık, huzur kalmayınca huzur evleri açtık. 5. I. Analiz, Interview. http://www.islamianaliz.com/h/60081/abdulaziz-kiransalevde-ana-kalmayinca-anaokullari-actik-huzur-kalmayinca-huzur-evleri-actik. Accessed: 04. Sept. 2019. Mustafi, H. (2014). ‫ين اثل\ءزجلا يساسال\لؤال\فصلا ةيمالسال\ةئبرتل‬. Ramalah: Bildungsministerium Palästina. Nas, M. (2018). Çocukluk dönemi gelişimi ve dın eğitimi. Yüksek İlsans Tezi. Izmir: İzmir Katip Çelebi Üniversitesi. Öztürk, N. (2018). Okul Öncesi Dini Eğitim: “Kur’an Kursları Okul Öncesi Din Eğitimi Projesi ve ve Öneriler. Ankara: Seta. https://www.setav.org/analiz-okul-oncesi-diniegitim-kuran-kurslari-okul-oncesi-din-egitimi-projesi-ve-oneriler/ Accessed: 08. Jul. 2019. Tosun, C., & Çapcıoğlu, F. (2015). 4-6 Yaş Kur’an Kursları Öğretim Programının Dini Gelişim Kuramları Çerçevesinde İncelenmesi. Pegem Eğitim ve Öğretim Dergisi, 5(5), 705–720. welt.de (2019). Einzige muslimische Kita in Rheinland-Pfalz muss schließen. https://www. welt.de/politik/deutschland/article188596115/Al-Nur-Kita-Einzige-muslimischeKindertagesstaette-in-Rheinland-Pfalz-muss-schliessen.html#. Accessed: 01. Jul. 2019. Yeniakit. Diyanet’in yeni gözdesi 4–6 yaş Kur’an Kursları. https://www.yeniakit.com.tr/ haber/diyanetin-yeni-gozdesi-4-6-yas-kuran-kurslari-183391.html. Accessed: 07. Aug. 2019.

Identity Negotiations in Early Childhood—the Kindergarten as a Central Place for Cultural and Religious Encounters Bettina Brandstetter Abstract

The kindergarten is a social place and as such characterized by cultural differences, religious plurality and linguistic diversity. Currently, public identity policies, which enforce a ‘we-identity’ against ‘the others’, become part of this place. They confront kindergarten teachers with homogenization longings that are opposed to pluralization claims. This paper focuses on dealing with different languages and religious plurality because it involves powerful attributions and space assignments. Kindergarten teachers face this challenge and find opportunities to enable third spaces in which binary logics are overcome in favor of cultural or religious identity negotiations. Therefore, their practice can be a learning place for a discourse-sensitive early childhood education. Keywords

Religion · Culture · Identity · Postcolonial theory · Third space · ­Discoursesensitive early childhood education

B. Brandstetter (*)  Salzburg, Austria e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_7



B. Brandstetter

1 The World Meets in Kindergarten ‘The world meets in kindergarten’—this was the title of an educational guide by Ulich et al. (2001; author’s translation) at the beginning of the millennium, which points out a new challenge brought about by pluralistic kindergarten groups. The book raised great hopes about the possibilities of encounters of children from culturally, linguistically and religiously different backgrounds in kindergarten. This practical guide shows diversity as an enrichment for modern societies. Children will meet diversity with curiosity and use it as a learning opportunity without prejudices, so the authors claim in Intercultural practice and language support in Early Childhood Institutions (Ulich et al. 2001; author’s translation). Yet, it is not that simple. The chances and learning experiences of a pluralistic society are currently becoming increasingly obsolete. Instead, the conflicts, disparities and dividing experiences in the encounter of foreign people are being discussed loudly. They are the results of uncertainties concerning identity that are present in modern societies, which are in turn caused by radical social changes and profound transformative processes. Multiple identities, ways of living, ideologies, cultural traditions and religious orientations seriously irritate perceptions of what is regarded as normal. They question the usual ways of living and education, and put traditions in juxtaposition with the entitlement for new issues. The underlying complexity provokes a longing for homogenization which demands simple structures, orders and identities. Such wishes for homogenization can be found with all aspects of life in modern societies. In particular, they are linked with kindergarten as it is generally regarded a ‘little ideal sphere’ in which social challenges are less present ­(Rabe-Kleberg 2010). At least it is regarded as a sphere in which all children are considered equal, treated in the same manner and where they should all obey the same rules. In kindergarten they should feel a sense of community when celebrating holidays and traditions. Such cravings for homogenization are taken up by the current Austrian government when they favor a clearly unitary Austrian identity. In a current legislative proposal for early years educational institutions the Austrian government demands an orientation towards a unitary “Values and Orientation Guide” (Breit et al. 2018; author’s translation), a universal Austrian codex of values and the commitment for the use of the German language (Parlament der Republik Österreich 2018, p. 1). It is not a focus on appreciation and the promotion of linguistic diversity but their reduction to the language used by the majority society, a language that is additionally called “language of education” and thus enjoys a better reputation.

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This codex of values and orientation claims that the children live in a culture mainly characterized by Christianity and Judaism, and they should therefore be introduced to the ‘Christian symbols and traditions of our society’ (Breit et al. 2018, p. 15; author’s translation and emphasis). Starting at this point of inculturation interreligious education is defined as ‘openness, respect and appreciation towards other cultures and religions’ (Breit et al. 2018, p. 15; author’s translation and emphasis). But being open towards other religious imprints and traditions is limited at the very point at which kindergarten children are forbidden ‘to wear clothing that is linked to a certain ideology or religion’, ‘linked with concealing the head’ (Parlament der Republik Österreich 2018, p. 3; author’s translation). This legal proposal does not focus on the learning experiences of children with different backgrounds, but it instead enforces a way of identity politics that gives priority to the majority society, its language, values and religion. Children who do not belong to this majority society need to be integrated, which does not mean their integration with all their own individual cultural strengths, but instead their assimilation into a so-called ‘Austrian identity’ that has been constructed unitarily.1

2 Between Homogenization and Pluralization Such political discourses influence the public opinion and way of thinking, speaking and acting (as well as vice versa). As early childhood educational institutions are part of the society, public and political discourses influence the daily interactions in kindergarten (Gomolla 2013; Diehm et al. 2013). Additionally, teachers are confronted with a high degree of plurality and heterogeneity in their field of profession. Even in rural areas of Austria, kindergartens have become cultural contact zones where the “ideal of a culturally homogeneous nation” is thwarted. Even there this “ideal sphere”-stylization meets children, parents, partnerships and forms of life which follow different cultural patterns and more than once add different forms of religions to this educational space. At the same time public discourses about migration, integration and plurality of religions are not left behind (Lingen-Ali and Mecheril 2016). They irritate the everyday order and normality, and bring about experiences of foreignness. Nevertheless ‘exorbitant social hopes


to Castro Varela there is simultaneously a reason to fear that—by the best intentions of integration—the foreign children will always remain to be seen as what they are perceived now: the ‘children of the others’ (Castro Varela 2015).


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and expectations’ (Rabe-Kleberg 2010, p. 45; author’s translation) linked with kindergarten put enormous pressure on educators concerning this existent heterogeneity. In order to reduce the complexity of their professional field educators try (alongside social order systems) to standardize the group by means of homogenization strategies and at the same time they try to make children’s differences and peculiarities visible by using a specific pluralization.

2.1 Homogenization in Practice Kindergarten teachers are motivated to give every child the best possible chances and treat all children equally. This mostly means to homogenize the children according to traditional rules and values. Children who have different backgrounds are often considered a problem (Künstler 2015). This is especially visible in the children’s language skills. They are pushed to speak German, which, in Austria, is the language attached to educational value. Children who do not speak the language are considered to have a deficit. For that reason, they get put into a special program for the development of that skill, and to be able to become part of the group. Homogenization often also implies that only one religion is favored. Therefore, the Catholic Church’s festivals have a considerable importance in kindergartens. Other religions are sometimes still seen as a threat to Austria’s “own” identity.

2.2 Pluralization in Practice In addition to homogenization, there is a second strategy that I call pluralization—in the sense of a special emphasis on differences. Kindergarten teachers try to appreciate each child’s individuality and to be cosmopolitan. In practice, they organize projects to visualize well known features of the foreign culture or religion. The most prominent example of such kindergarten practices is the popular “Journey around the World”—a long-term project which takes the children on a virtual journey to various countries and continents. Images, stories, songs, food, clothing and other utensils or traditions as well as the cultures and the religions are presented to the children. In this way differences are often simplified and treated in a stereotypical manner. Children who are considered representative for certain countries or religions are then often treated as if they were experts on “their country” or “their religion”. This can cause discomfort in these children because they may not be at home in the associated culture or religion.

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Through this practice they are marked as “foreign”, as “the children of the others” (­Lingen-Ali and Mecheril 2016). So here, even with best intentions, an othering—as Said (2009) called this phenomenon—takes place. Of course kindergarten teachers do not simply use only these two strategies. In fact, homogenization and pluralization cannot be kept up in reality alone. The so-called “other” will always be present. At the point at which these strategies meet their limits, they will find a gap in between each other, which then holds the potential to renegotiate discourse, orders and identities.

3 Binary Identity Policies and Their Powerful Discourses As a start these two strategies should be discussed as established reactions to plurality in modern societies. They are based on the idea of a ‘we-identity’ which is opposed to the ‘others’. Both strategies are linked to powerful arguments, social orders of thinking and practices that underlie a binary identity policy (Yildiz 2009).

3.1 Homogenization Dominating the Discourse into an Ideal Homogenization is based on the idea of a ‘we-identity’ that includes the ones born in a particular nation, ethnicity or culture. The members of to the ­‘we-group’ share a common language—the mother tongue, which has educational value, while certain other languages are considered inferior. Here dominates the idea of a pure ethnic group, a pure people, a pure nation, which must be preserved as such (Yildiz 2009). Homogenization is based on the idea of a uniform culture with homogeneous values, which are represented by all members. This idea is usually associated with a particular religion. In kindergarten the idea of a homogeneous group of children is often linked with the symbol of a ‘small, ideal sphere’.

3.2 Pluralization Pushing the Discourse Beyond Existing Borders Pluralization means the opposite of homogenization. By pluralization—or even more correct: heterogenization (Yildiz 2009)—some people, strangers, are produced


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as ‘others’. Highly complex identities are then just reduced to typical and often stereotyped attributions. Pluralization is based on categorization. Strangers are depicted as exotic and sometimes racially classified. At times victimization occurs, which allows paternalistic behavior by the representatives of the dominant society. At the same time, it can happen that ‘the others’ take on the role of victims, which then complicates their participation in social processes. Within pluralization social positions are given to individuals, which determine their opportunities for participation and development (Castro Varela 2015).

4 A Post-Structural and Postcolonial View Homogenization and pluralization, in their dichotomous form, can be identified as postcolonial manifestations. They are entangled in powerful discourses and orders of thinking. A discourse, as Foucault coined it, can be understood as a flow of knowledge through time. By ordering or excluding knowledge orders of thinking are produced, ‘which systematically form the objects of which they speak’ (Foucault 1981, p. 74; author’s translation). It is not the language that produces reality, but the order of the speaking practice. Foucault defines it as a discursive practice with its own rules which results in truth and knowledge. Discourses must be understood as a net of various argumentative strands, which mutually enhance each other. In this way they determine what can or cannot be said at a certain time and in certain locations. Discourses have a normative function, are linked to power and can be formed hegemonically (Castro Varela and Dhawan 2015). But they are not static and universal, they are more dependent on context, on history, they are relational and therefore contingent. Their orders can vary according to their social, political or historic environment (Jäger 2015). That means that they need not be taken for granted, but they can also be criticized, changed and reformed (Fegter et al. 2015). As discourses are not only linguistic utterances, but can also be detected in habitual perceptions and actions, they are linked to complexity. They can be found in interactions and institutional contexts as well as in architecture, in spatial and organisational structures (Foucault 2003). In hegemonial conditions discourses replace knowledge and other practices. Postcolonial theoreticians talk about these forms of discourse hegemony and focus on conditions in which social groups are disciplined alongside ­well-established orders and where these orders are used for the legitimized suppression of others (Bhabha 2011; Said 2009; Spivak 2008; Castro Varela and Dhawan 2015; Kerner 2012). Such mechanisms can be found as colonial inheritance (Bachmann-Medick 2010, p. 184), which still has a firm position in

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Europe. The deconstruction of Eurocentric discourses and orders will show these repressive-dominant conditions. Postcolonial theoreticians also point out that ­ there has always been resistance in (post-)colonial conditions. Therefore, they speak of conceptional strategies like Agency (Spivak 2008), Mimikry or Hybridity (Bhabha 2011). Postcolonial theology takes that up ‘to critically question, break up and start controversies about cultural, social, political and economic conditions as well as matters of faith, which contribute to changing structures’ (Nehring and Tielesch 2013, p. 24; author’s translation). Especially new forms of identity, which are created alongside the diversification of cultures and the pluralization of religions, demand a critical focus on (neo-)colonial representations, the distribution of knowledge and power as well as the humanizing processes, powers of definition and allocation processes. It is the aim of my research to bring such relationships to light in kindergartens as social spaces, to deconstruct them and foremost to look for these areas where existing orders can be disturbed and changed.

5 How to Overcome Binary Logics in Kindergarten2 It is possible to find discursive influences which manifest themselves in homogenization and pluralization strategies in kindergarten educational practice—as was mentioned above. But they cannot assert themselves because of the prevailing heterogeneity. At times parents resist common attributions, sometimes children find creative means to resist and evade homogeneous rules and sometimes educators start to reflect on the social orders, question them and open up new spaces for children.


examples are part of my dissertation whose aim it was to ask kindergarten teachers for their subjective theories and strategies when confronted by cultural and religious plurality. Preceding these qualitatively led interviews were observations of work in kindergarten which focused on the strategies of homogenization and pluralization mentioned above. Both strategies were searched by means of post-structural and postcolonial perspectives for their underlying discursive pattern, which produced a matrix for the interview analysis. Finally, the interviews were treated with a postcolonial discourse analysis (Brandstetter 2017).


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Special examples taken from work in kindergartens will explicate the effect of discourses and hegemonial orders below.3 This will show the limits of homogenization and pluralization in day-to-day work when confronted by the respective other. Whenever binary logic can be witnessed, reflected upon and broken, a third space will develop, which enables the negotiation of (cultural and religious) identities.

5.1 Explication: German—the Language of Education • Britta’s kindergarten: German as the child’s duty—an integrating measure? In Britta’s kindergarten the educators decided upon German as a compulsory language and the conversation in other languages is strictly forbidden. The interviewee described the group as ‘natio-ethno-cultural’ (Mecheril et al. 2010, p. 14) and thus linguistically heterogeneous, which hints at an enormous plurality of languages spoken in the family homes. Nevertheless, a strict line of homogenization is kept in this institution. ‘We’ve got few kids who use their mother tongue, and if, we tell’ em to stop. “We talk German in kindergarten.” […] It’s important for us. Last year we had almost none of this, but now, with the newcomers, it’s gonna start a little, but if we are a little strict, then it’s gonna stop again. Right.’ (B, 249‒256; author’s translation)

In this situation German has a hegemonial position, while conversations in the original family language is forbidden. Apparently, using the mother tongue was stopped effectively the previous year. The children obeyed the rule, as Britta explained at another point, but the kids nevertheless always find nonverbal ways of communication. The newcomers will have to be disciplined into this hegemonial rule of German language use. This shows massive homogenization pressure, which public and political discourse has forced on the kindergarten. The kindergarten teacher and her team adhere to this regulation, it is even important to them. At the same time they face limitations brought about by the language ban in their everyday work:


analysis is guided by a topological interest. In the following, it is not intended to devaluate or confirm the pedagogical work in kindergarten, but to show the relation between public discourse and pedagogical action at this place of education.

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‘They [the language differences] are the biggest obstacles, limits which I meet. Everything else can be handled. Well, they do learn eventually, they even understand. And we have lots of kids doing the translating, and well, we’re very grateful for it. They just go over and when we ask “can you tell me, explain that to the girl”, they explain in a very low voice, but they do it (laughs).’ (B, 240‒246; author’s translation)

The interviewee described the linguistic differences as her biggest problem and that is also where she saw the limits of feasibility. In order to communicate in everyday situations, the kindergarten teachers depend on the help of children taking on the role of interpreters. This is the line of homogenization’s breaking point, as it cannot be realized without pluralization. The authority is dependent on other languages in order to keep up its hegemonial position. At the same time this hegemonial position is threatened by breaking the rule. Children, however, never start a change of language on their own. They need to be asked by the kindergarten teachers. The practiced disciplining in the name of homogenization has an effect on the children, this is visible by the fact that they speak ‘in a very low voice’. As there is the strict rule for German, other languages are considered forbidden, inferior and thus used shamefacedly. The then occurring task to use these languages puts the affected children in an ambivalent situation: on one hand they have to violate a set rule and on the other they show that they belong to an (inferior) language group by using this forbidden language, which then excludes the child from the group of German speakers. As children have the urge to belong to the respected “in-crowd”, and not to the inferior ones, maybe for this reason they speak only ‘in a low voice’. Although this creates a gap (third space), as the dominating homogenization strategy meets its limitations because of the pluralization present, it only marginally enables action and proves changes in discourse. • Christa’s kindergarten: Reversal of social order in the third space Christa reported a different example for the use of linguistic plurality. She works in a multinational and multilingual kindergarten run by a parental initiative. Contrary to the example above she does not forbid children to use their mother tongue, but supports the plurality that is present by having a multilingual library in the classroom. Christa also mentions communication problems with extremely uncommon languages. But she takes up inspirations provided by the children: ‘And there was this kid from Bhutan and another girl who spoke, I guess, Nepalese, and she told us something and we all didn’t understand anything (laughs). We then learned from the children, and they just pretended to understand, it looked as if they just had a conversation. And I just thought to myself, why not just pretend as if I had


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understood. And it worked really well, she felt at ease and after some time she really did speak German. […] [A]nd since then I have had the feeling that this matter of fact that you use when talking to the children is then also used by the children themselves.’ (C, 243‒258; translated by the author)

Christa is in the middle of a pluralization discourse, which characterizes this institution (also tangible in the way the rooms are arranged). She does not introduce different languages excludingly and does not use binary coding, at least at the beginning. She sees the linguistic plurality as a given, but does not deny the possible difficulties linked with it. She also strives to teach the German language, but does not use the hegemonial-excluding way seen in Britta’s interview. Her educational work is influenced by cultural imprints, interests and stimuli provided by the children. That’s how she reverses the prevalent order and a third space is created. The children fill this gap with their own imagination: they pretend. This way power can be gained over the context that is characterized by heterogeneity. The kindergarten teacher gets her inspirations from this rather unconventional way of working, which grows beyond any conventional social orders. The teacher takes on responsibility for this pluralizing strategy (in the sense of a productive dealing with plurality) carried out by the children, and she is successful in this.

5.2 Explication: How to Deal with Religious Plurality • Franziska’s kindergarten: Identity loss in multicultural practice Franziska calls her kindergarten a multicultural and multireligious institution. She reported that she had started her career with great enthusiasm and interest for the diversity of the families and children. When celebrating the Christian festival of St. Martin she tried to be helpful and translated the lyrics of a traditional Martin song to the children. ‘And we did just about everything in a multilingual way, we even renamed the festival of St. Martin and called it a Lantern festival, we asked the parents to translate the lyrics of the traditional song. But that felt so completely wrong how we sang it with Bosnian and Turkish words (laughs). It was a shock for the parents, like a culture clash in the opposite direction because we did so much culturalization, and very blatantly too.’ (F, 244‒254; author’s translation)

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At the beginning Franziska uses a plurality strategy by having the traditional song translated into various languages and then singing them. Parents experience this as a shock—on both sides. Both sides complain about the loss of their own identity: Those who did not identify with Austria felt captured by the presentation of this foreign song in their own language. Whereas the parents belonging to the majority culture complained about alienation from their wellknown tradition, and felt that the concessions given to the non-German speaking families were just too much. • Franziska’s kindergarten: A comparative encounter in the third space A year later the kindergarten teacher successfully invited the parents to take part in the St. Martin’s festival. This time the team of educators focused on the values symbolized by the festival. Thus the following situation came up: ‘We played this Martin’s story and just celebrated giving and sharing. And that was the link, the question was “What does it mean?” Being there for others, helping others, noticing others’ needs. And that happened at a time, when Bayram had not been so long ago; and then this situation came up that the Muslim parents talked about their Bayram festival, the others talked about Martin and how they experienced it and that they did not really know much about it. Several groups of faith then really wanted to learn about the legend of Martin and the actual background of the festival.’ (F, 500‒510; author’s translation)

When being presented with the values of this Christian festival, Muslim parents found a link to their own traditions and compare St. Martin with Bayram (Celebration of sacrifice). As even Christian parents did not know much about the festivities of St. Martin, a discussion started and people of different denominations wanted to find out more about this tradition. The teacher succeeded in opening up a meeting space for foreign-religious parents who, in this third space, developed their own tradition and religion in a comparative discourse between religions. A comparative encounter of religion arises, which represents a third space. In these examples, a third space is opened where kindergarten teachers realize the limitations of homogenization and pluralization. They are aware of identity discourses and overcome binary positions. This provides them with an opportunity of relating identity issues, religious plurality and cultural imprinting to each other. This observation can be used for pluralistic religious education.


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6 Identity Negotiations in the Third Space From the practice of the kindergarten teachers I would like to give a few impulses on the publication’s topic. I would also like to emphasize the third space in these practices. The experiences they make in their day-to-day work, characterized by heterogeneity, cultural and religious plurality, can be reflected and used for the further development of an early childhood education, which is sensitive for cultural and religious identity negotiations. First of all: the plurality of our societies is present in early childhood education. Furthermore, religious plurality is also present and no religion can be excluded or reduced to just one tradition. Cultural and religious differences become visible in kindergarten often quite surprisingly when children or parents are confronted with each other’s different views. The account of cultural or religious plurality therefore cannot be reduced to the celebration of certain traditions. Religion is a phenomenon of the third space. Dealing with different identities, always implies a fight over power positions. Children know very well which different religious, cultural or ethnic groups enjoy different degrees of respect. They need competent kindergarten teachers to help them in the correction of prejudices (Wagner 2013). The perception of identities as natural, distinct and unchangeable entities is not complex enough, it does not do them justice. They are in constant tension with each other, and are perpetually being negotiated in third spaces. Religions for example have always been in relation with each other and have emerged in dynamic demarcation processes, which do not reduce, but increase complexity. Other religions are therefore always included in one’s own self-understanding (Rettenbacher 2013), as can be seen with the historical interweaving of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A theology that understands its own identity as referring to other identities will give space to the others within its own identification. And to think this even further: religions are always contextual and cultural (Gruber 2013). In kindergarten they appear as individual family cultures and traditions. Fixed ideas about children’s religious identity are therefore mostly incorrect. Religious and cultural identities also appear in multiple or hybrid forms. Therefore, they cannot avoid perceiving the ‘others’ in their self-understanding. They are constantly in the lookout for the wishes and needs of others. So, early childhood education needs a responsive attitude to this third space. Identity negotiation processes take place in concrete spaces—like the kindergarten. They are also always involved in power struggles, which means that the kindergarten cannot be a power-free place. For Foucault, power relations can be

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understood as productive dynamics that enable development and can be used constructively. Identity negotiations are no isolated events, but are carried out in highly complex, discursive interactions (Winkler 2007). In these interactions social spaces, social positions and opportunities for participation are worked out. Early childhood education has to be aware of injustice, and needs to fight against inequality and discrimination. (For Catholic theology this claim is clearly anchored in the Second Vatican Council). An early childhood education that is aware of third spaces can help overcome binary identity policies. In case of arising conflicts, power relations can be worked on or even be reversed. Children need spaces in which they can try out various aspects of identity to find and develop their own ones.

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Finnish Early Childhood Education and Care: Why Worldview Sensitivity Matters Liam Gearon and Arniika Kuusisto


This article makes the case for the importance of worldview sensitivity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Finland is used here as a case study setting—its systems for intercultural understanding in early childhood education and care, with particular reference to OECD’s (2018) PISA Global Competence Framework. In this context, worldview sensitivity, or the newly framed term of global competency, so often at the fore in societal debates on education’s socializing role in public life, are, as is suggested, a ‘subset’ in the wider frame of value learning. Drawing on one of the authors’ (Gearon) experiences in developing UNESCO’s (2007) Guidelines on Intercultural Understanding as well as their multi-dimensional policy and research modeling of value learning in life trajectory (Kuusisto and Gearon 2017), the article outlines the continued need for integrated thinking on intercultural understanding and worldview sensitivity across all educational phases, beginning with Early Childhood Education and Care. Detailing the complexities of their Value Learning Trajectory Model (VLT), the authors outline the need for a systematic framework which integrates policy and research in three domains: context (placing value learning policy and research at the intersectional interface of L. Gearon (*)  Oxford, UK e-mail: [email protected] A. Kuusisto  Bromma, Sweden e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_8



L. Gearon and A. Kuusisto

macro historical-political-religious traditions); theory (framing value learning in the life trajectory through micro biographical narratives); method (modeling value learning in life trajectories as a process of ongoing negotiation between macro historical-political-religious traditions and micro biographical narratives). In doing so the authors show how and why worldview sensitivity is a matter of acute significance for professionals and for pupils, for researchers and policy-makers. Keywords

Finland’s education system introduction · Religious sensitivity · Ethics of encounter · Early childhood education

1 Introduction For many years, Finland’s education system has been lauded in the international league tables of educational and related attainment, receiving worldwide attention for its positioning in global measures of success, particularly due to OECD’s PISA tables. Yet 2018 marked a radical refinement of OECD’s PISA standards for national educational achievement and attainment with the introduction of a new measure, that of ‘global competence’ (OECD 2018). OECD define global competence as ‘a multidimensional capacity’, one in which ‘[g]lobally competent individuals can examine local, global and intercultural issues, understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views, interact successfully and respectfully with others, and take responsible action toward sustainability and collective well-being’ (OECD 2018, p. 1). While the implications of this new measure for Finland and other countries’ standings in these international league tables are as yet still unfolding, this article examines these international developments in the context of Finland’s Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), proving the parameters for future analysis. So often to the fore of debates on education’s socializing role, these relatively newly framed notions of worldview sensitivity and global competency are, as is suggested, a ‘subset’ in the wider frame of value learning. Drawing on the author’s (Gearon) experience in developing UNESCO’s (2007) Guidelines on Intercultural Understanding and their multi-dimensional policy and research modelling of value learning in the life trajectory (Kuusisto and Gearon

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2017), the article outlines the continued need for integrated thinking on intercultural understanding and worldview sensitivity across all educational phases, beginning with early childhood education and care. Detailing the complexities of their Value Learning Trajectory (VLT) Model (Kuusisto and Gearon 2017), the authors outline the need for a systematic framework which integrates policy and research in three domains: context (placing value learning policy and research at the intersectional interface of macro historical-political-religious traditions); theory (framing value learning in the life trajectory as a meeting of macro h­ istorical-political-religious traditions with micro biographical narratives); method (modeling value learning in life trajectories as a process of investigation of ongoing negotiations between macro historical-political-religious systems and micro biographical narratives). Cognizant of prior work on the contested notion of worldview (Valk 2012; Van der Kooij et al. 2013), and that research specific to early childhood education and care (Schweitzer et al. 2008), the article provides a broader framework to understand the coordinates for mapping the nature of worldview in formative context in more depth. It is in recognising religious sensitivity in Early Childhood Education and Care as a meeting place of the macro h­istorical-political-religious systems and micro biographical narratives that provides an explanation of why worldview sensitivity matters. In conclusion, worldview sensitivity is framed as a deeply ethical historical and contemporary encounter. By necessity only the outline of a case, the authors take Finland’s Early Childhood Education and Care as a case study to show how and why worldview sensitivity is of acute significance for professionals and for the children as well as for researchers and policy-makers. In regards to the main notions, with worldview, we refer to ‘a particular ontological, epistemological and ethical orientation to the world’, which ‘functions as a philosophy of life crucial for giving satisfying meanings to immanent reality’ (Poulter et al. 2017). Worldviews can draw from religious or non-religious traditions, typically, especially as regards to the younger generations of children and youth, combining elements from a variety of traditions (Kuusisto and Te Lovat 2016). Sensitivity has been used to refer to a core element of competence such as teachers’ ‘intercultural sensitivity’ as an essence of their ‘intercultural competence’, in which sensitivity refers to teachers’ ‘active desire to motivate themselves to understand, appreciate and accept differences among cultures’ (Chen and Starosta 1998, p. 231; Wolfgang and Möllenberg 2002).


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2 Finland’s Historical-Political-Religious Context Finland’s geographical positioning between east and west has dominated the tensions of both its political and theological history. Kääriäinen (2011) provides one of the most salient outlines of the complex historical interface of religion and state in Finland over centuries in which Finnish national identity has been colored by successive colonization. The former Swedish rule provides evident and enduring signs which still permeate Finnish culture, language, politics and religious diversity as well as define the country’s predominate geopolitical consciousness as a strong, powerful and, relative to its population, influential western country at the borders of its large neighbor Russia even today. If Catholic identity predominated in the centuries following Finnish conversion to Rome from the ninth century onwards, the Reformation marked a shift towards Protestantism, and in the post-Reformation period of Swedish rule, Lutheran. After the Russian conquest, the territory of Finland was established as a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire in 1809. If Russia took on the mantle of defense of Orthodox Christianity since the 1453 fall of Constantinople, with the Russian Tsar as its nominal figurehead, Finland maintained its Lutheran national identity. The integral relationship between modern Finnishness and Lutheranism, a centuries long effective homogeneity of church and state, is inseparable from any understanding of the current-day relations between church and state, and its many complications in a much more culturally and religiously diverse Finland. In many ways, the 1869 Church Act began the process of mitigation of this close relationship with the large measures of autonomy, self-regulatory and governing powers given by this act—essentially given by the state—to the Lutheran Church in Finland. This arrangement was however in effect an act of uniformity in which Finnish identity was framed religiously either in terms of Lutheranism or Orthodoxy. In recognition of this de facto compulsion in faith—to be outside of either religious allegiances was to question national loyalty—the 1889 Nonconformity Act recognized other churches, though not other religions (Heininen and Heikkilä 2002). The Russian Revolution provided the opportunity for political as well as religious emancipation, with the Bolshevik Government in effect paving the way for the Finnish Declaration of Independence on 6 December 1917, with the 1919 Constitution Act giving legal protection to the practice of any religion or (given the Communist attitudes to religion) none. The 1923 Freedom of Religion Act meant the state no longer, in legal terms at least, gave priority or protection to any faith, including the Lutheran.

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While Russia shares a dual east-west split in its own national identity, the period of Russian domination, the eventual post-Revolutionary emancipation in 1917, the heroically victorious Winter War in the early years of the Second World War—for the majority of native born and rightly patriotic Finns—highlights an essential and confident ridding of the tinges of Eastern identity. With its ­east-west allegiances diplomatically tested during the Cold War, Finland in that Soviet period showed itself a critical if often unacknowledged warrior in the battle over totalitarianism which threatened not just Finland but the whole of Western Europe. Its re-assertion of national sovereignty and confirmed political consciousness as a free, liberal democracy is annually marked by the Finnish Independence Day. The political freedoms depicted in this sketch of Finnish history importantly extended to religion with the defining Freedom of Religion Act of 1923, replaced eighty years later in 2003 with a revised Freedom of Religion Act. The latter outlines the same core principles of choice in matters of belief and faith in a Finland marked by increasing cultural and religious diversity by global migration: ‘There were several reasons to renew the legislation. First, since the 1970s Finland had ratified several international agreements on human rights which included renewed definitions on freedom of religion. Second, there was the feeling that the 75-year-old Freedom of Religion Act was somewhat out of date. Third, freedom of religion was defined in a novel manner in 1995 in the Act of Basic Rights.’ (Kääriäinen 2011, p. 157)

Such developments were integral to the new 2000 Constitution of Finland, itself framing an integral role for and separate legislative role outlined in section 11 Freedom of Religion and Conscience: ‘Everyone has the freedom of religion and conscience. Freedom of religion and conscience entails the right to profess and practice a religion, the right to express one’s convictions and the right to be a member of or decline to be a member of a religious community. No one is under the obligation, against his or her conscience, to participate in the practice of a religion.’ (qtd. in Kääriäinen 2011, p. 157)

The important development in international human rights law was the 1982 United Nations’ Declaration not only on laying down the anticipated legal parameters of freedom of religion but its redefinition to include matters of “religion or belief”. The latter addition to the freedoms of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights may seem minor, but the additional two words ‘or belief’ are profoundly significant. Implicitly acknowledging the growing predominance of secular, humanist and often religiously antipathetic worldviews in the West, along


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with (and probably more importantly) the vast geopolitical swathes of particularly Russian but also Chinese official state communism, de facto state atheism, freedom of religion or belief allowed the notion of faith in any worldview (within the remit of legal limits) to be offered protections. In Finland, the 2003 renewal of the Freedom of Religion Act was similarly integral to wider constitutional and legal renewal. To take Kääriäinen (2011) again: ‘A democratic country cannot treat people differently on the ground of religion or conviction.’ As he rightly notes, this principle was defined by the second chapter of Constitution outlines basic rights and liberties: ‘Everyone is equal before the law. No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.’ (Kääriäinen 2011, p. 158).

Finland, then as now, encapsulates a legally enshrined and rights-based rationale for religious freedom based on the notion of religion as a matter of personal choice concerning religion or belief. Kääriäinen (2011) is however incorrect to suggest that the new Freedom of Religion Act ‘is considered not only as the individual’s own choice but also as part of community tradition’. This is only the case indirectly insofar as religious or other communities (secular, humanists etc.) may share in a particular set of beliefs. The Finnish Constitution gives rights to individuals in matters of religion or belief but only de facto provides protections for communities of believers. Kääriäinen (2011) however is correct in suggesting that the ‘function of the State is to ensure freedom of religion and create the preconditions for its implementation’. We may suggest, then, that State has a protective but existentially distancing role. It provides the conditions which disavows compulsions, be they individual or collective. In terms of religious demographics, this situation is in Finland more complex than ever (Martikainen 2015). Largely related to intensified migration and the refugee crisis which impacted Europe especially strongly in 2016, The Pew Research Center (Pew 2017) predicts a continued rise in Muslim population across Europe, including in Finland even without further immigration. Against the backdrop of the present-day ‘secular Lutheranism’, in which Lutheran faith still has a residual and yet strong part in Finnish national identity, ­nation-construction and tradition (Poulter et al. 2015, 2017), alternative forms of new religious and spiritual movements are also proliferating in Finland, marking a heightened shift towards private understanding of faith as an individual rather than a community quest (Utriainen et al. 2015). There is an increasing diversity of

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other faiths that reflects a multicultural fracturing in this historical, if often nominal, hegemony of state and religion. The strong emphasis on individual choice in religion can however often be in tension with patterns of socialization from home or other cultural community upbringings (Kuusisto 2011; Pessi 2013). While international law since the 1945 founding of the United Nations has come to share human rights principles as norms of governance within and between nations, the notion even in the founding days of the UN that the thirty articles of the 1948 Universal Declaration could be imposed simply by law and diktat was disavowed by the new world order. Thus the Preamble to the Universal Declaration mentions strongly that in the context of the foregoing barbarism that had scarred humanity in the previous half of the century could not be rectified on the ground but only through ‘teaching and learning’. Though it has only been remarked on sparsely, the UN plays an important part in establishing an integral modern role of the relationships between politics and pedagogy. Thus, too, for Finland one of the important conduits for the cultural assimilation of these ideas and principles is and remains educational as much as legal, and to the extent that it impacts on the worldview of developing young people (Tamminen 1994). As Huhta (2014) points out, however, the resolution of tensions between enhanced patterns of intensified secularization, new versions of relations between state and church in a Finland of rapid cultural and religious diversification is not an easy matter, neither for educational policy-makers nor practitioners in the classroom or teacher training. Huhta (2014) provides a useful overview of a pedagogical parallel to some of the political history just outlined, around ‘five stages of history where the role of religion in teaching has become a topic of public and political struggle’: 1. the discussion about establishing elementary schools (1860–1870), 2. the debate on compulsory education (1919–1921), 3. the debate of religious education during post-war years (1946–1950), 4. the discussion on the comprehensive school reform (1964–1972), and 5. the debate on fundamental rights and the new law of religious freedom (1998– 2003).

While focusing on educational policy in political context Huhta (2014) does not provide an insight into the impact of such legislative and related changes at the level of the individual. This is an important point. The critical changes we have sketched out are not minor adjustments in a marginal aspect of the curriculum, whatever we think of religion’s role there, or whatever we might think of the soci-


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etal role of religion generally, or indeed whatever we might think of religion per se. The implementation of a curriculum change in matters of religion or belief is a question of some profound adjustment, or attempted adjustment, in the way young people think. It is designed as such. As we have found in our work, and as many other scholars also attest to, such curricular adjustments can often be—and are not infrequently—at odds with models of thinking from religious individuals and their own communities, or indeed those of beliefs which are modelled around Enlightenment and rationalistic individual autonomy and which may have a legitimately negative view not only of particular religions but of the idea of religion itself. This latter point is not to suggest that faith and reason cannot sit side by side, but it is to suggest that in the classroom, in Finland, as in so many other countries in which the teaching of religion wrestles with such issues, there are real, genuine and often seemingly intractable tensions. Much of the foundational work around worldviews, it should be recognized— both in Finland and internationally—has long surfaced through religious education, perhaps unremarkably since, as we have shown, the greatest differences in worldview outlook are often marked by the religious aspects of cultural differences. Thus in Finnish religious education, for example, the Finnish National Board of Education, the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education (2004) reflects the aims and purposes of teaching and learning in religion as a means— like OECD’s global competency framework PISA—of enabling a better understanding of worldviews as a means of enhancing harmony in an increasingly diverse Finnish society. These approaches are mirrored in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). The revised National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care (2016) thus similarly provides (for the first time mandatory) guidelines for ECEC units for the work on worldview education. Value learning policy and research—whether defined as worldview or religious education or global competency—always highlights the intersection of education with macro historical-political-religious systems. We have taken some space here to provide (for the international readership particularly) the often overlooked importance of the lesser known historical, political and religious backdrop that pertain to Finland, which inevitably, as will be the case for all nations, links Finland to its close neighbors and the international community. For reasons of context we have outlined that these are a matter of large-scale significance but, as our theoretical framing of value-learning shows, one which entails a great deal, too, of individual sensitivity.

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3 Theoretical Framing and Methodological Approach Our theoretical framing and methodological approach offers insights into worldview sensitivity in ECEC as a rich and complex blend of value learning in the individual life trajectory as a meeting of macro historical-political-religious traditions with micro biographical narratives. This systemic and multi-layered complexity can be seen as a kind of ecology of encounter and influence, similar to theories of educational ecology developed by Bronfenbrenner (1979) (Sameroff 2010; Kuusisto 2011). This theoretical perspective sees worldview sensitivities in ECEC (as across all phases of education) as an ever-changing dimension of a broader complex of historical and political, religious and societal shifts. Here we see staging posts in value learning as integral to individual life histories, not as isolated units but as a reactive part of a complex series of frames of multiple and often conflicting influences. The sorts of factors we take into account are those which influence individuals’ value-system constructions, the role of individual agency versus the impacts of environmental factors such as family, other forms of cultural socialization, and of course formal education. Empirical studies elicit here wide-ranging examples of agency through the encounter with and negotiation of value through individual life trajectories as an integral part of learning. The life history approach (Bathmaker and Harnett 2010; Sikes and Everington 2016) thus uses biography, narrative, ‘stories’ (Andrews et al. 2013; Atkinson 1998; Denzin 1989; Flick 2014), in moving toward the understanding of autobiographical stances in value learning in the life trajectories across the age range from young children (Kuusisto and Gearon 2017). In our particular interpretation of the life trajectory model (Kuusisto and Gearon 2017) we have identified six factors, not necessarily sequential stages but certainly important staging posts: • Givens—factors such as age, gender, socio-economic status, family background, • Positionings—how individuals place themselves in their own life story, • Engagements—how individuals engage with difference, • Tensions—how individuals deal with tensions and conflict, • Negotiations—how individuals negotiate these tensions and conflict, and • Resolutions—how individuals resolve these tensions and conflict, if resolution is possible.


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Life Trajectory Givens

Life Trajectory Resolutions

Life Trajectory Positionings

Life Trajectory Negotiations

Life Trajectory Engagements

Life Trajectory Tensions

Fig. 1   Staging posts. (Source: Own diagram)

As we see staging posts as continually recurring, they may be represented diagrammatically as cyclical, see Fig. 1. In general value learning in terms of all of this is therefore closely connected with worldview ‘construction’—having a view on the world –, which has become acutely problematic an area of particular educational sensitivity in ECEC for some or all of the following reasons: • if traditions “socialize” individuals; i.e. are those ‘from which they receive their explanations’ (Stark and Bainbridge 1987), and • if values are understood as an individual’s views of the good, directing of behavior, a fundamental anchor (Kärki 2015; Schwartz 1999), • these are now in a state of seemingly permanent renegotiation in the dialogue taking place in different social contexts and encounters (Kuusisto 2011).

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• combined with diversity within (religious, political and other) traditions, the world in which we learn is characterized by constant change (Riitaoja and Dervin 2014) Bauman (2011) compares the situation with a department store, its shelves filled with desirable goods that are changed on a daily basis, a ‘pick-and-mix’ value systems, and in this context, certain choices, which might be prejudicial responses, may not mix easily with others. In worldview sensitivity, as in other value learning negotiations, the terms of living and engagement with “others” are often based on multiple self-definitions or external categorizations (Honkasalo 2011) of identity. These multi-faceted identities can be in a state of flux or stability. During early childhood, when such values are being developed, issues of sensitivity are particularly susceptible to influence, for either good or ill. The literature shows key factors in negotiations come through, or are a result of social interactions which continually (from one person to another) include tensions of exclusion and integration, equality and discrimination (Harinen and Suurpää 2004). If we see worldview sensitivity as part of a broader pattern of value socialization and negotiations, we can note, too, that such are often, invariably, connected to transitions and changes in life, to adjustments of personal values to new situations (Bardi et al. 2014; Bardi and Goodwin 2011), also in educational settings. The theoretical model presented above, based on both previous conceptual literature and empirical work over an extended number of years, also has potential as a self-reflective model for professional educators in ECEC as well as in other educational settings, for reflecting on one’s own past, present and future positions as regards values and a way of perceiving the world—worldview or life philosophy—which has impact on the pedagogical encounters and one’s worldview sensitivity.

4 Empirical Exemplars In the following, we will present a brief case analysis on life trajectory research with a focus on our previous empirical findings in particular, illustrating how the three domains (context [placing value learning policy and research at the intersectional interface of macro historical-political-religious traditions]; theory [framing value learning in the life trajectory through micro biographical narratives]; method [modeling value learning in life trajectories as a process of ongoing negotiation between macro historical-political-religious traditions and micro


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biographical narratives negotiated within secular societal hegemony influences]) in ECEC settings in terms of the ‘secular norm’ which may be exclusive to ‘other’ worldviews—be that for example non-Christian traditions or personally meaningful ‘religious’ Christianity (Poulter et al. 2015, 2017). Our various data sets also exemplify a thinking pattern that, since societal education needs to be suitable for everyone, all elements perceived as potentially insensitive to one or more of the children in the group are removed from the educational contents and physical environment in the ECEC. That is, if one of the children does not celebrate Christmas at home, Christmas is not mentioned in the group or else at least this particular child is removed from the group activities and sits in another room drawing in the meanwhile. This, and the below example, also exemplify the nature of the influences of the macro level of historical-political-religious traditions into the ECEC. Besides thinning and narrowing the pedagogical contents for the whole group, this also causes increasing uneasiness and lack of spontaneity for pedagogical staff’s planning: ‘For us disappears the spontaneity from the work, which is in a way the salt of the day and the sort of joy in it in the first place.’ (K6/ECEC teacher, focus group discussion/AK, MUCCA)

Worldview sensitivity develops with increased knowledge and understanding: Much of the apprehension was cleared out—from both sides—when trust was established in educational partnership between the ECEC teachers and the children’s guardians. Once the Christmas concert’s program was clarified to the families, most of them attended. This cannot, however, mean, that the “norm” would then become that everyone needs to join in the Christian-based festivities, even if these were “tidied” off religious elements. ECEC units also planned an alternative program for the children and families who did not want to attend. According to several instances across data sets, the alternatives were not always of the same pedagogical quality. Worldview sensitivity in ECEC community dialogue is needed in the implementation, and also the national guidelines increasingly set a framework for this these days. Situations in which the exclusive practices form a threat to children’s freedom of religion and freedom of expression tend to appear in the focus group discussions, including the following example from the ECEC unit corridor: ‘[O]ne afternoon when we were putting [winter] clothes on with the children there and then one boy started singing happily: “On God’s hand, no one… [a Finnish children’s hymn]—Do you, [teacher’s name], know that song? Let’s sing that together!”

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Then there was this other colleague [perceived by this teacher as being from a non-Christian religious tradition] who was also putting her clothes on there, too. I: “Yeah, yes, I know that one.” And then he started singing it happily again and then [the colleague] left the room for the meanwhile. But at that instant I didn’t even think of saying that “Hey, let’s stop this.” [various colleagues start discussing the possible reactions to such situation as well as the potential reasons for the other staff member leaving from the corridor].’ (K9, focus group discussion/AK, MUCCA)

Our wider Finnish data with older children shows that same aspect in children’s peer groups—although especially older children are increasingly conscious about concealing their possible religious memberships in fear of being bullied and excluded, which is in line with previous empirical work in Sweden (Kuusisto et al. 2015). In fact, in our comparison of Sweden, Finland and Estonia (Schihalejev et al. 2019), approximately half of the children report experiences of bullying, and the findings show that those with religiously more committed families are among the most vulnerable to bullying and exclusion. Children may also affiliate religion with ethnicity and appearance, like the same study (Schihalejev et al. 2019) illustrates: ‘- You can see that they are from Africa. I think they have the same religion. If you live in Africa, then I think you are a Muslim. - Yes. And Sweden you have Christianity and in Sweden almost everyone has blond hair. Then you can look at the hair. Almost everyone is Christian, like their mums and dads. Then you can see on a person if he is a Christian because he has blond hair.’ (Schihaleyev et al. 2019)

In terms of teachers and teacher students, our paper on a pilot study described a course that was designed for the support of the student teachers’ intercultural sensitivity development through a self-reflective learning process utilizing learning diaries (Rissanen et al. 2016). The data illustrates how the students’ worldview sensitivity increased in the process by gaining more knowledge on different traditions as well as by speaking with people with worldviews different from one’s own (Rissanen et al. 2016): ‘I would say that people believe in different gods or some don’t believe in any [god]. I would point out that we cannot know for sure which god is the right one or if there even is a god. I would emphasise that everyone’s god is true, that our ways of believing are different and that it is important to respect other people’s convictions.’ (Rissanen et al. 2016)


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Another example from this student teacher data illustrates the sensitivity towards the religious worldviews of pupils’ parents, for example here when the student was questioning the neutrality of their own secular position: ‘What I regard as most important was that the course initiated a thinking process that has influenced my attitudes. Nowadays, for example, I am more empathetic to some parents’ wants based on their cultural or religious background, things that I had previously perceived as demands.’ (Rissanen et al. 2016)

As our empirical findings from Finnish preschools (Kuusisto and ­LamminmäkiVartia 2010a, b) illustrate the ways in which the unquestioned, accustomed practices and policies in the everyday of, for example, early childhood can construct exclusive narratives and practices if these are not reconsidered, such findings on how further education can support educators’ worldview sensitivity development are promising. This necessitates reflections on values, aims and personal practical theories related to teaching in order to further develop the sensitivities for ethical encounters in the moral core of the teacher’s educational approach (Kuusisto and Lamminmäki-Vartia 2010b). Besides individual teachers, working community development of inclusive practices and policies in the unit level structures supports this (Poulter et al. 2015), in which the role of the unit’s head is critical (Lamminmäki-Vartia and Kuusisto 2015). Rethinking the accustomed practices and developing alternative ways of perceiving and carrying out pedagogies sensitive to children’s worldviews (Kuusisto and Poulter 2017) are necessary for both implementing the curriculum’s guidelines in practice as well as increasing equality and social justice in Finnish education (Kuusisto 2017). In the increasingly secularized or post-secular societies, traditional institutional religiosity is, for many, an unknown “other”, and for many, an understanding of the potential meaningfulness of religion to an individual pupil or their family may be weak (Poulter et al. 2015). Hence, for the teachers who have no personal connection to or experience with the meaning of a religious worldview, it may be difficult to emphasize with those who do. Furthermore, due to an increasing pluralism also within families besides the wider growing-up contexts, children also often hold multiple memberships, self-definitions and/or external categorizations relating to national, ethnic or cultural allegiances and worldviews (Honkasalo 2011; Kuusisto 2011). Moreover, the diversity within any tradition, be it a majority or minority in a given setting, and the notable variety in the ways in which a particular worldview influences the lives of those individuals or families that are affiliated with it, is still often disregarded (Kuusisto and Lamminmäki-Vartia 2010a). Teacher’s difficulties in recognizing religious identities among children

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may lead to unintentional exclusionary practices in the educational context (Kuusisto and Lamminmäki-Vartia 2010b; Kuusisto et al. 2015); therefore, the teacher’s sensitivity to different worldviews can be seen as a part of professional competences that should be required from all educators (Rissanen et al. 2016). Bennett (1993) has developed a model for the examination of intercultural sensitivity, however, the model has been criticized for not grasping the religious dimension, which is so often at the very core of a culture’s development: after all, religious claims differ from cultural claims, and hence the development of sensitivity to religious diversity, by nature, requires a development of empathy towards religions or worldviews, which differ from that upheld by the individuals themselves. Worldview sensitivity, thereby, can be seen as an individual’s empathy towards, as well as an active desire to motivate oneself to understand, appreciate and accept differences among worldviews (Rissanen et al. 2016). In sum, to study worldview sensitivity as a professional approach, our research has utilized life trajectory, narrative or biographical approaches to highlight the value tensions and negotiations in early years (Kuusisto and Lamminmäki-Vartia 2010b), schools (Kuusisto and Te Lovat 2016), student teachers (Rissanen et al. 2016; Kuusisto and Te Lovat 2016) and teacher educators (Kuusisto and Gearon 2017). Studying value learning trajectories and worldview negotiations along the life trajectory here provides insights into pedagogical sensitivity of dialogical encounters, and how these are realized and negotiated in educational settings.

5 Religious Sensitivity as an Ethics of Encounter Our work is in itself an ongoing process of integrating macro- and micro-level contexts, its theorization and methodological advancement for studying such multi-dimensional settings. Here we have highlighted some exemplars of our empirical work in progress in educational settings. There is, we feel, however, a deeper, ethical intersection which connects the various aspects of our thinking. In particular, we are currently drawn to two ethical theorists: Martin Buber (1878–1965) and Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995), two interesting Jewish thinkers, whose Judaic origins and immersion in the scriptural traditions of the ancient Hebrew scriptures have resonances for considerations of cultural and religious sensitivity in meaningful ways. Martin Buber’s 1923 publication I and Thou powerfully addressed the inherited notions and objectification of Cartesian dualities, which saw relations of individuals in the world as an I-it (or subject-object) relationship. Buber transformed and in many senses humanized such an understanding by reconfiguring especially personal relations with the “the other” as an


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I-thou relationship, enriching the relationship between individuals and peoples with a respect and depth which resists objectification in favor of genuine humane encounter. The traditional Jewish reception of the stranger, in recognition, say, the scriptures, that the people of Israel were strangers in Egypt, was tragically to be tested throughout the twentieth century (Friedman 1981). Levinas is widely regarded as Martin Buber’s principal successor, whose work he developed and overshadowed in many respects. One of Levinas’s achievements here was to draw on and deepen Buber’s notion of encounter by humanizing the abstract phenomenology by Husserl and Heidegger. The latter’s notions—especially of being in the world—seems remote and distant to Levinas. We have already, in relating Heidegger’s controversial relationship to Nazism, shown one possible result of such abstraction. Levinas’s concern was to produce a fundamental understanding of human relationships, something deeper even than the formalities of an ethics. If Heidegger defined ontology as being in the world, for Levinas this being in the world was always determined by an unavoidable intersubjectivity (Critchley and Bernasconi 2002). We cannot avoid meeting the other. Human beings are not atomistic. (Though interestingly, modern developments in quantum mechanics and sub-atomic physics show that atoms themselves are also far from “atomistic”.) Such an encounter requires sensitivity which is learned via living. Levinas powerfully unpacks such notions in many of his classic works: in Humanism of the Other (Levinas 2005) our humanity is dependent on the humanity of others and in Totality and Infinity (Levinas 1969) being is a matter of being with others. To paraphrase Levinas (2016), we may suggest the obvious, that religious and cultural sensitivity is a ‘difficult freedom’. Like Buber, Levinas saw the cataclysmic consequences when such relations fail. The responsibility of the educator in these matters is no light matter.

6 Conclusion If, as Habermas (2002) reminds us, the role of religion in public life is hardly resolved in education, the matter is simultaneously more pressing (there are children to be taught) and more acute (ECEC is a public space in which values around religious diversity are formed as well as sensitized). Education in the intercultural and multicultural is at an often publicly very high profile focal point of some meta-historical processes, which religions interact with modernity and postmodernity, the secular and the post-secular, a meeting place that is not without its tensions (Poulter et al. 2015, 2017; Coulby and Zambeta 2008). The place of worldviews in the Finnish ECEC is in a process which seems marked both by

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decline and transformation as concerns also the position of religions and worldviews in the larger society (Kääriäinen et al. 2005). In this setting, which is as rich in possibilities as it is fraught with political and religious sensitivities, a sensitivity towards children’s religions and worldviews in ECEC becomes a litmus test for the sorts of broader historical-societal issues we have outlined. In other words, the ECEC classrooms become places of teaching and learning, where children and teachers become aware that teaching and learning contexts, these relatively confined spaces, are microcosmic reflections of macro-societal level situations. Where policy and related legal documents seem, for better or worse, in perception or actuality, to present “top-down” diktats, our methodological and theoretical orientations provide insights into how those in receipt of such—and responsible for delivery of such—initiatives think, feel and respond. It is important to place individual reactions and responses as part of a wider life trajectory: a form of encounter, eliciting stories of encounter, and, as in any story, creating patterns of narrative from the characters involved. In this context religious sensitivity, so often to the fore in societal debates on education’s socializing role in public life is a “subset” in the wider frame of value learning. Above, we have drawn on the particularities of Finland’s long, distinctive geopolitical history and its shifts from Catholic to Protestant (Lutheran) and Orthodox Christian hegemonies in the religious life of the country over the past millennia to current-day Finland characterized by an intensified diversity of cultures and religions. It is the publicly stated role of Finnish education policy to ensure that attitudes to the latter are accommodated within the secular frame of a rule of law as well as Constitutional rights and responsibilities. Such accommodations show a number of things. Firstly, and as for other national contexts (Gearon and Prud’homme 2018), that secular law provides the enculturating framework for religious sensitivity as an aspect of cultural learning mediated by the state and through the state. Secondly, the resultant educational policies are integral to a reflection of historical changes in the religious and wider cultural make-up of Finland. Thirdly, our empirical work has shown that an important contextual, methodological and theoretical framing here is the life biography, narrative, trajectory approach provides new insights and understandings of how the first and second elements impact the lives of individual on the micro level within the complex and multi-layered swathes of geo-political, religious and above all shifting historical context. Fundamentally, then, as we have stated, ‘at the level of the individual, we think it important to consider individual stories as part of these grander, often turbulent political narratives’. Our research method thus develops a framework for providing new knowledge of autobiographical orientations as part of value learning across the full spectrum of individual life trajectories. Our model suggests a


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number of far-from-rigidly-defined staging posts in the process of formation and socialization in religious sensitivity as for other aspects of value learning (the Givens, Positionings, Engagements, Tensions, Negotiations, and Resolutions).

References Andrews, M., Squire, C., & Tamboukou, M. (2013). Doing narrative research. London: Sage. Atkinson, R. G. (1998). The life story interview (Qualitative research methods series 44). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Bardi, A., & Goodwin, R. (2011). The dual route to value change: Individual processes and cultural moderators. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42(2), 271–287. Bardi, A., Buchanan, K. E., Goodwin, R., Slabu, L., & Robinson, M. (2014). Value stability and change during self-chosen life transitions: Self-selection versus socialization effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(1), 131–147. Bathmaker, A.-M., & Harnett, P. (2010). Exploring learning, identity and power through life history and narrative research. London: Routledge. Bauman, Z. (2011). Culture in a liquid modern world. Malden: Polity. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Chen, G. M., & Starosta, W. J. (1998). A review of the concept of intercultural sensitivity. Human Communication, 1, 1–16. Coulby, D., & Zambeta, E. (2008). Intercultural Education, Religion and Modernity. Intercultural Education, 19(4), 293–95. Critchley, S., & Bernasconi, R. (Eds.). (2002). The Cambridge companion to levinas. New York: Cambridge University Press. Denzin, N. K. (1989). Interpretive biography. Newbury Park: Sage. Finnish National Board of Education. (2004). National core curriculum for basic education. Helsinki: Hakapaino. Flick, U. (2014). An introduction to qualitative research. London: Sage. Friedman, M. (1981). Martin Buber’s life and work: The early years, 1878–1923. New York: Dutton. Gearon, L., & Prud’homme, J. (2018). State religious education and the state of the religious life. Eugene: Wipf and Stock. Habermas, J. (2002). Religion and rationality: essays on reason, god and modernity. Cambridge: MIT Press. Heininen, S., & Heikkilä, M. (2002). Kirchengeschichte Finnlands. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Harinen, P., & Suurpää, L. (2004). Nuoret kulttuurisessa välimaastossa [Youth in the cultural crossroads]. In P. Harinen (Ed.), Kamppailuja jäsenyyksistä. Etnisyys, kulttuuri ja kansalaisuus nuorten arjessa (pp. 3–7). Helsinki: Finnish Youth Research Network. Honkasalo, V. (2011). Tyttöjen kesken. Monikulttuurisuus ja sukupuolten tasa-arvo. Helsinki: Nuorisotutkimusseura.

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Huhta, I. (2014). ‘The future of the past’: The Finnish model of two state churches. In (Eds.), Fifteen years into the 21st century. Upheavals in societies and religions in the light of political and cultural challenges. Berlin: LIT. Kääriäinen, K. (2011). Religion and the state in Finland. Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 24(2), 155–171. Kääriäinen, K., Niemelä, K., & Ketola, K. (2005). Religion in Finland: Decline, change and transformation of Finnish religiosity. Publication 54. Tampere: Church Research Institute. Kärki, I. (2015). Value basis of the documents guiding the curriculum of Finnish comprehensive schools. University of Helsinki, Department of Teacher Education 376. Helsinki: Unigrafia. Kuusisto, A. (2011). Worldviews in a Multi-Faith Day Care Context: Remarks Based on Empirical Research in Finland. In F. Schweitzer, A. Edelbrock & A. Biesinger (Eds.), Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Bildung in der Kita. (Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Bildung im Kindesalter, 3) (pp. 110–124). Münster: Waxmann. Kuusisto, A. (2017). Negotiating perceptions on worldview: Diversity in Finnish early childhood education and care. In A. Hellman & K. Lauritsen (Eds.), Diversity and social justice in early childhood education: Nordic perspectives (pp. 11–29). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Kuusisto, A., & Lamminmäki-Vartia, S. (2010a). Moniuskontoinen päiväkoti – ongelma vai voimavara? [Multi-faith kindergarten: problem or an asset?] In K. Jääskeläinen (Ed.), Väkivallalla et tahdo hallita. Puheenvuoroja lapsiin kohdistuvasta väkivallasta uskontonäkökulmasta. [You don’t want to rule with violence. Perspectives to violence against children from the viewpoint of religion] (pp. 99–118). Suomen evl. kirkon kirkkohallituksen julkaisuja 2010: 9, Helsinki: Kirkkohallitus. Kuusisto, A., & Lamminmäki-Vartia, S. (2010b). Katsomusten kohtaaminen päiväkodissa – Kohti uskontosensitiivistä kasvatusotetta. [Encountering worldviews in kindergarten: Towards religiously sensitive educational approach]. In M. Ubani, A. Kallioniemi & J. Luodeslampi (Eds.), Kokonaisvaltainen kasvatus, lapsi ja uskonto [Holistic Education, child and religion] (pp. 132–153). Helsinki: Lasten Keskus. Kuusisto, A., & Gearon, L. (2017). On method: Researching value learning and life trajectories—Dialogue, diversity and inter-disciplinarity. In A. Kuusisto & L. Gearon (Eds.), Value learning trajectories: Theory, method, context (pp. 99–115). Münster: Waxmann. Kuusisto, A., & Poulter, S. (2017). Moniarvoinen varhaiskasvuympäristö lapsen katsomuksen peilinä [Pluralist ECE growing up environment as a mirror for child’s worldview]. In T. Haapsalo, H. Petäjä, P. Vuorelma-Glad, M. Sunden, H. Pulkkinen, & I. Tahvanainen (Eds.), Varhaiskasvatus katsomusten keskellä [Early childhood education in the midst of worldviews] (pp. 33–43). Helsinki: Lasten Keskus. Kuusisto, A., & Te Lovat, T. (2016). Contemporary Challenges for Religious and Spiritual Education. New York: Routledge. Kuusisto, A., Kuusisto, E., Rissanen, I., & Lamminmäki-Vartia, S. (2015). Finnish perspectives on supporting interreligious and intercultural sensitivities in kindergarten teacher education. In F. Schweitzer & A. Biesinger (Eds.), Kulturell und religiös sensibel? Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Kompetenz in der Ausbildung für den Elementarbereich, Interreligiöse und Interkulturelle Bildung im Kindesalter, 5 (pp. 143–162). Waxmann: Münster.


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Lamminmäki-Vartia, S., & Kuusisto, A. (2015). Päiväkodin johtaja katsomussensitiivistä varhaiskasvatusyhteisöä rakentamassa [ECE director constructing worldview sensitive early childhood education community]. In M. Ubani, S. Poulter, & A. Kallioniemi (Eds.), Uskonto lapsuuden kulttuureissa [Religion in childhood cultures] (pp. 127–176). Helsinki: Lasten Keskus. Levinas, E. (1969). Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Trans. Alphonso Lingis, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. Levinas, E. (2005). Humanism of the other. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Levinas, E. (2016). Difficult freedom: Essays on judaism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Martikainen, T. (2015). Reconfiguring the societal place of religion in Finland: Islamic communities move from the margins to partner in civil society. In J. Garnett & S. L. Hausner (Eds.), Religion in diaspora. Migration, diasporas and citizenship (pp. 121– 137). London: Palgrave Macmillan. OECD. (2018). The OECD PISA global competence framework. https://www.oecd.org/ pisa/Handbook-PISA-2018-Global-Competence.pdf. Pessi, A.-B. (2013). Privatized religiosity revisited: Building an authenticity model of the individual-church relations. Social Compass, 60(1), 3–21. Pew. (2017). Europe’s growing muslim population: Muslims are projected to increase as a share of Europe’s population—Even with no future migration. https://www.pewforum. org/2017/11/29/europes-growing-muslim-population/. Poulter, S., Riitaoja, A.-L., & Kuusisto, A. (2015). ‘Toisin silmin’: Lapsi ja monikatsomuksellisen kasvatuskulttuurin rakentuminen varhaiskasvatuksessa [‘Through other eyes’: Child and multi-worldview educational culture in early childhood education]. In M. Ubani, S. Poulter, & A. Kallioniemi (Eds.), Uskonto lapsuuden kulttuureissa [Religion in childhood cultures] (pp. 95–126). Helsinki: Lasten keskus. Poulter, S., Kuusisto, A., Malama, M., & Kallioniemi, A. (2017). Examining religious education in Finland from human rights perspective. In A. Sjöborg & H-G. Ziebertz (Eds.), Religion, education and human rights: Theoretical and empirical perspectives, (pp. 49–61). Cham: Springer. Rissanen, I., Kuusisto, E., & Kuusisto, A. (2016). Developing teachers’ intercultural sensitivity: Case study on a pilot course in Finnish teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 59, 446–456. Riitaoja, A. L., & Dervin, F. (2014). Interreligious dialogue in schools: Beyond asymmetry and categorisation? Language and Intercultural Communication, 14(1), 76–90. https:// doi.org/10.1080/14708477.2013.866125. Sameroff, A. J. (2010). A unified theory of development: A dialectic integration of nature and nurture. Child Development, 81(1), 6–22. Schwartz, S. H. (1999). A theory of cultural values and some implications for work. Applied Psychology, 48(1), 23–47. Schihalejev, O, Kuusisto, A., Vikdahl. L., & Kallioniemi, A., (2019). Religion and children’s perceptions of bullying in multicultural schools in Estonia, Finland and Sweden. Journal of Beliefs and Values. https://doi.org/10.1080/13617672.2019.1686732. Schweitzer, F., Biesinger, A., & Edelbrock, A. (Eds.). (2008). Mein Gott – Dein Gott: Interkulturelle und interreligiöse Bildung in Kindertagesstätten. Weinheim: Beltz.

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Segregated but Equal? the Case of (Dis)integration in the Israeli Early Education System and its Effect on the Arab Minority Population in Israel Yair Ziv Abstract

The Israeli early education system presents an interesting and challenging case for the discussion on migration and integration in early education systems. First, Israel is unique in that most of its majority population, i.e., the Jewish population, migrated into the country over the last century whereas its minority population, i.e., the Arab-Muslim population, are the descendants of people who have inhibited the country for centuries and were the majority until about 70 years ago. Second, besides a few isolated attempts, there is no integration between Israeli Arab-Muslim and Israeli Jewish children until university level education and most Israeli children, particularly in the early years, study in segregated, highly homogeneous schools. Within this challenging context, I will focus my discussion on two questions: (1) is equality possible within this segregated system? and, (2) are the traditions of the minority group being respected and maintained within this system? My theses is that whereas equality is the official policy in the system, there are immense differences in the quality of Arab and Jewish early education systems that put into question the level of this equality. In addition, whereas segregated systems certainly help maintain the traditions of a particular culture, they also prevent reciprocal interaction between cultures and deepen suspicion and dislike, which seems to be dominant in Israel today.

Y. Ziv (*)  Haifa, Israel e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_9



Y. Ziv


Israel · Early education · Palestinian · Islamic education in Israel · Jewish citizenship

1 Introduction The Israeli early education system presents an interesting and challenging case for the discussion on integration in early education systems. First, Israel is unique in that most of its majority population, i.e. the Jewish population, migrated into the country over the last century, and particularly, after the inception of the Jewish state in 1948. On the other hand, its minority population, i.e. the Arab population, are the descendants of people inhabiting the country for centuries and were the majority until 1948. Second, besides a few isolated attempts, there is no integration between Israeli Arab (85% of which are Muslims, almost all of them Sunni) and Israeli Jewish children until university level education and most Israeli children, particularly in the early years, study in segregated, highly homogeneous schools. In this chapter, I aim to discuss the implications of studying in segregated systems for Israeli children, particularly for the Arab minority children but also for the Jewish majority. This chapter will begin with a short description of the Israeli education system’s structure, both in general as well as in the early years. Next, I will briefly describe the historical context associated with the creation of the state of Israel and the situation of the Arab minority in the country. Then, I will discuss directly the issue of both integration and segregation in the Israeli education system by focusing on two issues: (1) the expected developmental outcomes for studying in a segregated system, for children in both the minority and the majority group; and, (2) the possible advantages for being educated in an integrated system as early as in the early preschool years, from a social as well as a purely developmental perspective. Finally, I will conclude with a few thoughts on the association between the current situation in the Israeli education system and broader social and political issues.

2 The Israeli Education System(s)—A Special Case of Voluntary Segregation The Israeli education system is characterized by separation and segregation based on ethnic and religious features (Israel Ministry of Education 2015). It is important to note that this state of affairs is by no means forced by any official

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authority in Israel, but it is rather demanded by the many separated ethnic and religious groups in the country. With a few minor exceptions, the Israeli education system is divided into four separate systems (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics 2018): (1) the larger system is the national public system that holds about 43% of Israeli children. This system is open to all, but in reality, most students in this system are from Jewish secular households. The dominant instruction language here is Hebrew, with Arabic offered from fifth grade on, but is not mandatory. (2) The national public Arab system (21%). Most Students in this system are Arab Muslims, but there are also large minorities of Christian and Druze students. The dominant instruction language is Arabic with Hebrew as a mandatory second language from third to twelfth grade. (3) The national public-religious system (13%). This publicly supported system caters only to Jewish students from religious orthodox or conservative households. The instruction language is Hebrew with Arabic offered in only a minority of the schools and is not mandatory. (4) Non-public (yet typically highly financially supported by the government) ­Ultra-orthodox Jewish (17%). There are many subsystems within this general framework that focuses mainly on Jewish religion and Bible studies (particularly for boys) in Hebrew and Yiddish (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics 2018). Children studying in this system are practically not exposed to Arabic (or to any other foreign language for that matter). This chapter focuses mainly on children from the first two systems (the national public and the Arab public). Jewish and Arab children in these two systems typically do not meet each other and certainly do not study together until they graduate from the public school system and continue their academic studies, either at one of Israel’s seven research universities, or, more often, at one of the dozens of local colleges. With a few exceptions, the dominant instruction language in Israeli academia is Hebrew. Thus, because most Arab students graduated from the Arab public system, they usually start their academic studies with a major language disadvantage. The language barrier does not tell the whole story of Arab students’ disadvantages, though. Unfortunately, there are immense differences in the quality of the different systems. For example, whereas children learning in the main public system receive moderately high scores on the international comparison test (such as PISA; OECD 2018). Students in the public Arab system score at the bottom of such tests and their scores are lower than those of Arab children in neighboring countries (e.g. Jordan). This comparison is particularly important because neighboring countries such as Jordan are considered developing countries, whereas Israel is a developed country and a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Thus, scores of Arab students in Israel, a developed country, are lower than those of many


Y. Ziv

s­tudents in developing countries. These results are in major contrast with common political claims made by Israeli Jewish politicians that the Arab minority’s situation in Israel is far better than that of Arabs in the surrounding countries (Ben David and Kimhi 2018). It seems that the inherited inequality in the Israeli education system is rooted already in the preschool education system (ages 3–6), in which both the Jewish and Arab systems are supervised by the Israeli Ministry of Education and are presumed to be equal. On the one hand, Israel has one of the more developed and ambitious preschool education system in the OECD with mandatory-free education for all children from the age of three. On the other hand, there are, again, considerable differences in the quality of the Arab and Jewish early education systems. A report released by the same ministry in 2015 details the great differences between the systems. The Arab system has a significantly lower quality than the Jewish system, both in terms of structure as well as of interactions and curriculum. For example: (a) Arab children receive less instruction hours than children in the Jewish sector (30 h per week for Arab children compared to 35 h for Jewish children); (b) Arab children learn in inadequate physical structures, not designed for preschool education (e.g. old, small, unventilated structures); (c) core curricula are not designed specifically for Arab populations and are typically translated from Hebrew; (d) teachers in the Arab system are less educated than their counterparts in the Jewish sector; (e) updates and changes in curricula are received significantly later than in the Jewish sector, and (f) there are inadequate provisions for children with special needs in the Arab system. All of these differences are of no surprise when taking into account that children in the Jewish sector are funded significantly higher than children in the Arab sector (Israel ­Ministry of Education 2015). To understand the current situation in which separate systems for Arab and Jewish children exist, it is important to understand the context by which these systems were created. In the next section, I will briefly describe the historical context of Arab and Jews co-existence in Israel.

3 Palestinian-Arab and Jewish Citizens of Israel—A Short Historical Context The origin of the Arab minority in Israel predates the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948. This population sector is constituted by the part of the Arab population that remained in Israel in 1948 and became Israeli citizens. Almost overnight (from November to December of 1948), most Arab inhabitants of Palestine fled or

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were forced out of the country. Consequently, Arabs, who constituted ­two-thirds of the population in pre-Israel Palestine, became a minority of 15–20% of the population in the state of Israel. Today, the Palestinian-Arab-Israeli population is the largest, most differentiated minority in Israel (21% of the total population; Israel Central Bureau of Statistics 2018). Although there are some mixed cities in which Arabs and Jewish coexist, cultural and residential divisions are strongly preserved with marked inequalities in social status and structures (Reiter 1996). For example, whereas Palestinian Arabs comprise about 20% of the total population of Israel, they comprise more than 35% of the poor population in Israel (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics 2018). As mentioned earlier, these differences could be clearly observed in the education system. In addition, Israel is in a constant and stubborn conflict with most of its Arab neighbors. However, the meaning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very different for Israeli Jews and Arabs. While many on both sides understand and accept the instrumental aspects of the conflict—a dispute over land that could be negotiated and resolved—there are more internal aspects that make the negotiation process arduous. From the Jewish standpoint, the conflict is also perceived as another link in a long chain of historical anti-Semitism and is viewed in light of the Jewish Holocaust and a constant fear of its return. From the Arab perspective, the conflict is perceived as another Western-initiated violation of Arab dominance in the Middle East. Thus, the conflict is far more complicated than a neighborly dispute over land. For Palestinian-Arabs living in Israel, these perceptions are yet further complicated by their contradicting identities as (a) Israeli citizens; (b) Palestinian nationals; and (c) a minority group of non-Jews living in a state that officially asserts itself as Jewish. Further, to add another complex aspect to their identity struggle, Palestinian-Arabs in Israel have many ties (familial, social, emotional, and political) with neighboring Arab states and/or in the Palestinian authority. Nevertheless, even if the meaning of the conflict is different for both sides, the resulting perception of the other group is strikingly similar for a majority of individuals in each group: the other group is perceived as harmful, ill-meaning and hostile, and can therefore not be trusted (e.g. Bar-Tal 2004; Bar-Tal and Teichman 2005; Sagy et al. 2000; Salomon 2004; Shechtman et al. 2009). Moreover, there is evidence that these perceptions are manifested in deviations in brain activities when individuals from the two contrasting groups are asked to talk about both their own as well as the other group (Bruneau and Saxe 2010). Whereas it has been proven that these perceptions already exist in preschool (Bar-Tal and Teichman 2005), it is still not clear how they are formed and whether they impact the normal development of social cognitions.


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The thesis of the current chapter is that studying in segregated education systems has a significant contribution to the creation of these biased and distorted perceptions of the “Other” in the Israeli context. In the next section, I will describe the possible developmental consequences of studying in such systems.

4 Expected Developmental Outcomes for Studying in a Segregated System As demonstrated above, the Israeli education system is highly segregated, with most Jewish and Arab students having only minimal interactions (if any) before the university level. Next, I will discuss the possible developmental outcomes of this disintegration for both the majority and minority groups.

4.1 Expected Outcomes for the Jewish Majority Group As part of the majority group, Jewish children in Israel generally receive better education than Arab children. As we saw, the differences are further manifested by the distribution of funds to the different systems as well as by the extensive gaps in measurable achievements. Thus, in terms of cognitive and academic development, it seems that the separation between the education systems does not strongly affect the Jewish children. However, this does not mean that there are no adverse effects on this group, too. On the contrary, current statistics show an alarming effect on the Israeli Jewish youth in terms of their perception of Muslims, Arabs, and the “Other” in general, with non-democratic tendencies becoming increasingly prevalent in that group (Natanzon and Gezla 2016). Years of segregation helped in creating a demonic perception of everything Non-Jewish in many Israeli youths. This is supported by trends in the Israeli education system to focus on traumatic events in Jewish history that, from a sociological perspective, increase the demonization of the “Other”. An example is the focus in the public education system on Holocaust studies, which Jewish children in the Israeli public education system are exposed to as early as kindergarten (see, for example, a curriculum for kindergarten children called “In the Paths of Memory”; Ziv et al. 2015). As mentioned earlier, the cultural perspective advocating the importance of Holocaust commemoration has been dominant in Israel since its inception in 1948. In fact, the unofficial “motto” of the Holocaust Remembrance Day is “remember and never forget.” However, it is possible to envision a cultural

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p­ erspective that does not embrace the past with such emphasis, even in relation to the Holocaust. In 1988, Yehuda Elkana, a history professor and holocaust survivor, published an article titled “In the name of forgetting”, in which he wrote: ‘[…] We must learn to forget! Today I see no more important political and educational task for the leaders of this nation than to take their stand on the side of life, to dedicate themselves to creating our future, and not to be preoccupied day and night with symbols, ceremonies and lessons of the Holocaust. They must uproot the domination of that historical “remember” over our lives. […] for years, we sent every Jewish child to “Yad Vashem” [the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem], what did we want the children to do with this experience? […] “remember” could be interpreted as calling for persistent and blind hatred. […] from Auschwitz came two types of people, one type that said “it will never happen again” whereas the other one said: “it will never happen to us again” […].’ (Elkana 1988, translated from Hebrew, emphasis in the original)

Elkana’s words speak directly to the dangers in the focus on a specific people’s trauma (those who say “it will never happen to us again”), on the expanse of promoting more humanistic perspectives such as equality between people, regardless of race, ethnicity and nationality (those who say “it will never happen again”). When public education is structured around systematic exploration of a traumatic past of the specific population it serves, it should come with no surprise that the product of such a system could be a student that sees himself as part of an oppressed society and sees the others as a potential threat to its existence. Thus, from a developmental perspective, a possible outcome of studying in a segregated system, with unique and population-specific curricula, is the development of social perceptions that are biased, stereotypical and, unsurprisingly, segregational in nature (Natanzon and Gezla 2016).

4.2 Expected Outcomes for the Arab Minority Group In case of the Arab minority group, the adverse effects of studying in a segregated education systems are more widespread than the adverse effects on the majority group. Not only do similar perceptions as those described for the majority group emerge (even though not as strongly as in the majority-Jewish population; Natanzon and Gezla 2016), there are additional adverse effects for the Arab minority that significantly worsen their chances to flourish and success in a demanding and competitive society. In particular, Arab youth graduate from their segregated education system having significantly lower academic abilities than Jewish youth,


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and, unfortunately, these differences lead to them being less prepared for academia studies than their Jewish counterparts. This is demonstrated in their scores in the Israeli University entry exam (The Psychometric national test; an equivalent to the US’s SAT), in which their average score is a full standard deviation lower than that of their Jewish counterparts (488 compared to 580 on a scale of 200–800; National Institute for Testing and Evaluation, 2018). Thus, whereas current statistics show an impressive rise in the numbers of Arab students in Israeli academia (82% rise from 2006 to 2017), most of these students are studying less prestigious professions in less reputable colleges (Council for Higher Education 2018). Moreover, their achievements once they have entered university are significantly lower than those of their Jewish peers. In conclusion, it seems that the studying in segregated systems bears harmful consequences for both Arab and Jewish children but especially for the Arab minority group. Could these consequences be reversed in an integrated system? That is a question I will try to answer by describing the possible advancements in studying in integrated systems, especially as early as preschool.

5 Why Integration in the Early Preschool and School Years is Important—Social and Developmental Perspectives There are many possible advantages to learning in ethnically diverse education systems. I will focus on two such advantages: from a social perspective—reducing prejudice and social biases—and from a developmental perspective—creating strong foundations for the developing brain.

5.1 Reducing Prejudice and Social Biases As mentioned earlier, a major outcome of a highly segregated education system is the creation of prejudice and stereotypes in both the minority and majority groups. Thus, an important goal of any such education system should be to decrease these attributes in its graduates. If the work with the children on these themes starts as early as possible (maybe even preschool), chances are it may not only decrease these attributes, but prevent their existence altogether. Issues associated with the reduction in prejudices and biases has been a central focus of research in social and developmental psychology for decades. For example, Allport’s Contact Theory (1954) emphasized that stereotypes and social

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biases could only be reduced by direct contact between different groups. However, Allport also underlined a number of conditions that need to be present in order for the actual reduction of these biases: equal status for the different groups, working together towards a common goal, and support by the relevant authorities. This theory was generally confirmed in a large number of studies (e.g. Davies et al. 2011; Shook and Fazio 2008). Thus, if we wish to reduce social biases in Israeli youth (Arabs and Jewish), it seems that programs promoting social contact between ethnic groups that (a) have a common goal (for example, to increase mutual understanding), (b) emphasize equal status between the groups, and (c) are supported by the ministry of education, are needed. Currently, with the exception of a few small attempts, such programs do not exist in Israel. Additionally, those that exist (e.g. Hand in Hand dual language schools) apparently do not have the type of support expected from the Israeli ministry of Education (the ­relevant authority in this case).

5.2 Important Building Block for the Developing Brain As mentioned earlier, programs that aim to increase social contact between minority and majority groups should begin as early as possible, before stereotypic thought processes are ingrained. The fact that it is unlikely to find stereotypical perspectives about other social groups in children younger than four could be explained in light of important developmental milestones associated with the development of cognition in general, and social cognition in particular, during these years. During the better part of the 20th century, the dominant cognitive developmental theory providing guidance to scholars and practitioners in relation to the cognitive development of children was that of Piaget (1929, 1970). According to this classic approach, preschool children are in what Piaget called the ‘preoperational’ stage of development. Piaget described children in this stage as egocentric, because they cannot understand others’ perspectives. He also contended that they also cannot understand concrete logic and cannot mentally process information. Moreover, the cognitive limitations associated with preoperational thinking do not allow children at this age to understand abstract concepts such as social groups, to differentiate reality from fantasy, and to understand the link between cause and effect (Piaget 1929). From this perspective, then, young children under the age of six are practically incapable of understanding social prejudices and biases, let alone, hold such perspectives.


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However, starting in the 1980s, new and more sophisticated research approaches focusing on theory of mind development, executive functions and psycho-neurological aspects of development, have come to challenge many of Piaget’s earlier assumptions about the ages by which children achieve important cognitive milestones, particularly social cognitions. As findings from multiple studies of preschool children’s social cognition show, they can grasp complex events in their environment and react to these events based on both accurate as well as reality-based understanding of these events. For example, theory of mind research nicely exemplifies how children younger than two correctly understand the wishes of others, their preferences and intentions, even if these are different from their own (Gergely et al. 2002). The same line of research has also demonstrated that by age four, children come to understand that they can predict the behavior of others based on the others’ knowledge of the environment even if this knowledge is inaccurate (e.g. Wellman and Liu 2004). Theory of mind researchers termed this important age-4 milestone as ‘false belief’ comprehension (­Wimmer and Perner 1983). When children reach this milestone they can differentiate between the inner (mental) and external (behavioral) world. They understand intentions, preferences and beliefs, and even more importantly, understand that people’s actions can be predicted from their beliefs and that a belief is a precursor of knowledge. Therefore, contradictory to Piaget’s thinking, preschool children’s conception of the world can no longer be characterized as purely ‘egocentric’, because, in their perceptions of their surrounding world, they take the perspectives of others into account. Thus, from a purely cognitive point of view, it seems that current psychological thinking supports the ability of young children to understand and conceptualize their world in terms of social belonging and social difference. In addition, research on executive functions has found that around the same age (ages 4–5), a majority of children exhibit behaviors and perceptions that hint at higher cognitive capacities than envisioned by Piaget for children at this age. Such behaviors include, for example, the ability to shift between tasks with different and even opposing demands (cognitive flexibility; Zelazo 2006), to sort items by taking multiple layers into account, and to efficiently use their working memory (Bull et al. 2008). These executive abilities suggest that preschool children already possess some mental capacities that are needed to understand social concepts, and, in particular, the potential ability to process and analyze information about such concepts without being overwhelmed by emotions. Finally, psycho-neurological research has shown that synaptogenesis in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC)—the brain region in charge of executive functioning— reaches its peak around age four (Thompson-Schill et al. 2009), suggesting the

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particular importance of this age for the development of executive functions from a neuro-developmental perspective. Such findings have led to a change in perception of young children’s cognitive abilities. It is now understood that the capacity to make decisions informed by a reality-check—think flexibly and understand complex phenomena (among other capacities)—are possible, at least in part, in the preschool years. It seems then that from a purely cognitive development perspective, children in preschool and kindergarten have the capacity to grasp complex and multifaceted events. However, it is important to note that research focusing on cognitive development takes specific measures to neutralize the effects of emotions on children’s performance so that their cognitive capacities may be observed in a ‘sterile’ environment (Nguyen and Gelman 2002). It could be clearly misleading and is certainly incomplete, then, to discuss social concepts from a cognitive perspective alone. This is because we know that high-level cognitive processes are strongly affected by basic emotions, especially fear, which are processed in more primitive regions in the brain nevertheless connected to the PFC. Moreover, the stronger these emotions are the less likely the efficient cognitive processing is (Ohman and Mineka 2001). Thus, in order for preschool children to efficiently use their proven cognitive capacity to process complex and multifaceted information they need to do it in an environment that, in a sense, neutralizes or at least controls emotions. Is preschool such an environment? Probably not. But is there a way to make it more so? The answer to this question lies in another educational-developmental aspect that should be taken into account when considering aspects of integration between social groups from a developmental perspective: the aspect of mediation or teaching. It seems that for children to understand the content of a curriculum that tries to reduce social biases and promote cooperation between children from different social and ethnic groups, the teacher should mediate the information in a way that resourcefully regulates affect. An important ramification of this approach is that children’s perceptions of the events they learn about will be different depending on the way these events are communicated to them. If this mediation includes humanistic images and narratives, it is more likely that efficient cognitive processing will occur. The way this mediation occurs is related not only to the teacher’s individual characteristics, but even more so to the acceptable cultural structuring in the society to which the teacher belongs (Miller et al. 2014). If the cultural structuring supports integration, and preschool children are exposed to the “others” (whether Arabs or Jews) from an early age, it is likely that they will not create stereotypical perceptions of this other. If, on the other hand, the cultural structuring is built on segregated school systems based


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on e­ thnicity and religion, ethnocentric thought processes are likely to develop by way of the development of schemas about the other social group that are based on the “unknown”, leading to more demonic perceptions. This cannot be countered efficiently because of the lack of real experiences, and becomes increasingly harder to change as children grow older. To conclude this part, contemporary developmental perspectives support the perception that preschool children have the appropriate cognitive capacities to understand abstract concepts such as social equality, social group membership, and ethnicity, as long as it is capably mediated by a knowledgably adult, which controls the effects of negative emotions. Thus, it is more than likely that, with the right guidance, children educated in systems promoting integration will grow up not only with less social biases, but, in general, just because of the exposure to other cultures and beliefs, with higher levels of cognitive flexibility, which will positively affect their future development.

6 Summary and Conclusions The thesis promoted in this chapter is that whereas equality is the official policy in the Israeli education system there are substantial differences in the quality of Arab and Jewish education systems, even as early as preschool. This puts the level of its equality into question. In addition, whereas segregated systems certainly help maintain the traditions of a particular culture they also prevent reciprocal interaction between cultures as well as deepen suspicion and dislike, which seems to be dominant in Israel today. If we want to make a change in Israeli society, a change that will bring about more equality to its Arab citizens, as well as a more humanistic and less ethnocentric perspective in all its citizens, we should strongly consider the possibility of integrating these two very different populations in their preschool education. Such possibility was never seriously considered in Israel and, almost certainly, will not come easily. In fact, there are powerful forces on both sides currently objecting even the consideration of this idea. For example, in an attempt to create more humanistic approaches in the system the previous minister of Education, Shai Piron (minister of education from 2013 to 2015), wanted to characterize the Israeli education system with a slogan stating: ‘the other is me’. However, the following minister, a representative of a right-wing, religious party, Naftali Bennet, said when he came into office in 2015: ‘I do not believe in “the other is me’, everyone is different […]. I do not believe in obscuring identities […] every Jewish child should open Siddur [Jewish prayer arrangement] […] every Muslim child

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should know its heritage […]. I do not believe in producing “milkshakes” such that all the students in Israel become a pink liquid’ (Skop 2015). Similar opinions exist on the other side as well. To conclude, the current education system in Israel does not provide equal opportunities for the Arab minority. The ethnocentric nature of the system(s) effectively prevents reciprocal interactions between the different cultures in Israel, it deepens suspicion and dislike, which, unfortunately, seem to be the prevailing sentiments in today’s Israel. A possible solution to this state of affairs is the creation of a more integrated school system, as such systems are much less likely to create the same hostility. This notion is supported by what we already know from successful integration experiments, as well as from what we know from current developmental science.

References Allport, G. W., Clark, K., & Pettigrew, T. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley. Bar-Tal, D. (2004). The necessity of observing real life situations: Palestinian-Israeli violence as a laboratory for learning about social behavior. European Journal of Social Psychology, 34, 677–701. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.224. Bar-Tal, D., & Teichman, Y. (2005). Stereotypes and prejudice in conflict: Representations of Arabs in Israeli Jewish society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bruneau, E. G., & Saxe, R. (2010). Attitudes towards the outgroup are predicted by activity in the precuneus in Arabs and Israelis. Neuroimage, 52(4), 1704–1711. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.05.057. Ben David, D., & Kimhi, A. (2018). An overview of Israel education system and its impact. Tel Aviv: Shoresh. http://shoresh.institute/research-paper-eng-Ben-David-Kimhi-EducOverview.pdf. Accessed 22 Oct 2018. Bull, R., Espy, K. A., & Wiebe, S. A. (2008). Short-term memory, working memory, and executive functioning in preschoolers: longitudinal predictors of mathematical achievement at age 7 years. Developmental Neuropsychology, 33, 205–228. https://doi. org/10.1080/87565640801982312. Council for Higher Education. (25 Jan 2018, in Hebrew). Increase in the number of Arab students. https://che.org.il. Accessed 22 Jan 2019. Davies, K., Tropp, L. R., Aron, A., Pettigrew, T. F., & Wright, S. C. (2011). Cross-group friendships and intergroup attitudes: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(4), 332–351. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868311411103. Elkana, Y. (1 March 1988, in Hebrew). The need to forget. Haaretz. http://www.haaretz. co.il/opinions/1.1841380. Accessed 15 Jan 2019. Gergely, G., Bekkering, H., & Kiraly, I. (2002). Rational imitation in preverbal infants. Nature, 415, 755.


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Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. (2018, in Hebrew). Israel in numbers—2018. https:// www.cbs.gov.il/he/pages/default.aspx. Accessed 22 Oct 2018. Israel Ministry of Education. (2015, in Hebrew). Implementing reforms and closing gaps in early education. http://webcache.googleusercontent. c o m / s e a r c h ? q = c a c h e : 3 J DWeg 9 G 1 7 E J : w w w. m eva ke r. g ov. i l / h e / R e p o r t s / Report_290/5045ba10-eab6-401d-baf0-b95553fa1da4/65C-215-ver-3.docx+&cd=1&hl =en&ct=clnk&gl=il&client=firefox-b-ab. Accessed 22 Oct 2018. Miller, P. J., Rosengren, K. S., & Gutiérrez, I. T. (2014). Introduction. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 79, 1–18. Natanzon, R., & Gezla, I. (2016). Personal, national, and social standpoints in Israeli youth. Tel Aviv: The Center for Political Economics. National Institute for Testing and Evaluation. (2018). The Israeli psychometric entrance test (PET). https://www.nite.org.il/research-and-publications/statistical-data/. Accessed 29 Oct 2019. Nguyen, S. P., & Gelman, S. A. (2002). Four and 6-year olds’ biological concept of death: The case of plants. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20(4), 495–513. https://doi.org/10.1348/026151002760390918. OECD. (2018). Programme for international student assessment: PISA 2018 assessment. http://www.oecd.org/pisa/. Accessed 29 Oct 2019. Ohman, A., & Mineka, S. (2001). Fears, phobias, and preparedness toward an evolved module of fear and fear learning. Psychological Review, 108, 483–522. Piaget, J. (1929). The child’s concept of the world. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Piaget, J. (1970). Piaget’s theory. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s manual of child psychology (pp. 703–732). New York: Wiley. Reiter, D. (1996). Crucible of beliefs: Learning, alliances and world wars. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Sagy, S., Adwan, S., Kaplan, A., Farhat, M., & Kassem, F. (May 2000). Between conflict and coexistence: Historical consciousness of Palestinian and Israeli high-school students. Paper presented at the UNESCO conference on Higher Education for Peace, Tromsø, Norway. Salomon, G. (2004). Does peace education make a difference in the context of intractable conflict? Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 10, 257–274. https://doi. org/10.1207/s15327949pac1003_3. Shechtman, Z., Wade, N., & Khoury, A. (2009). Effectiveness of a forgiveness program for Arab Israeli adolescents in Israel: An empirical trial. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 15(4), 415–438. https://doi.org/10.1080/10781910903221194. Shook, N. J., & Fazio, R. H. (2008). Interracial roommate relationships: An experimental field test of the contact hypothesis. Psychological Science, 19(7), 717–723. https://doi. org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02147.x. Skop, Y. (24 Aug 2015, in Hebrew). Bennet: I do not believe in “the other is me”. I believe in the empowerment of Identities. https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/1.2714832. Accessed 28 Jan 2019. Thompson-Schill, S. L., Ramscar, M., & Chrysikou, E. G. (2009). Cognition without control: When a little frontal lobe goes a long way. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 259–263. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01648.x.

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Wellman, H. M., & Lui, D. (2004). Scaling of theory of mind tasks. Child Development, 75, 523–541. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00691.x. Wimmer, H., & Perner, J. (1983). Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children’s understanding of deception. Cognition, 13, 103–128. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(83)90004-5. Zelazo, P. D. (2006). The Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS): A method of assessing executive function in children. Nature Protocols, 1, 297–301. https://doi.org/10.1038/ nprot.2006.46. Ziv, Y., Golden, D., & Goldberg, T. (2015). Teaching traumatic historical events in kindergarten: The case of Holocaust studies in Israeli kindergartens. Early Education and Development, 26, 520–533. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2015.1000719.

Integration and Migration

Islamic Education in Belgium and the Netherlands, Challenging and Promising Ina Ter Avest


In this contribution we will describe the domain of education as an important contextual domain for the development of Islamic religious identity for Muslim youngsters in a western context. This article is about the state of the art of Islamic religious education in Belgium and the Netherlands in formal and informal education. An impression of teaching material for Islamic religious education in primary education is also given. Research findings and findings of investigative journalism on Muslim identity are presented and will lead to the question in which way and to what extend Islamic religious education in Belgium and the Netherlands (‘the low lands at the sea’) include diversity in their teachings to prepare their students for a participative citizenship as a Muslim in societies characterized by plurality regarding religious and secular life orientations. Practical research by academic scholars on religious identity development and pedagogy of religion is recommended on one side, in close cooperation with Islamic religious education practitioners on the other side, to explore possibilities of a constructive match of Islamic religious education with the needs of youngsters for the development of a flexible religious identity—embracing valuable and useful elements from the past, welcoming the fullness of an unknown future. Keywords

Muslim · Youngsters · Belgium · Netherlands · Islamic education in Netherland I. Ter Avest (*)  Ede, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_10



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1 Introduction The media attention on Muslim youngsters is changing from negative attention (for example mentioning high rates of Moroccan and Turkish younsters in criminal statistics) to positive attention, based on curiosity. An example of the latter is the television series on Dutch television Moslims zoals wij (Muslims like us), an adaptation of the Australian series of the same name Muslims like us. Six Muslim youngsters—each holding to a different interpretation of a decent Islamic way of life—live together in one house for a week. This means that they are—next to eating together, washing the dishes and cleaning the house—having discussions about Islam as a religion and as a culture-related way of life. What is shown in this series is also acknowledged in a series of vignettes in the Dutch newspaper Trouw from 2016‒2018: De appel en de boom (The apple and the tree; referring to the saying ‘the apple never falls far from the tree’) were presented of young Muslims. These vignettes were based on intergenerational interviews—a father/ mother with his/her daughter/son. In De appel en de boom, in Muslims like us and in Moslims zoals wij an impression of the diversity of religious positionalities of a young generation of Muslims is given—descendents of former ‘guest workers’ or children of refugees –, in the secularized and plural context of western societies. Both the television series and the vignettes in the newspaper offer a glimpse into Muslim youngsters’ religiosity. In this contribution we will first focus on the educational context, an important part of youngsters’ social context in which their religious development takes place. We will start with a description of the educational context of Belgium and the Netherlands (Sect. 1), in particular regarding formal and informal Islamic religious education. The focus is on the position of Islamic education in the pillarized system that characterizes both countries (Sect. 2). In the third section we give an impression of teaching materials developed for religious education in Islamic schools. It is in the described educational context that Muslims develop their religious identity and positionality regarding ‘the other’. The findings of a recent PhD research project (Sect. 4a), together with the impression from the media (newspaper and television series) give information about the characteristics of Muslim’s religiosity in a western context (Sect. 4a and 4b respectively). This results in a burning question we will try to respond to in the last part of this contribution (Sect. 5): in which way and to what extent are children and youngsters prepared for participation as a Muslim in the Dutch plural society? We will then conclude our contribution with recommendations for the devolopment of inclusive religious education/normative citizenship education.

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2 Educational Context in Belgium and the Netherlands—Belgium’s and the Netherlands’ History in a Nutshell In the British Journal of Religious Education Leni Franken and Paul Vermeer describe the commonalities and differences of the Belgian and Dutch educational context (Franken and Vermeer 2017). In Belgium as well as in the Netherlands there are public schools next to faith-based schools. Both are funded by the respective governments and controlled by the Inspectorate of Education. In Belgium as well as in the Netherlands secularization has left tracks in the nations’ religion-based (Catholic and Protestant) landscape. Likewise, the arrival of ­so-called ‘guest workers’ and refugees changed the context, if only because of the minarets towering over steepled towns. Last but not least, both educational systems are characterized by a pillarization in society. The concept of pillarization refers to the connotation of religious diversity within an ethnic homogenous society (Bertram-Troost et al. 2013; Ter Avest et al. 2007, pp. 204 ff.). Pillarization in both countries stretched out from the churches into the fields of education, politics, trade unions, hospitals and newspapers. Below we will focus on pillarization in the educational system and its challenges back then and today. In the beginning of the 19th century in Belgium, the influence of the Catholic church on education was large, though it was not in line with what many parents wished for. In the history of Belgian educational system a ‘school controversy’ took place twice (1878‒1884 and 1950‒1958), finally resulting in a school pact (1958) as well as a school pact law (1959; Franken and Vermeer 2017). Since 1988, due to an institutional reorganization of the Belgian state, the different Communities (French, German, Flamish) are responsible for education. In the revised Constitution the first and the third paragraph regarding the freedom of religions are important because of the decrease of pupils (or their parents) adhering to the Christian tradition, and the increase of pupils (or their parents) who adhere to another religion (for instance, Islam) than the Catholic denomination dominant so far. Funding for faith-based schools is largely the same as for state schools, salaries for teachers are the same, and so are subsidies per pupils. All schools have to include teachings on the recognized religions and non-confessional ethics in their curriculum.1 These classes are organized and controlled by


are: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity, Anglicanism, Islam, Judaism and non-confessional ethics.


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the respective communities responsible for trainings, the appointment of teachers and for the inspection of syllabuses and classes. Not only in state schools, but also in ­faith-based schools religious education (RE) is a subsidized school subject; in general RE-classes take place for two hours a week. The challenge these days is a greater part of the pupils’ and students’ lack of religious literacy, due to secularized processes. In addition to this the raised question is about the confessional character of RE: should RE change from teaching and learning the Catholic tradition, to teaching and learning about different religious and worldview traditions? To respond to these and related issues the subject ‘LEF’ (Life orientation, ethics and philosophy) was introduced (Franken and Vermeer 2017, pp. 7 f.). In the 19th-century Netherlands society was imbued with Protestantism (Ter Avest et al. 2007, 2011). In state schools, ethics were dominated by Protestantism. In the 1830s a group of parents, dissatisfied with the way religion was practiced in state schools, founded their own denominational Protestant schools. Together with Roman Catholic parents, who also aimed at their own Catholic schools for their children, they strove for equal funding in what is now called the ‘School Controversy’. This ended with the so-called Pacification of 1917, constitutionalizing in Article 23 the freedom of funding faith-based schools. This article states that education shall be the government’s constant concern and enacts the freedom of founding private (faith-based) schools. This is at the base of the Dutch dual system of state and denominational (Protestant and Catholic) schools, equally financed by the government. Although in the Netherlands secularization resulted in a decrease of active adherents to Christianity, still two-thirds of the pupil population visits denominational Christian schools. Religious education there differs regarding the number of taught hours per week (with a range from half an hour at the start of the day, to a short group discussion in a ‘morning circle’) and regarding the content (this might range from reading a narrative from the Bible, rehearsing it and singing a religious hymn to discussing ethical and moral issues in children’s everyday life with a light reference to Christian tradition). In the Netherlands there is no national curriculum for Religious Education2; it remains free from inspection by the Inspectorate of Education.


in the ‘Vereniging van Docenten Godsdienst/Levensbeschouwing’ (VDGL, Society of Religious Education teachers) a discussion started to develop and implement a national curriculum ‘Godsdienst/Levensbeschouwing’ (Religious Education/Worldview Education/Life Orientation) in secondary education (Visser 2017; Visser et al. 2018).

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The challenge these days is about the position of religious/worldview education in state schools. The question is: should RE be taught only in faith-based schools or should it be included in the curriculum of both state and faith-based schools as part of citizenship education for all (Miedema and Bertram-Troost 2008; Ter Avest 2017b)?

2.1 Muslims in Belgium and the Netherlands The percentage of Muslims living in Belgium in 2010 was 6.0%—about 638.000 people adhering to the Islamic tradition of a total of approximately 11 million Belgians. For the Netherlands the percentage in 2010 was 5.5%—about 914.000 people who profess to Islam of a total of over 16 million people (Mandaville 2010). The greater part of Muslims in both countries originated from Turkey or Morocco. The first generation consisted mainly of so-called ‘guest workers’ who came to Europe after the Second World War; their descendants are called “2nd and 3rd generation non-natives”. During the 2010s refugees from distressed areas added to the numbers of Muslims in both countries. The expectation is now that around the year 2030 10.2% (Belgium) and 7.8% (the Netherlands) of the population will be Muslims. Unfortunately, there are no reliable numbers of adherents to the diverse ‘schools’ of Islam, like Sunits, Sjiits, the Alevite minority and Gülen devotees.

3 History of Islamic Education in Belgium and the Netherlands In this section we will give a short overview of the historical developments of state schools and faith-based schools in Belgium and the Netherlands, resulting in both countries in a so-called “pillarized eduational system”.

3.1 Public and Denominational Islamic Education in Belgium Since the recognition of Islam in 1974 children have the right to religious education (RE) in all official schools (Lafrarchi 2017, pp. 34 ff.). Teachers need to prove their pedagogical competence. In 1993 an Inspector was appointed, and a support in the development of the subject of Islamic religious education was


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organized. However, the government has not formulated final attainment levels regarding religion and morality. That means that in public schools these lessons are developed and the classes are given by teachers under the responsibility of religious institutions (Loobuyck 2018, p. 210). In 1998 at the Erasmus University of Applied Sciences in Brussels (EhB) the first teacher training for Islamic religious education (IRE) started and in 2001 curricula for IRE were put at schools’ disposal. Nowadays there are four teacher training institutes for IRE, teaching Islam from the perspective of religious sciences. In a plural society, however, also a teacher of Islam needs to be competent in the dialogue with other worldviews and life orientations. For Muslim Islam teachers it is a challenge to face not only the diversity in a plural world, but also the plurality within the Islamic tradition. According to Loobuyck, the Belgian government neglects its duty to inform pupils about their own and others’ religions, and critically reflect on these traditions (Loobuyck 2018, pp. 209, 217). Loobuyck has been promoting the introduction of an independent and compulsory subject for all pupils called Levensbeschouwing, Ethiek & burgerschap en Filosofie (LEF; Life orientation, Ethics and citizenship and Philosophy) since 2014. LEF responds to advancing processes of secularization and aims at the development of literacy in the domains of citizenship education, moral education, empathy and mutuality, as well as philosophy and philosophizing (Loobuyck 2018, p. 211). So far there are no Islamic faith-based primary or secondary schools in Flandres (Loobuyck 2018, pp. 37 ff.). Whereas there are three Islamic primary schools and one secondary school in Brussels; the colloquial language is French. The first one was founded in 1984, and was recognized and has been financially supported by the government since 1989. These Lucerna colleges welcome every child irrespective of his or her religious background and they aim at a diverse team of teachers (Franken and Loobuyck 2013).

3.2 Public and Denominational Islamic Education in the Netherlands ‘Neutrality’ was a catchword in state schools for a long time, concretised in welcoming every child irrespective of his or her religious or secular background. Aware of the fact that complete neutrality does not exist, nowadays the slogan is Actieve pluriformiteit (Active pluriformity) (Vermeer et al. 2018). ‘Active’ in this context refers to the fact that state schools see it as part of their educational task to inform the pupils about different religions and worldviews practiced in the

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Netherlands. In case parents want their child to be taught into their own tradition, e.g. Islam or Christianity, they can ask the primary school’s principal to organize Islamic or Christian religious classes. Education and qualification of teachers on Christian, Humanistic or Islamic religious education is organized by the Dienstencentrum Godsdienstig Vormings Onderwijs en Humanistisch Vormingsonderwijs (Institute for Services ‘Religious Education’ and ‘Humanistic Education’). Islamic religious education (IRE) started in a Christian primary school in 1989, in a small town in the middle of the country.3 In this first and (so far only) interreligious school IRE is organized for children with a Turkish or Moroccan background and parents of Islamic belief. IRE during school hours was requested by the parents, referring to the fact that for Christian children Christian RE was organized. In the same year the history of Islamic faith-based schools started with the founding of the first two Islamic primary schools (Budak et al. 2018): one in the city of Rotterdam—established by Turkish parents, the other in Eindhoven—established by Moroccan parents. Both groups of parents felt uncomfortable sending their children to a public or Christian f­aith-based school. These parents referred to Article 23 of the Dutch constitution about freedom of education. Nowadays there are almost fifty Islamic primary schools and two Islamic schools for secondary education (in Rotterdam and Amsterdam) (Rietveld-Van Wingerden et al. 2009). In line with Article 23 they are funded by the government and inspection takes place on a regular basis by the Inspectorate of Education. Whereas at the beginning there was uncertainty or even suspicion regarding the quality of education as well as professionality of the board of some of the schools, the project ‘Kwaliteit Islamitisch Onderwijs’ (Quality Islamic Education) gave a boost to the improvement of the quality of education in these schools: from 11 poorly performing and 6 very poorly performing primary schools at the start of the project, there were only 2 schools left in 2010 whose educational performance was poor as were the results of the pupils (Van Velzen and De Vijlder 2010). In her PhD research Marieke Beemsterboer (2018) states that the integrative power of Islamic schools should not be underestimated. Their focus on awareness raising regarding pupils’ roots in the Islamic religious tradition can be seen as also empowering their identity as participating citizens in the Dutch society (Beemsterboer 2018).


a description of the foundation of this interreligious school (the primary school Juliana van Stolberg), and the developed curricula and lessons see Ter Avest (2003, 2009).


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3.3 Informal Islamic Religious Education in Belgium In her publication with the challenging title Maakt religie een verschil? (Does religion make any diffence?) Naima Lafrarchi (2017) gives a short impression of education at mosques. As we will see below the commonalities with the Dutch situation are obvious. According to Lafrarchi (2017, pp. 111 f.), the focus in education at mosques is on the Qur’an and the Arabic language. In addition to that there are classes that give information on the life of the Prophet Muhammed. For muslim parents it is important that their children have some basic knowledge of the Arabic language in order to understand the sura’s in the Qur’an. In addition to that, Lafrarchi states, teachings in the mosques add to the socialization at home in accordance to Islamic formal and informal laws. The pedagogical qualities and content of teaching differs at the mosques. Teachers in mosques are trained at teacher training colleges most of the time, either in their country of origin or in Belgium. These days, mosques have become places of encounter, with social and cultural activities, like visiting a museum or the coaching of homework. Obviously, a challenging question is that of radicalization: what role can mosques play in the prevention of radicalization? Formal as well as informal education might, in close cooperation, play a role in processes of (the prevention of) radicalization, according to Lafrarchi (2017, p. 116). With this recommendation she refers to research in the Netherlands, by Sieckelinck (2017) and Pels et al. (2008).

3.4 Informal Islamic Religious Education in the Netherlands Islamic religious education in mosques, in so-called Qur’an schools, has hardly been a subject of research so far, partly due to the fact that in most of these Qur’an schools Dutch is not the official language (El Bouyadi-van de Wetering and Miedema 2012, p. 75). The importance of religious instruction is expressed in a saying from Ibn Khaldun, Islamic scholar from the 14th century. He stated that the “Qur’an is the basis for instruction, the foundation of all knowledge that is acquired later in life” (Meijer 2006, p. 73). Children start their acquisition of the Qur’an in mosques by reciting its sura’s by heart at an early age, in Arabic, though that might not be their mother tongue. Small children mostly start with the first sura, followed by sura 114 (El ­Bouyadi-van de Wetering and Miedema 2012, p. 81). Teaching and learning of these sura’s is preconditional for praying—one of the five pillars of Islam and

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part of every Muslim’s everyday life (El Bouyadi-van de Wetering and Miedema 2012, p. 76). The pedagogical approach at the mosques is characterized by what is called a ‘closed fist’ approach. The teacher/imam teaches the text as literally as it was taught to him; the student receives the texts, guards it and recites it as it was passed on to him (El Bouyadi-van de Wetering and Miedema 2012, p. 133). Children learn many aspects of the Islamic tradition and customs by participating in their family life, like praying, fasting and celebrating the end of Ramadan. Families send their children to the mosque “because they find it difficult to teach their children themselves. The imam or teacher at the mosque can explain best and can show the children how to read and recite the Qur’anic verses in Arabic” (El Bouyadi-van de Wetering and Miedema 2012, p. 78). What is aimed at in the mosque’s education is first of all to learn how to read and recite the Qur’an. In addition to that it is learning to pronounce Arabic, to perform the main religious rituals of the five pillars, gaining information on Islam as both a faith and a way of life, and learning the Islamic way of respectful behaviour (etiquette and ethics; (El Bouyadi-van de Wetering and Miedema 2012, pp. 82 ff.)). One of the rare studies on the pedagogical approach in a mosque in the Netherlands resulted in the recommendation to focus the educational activities on teaching children “to answer questions on jihad, headscarves, homosexuality etc.” (Pels et al. 2006). A recommendation that to some extent was concretized in mosques in Amsterdam, according to observational studies and interviews by Hamdi et al. (2017). In this study most of the teachers used the ­‘Initiatief-Respons-Evaluatie’-model (Initiative-Response-Evaluation-model) according to which the teacher poses a question of which the answer is known by him/her, the pupils give answers and the answers are evaluated by the teacher as either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. The same holds for Salafist mosques that focus on ethics and morality (Hamdi et al. 2017). Informal education also takes place in so-called Homes of Study (Ter Avest 2017a, 2018). This informal education prioritizes the coaching of students in their homework from school, and study; combined with the transmission of knowledge of the Qur’an and Hadith as well as the Islamic way of life.

4 Example of Good Practice: Curricula and Textbooks for Islamic Religious Education In this section we will give an impression of the curricula and textbooks for religious education in Islamic schools in the ‘low lands at the sea’.


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4.1 Curricula and Texbooks in Belgium According to Leny Franken the first curricula for Islamic religious education (IRE) were developed in 2001 (Franken 2017, pp. 495 ff.). At the start these curricula were rather traditional. In the academic year of 2013‒2014 the curricula were adapted to Belgium’s diverse situation. These curricula are now approved by the Islamic community. They include, for example, the “status of women within Islam, internal diversity within Islam, the tension between religion and science, and the importance of text interpretation.” Control or intervention by the state is impossible due to the separation of church and state, nor are there set ­state-controlled aims concerning IRE. According to Franken (2017) in the curricula of IRE Sunni Islam is dominant, and very little attention is paid to other Islamic ‘schools’. Most of the time is spent on traditional subjects like the transmission of the Islamic doctrine, decent behavior and worship, the Prophet’s life and the Qur’an. In a subject of ‘religion and culture’ the focus is on the Islamic culture. ‘Other’ religions are presented from an Islamic point of view. Hardly any attention is given to secular worldviews. Most of the textbooks are translations from Turkish textbooks, edited by Diyanet.4 So far there are no textbooks for IRE written by Belgian muslims or that were even edited in Belgium (Franken 2017, p. 496). Information on Islam is given on the Thomas-website. This Flemish website on religious education in primary and secondary education is organized by the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences of the Catholic University of Louvain. Thomas aims at ‘an active and interactive way of cooperation of teachers of Catholic Religious Education in all educational networks in Flanders, and with all persons committed to religious education of youngsters’ (general design and aims; www.godsdienstonderwijs.be). Thomas approaches Islamic education in an informative way: education about Islam from a Catholic perspective.

4.2 Curricula and Textbooks in the Netherlands For bachelors at teacher training institutes it is possible to be educated on Islamic Religious Education (IRE). This diploma enables teachers to work in Islamic pri-


is the Directorate of Religious Affairs, under the responsibility of the Ministry of General Affairs, chaired by the Turkish prime minister.

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mary schools. Contrary to Belgium, different textbooks are written in the Netherlands, edited and published by Muslims. The Islamitische Besturen Organisatie (ISBO; Islam Board of Primary Schools) is one of the publishers, the El Amana primary school another. Within ISBO’s area of responsibility a vision document was published by the SIMON-schools (a board of Islamic primary schools, part of the ISBO). This document Worden wie je bent (Becoming who you are) states that ‘the foundation of schools that are part of the SIMON-board is in Islam, and the guiding principles of Qur’an and Sunna, with all respect to the uniqueness of understanding and experiencing Islamic tradition’ (Aktaran 2012). Sunni Islam seems to be the source of inspiration for Worden wie je bent: ‘We see each child as a unique creation of Allah. […] Our point of departure is that Allah created us to be servants of Allah and to be a good person’ (Aktaran 2012, p. 51). The ultimate aim is to facilitate children’s development into participative citizens from an Islamic perspective. Two concepts are central: Tarbiyah referring to moral education and Adab pointing to decent behaviour. SIMON’s curriculum is summarized in the so-called ‘seven pearls of excellency’: notion of God, tolerance, justice, ­self-determination, quality, transparency and cooperation—each of them related to a Qur’anic verse and concretized in pedagogical aims (Aktaran 2012, p. 37).

4.2.1 El Amana Textbooks developed by the team of teachers at the Islamic primary school El Amana and published by ISBO are constructed around five themes: the Prophet, Aquida (belief system), Salaat (prayer), Ramadan (fasting) and Hadj (pilgrimage). The preface states that ‘knowledge, skills, an inviting lay-out, well thought out learning pathways, tests and love for Islam are the ingredients for our method of religious education at ‘Al Amana’’ (Salihi and Claassen 2015, p. 3). The presentation of the five themes is adjusted for the different age groups. For example, children age 7 or 8 learn about the five pillars of Islam and what Islamic belief is about (Imaan). Children age 9 or 10 are informed about Judgment Day. The concept of Imaan (belief) and Sjirk (idolatry) is elaborated upon for children age 10 or 11, introducing the concepts of hell and heaven. The structure of every lesson alternates: information, presentation of the respective sura, followed by a test and concluded with a summary. The core concepts are presented in Arabic. Only in a few cases other religions, like Christianity, are mentioned and then they are approached from an Islamic perspective.


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4.2.2 Islamic Narratives in the Dutch-Speaking Region: Flandres and the Netherlands Two publications are worth mentioning, both exemplifying a Suni approach to Islam. As an adaptation of the Qur’an for the youngest children, Achour & Alić published Wij vertellen het mooiste verhaal (We tell you the most beautiful story; 2004); a small, beautiful and colorful illustrated book. There a grandfather tells stories to a grandchild—it is a story in a story. Four young children with grandparents nearby is a situation children can easily identify with. Included in this book—to be read by parents to their children or by teachers to their pupils—are the narratives of Ibrahim, Noeh Yusuf and Isa, but there is also a story about a general solving a problem for two fighting people, and the sura about the light in the niche. Petra van Helden published Kinderen van Adam. Verhalen uit de Koran (Children of Adam. Stories from the Qur’an) in 2017; a book for children age of the ages 10 to 14. Kinderen van Adam can be read by the children themselves, because it reads like a nice and exciting serial story. This book, far more comprehensive than Wij vertellen het mooiste verhaal, starts with the story of creation and elaborates on the stories of Noeh, Ibrahim, Yusuf, Ajub, Musa, the Kings of Israel, the resurrection of people after death as it is told in the story of Hizkiel, Yunus and last but not least Marja mand Isa. The book is nicely illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings against a brownish background. Sura’s are presented in Italics, indicated by calligraphy in the margin.

5 Religious Development of Muslims with a Hyphenated Identity So far, neither in curricula nor in texbooks a explicitly theoretical—psychological or pedagogical—frame of reference was leading. The exception is the document Worden wie je bent, in which a global reference is made to current psychological and didactical insights.

5.1 ‘Elite’ and ‘Popular’ Religiosity We will elaborate on findings of a recent PhD study by Ōmer Gürlesin at the Leiden University on the characteristics of religiosity of Dutch-Turkish Muslims in the following. In his mixed-methods study Gürlesin explored the way of and to

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what extend the religious development of Dutch-Turkish Muslims—(descendants of) migrants living in a plural context—is related to what is called ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ religiosity (Gürlesin 2018). In the description of ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ religiosity he arrives at in his study shows his perspective of a sociologist in religion. ‘Popular religiosity’, according to Gürlesin, is constituted by specific types of religious practices and belief exercised by generally socially and economically non-privileged strata; ‘elite religion’ is constituted by specific types of religious practices and belief exercised by strata that are generally socially and economically privileged. Included in ‘specific types of religious practices and belief’ are belief (īmān), practice (‘amal), knowledge (‘ilm/ma’rifah), experience (maunat/ ilhām) and consequences (natajah); each of them may have a different importance for a person, or a different position in the ‘society of mind’. The findings of his quantitative research allowed Gürlesin to identify motivational and cognitive characteristics and contents, which distinguish elite religiosity from popular religiosity in Dutch-Turkish Muslims. People categorized as ‘elite religiosity more or less tend to stress doubt and dynamism within the ideological aspect of religiosity. Within the ritualistic aspect, they tend to emphasize the intrinsic value of rituals (i.e., focus on quality). Within the intellectual aspect, they underline the importance of doubt about the validity of their current religious knowledge, and the dynamism of religious learning. Within the experiential aspect of religiosity, they consider miraculous religious experiences (special gifts from God in exchange for their religious effort) to be relatively unimportant: for them it is essential to keep these private.’ (Gürlesin 2018, p. 199)

For respondents in Gürlesin’s research who are categorized as adherents of ‘popular religiosity’ more or less tend to stress the importance of sureness and stability of their current beliefs, they emphasize the extrinsic value of rituals (i.e., focus on quantity) and expect material rewards for their prayers. These people tend to be sure of their current religious knowledge and place intellectual stability at the center. Miraculous religious experiences are considered to be an appropriate and necessary part of religious commitment, and they are eager to report such experiences to others. It was striking that apart from the two groups that identified with either elite or popular religiosity, there was also a group that showed characteristics of both groups. From this research we learn that diversity within the group of ­Dutch-Turkish Muslims shows to be undeniable. This might be a result of the confrontation with ‘the ontological insecurity brought about by the complexities, uncertainty, and diversity of the postmodern condition’ (Gürlesin 2018, p. 201). It might be that, in order to deal with ‘the insecurity caused by the plurality and


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the fragmentation of the postmodern world’ some people hold on to religious fundamentalism as an emotional and defensive coping mechanism’ (Gürlesin 2018, p. 195). Gürlesin concludes by stating that the findings of his study suggest that ‘popular religiosity could remain an important and dominant source of defensive localization within Turkish religiosity, at least in the short term, both in Turkey and in the Netherlands” (Gürlesin 2018, p. 232). The same holds for Belgium, we expect, next to other aspects that are related to the development of religiosity of Muslims in a western context like Belgium and the Netherlands.

5.2 ‘The Apple and the Tree’ The findings of Gürlesin can also be recognized in the vignettes printed in the daily newspaper Trouw (published between 2016 and 2018). This series of vignettes written by Marije van Beek started with a statement: ‘Religious practicing of young Muslims is decreasing’, referring to research findings about the religiosity of immigrants’ children and the role of their parents (De Hoon and Van Tubergen 2014). According to Van Tubergen (2007), holding a chair in Sociology at the Utrecht University, whereas Christian youngsters lose their faith it seems that religion for Muslim youngsters is increasingly a private affair. In particular, those aspects of religion that are presented in public, like wearing a headscarf, are avoided by young Muslims. As a follow-up on this “breaking news” Marije van Beek, journalist at Trouw’, interviewed fifteen Muslim youngsters together with one member of their parents between 2016 and 2018. These interviews present a nuanced image of the general impression given by the sociological research by Van Tubergen to the reader. Below we will give an impression of the way the interviewed Muslims relate to the Islamic tradition. ‘By the way, we do not shake hands,’ Abdulmohaimen adds, as a directive for the interview meeting. This is seen as an Islamic rule: ‘It’s for love and respect that I do not shake hands; in my view it is haram to touch a women who is not a relative.’ Abdulmohaimen holds on to the traditional interpretation of Islam. He continues that he feels offended by pictures of half-naked women at bus stops, seducing people to buy things. According to him this is an example of ‘extreme tolerance, resulting in the loss of values and norms.’ The same holds true for him concerning the marriage between homosexuals, which to him is ‘bizarre, weird.’ Saying prayers and going to the mosque is part of his life, as it is for his father. Zakaria, another interviewed youngster, has a different opinion and states that ‘you can be a homosexual and a Muslim. According to my father this is impossible. I am all for it. Some of my friends are homosexuals. I do approve of their

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marriage, but at the same time I do not approve of their sexual deeds since that is haram, according to Islamic law. Fortunately, in the Netherlands we are free to have a different opinion, and homosexuals can be themselves.’ In earlier days his mother was veiled, ‘but nowadays not anymore. It’s just more comfortable without the headscarf, it’s more stylish.’ Prayer is important, both for mother and son, though neither of them says their prayers five times a day. For Diana ‘hospitality is part of our faith, not of our culture, as many people think. You are not only our guest, but also Allah’s guest.’ Diana likes perfume and nail polish, both of which is forbidden according to her mother. Diana does not wear a headscarf unlike her mother. For her, faith is about actions, ‘a headscarf is just a side issue.’ After her conversion to Islam Claudia was very strict in following the Islamic dress code, which includes wearing the headscarf: ‘I was rigorous to start with, but now I am more relaxed.’ During puberty Claudia drank alcohol and had friends that put her on the wrong track. ‘For me it is better to be obedient and follow the rules of Islam, that it is forbidden to drink acohol.’ She continues: ‘Fortunately I met some friends who are faithful in a similar way as I do and practice Islam, people who understand that the Qur’an was written in a different era.’ Razia, the daughter of Derwisj Maddoe, the chairman of the Dutch Muslim council, had problems when she refused to wear a headscarf during puberty: ‘Me, the daughter of the imam, walking in the streets, unveiled! I had to defend myself. Even my father in meetings had to defend his daughter’s decision.’ Although my father is of the opinion that a woman should be veiled, he sticks to his decision: ‘My children make their own choice in how they interpret and concretize the tradition I passed onto them.’ When they talk about virginity, in Razia’s view it is not only about having sex before marriage but also about behaviour in the broadest sense. Maddoe goes to the mosque every week; Razia does not visit the mosque on a regular basis, but they both pray five times a day, read the Qur’an and fast during Ramadan. Virginity is an important issue for Nazmiye. She says that her mother ‘checked my virginity and tried to give me away to the son of one of our family’s friends.’ Havva, the mother, says, ‘I feel very sorry for that now,’, and she continues, “If I were back then the woman I am now, I would never have done that. But then, in those days …’ Nazmiye did and still does not live up to the rules of Islam. For Nazmiye this Islamic faith is ‘all about rules’. For Havva the ‘Islamic faith is about caring for the poor, fasting, praying, doing justice to others, that is being a Muslim.’ Murat remembers, “We were from Turkey, but we were not Muslims as people in my context expected a Muslim to be.’ He continues, ‘I knew very little about


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Islam.’ Being an Alevite is part of Murat’s identity, but ‘I am not a faithful Muslim.’ For his mother it is just common practice to be a Muslim. ‘I do it my way, I never pray, I listen to my conscience. It’s all about doing justice and not hurting others.’ Fitria stars in the TV series Muslims like us: ‘According to some Muslims this is haram, since I live in a house with men and women—not relatives.’ From Qur’an and Hadith Fitria’s mother learned that the contact with boys needs to be restricted. ‘As young as they are, girls and women have to learn to guard their purity, to care for their respect.’ Concerning Fitra this was a real challenge, in particular during her puberty when she was—in her own words—‘trying it on with everything in trousers.’ She adds, ‘Wearing a headscarf is a result of my mother’s teaching” And ‘Being veiled shows that I love God.’ Her father is of the opinion that being veiled does not fit into a developed country. When Fitra was a little baby she was ‘circumcised “lightly”’, but it was ‘only recently that I learned that there is no argument for circumcision in Islam,’ her mother Lily says. Fitra Lily’s daugher(s)—if ever—will not be circumcised. ‘For me it is part of the cultural tradition, not part of Islamic law.’ These vignettes are in line with what was being said by Muslims on the Australian TV series Mulsims like us and the Dutch series Moslims zoals wij. These vignettes concretize Gürlesin’s theoretical findings (2018). These vignettes demonstrate the range of religiosity, positionality and interpretations of the rules of Islam, not only between generations, but also just within the young generation. Let’s now turn to the context in which the above described religious development of Muslim youngsters happened and is still happening.

6 Opportunities and Challenges As we have seen above, there is great diversity in Islam in the ‘low lands at the sea’—in the private as well as in the educational domain. Since there is only a very short history in developing teaching material for Islamic religious education (IRE) in a western context, this offers a great opportunity for pioneering— both for developing curricula and publishing textbooks founded in traditional beliefs as well as for developing a liberal Islamic religious education in relation to the western context of ‘the low lands at the sea’. In the television series, in the newspaper vignettes as well as in Gürlesin’s findings in his research we find the need for tuning into the context in which Islamic youngsters live and practice their citizenship as Muslims. We favor a narrative approach. A point of departure may be found in the narratives of the children and youngsters, narratives about

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everyday situations with their underlying existential questions. These narratives also offer starting points to establish a relationship with citizenship education. Finnish research shows that values and norms of the society in which youngsters live are easily accepted and integrated in Muslim youngsters’ lives, when they are brought into relationship with Qur’anic values and (quite literally) with Qur’anic verses/sura’s. It is said that ‘the Finnish solution for RE in public education is a unique model if we compare it to the solutions used in other European countries. In Finland RE is given according to the pupils’ own religions. The Finnish model of RE implies the idea of democratic, civil society, where different faiths, beliefs and worldviews can coexist’ (Rissanen 2012; see also Rissanen et al. 2015). Recent developments related to maximum citizenship (McLaughlin 1992) like the view on interreligious citizenships (Miedema 2006), inclusive and impartial citizenship (Jackson 2014), and, in particular, the theology-inspired approaches of inclusive religious education and contextualized religious education (Selçuk 2012; Selçuk and Valk 2012; Sahin 2013) offer ample opportunities for the establishment of a relation with, on one hand, today’s pschological and pedagogical insights regarding the religious development of youngsters during puberty and early adolescence, and on the other hand the value orientation as it was developed in the Islamic tradition. Islamic religious education that is characterized by such an interdisciplinary approach, facing the intersectionality of the development of a religious identity, can contribute to social cohesion in both societies—the Belgian and the Dutch society—these days subjected to the pressures of segregation. A particular challenge is the education of teachers for IRE. In recent years, efforts have been made to realize schooling for teachers in IRE at Dutch universities and religiously inspired social workers. Due to a variety of reasons so far none was really successful (Boender 2014). Although in 2017 a new initiative for the education of Islamic religious education teachers started at the Islamic Faculty in Amsterdam (under the responsibility of Bahaeddin Budak, Budak 2017), and in 2018 an initiative for the education of leaders in (religious) education and other relevant domains (under the responsibility of Prof. Marianne Moyaert of VU University in Amsterdam), dialogue between all parties involved (government, islamic organizations, universities and educators) is still urgently needed to find ways to respond to the need for guidance of Muslims youngsters in the plural societies of Belgium and the Netherlands.


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References Achour, F., & Alic, S. (2004). Wij vertellen het mooiste verhaal. Koranvertellingen (We tell the most beautiful story. Stories from the Qur’an). Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Bulaaq. Aktaran, E. (2012). Worden wie je bent. Kaders voor identiteitsbeleid op de SIMON scholen (Becoming who you are. Framework for policy regarding identity of SIMON schools). Leusden: SIMON-scholen. Beemsterboer, M. (2018). Islamitische basisscholen in Nederland [Islamic primary schools in the Netherlands]. PhD study, Leiden University the Netherlands. Bertram-Troost, G. D., Miedema, S., Kom, K., & Ter Avest, I. (2013). Religion & Education, 42, 1–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/15507394.2013.873315. Boender, W. (2014). Dossier imamopleiding: het Nederlandse ‘imamopleidingsdebat’ in historisch perspectief. Tijdschrift voor Recht, Religie en Beleid, 2, 26–48. Budak, B. (2017). Beleidsplan I-UA, Islamitische Theologische Faculteit Amsterdam. Internal document. Budak, B., Bakker, C., & ter Avest, I. (2018). Identity development of the two first Islamic primary schools in the Netherlands. In J. Berglund (Ed.), European perspectives on Islamic education and public schooling (pp. 78–104). Equinox: Sheffield (UK). De Hoon, S., & Van Tubergen, F. (2014). The religiosity of children of immigrants and natives in England, Germany, and the Netherlands: The role of parents and peers in class. European Sociological Review, 30(2), 194–206. https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/ jcu038. Bouyadi-van, El, de Wetering, S., & Miedema, S. (Eds.). (2012). Reaching for the sky. Religious education from Christian and Islamic perspective. Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V. Franken, L. (2017). Islamic education in Belgium. Religious Education, 112(5), 491–504. Franken, L., & Loobuyck, P. (2013). The future of religious education on the Flemish school curriculum: A plea for integrative religious education for all. Religious Education, 108(5), 482–499. Franken, L., & Vermeer, P. (2017). Deconfessionalising RE in pillarised education systems: A case study of Belgium and the Netherlands. British Journal of Religious Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/01416200.2017.1405792. Gürlesin, O. (2018). Elite and Popular Religiostiy among Dutch-Turkish Muslims in The Netherlands. The Netherlands: PhD Thesis Leiden University. Hamdi, A., Pels, T., & El Jaouhari, S. (2017). Informeel islamitisch onderwijs in ­Amsterdam-West. Quick scan fan het pedagogisch klimaat, de inhoud en inrichting van informeel moskee-onderwijs in Amsterdam-West. Utrecht: Verwey-Jonker Instituut. Jackson, R. (2014). Signposts: Policy and Practice for Teaching about Religions and Nonreligious World Views in Intercultural Education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing. Lafrarchi, N. (2017). Maakt religie een verschil? [Does religion make any difference?]. Leuven, Den Haag: Acco. Loobuyck, P. (2018). Het buitenperspectief maakt vrij. Over nut, noodzaak en mogelijkheid van neutraal, niet-confessioneel onderwijs over religie, levensbeschouwing en ethiek voor iedereen (The outsider-perspective sets free. On usefulnes, necessity and possibility of neutral, non-confessional education about religion, worldview and ethics for all). Religie & Samenleving, Special Issue, 13(3), 204‒225.

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Mandaville, P. (Ed.). (2010). Muslim networks and movements in Western Europe. Washington: Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. https://www. pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2010/09/Muslim-networks-full-report.pdf. Accessed 20 Nov 2019. McLaughlin, T. H. (1992). Citizenship, diversity and education: A philosophical perspective. Journal of Moral Education, 21, 235–250. Meijer, W. (2006). Traditie en toekomst van het islamitisch onderwijs. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Bulaaq. Miedema, S. (2006). Educating for religious citizenship. Religious education as identity formation. In M. De Souza, K. Engebretson, G. Durka, R. Jackson & A. McGrady (Eds.), International handbook of the religious, spiritual and moral dimensions of education (Vol. I & II, pp. 965‒974). Dordrecht: Springer. Miedema, S., & Bertram-Troost, G. D. (2008). Democratic citizenship and religious education: Challenges and perspectives for schools in the Netherlands. British Journal of Religious Education, 30(2), 123–132. https://doi.org/10.1080/01416200701830970. Pels, T., et al. (2006). Pedagogiek in de moskee Aya Sofia. Utrecht: Verwey-Jonker Instituut. Pels, T., de Gruijter, M., & Lahri, F. (2008). Jongeren en hun Islam [Youngsters and their Islam]. Utrecht: Verwey-Jonker Instituut. Rietveld-van Wingerden, M., Westerman, I. W., & ter Avest, I. (2009). Islam in Education in the Netherlands; History and Actual Developments. In A. Alvarez Veinguer, G. Dietz, D.-P. Jozsa, & T. Knauth (Eds.). Islam in Education in European Countries; Pedagogical Concepts and Empirical Findings (pp. 68‒93). Münster: Waxmann GmbH. Rissanen, I. (2012). Teaching Islamic education in Finnish schools: A field of negotiations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(5), 740–749. Rissanen, I., Tirru, K., & Kuusisto, E. (2015). Finnish teachers’ attitudes about muslim students and muslim student integration. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 54(2), 277–290. Sahin, A. (2013). New directions in islam. Pedagogy & identity formation. Markfield: Kube Academic. Salihi, K., & Claassen, A. (2015). Godsdienstmethode Al Amana [Method religious education Al Amana]. Ede: ‘Al Amana’. Selçuk, M. (2012). How does the Qur’an see ‘the people of the Book’? An example of the communicative model of islamic religious education. In S. El Bouayadi-van de Wetering & S. Miedema (Eds.), Reaching for the sky. Relgious education form Christian and Islamic perspectives (pp. 11‒34). Amsterdam: Rodopi. Selçuk, M., & Valk, J. (2012). Knowing self and others. A world-view model for religious education in Turkey. Religious Education, 107(5), 443‒454. Sieckelinck, S. (2017). Reradicaliseren. Ronselen voor een betere wereld [Reradicalisation; recruiting for a better world]. Leuven: Lanno Campus. Ter Avest, I. (2003). Kinderen en God, verteld in verhalen. PhD thesis Utrecht University. Zoetermeer: Uitgeverij Boekencentrum. Ter Avest, I. (2009). Dutch children and their ‘God’. British Journal of Religious Education, 31(3), 251–262. Ter Avest, I. (2017a). Een vreemde vogel in de pedagogische civil society. Pedagogiek in Praktijk, 96 (PIP), 42‒46.


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Ter Avest, I. (2017b). Levensbeschouwelijk onderwijzen en leren recht van elk kind – verantwoordelijkheid van elke opvoeder. Tijdschrift voor Religie, Recht en Beleid, 8(1), 57–77. Ter Avest, I. (2018). A ‘Home of study’: A UFO (Unidentified Foreign Object) in the Dutch ‘pedagogic civil society’? In J. Berglund (Ed.), European perspectives on Islamic education and public schooling (pp. 292–311). Sheffield (UK): Equinox. Ter Avest, I., Bakker, C., Bertram-Troost, G. D., & Miedema, S. (2007). Religion and education in the Dutch pillarized and post-pillarized educational system: historical background and current debates. In R. Jackson, S. Miedema, W. Weisse, & J. P. Willaime (Eds.), Religion and education in Europe. Developments, contexts and debates (pp. 203‒219). Münster: Waxmann. Ter Avest, I., Bertram-Troost, G. D., & Miedema, S. (2011). Religious education in a pillarized and postsecular age in the Netherlands. In L. Franken & P. Loobuyck (Eds.), Religious education in a plural, secularized society: A paradigm shift (pp. 85–98). Münster: Waxmann. Van Tubergen, F. (2007). Religious affiliation and participation among immigrants in a secular society: A study of immigrants in the Netherlands. Journal of Ethic and Migration Studies, 33(5), 747–765. Van Helden, P. (2017). Kinderen van Adam. Verhalen uit de Koran (Children of Adam. Stories from the Qur’an). Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Ploegsma. Van Velzen, B., & De Vijlder, F. (2010). Een verleden heb je, een toekomst moet je maken. Eindverslag van het project Kwaliteit Islamitisch Onderwijs (KIO) [The past is what you have, the future is what you make]. Final report of the project Quality of Islamic Education (KIO). Amersfoort: ISBO. Vermeer, P., Sterkens, C., Kregting, J., & Jansma, L. G. (Eds.). (2018). Onverdeeld verdeeld naar de godsdienstles. Religie & Samenleving, 13(3). Special Issue, Symposium at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Visser, T. (2017). Op weg naar een kennisbasis van lerarenopleiders godsdienst/levensbeschouwing … [On its way to a knowledge base for teacher trainers religion/worldview …]. Narthex, 17(1), 47–58. Visser, T., Praamsma, J. M., van Dijk-Groeneboer, M., Davidsen, M., & De Beer, T. (2018). Het vakgebied levensbeschowing en religie in het voortgezet onderwijs; basisnotitie en pleidooi voor een algemeen vormend kerncurriculum levensbeschouwing en religie [The subject of worldvies and religion in secondary education; foundational thoughts and plea for a general formative core curriculum worldview and religion. Narthex, 18(4), 26–37.

Obstacles in Multicultural and Peace Education Zvi Bekerman


Based on ethnographic data gathered at the bilingual integrated Palestinian Jewish schools in Israel I reveal the complicated as well as dynamic negotiation of individual and group identities and cultures for communities engaged in multicultural and peace education. By looking closely at the experiences of children, teachers and parents at one integrated bilingual Arabic-Hebrew school in Israel, I show that while children are often able to reach beyond the boundaries of ethnicity and religion, adults struggle to negotiate their ­socio-historical positioning with their goals for peace. Everyday practices— from recognizing the exceptionality of children who participate in religious practices outside of their ethnic background to segregating national ceremonial events—promote static and nationalistic notions of identity that limit the potential of these schools to advance authentic and meaningful change towards tolerance and peace. All in all, I present a critique of the essentialized assumptions about identity and culture that are found in contemporary multicultural/ peace educational efforts and explore the implications that these assumptions have for education in conflict and post-conflict societies. I suggest the need to

Sections of the paper have been previously published in; Bekerman 2007b; and in Bekerman and Zembylas 2014. Z. Bekerman (*)  Jerusalem, Israel e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_11



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move away from the epistemological primacy of these assumptions toward a critical ontological, contextualized and historicized approach. Keywords

Hebrew · School · Israel · Identity · Culture · Nation · State · Islam · Muslim in Israel identity

1 Introduction This article critically reviews some central issues burdening the field of intergroup encounters. More specifically it considers some of their foundational historical and educational roots. Based on the result of studies conducted by myself over a decade at the Palestinian Jewish integrated bilingual schools in Israel (Bekerman 2007, 2009, 2016) and other multi-ethnic and multicultural settings (Bekerman 2000, 2016; McGlynn and Bekerman 2007; Zembylas and Bekerman 2011). I will look at some foundational issues related to present practice and research in the field of multicultural and peace education. Furthermore, I will point to the reified concepts of self and identity, the history of schooling and its practices, as well as the coming into being of the political organization of nation-state which, though hidden from present theory, have a profound influence on the educational paradigms and strategies that guide intergroup encounters and their possible outcomes. I will argue that we cannot disregard these foundational issues if we aim at the enhancement of outcomes of intergroup education, the strategies that may improve it, and its research. In general, the intergroup encounters approach has been developed on the basis of somewhat constrained theoretical approaches. This is the case for the psychological and psychodynamic perspectives on individual and personality development (Katz and Kahanov 1990) that stresses individual change through intergroup relations, on sociological and socio-psychological premises. In general, these underlying perspectives lack any reference to educational theory. The ‘contact hypothesis’ (Allport 1954) has traditionally been recognized as the primary theoretical source for the intergroup encounters approach. Contact hypothesis in its different disguises suggests that intergroup contact might help to alleviate conflict between groups and reduce mutual prejudices (Gaertner et al. 1993; Pettigrew and Tropp 2000, 2008). For this to be achieved, contact should take place under the conditions of status equality and cooperative interdependence while allowing both for sustained interaction between participants and for

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the potential forming of friendships (Pettigrew 1998). Hewstone (1996) has carefully analyzed the theoretical bases and possible outcomes of the different ‘contact’ strategies at hand, pointing to their potential benefit when they allow for an increase of complexity in intergroup perceptions. A central dilemma that often appears in planned multicultural and ­peace/reconciliation-aimed contacts between members of groups in conflict is the problem of identity and identifications. Thus for the most part in intergroup encounters we can sense moves or negotiations between two main poles of identity and identification: (1) a high emphasis on individual identity with a low emphasis of national or ethnic group identification; and (2) a high emphasis on national or ethnic group identity with low emphasis of individual identity. A few studies have indeed described contact situations as characterized by tension between individual and group identities and as moving between interpersonal and intergroup interactions (Halabi and Sonnenshein 2000; Suleiman 1997). Hewstone (1996) suggests that there are two central educational assumptions guiding intergroup encounters seemingly moving in two different directions. The first seeks to overcome gaps by creating familiarity, acceptance and recognition of cultural differences or rapprochement by creating new harmonizing categories—e.g. we are all students. The second seeks to emphasize group differences, hoping to empower the minority so that it may become better positioned in the power struggle and hopefully—now with more pride—regain some ground. Critiques of contact-based intergroup encounters have pointed at the fact that contact paradigms seem to have assumed that encounters could be conducted in isolation, removed from external tension and, as such, could have healing effects which would ultimately impact the outside world (Maoz 2000a). They ­(Abu-Nimer 1999; Maoz 2000b) have raised doubts about the possible benefits of this approach when implemented in sites of actual conflict reflecting asymmetrical relations of power and have questioned whether the encounters as developed today are not misleading, since they neither aim at nor produce political change. Others (Halabi and Sonnenshein 2000) have pointed to the fact that the traditional approaches to intergroup encounters may contribute to further sustaining the present imbalance of power relations between the groups involved. Bekerman (2002) has uncovered the inherent and often constraining influence of nation-state ideology on present perspectives on intergroup encounters. Present critiques, though certainly uncovering basic problematic issues in educational encounters, fall short of offering new theoretical paradigms through which to approach these activities; in the following I will focus on the encounters overemphasis on ‘identitarian’ and cultural differences and their failure to recognize how these essentialist perspectives are the result of political and


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historical conditions in the West. These conditions have been shaped by the ­nation-state’s experience and character which has molded the problem that initiators of ­cross-cultural encounters—and their supporting social theories—seek to overcome. As I will show below, these two issues—identity and cultural differentiations as well as the coming into being of the political organization of the nation-state—are intimately linked and should be taken into serious consideration when trying to understand the possible outcomes of the educational encounters as well as the educational strategies that should be adopted to improve them.

2 Critique of Paradigmatic Perspectives Supporting Intergroup Encounters Initiatives Identity, culture and nation state Traditional multicultural education offers a solution to distinctions that engender problems in a modern world in which many cultures are situated in one social space. I maintain that such distinctions are problematic and even erroneous. Modernity did not give rise to a multiplicity of cultures but rather to extensive cultural/social variation. The acceptance or rejection of a particular cultural shade has never been a part of an all-or-nothing package deal demanding total rejection or total assimilation. Those who claim otherwise, do not portray the historical world realistically but rather perpetuate an ideological school that previously served identity and culture with the purpose of consolidating priority for the ruling authority (Hall 1996; Žižek 1997) to identify those who resemble them and to incriminate all others. From a critical perspective as the one adopted here, in calling for appreciation and recognition of cultural variety, multiculturalism adopts an essentialist approach to culture. Although it aims to improve society, it misses the mark by assuming that each group has a defined number of participants that become similar to one another and different from other groups by virtue of the circumstances of their birth or early processes of socialization (a Jew is a Jew and not a Christian; Chinese are Chinese and not French). In its most extreme formula, multiculturalism assumes that each person has one legitimate and authentic culture, the legitimacy of which is acquired by biological heredity and from whence the demand for and right to ownership is derived by its heirs (Malik 2005; Varenne and McDermott 1998). As such it resembles racist perspectives. These conceptions are rooted in the positivistic approach that has characterized traditional Western epistemic approaches over the past few centuries. From this paradigmatic perspective, culture, like other objects of research (e.g. identity), is

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viewed as a kind of substance that is ideal, objective, autonomous, fixed and stable. Moreover, from this traditional view, culture lacks dynamic and developing historical contexts which, unlike identity, exist outside the self (Bekerman 1999, 2000; McDermott 1993). At times, culture is accomplished so autonomously in the eyes of theoreticians that it is perceived as acting on humanity. Undertaking a long critique of the concept of identity in its traditional positivist psychological meaning is unnecessary as a great deal of academic work has been devoted to this issue (Bakhurst 1995; Harre and Gillett 1995; Potter and Wetherell 1990). These studies point to the relatively modern appearance of this concept and its close connection to sociohistorical and philosophical developments in the last 400 years of Western intellectual history. Identity as a unitary and autonomous construct has come under attack as being a product of exclusionary power relations (Bhabha 1994; Hall 1996), a monologic posture trying to overcome through domination that which is ‘by nature’ dialogic: the self and identity (Bakhtin 1981; Mead 1934). Similarly, social identity and its constitution have been analyzed as the products of power relations which establish dichotomous hierarchies (Laclau 1990). In these, the powerful attain the status of essentiality while the weak are reduced to the rank of an unfortunate but necessary accident (i.e. man/woman; black/white; Jew/Arab). Moreover, historian, sociologists, culturalists and even psychologists (Billig 1995; Gellner 1983; Giddens 1984, 1991; Smith 1992) have expounded on the radical influence of the slow but steady development of the most universal of modern structures and ideologies: the ‘nation-state’ and ‘nationalism’ on ­long-standing and important conceptions of ‘identity’. The powerful machinery developed by the nation-state, mostly in the shape of massive educational efforts which market universal (anonymous) literacy, has been successful in making seem natural or banal, as Billig (1995) would have it, the detailed practices through which nation-states become almost invisible settings in which we ‘mistakenly’ hold a sense of individuality—an individuality always measured against a contingent other (Laclau 1990) and the modern court of human appeal: the ‘high’ culture of the nation state (Williams 1958). Theoreticians have identified the national structure as one of the cruelest systems on the historical scene (Bhabha 1990; Mann 2004). For the community to be imagined in its national oneness (Anderson 1991; Hobsbawm 1983), borders had to be widened and groups lumped together through homogenizing efforts; culture had to be reified and the individual—and his relation to the sovereign— strengthened so as to undermine the power of smaller communal identifications. Concealed behind the promise of universal equality was the sovereign’s demand to have none other than an individual, stripped of any group affiliation, under his rod (Mendus 1989).


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The nation-states scheme has become so powerful that, like language in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, nationalism seems to shape and direct our most basic paradigmatic conceptions, both of society and individual identity. When these elements are not accounted for in multicultural and peace educational efforts, they risk consolidating that same reality they intended to overcome.

3 Institutionalized Education Yet, our critique needs also to confront educational structures (the most traditional of which is Western schooling which was universalized through the colonialization process). This path is necessary because, as we will see, formal educational efforts themselves are also strongly related to the historical developments which brought about the reifying conceptual tyranny of the nation-state, thus consolidating our critique as one which cannot be easily discounted. The development of mass education, through schooling, is tightly related to the industrial revolution and the development of the nation-state (Gellner 1983; Smith 1998). Both were in need of recruiting masses to their service; masses with basic cognitive and behavioral skills which could serve the needs of the ­nation-state and its economic structure. Thus schools are in no way disinterested arenas within which neutral knowledge or skills are transmitted from the minds of specialists to those of passive individuals. In the modern era, schools have served as the primary means by which sovereigns have unified the different local groups inhabiting the areas they were successful in subordinating to their power: under one flag, one language and one narrative. With this in mind, it is already surprising that peace-searching elements in society have so often chosen school-like educational structures to secure their aims of co-existence. Yet it could be argued that, though adopting existing structures, multicultural and peace educators turn them into structures which serve their purposes and not just the sovereign under which they reside. However, the central lynchpin of formal schooling’s success is its structure and its functionality, both based on and expressive of a particular paradigmatic perspective, which I doubt can be beneficial for supporting tolerance and recognition. Schools are the central conduit for the transmission of the two interrelated beliefs of the modern Western world we referred to above: the belief in the individual self and its identity; as well as the outside existence of knowledge/culture, which this self can absorb if properly guided. These elements have been in the making for centuries in the functioning of schools. Over 5000 years ago, when the first schools were created in order to

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p­ roduce a cast of scribes able to sustain the bureaucratic needs of growing, powerful, centralized, urban, economic human enterprises, they developed the three central characteristics which hold to this day (Cole 2005; Goody 1987): • the student was trained by strangers, separated from his kin and family; • the knowledge slated for transmission was differentiated and compartmentalized into fields of specialization; and • learning took place outside of the contexts of its intended implementation— i.e. knowledge was decontextualized. If indeed the goals of liberal elements in society are finding ways to both strengthen and enliven recognition, co-existence and the individuals’ affiliation to them, as well as an understanding of recognition as a living tradition able to offer a variety of answers to real present sociocultural-political issues, institutional educational structures and their foundational practices may not be the setting in which to achieve these aims. Let us again ponder the questions: can a framework that is premised on distancing the individual from the family and community core serve to engender tolerant perspectives which challenge those accepted in society? Can a structure that conceives of and imparts knowledge in differentiated and compartmentalized chunks (history, physics, civics, etc.) serve in the cultivation of unitary and holistic perspectives of the world? And, last, is it feasible to expect that learners raised under the spell of school education would find what they learn relevant if they are ‘educated’ in environments in which the acquisition of knowledge is segregated from the places in which this knowledge can be functional (and in which the knowledge transmitted does not reflect the knowledge exercised by the community itself in the world outside)? These are obstacles that are common to formal peace/multicultural educational efforts undertaken in school contexts.

4 Universal Values and Individualism The above is not enough for our analysis and I need to consider two additional elements. These bring about the turn that connects so tightly to this critical segment on modern educational strategies with the one we raised above regarding the theoretical blindness which prevents seeing the connection between the support of reified perceptions of (individual) identity and culture as in intergroup ­encounters.


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These two elements are paradigmatic features which, if left untouched, will not allow for the system to be reformed and thereby to become beneficial to those wishing to sustain a level of independence so as to compete in the interpretative work which takes place when the inhabited world is shaped. These paradigmatic features, at which I have hinted above, are what modernity has come to call ‘universal values’ (for the most part localized and restricted Western conceptualizations universalized through colonialization) as well as their appointed recipients, the ‘autonomous individuals’ (also a Western restricted and localized concept) and their assumed identities (Bekerman 2000; Bekerman and Neuman 2001). As mentioned, both culture, as a reified identifiable cast of behaviors and beliefs, and the individual as autonomous and universal, have been the focus of a long and wide theoretical controversy within high and post modernity which has successfully demonstrated the link between these features and many of the world’s current maladies (Sampson 1993; Taylor 1994). It is worth mentioning that these theoretical developments have pointed inter alia at two central issues related to our present understanding of culture and individual identity, which are both relevant to education. The first is that culture must be understood as a verb and not a noun; as something which grows, evolves and intermittently becomes, when executed, to be promptly dissolved again into the doings of human activity which might, or might not, be able to reproduce it again in similar or different ways (Bauman 1999). Second, individual identity must be conceived as a similar dialogic (verb-like) process of becoming and shaping, mostly through the use of the most human of tools: language (Holland 1998). Thus both culture and individual identity have come to be conceptualized as evolving processes widely dependent on ‘languaging’ (Wittgenstein 1953). It is doubtful whether not exposing these ruling paradigms of a reified individual’s identity and culture, together with the practices through which these paradigmatic perspectives are framed and constructed within school-like educational initiatives, can be helpful to the education of individuals towards multiculturalism and peace. The individual, conceptualized as separate and in isolation, might be a good subject for domination, but it is a less worthy one for social (and/or communal) change. Culture and identity, reified and segregated, might be a good means of offering cheap recognition by politically correct multiculturalists, but they serve equally to justify and perpetuate the ongoing suffering of minorities, now recognized, but with their structural subordination left fully intact (­Bekerman 2003, 2004). Thus far I have discussed what I believe to be the unchallenged principles that define and support present multicultural and peace educational efforts, thereby explaining our conviction that both, in spite of their growth, will not necessarily help groups in conflict to achieve their declared goals.

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5 A Critique of the Social Sciences Research Cultural Milieu It is time now to critically approach research in the social sciences more specifically, though not only, that which is conducted hoping to contribute to educational practice in conflict-ridden societies. I will first point at the need of research in the social science to realize it has surrendered its analytical scope to methodological nationalism. Second, I will indicate the necessity to review its epistemological colonialism (Poulter 2012) and how it might influence the understanding of traditional cultural/ethnic/religious phenomena, which is what research is trying to understand. These methodological considerations are also entangled with educational efforts to overcome strong attachments to identity and cultural categories in a way reflecting much of what was said above. Methodological nationalism is the naturalization of the global regime of nation-states by social sciences (Beck 2000; Wimmer and Schiller 2003). It expresses itself every time scholars take concepts which should be identified as being folkloristic or political and not necessarily analytical for granted (and they do this a lot). In this sense countries are not natural entities, societies are not necessarily countries organized as states, and minorities/immigration are not the flow in or between nations. Adopting methodological nationalism by uncritically surrendering to folkloristic conceptualizations blinds research to the profound influence of political organizations in shaping present realities. The social sciences have uncritically adopted these concepts (nation, identity, culture) as if they reflect a given reality. When doing so they become collaborators in a constructed world where givens are assumed instead of being demonstrated. Methodological nationalism is joined by epistemological colonialism, which theoreticians have pointed at as suspicious of holding to the same values it criticizes in the cultural/ethnic/religious realm of alterity. Secularism has been approached by critical theoreticians (Abeysekara 2008; Asad 2003) as a modern doctrine while others characterize it as a form of apartheid (King 2009) or even ‘epistemological racism’ (Maldonado‐Torres 2004). An arrogant liberal position expressed in integrationist policies which divide populations into those who are true citizens and those in need of a ‘civilizing process’ through colonialist ‘rituals of humiliation’ (Kundnani 2012; McVeigh and Rolston 2009). The master narratives of Western countries today have been shown to be built on and synthesize accumulating hegemonic formations/discourses about the civilizational, cultural, religious, ethnic and political heritage of the dominant groups


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of society (Asad 2003; Mignolo 2009). These narratives are overtly secular and rationalist, but hiddenly civilizational, racialized and religious. The first hegemonic formation engenders a civilizational/cultural narrative, in which the West and its history is portrayed in its continuity with Judeo-Christian traditions and Occidental civilization. While these contours of a Judeo-Christian tradition have been called a ‘fictitious amalgam’ almost synonymous to the similarly vague notion of ‘Western values,’ this amalgam is a dominant hegemonic formation that entails the otherizing of major social sectors (Salvatore 2006). A secular narrative in which the “West” is portrayed as heir of Enlightenment and as such secular and rationalist (Asad 2003) represents the second hegemonic formation of citizenship in Western countries today. Building on the civilizational narrative, secularity is portrayed as a logical and modern continuation of Judeo-Christian traditions and Occidental civilization (Mignolo 2003). The third hegemonic formation of citizenship is based on the master narrative of ethnicity. Though citizenship is seen as separate from nationality or ethnicity, in this narrative citizenship is implicitly linked to a racializing discourse (jus sanguinis) which assigns people to memberships in different groups based on their parental descent (Aktürk 2011; Sabean 1984; Sand 2009). The ethnic master narrative sees an ethnic nation sharing a common descent, and it is the ethnic nation, not the citizenry, which shapes the symbols, laws and policies of the state. Human seems to be the one category erased from the national discourse. Based on these hegemonic formations, contemporary Western master narratives of citizenship and their enveloping epistemologies are built on different variations of intersecting and accumulating (now hidden) discourses of religion, ethnicity, culture, civilization and political orientation. Religious epistemologies (which are linked to the civic and the communal) emerge as embedded in particular socio-historical and cultural contexts, and are represented and interpreted within the frames made available by the hegemonic formations discussed above. In the West, the civic, often, masquerades the religious. The history of knowledge-making in modern Western history from the Renaissance on will have, then, theology and philosophy-science as the two cosmological frames, competing with each other at one level, but collaborating with each other when the matter is to disqualify forms of knowledge beyond these two frames. I posit that, as cultures and epistemologies begin to mingle today and translation between them becomes inevitable (Isin 2012), what is ideally required is the interactive and collaborative negotiation of new conceptions of what counts as legitimate knowledge in the public sphere and its institutions as well as how this knowledge is linked to notions of peace and multiculturalism. This process may

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include ‘undoing knowledge’ as it involves ‘de-orientalizing’ and ‘de-colonizing’ the ways in which legitimate knowledge has been instituted through social sciences scientific practices; ‘uncovering knowledge’ that has been masked and disqualified by hegemonic discourse (Foucault 1980); and ‘reinventing knowledge’, which includes forging new conceptions of unconcealed knowledges (Isin 2012; Mignolo 2009). All three speak to ways in which civic/ethnic identities can be enacted through creative micro-acts of citizenship while not focusing only on minority/migrant ‘cultures’. Once freed from the tyranny of identity and culture, people’s affiliation with a group is not a matter of identity but of identification fashioned as an exercise conducted with one’s partners and neighbors (Carbaugh 1996; Varenne and McDermott 1998). Depending on its social context the same behavioral pattern may give rise to different kinds of group identification. Viewed through this lens, being for example a Jew or a Palestinian is not destiny but an achievement, attained with the permission of partners—supporters and detractors alike—through activities carried out in a particular place at a particular moment in history. “Palestinian” and “Jew” are not characteristics in peoples’ minds but the results of work accomplished in the scenes in which these characteristics are made to come alive. All of the above is a renewed invitation to the social sciences to first acknowledge and second confront complexity. By making our analysis more inclusive adding to the traditional attempt to recognize and legitimate the others cultural practice the analysis of our own cultural milieu while focusing on the civic/political and its immediate outcomes, we might be able to start a better dialogue in which we all become both suspects and possible collaborators—not in defending an inexistent fixed culture/identity but instead in shaping a better present. Multicultural/peace education should seek solutions in the organization of Western world politics rather than in the parameters of school settings. Educational systems can suggest the complexities involved in demands for symmetry, but they are not in a position to advocate for it in the absence of accommodating political decisions and structures.

6 In Summary—Focusing on Multicultural/Peace Education I have stated that many of the problems of multicultural/peace education result from the “epistemological primacy” of the underlying assumptions of identity and culture, the anchoring of these assumptions in educational structures, and their unexposed protectors methodological nationalism and epistemic colonialism.


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The purpose of this last section, in line with what has recently come to be identified as the ‘ontological turn’ in philosophy and the social sciences (Escobar 2007; Kivinen and Piiroinen 2004; Paleček and Risjord 2013), is to illustrate the importance of moving from the epistemological to the ontological, while describing and analyzing the consequences of this move for multicultural/peace education and how it might be implemented. I suggest that developing educational strategies to improve coexistence requires that we first help participants become critical experts of design so they can problematize the interdependent relationship between the reified concept of identity/culture and the political organization of the nation-state. For this to happen, educators must replace their focus on the student’s individual mind with a focus on the interactional strategies through which identity and culture make their appearance, according to criteria that are “objective” without resting on the positivist underpinnings of objectivism. This process is consistent with a cultural analysis perspective (Varenne and McDermott 1998) that proposes that we learn to read the world through careful observation and recording of practical activity. This outlook allows for a shift from using the individual or the socializing group as the analytic unit to using the mechanisms by which cultural contexts are produced through social interaction. Through its implication that identity/culture are not necessarily the right criteria by which to describe the world, cultural analysis suggests that while identity and culture may be legitimate constructs (however hegemonic), they need not result in individual suffering. A student should not be labeled with ethnic, national or racial labels. Rather, attention must be directed toward those spheres of localized interactions in their historical trajectories through which categories like “Palestinian” and “Jew” are enabled. The struggle for nation-building in our schools, the discourse of individuality in our media and the unequal distribution of resources in our society have to be identified, described and offered to all participants as tools with which desired changes can be made. For our purposes, boundaries are the product of the people who must pay attention to them, both those who enforce them and those who try to sneak around them. Boundaries and other spaces are artifacts of history, the products of culture as it makes conditions by which human actions must abide. They are constructed and being so, though with difficulty, they might be taken apart. Critical perspectives have pointed at the lack of educational theorizing in multicultural/peace education which, to this day—as in most of the education field— is being guided by functional, psychologized and idealistic perspectives when articulating its aims (Bekerman and Zembylas 2011). Thus, guided multicultural/ peace educational initiatives echo modern white Western totalizing conceptual-

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izations, mostly expressed in essentialized conceptions of human rights and positivistic perspectives of truth. Moreover, they identify the individual mind as the locus of the illness in need of treatment. This treatment, in the best positivist psychologized tradition, is to be offered to solipsistic individuals while ignoring contextual and historical factors. It is questionable whether working through the same premises which are constituted by and constitutive of the modern Western world, under which many of the conflicts that peace/multicultural education is expected to help smooth and ultimately overcome have flourished, is the right direction for such an education. When multicultural/peace education is set in the ground as a universal utopia it hides that which stands at the basis of conflict: the multiple representations of truth and, the various understandings of justice. It also disregards the tight connections between conflict and the present national neo-liberal order as well as the global division of work. In short, it disregards the social arrangements that institutionalize inequality and injustice. As such peace education cannot be a good formula to encourage peaceful accommodation. If indeed peace education is serious about the verbiage that sustains it—the affirmation, recognition and rehabilitation of that which is ‘other’—, it needs to start by critically approaching the epistemological and metaphysical certainties of Western modernity (Bekerman 2007). As Mann (2004) has forcefully suggested, murderous cleansing is not only modern, but also democracy’s dark side. Ethnic cleansing has indeed been known in previous times, but its frequency and deadliness are modern in essence. Ethnic cleansing does not belong to the primitive but to the modern Western inclination to confound into one ethnos and demos, two concepts inherited from classical Greece as the pillars of its democratic states. To demos, the rule of the people, modernity has added ethnos, the group that shares a common sense of heritage, thus allowing for ‘the people’ to rule democratically but also ‘tyrannically’ any minority in its midst. Similarly, Dumont (1966) has argued that racism is a correlate of liberal democracies for if, as its credo goes, ‘all men are created equal’, then the evidence of inequality requires the dehumanization of the many. Equality from this perspective is a quality of man’s ‘nature’ not of the context within which it evolves. When these elements are not accounted for in multicultural/peace educational efforts, they risk consolidating that same reality they intended to overcome. Multicultural/peace education is in urgent need of reviewing its paradigmatic foundations while problematizing the political structures which sustain the conflicts it is trying to overcome. We should not expect multicultural/peace educational initiatives to be able to offer solutions to longstanding and bloody conflicts that


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are rooted in a very material unequal allocation of resources. Unfortunately, many times societies/governments find it easier to support such initiatives rather than work hard towards structural change. Multicultural/peace education needs to look beyond dominant curricula and the reproduction of existing knowledge as well as problematize the politics of identity around issues of justice and coexistence. Lastly, we should remember that change cannot be reached by decree, especially if it runs counter to hegemonic interests. We are in need of realistic and modest aspirations as well as a profound understanding of complexity, and even more so a deep understanding of the paradox suggested when applying Darwinian understandings to the possibility of change; for in his evolutionary view Charles Darwin (1859) suggested that it is not the strongest, nor the most intelligent of the species that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change. Freeing the imagination to take new educational paths and/or research approaches might imply adopting the old Hypocritical adagio cura te ipsum (take care of yourself first) while struggling to confront our paradigmatic perspectives so as to expose and try to overcome the structures and practices that have established the present conflict. Even if this is done it would be good to remember that the long-standing and bloody conflicts that peace educational initiatives hope to remedy are grounded in and sustained by the very material unequal allocation of resources more than in the heads of troubled individuals. The modern rendering for Marx’s maxim on religion as the opium of the masses (Marx 1977) would read ‘hope is the opium of the masses’. We should reject educational hope/optimism/goodwill in as much as it drives us to stay attached to our illusions regarding the conditions in which education evolves. Hope should be regained in as much as hope allows for the search of plans to change the conditions for education not to require illusions.

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Religious and Ethical Orientations of Muslim Refugees Ednan Aslan


The heavy influx of refugees into Austria in 2015 rendered the integration of newcomers a particular challenge at the top of the political agenda. On one hand there is much debate on the dangers posed by the refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, on the other hand various measures have been taken by cities and municipalities that aim to integrate the people coming into the country into society. A particular difficulty undoubtedly arises from the completely new nature of the tasks to be accomplished. In any case, the integration of these people into the education system and the labor market requires a thorough analysis of their skills and qualifications to ensure that the measures taken actually reach them. This contribution presents the results of a study of the religious and ethical ideas of Muslim refugees in the city of Graz. Keywords

Muslim in Austria · Islam · Refugees in Austria · Graz · Integration of Muslim ·  Religion in Europe · Ethics

E. Aslan (*)  Vienna, Austria e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_12



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1 Introduction The influx of refugees in 2015 pushed the number of asylum applications in Austria to unexpected heights. According to data from the BMI, that year, 88,340 people, primarily from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, sought asylum in Austria. During the following year 42,073 people applied for asylum (Asylum Statistics; BMI 2016) and by July 2017 roughly 14,627 people had applied. Austria was utterly unprepared when it got hit by these events since until then it was an unimaginable situation. Nevertheless, in the initial phase, society’s helpfulness was great—so great indeed that people even waited at train stations for incoming refugees and voluntarily took care of them. However, doubts and questions soon emerged regarding the ability of Austria to integrate “the refugees”. After all, they came from a completely different culture. Subsequently, a series of terrorist attacks in the name of Islam took place, which did little to dispel this skeptical attitude. Not surprisingly, the refugee situation has become the central election issue in almost all European countries—and opinions have been divided on the question as to whether Europe would be able to meet this challenge, and demands for the suspension of the Schengen Agreement were also raised (Haneke and Bubrowski 2015). There is still no consensus today on the question regarding the distribution of refugees in the European Union. Many EU countries are seeking their own solutions, and European solidarity seems to be a reality that is increasingly far away. However, irrespective of what short- or long-term solutions EU countries develop, the only alternative is to integrate those civil war refugees who are deserving of recognition. Austria has launched a variety of integration measures to enable recognized refugees to gain a foothold in society as soon as possible. Nonetheless, in 2017, 51 percent of the population rated the cohabitation between Austrians and refugees negatively. In comparison to the previous year, the mood had worsened, and this is where the relationship between the majority population and the Muslim immigrants is particularly affected (Hajek and Siegl 2017, p. 11). As a result, one of the most significant political and social tasks of the near future is the integration of Muslims, particularly refugees, into Austrian society. In order for this to succeed, a closer examination of their religious-cultural reality is inevitable. Only in this way can targeted measures be undertaken. Unfortunately, debates on the integration of Muslim refugees are strongly influenced by prejudices and emotions. The lack of objectivity not only renders it difficult to obtain a comprehensive picture of Muslim refugees’ ethical and religious beliefs, it also prevents constructive reflections on ways to ensure social peace. The current situation

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urgently requires a solid basis for developing effective concepts for the integration of those who have fled to Austria. As is clear from the current situation in big cities, the integratory concepts that have been offered since the 1980s, which more or less refrained from taking the religious and cultural realities of immigrants into consideration, have been unable to achieve their goals. Examining the relationship between religion and immigration can shed light on the significance of religion in the process for situating immigrants, and where appropriate, on ways to redefine the place of religion in a largely secular society. In response to these questions, particularly region-specific approaches as well as the influence of municipalities and cities are gaining in importance. With regard to refugees in Styria and Graz, based on the Social Report of the Provincial Government, the refugees in primary care as of June 30, 2017 numbered 8548, including 522 unaccompanied minors. Of them, 3927 people live in Graz and the surrounding area (2672 and 1255, respectively). The vast majority are from Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Nigeria and Pakistan (Sozialreport 2017). As of March 15, 2016, 10,898 refugees were in primary care, of whom 7437 were male asylum seekers. The declining figures are attributable to the granting of refugee status. Once finalized, the asylum seeker leaves the primary care system (Written inquiry answer 2016).

2 Current State of Research Very little has been known about the religious values of refugees living in Austria until now, as little attention was paid to this question before the arrival of waves of refugees in 2015. If at all, Austrian politics was more concerned about the integration of immigrants who had been living in the country for decades and who had not yet been accommodated. Accordingly, the number of studies focusing on the values of refugees living in Austria is small: “A sociological study to be mentioned in this context is the quantitative study carried out in 2006 by Mathias Rohe on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI). […] On the one hand, the question was posed with regard to the religious orientation of Muslims and, on the other hand, it dealt with the question of integration.” (Aslan et al. 2017, p. 18; Rohe 2006)

Also relevant to the religiosity of Muslims residing in Austria is the study by Zulehner (2011) whose research interests focused mainly on the religious changes taking place within this population group. A study on the religiosity of Muslims


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living in Austria conducted by the Institute of Islamic Studies in Vienna (Aslan et al. 2017) offered a comprehensive picture of the religious orientations of Muslims, according to which a significant percentage is in the process of changing. Simultaneously, however, religion continues to hold an important place in their everyday life. That study does not take into account the specific situation of Muslim refugees who have fled political unrest and war. The first quantitative survey on the refugee issue was published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Kohlbacher et al. 2017). Refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria were asked about their values. Another study—A Social Survey on Asylum Seekers in and around Vienna in Fall 2015—investigated the socio-demographic character, competences and values of asylum seekers in Vienna and the surrounding area (Buber-Ennser et al. 2016). As far as the specific situation of refugees in Styria is concerned, a study dealing with religious and ethical values has also taken place.

2.1 Cognitive Interest of the Present Study Against the background that cities and communities in which refugees will live and construct their future are often overwhelmed by the associated challenges, thus the aim of this research is to create an empirical basis for the development of integratory measures that can be applied—in this case—to the city of Graz. The study aims to offer a detailed overview of the values and religious attitudes of refugees living in different neighborhoods in and around Graz. Above all, the questions formulated for this purpose seek to discover with which values and religious attitudes the refugees encounter their new home in Graz, and which recommendations for action regarding integration measures for the city of Graz can be derived from them.

2.2 Methodological Description of the Study The data for this study was collected orally (face-to-face) using a quantitatively standardized survey. Using face-to-face interviews in groups enabled a controllable survey situation and excluded other peoples’ influence. The Survey on the religious and ethical orientations of Muslim refugees in Austria was carried out between September 01, 2016 and June 30, 2017. Accommodations that could be considered for the investigation were first identified in discussions with employees

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of Caritas and other privately managed refugee camps. In order to keep the efforts and expenditures as low as possible, the candidates were initially asked to participate voluntarily with the help of mother-tongue staff, which, thanks to the help of district leaders, was not too difficult. Food vouchers in the amount of 10 € offered an additional incentive for participation. Although the questionnaires were in the necessary languages, the individuals or groups were further informed about their contents so that they could be sure that they would not suffer any disadvantages. Above and beyond that some additional information was necessary. Our sample included 288 people from eleven refugee camps and one person from a language school. In the language school, the goal of the interview was first explained in the refugees’ mother tongue in a large gathering with teachers and others present. Next, the questionnaires were filled out with the help from classroom teachers (Schnell et al. 2005, p. 360). The questionnaires distributed on paper were filled out by the subjects themselves, if they were able to speak one of the offered languages. Otherwise, interviewers read the questions out loud to them in their native language and recorded their answers. All of the paper questionnaires were entered into a survey form hosted on unipark. After the data assessment, the sample included N = 288 cases. The interviewers were mothertongue students with intercultural skills. As the heart of the survey the questionnaire required careful preparation from different perspectives. Thus, selected refugees were subjected to a pretest. The first version of the questionnaire, which was written in four languages, was tested by five refugees to see whether the translations from German into the individual target languages actually made sense. Following this pretest phase, corrections and additions were made. The questionnaires focused on the following topics: 1) socio-demographic aspects and migration background, 2) life situation in the country of origin, 3) experiences in the home country and during their flight, 4) life situation in Austria, 5) value orientation, 6) dimensions of religiosity, 7) significance of religion in everyday life, 8) attitudes towards other religions, 9) gender roles and family images, 10) view of the relationship between religion and state/society as well as 11) wishes for the future in Austria. The data was first evaluated according to questions from the questionnaire and reported in simple frequency tables. Subsequently, cross-tabulations based on specific variables (religiosity, anti-Semitism, prejudices against Christians, masculinity, gender relations, homophobia, sexism and other socio-political attitudes) were drawn up, which are best portrayed in graphic prints. Finally, scales were developed, their averages were reported and variance analyses were performed. Selection of the variables was based on the integration-political relevance of the queried items.


E. Aslan

2.3 Key Results of the Study • The results of the study showed that the refugees living in Graz and the surrounding area continued to adhere to their religious norms and values, and to treat society with cautious restraint in light of their uncertain conditions. • With regard to age structure, young male refugees made up the vast majority. The proportion under twenty was 25.6% and 21–30-year-olds was 34.8%. Only 15.6% were older than 41 years. • The gender structure was predominantly masculine. About ­two-thirds—63.8%—of the refugees were men. • The education level of respondents varied. 11.1% of the refugees were without a primary school graduation certificate. Just over one third (35.8%) of them had primary school certificates. On the other hand, 25.6% of them had a high school diploma or a higher level of education. • 30.1% of the subjects had been employed in their countries of origin; 22.7% of them had been in some phase of study or vocational training. The proportion of housewives among respondents was relatively high at 16.4% and corresponded to national circumstances. The proportion of highly qualified occupational groups comprised 17.7%. • The overwhelming majority—48.1%—of the refugees questioned belonged to Shiite Islam. 39.7% of the refugees were Sunni Muslims. • With regard to value orientation, the interviewees placed higher value on preservation, especially as it relates to security, than on openness to change. Noteworthy was the high level of correspondence among the refugees questioned regarding self-transcendence, specifically prosocial behavior, compared to self-relatedness. • The belief in God was a characteristic feature of the respondents, 77.8% of whom affirmed the existence of God. At the same time, the belief in the existence of God among older refugees was stronger at 78.4% than at the younger age (68.3%). 69.4% of the interviewed people reportedly performed their Friday prayers in a mosque. It is noteworthy that the proportion of refugees who performed their Friday prayers a week was higher among young people—at 27.9%—than among refugees over the age of 41 (20%). • The proportion of women who regularly performed their obligatory prayers five times a day was 62.6%, which was significantly higher than the proportion of men (39.7%). Among men, religious practice increased with age. Almost 85% of interviewees over the age of 41 performed their obligatory prayers.

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• 66.3% of women attached great importance to wearing headscarves in public (50.0% were fully committed, 16.3% were more likely to wear headscarves). • A higher percentage of women (44.3%) than men (32.6%) were in favor of shaking hands with men. Striking here was the uncertainty of female respondents, who refused to answer (N = 146, 50.7%). • Over half of the respondents (51.4%) thought more about religious issues as a result of their migration and felt more connected to their religion than in their country of origin. For 49.8% of the refugees, religion played a bigger role in everyday life than it had done in their country of origin. • 47.2% of the respondents believed that Jews and Christians have strayed from the right path. 47.8% believed that the future of Islam would be jeopardized if Islam were rethought in a current context. The superiority of Islam to other religions was indisputable for 51.6% of them. • 55.2% of the interviewees believed hell was the punishment for unbelievers. But the majority (57.3%) did not believe that their religion was right in all religious matters. • 46.3% of the refugees answered the question as to whether Jews had too much influence in the world in the affirmative. Similarly, 43.3% of refugees believed that Jews were responsible for their own persecution. 44.2% of respondents perceived Judaism as harmful to the world. 54.5% agreed with the statement that Jews only took care of themselves. • 61.9% of the refugees did not believe that Christians in Austria oppressed other religions. • The majority of those interviewed argued that men and women alike contributed to the family income (69.1%). • More than 50% advocated gender equality in the home and in private life. • 51.7% of the respondents perceived homosexuality to be an immoral way of life and 50% considered it to be a punishable sin. • 44.2% of the respondents considered violence against women who had cheated on their husband to be good. 43.3% considered it correct for a father to prevail, if necessary, by force. There is broad agreement (68,1%) that a real man must be strong and protect his family. • 76% of the respondents recognized democracy as an ideal form of government, but at the same time 44.5% complained about the decline of morals and values in Western societies.


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2.4 Need for Action and Recommendations In terms of education and vocational qualifications, the refugees living in primary care in Graz and the surrounding area, who are primarily from Afghanistan and Syria, are performing better than expected. However, the enthusiasm for education and vocational training, which refugees repeatedly express, constitutes a positive condition for eliminating relevant deficits. Moreover, it is a point of departure when it comes to eliminating the prevalence of strong religious convictions and the concomitant slide to the margins of society. Irrespective of the work prohibition that exists during the asylum procedure, asylum seekers can gain insights into the Austrian labor market through various measures, including fifty-five regional companies, in order to awaken or increase their motivation to work. The most important element in such measures has been and remains the early promotion of language. The fact that the majority of the asylum seekers take religiosity and religious practices very seriously, and want to continue to do so, also makes it necessary to clarify the position of religion in a secular society earlyon, or the equivalence of different ways of life in a pluralistic society like the one in Austria. Here it must be conveyed that security and freedom—values that are also highly regarded by the refugees are only guaranteed when different ways of living and thinking can exist side by side. Also in this regard, cooperation among municipalities, which enables the prosperous coexistence of cultures is recommended. That especially young Muslim refugees usually find their way to the mosque very quickly for various reasons should be a reason to inform them about the landscape of the Islamic organizations as well as to show them possibilities for getting involved in other societal structures and for cultivating friendships, because the fact is that the vast majority of Islamic organizations are not necessarily interested in their integration into society. It would also be wise to consider ways to reconsider the often distorted images of church doctrines and present reality of the church that refugees harbor and to correct them by way of dialogues with church institutions, in order to make them aware that other worldviews can enrich their religious thoughts. Thus, the dangers associated with a religious claim to absoluteness can be overcome. A particular challenge for the city of Graz is undoubtedly the alarming results of the study on anti-Semitic attitudes. In spite of restraint regarding responses to the issue of Jews, prejudices against followers of the Mosaic faith are deeply engrained in

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the overwhelming majority of refugees. In this respect, establishing a dialogue circle with the Jewish community, in which reservations about what is perceived as a danger to the world could be eliminated. Naturally, imams and Muslim scholars are also called upon to address unquestioned prejudices against Jews. No less worrying are findings in this study concerning the masculinity of refugees with their inherent disregard for women’s role in society. This should be addressed by strengthening the self-confidence of female refugees, for example, by giving them access to the labor market and education. In cooperation with women’s organizations, which have intercultural competences, suitable projects could be developed. Muslim women should be urged to critically examine the subordinate role assigned to them by Islamic theology, which they have never before dared to question, with the help of competent Muslim scholars.

References APA. (2014). Ein Flüchtling kostet 10724 Euro pro Jahr. October 14, 2015. http://diepresse. com/home/innenpolitik/4843461/Oesterreich_EinFluechtling-kostet-10724-Euro-proJahr. Accessed 12. July 2017. Aslan, E., Kolb, J., & Yildiz, E. (2017). Muslimische Diversität. Wiesbaden: Springer. Buber-Ennser, I., Kohlenberger, J., Rengs, B., Al Zalak, Z., Goujon, A., Striessnig, E., Potancoková, M., Gisser, R., Testa, M. R., & Lutz, W. (2016). Human Capital, Values, and Attitudes of Persons Seeking Refuge in Austria 2015. PLoS ONE 11(9). Bundesministerium für Inneres [BMI]. (2016). Vorläufige Asylstatistik Oktober 2016. https://www.bmi.gv.at/301/Statistiken/. Accessed: 21. Aug. 2017. Hajek, P., & Siegl, A. (2017). Integrationsbarometer 2017. Wien: Österreichischer Integrationsfonds. http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Asylwesen/statistik/files/2016/Asylstatistik_Dezember_2016.pdf. Accessed: 28. Aug 2017. Haneke, A., & Bubrowski, H. (2015). Sind Grenzkontrollen eigentlich erlaubt? September 14, 2015. http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/fluechtlingskrise/wie-die-aussetzung-desschengenabkommens-funktioniert-13803053.html. Accessed: 20. May 2017. Kohlbacher, J., Rasuly-Paleczek, G., Hackl, A., & Bauer, S. (2017). Wertehaltungen und Erwartungen von Asylberechtigten und subsidiär Schutzberechtigten in Österreich. https://www.bmeia.gv.at/fileadmin/user_upload/Zentrale/Integration/Studien/Studie_ Wertehaltungen_und_Erwartungen.pdf. Accessed: 28. July 2017. Rohe, M. (2006). Perspektiven und Herausforderungen in der Integration muslimischer MitbürgerInnen in Österreich. https://web.archive.org/web/20061019122626/http:// www.bmi.gv.at/downloadarea/asyl_fremdenwesen/Perspektiven_Herausforderungen. pdf. Accessed: 19. Aug. 2019.


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Schnell, R., Hill, P. B., & Esser, E. (2005). Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung. München: Oldenbourg. Sozialreport. (2017). Grundversorgung. Graz: Amt der steiermärkischen Landesregierung. http://www.soziales.steiermark.at/cms/dokumente/12598374_132298727/9456a58c/ ReportGVS2017_06.pdf. Accessed: 28. Aug. 2017. Written inquiry answer. (2016). May 11, 2016. https://pallast2.stmk.gv.at/pallast-p/pub/ document?dswid=-6251&ref=3ff98a2c-3e38-463ba721-8339cfb3fbeb. Accessed: 28. Aug. 2017. Zulehner, P. M. (2011). Verbuntung. Kirchen im weltanschaulichen Pluralismus. Ostfildern: Schwabenverlag.

Recent Immigrations in Spain and a Brief Approach to Unaccompanied Foreign Minors Juan Ramón Ferreiro Galguera


Throughout its history, Spain has been characterized as a country of emigrants. However, in the last decades Spanish has progressively become (especially since 2000) a receiver of immigrants mainly from the European Union, South America and North Africa. Unfortunately, in recent years, unaccompanied minors are a truly fragile group when it comes to migratory flows. In this paper, after a historical introduction, we will refer, from a general point of view, to the current moment of immigration witnessed in Spain offering not only statistical data regarding this phenomenon but also legislation, and description of the policies carried out by the central and regional governments on issues like immigration, asylum and integration. We will look at unaccompanied foreign minors, above all after the incident of the NGO Ship “Aquarius” in August 2018. We will see how they arrived in our country, how they were treated once they were discovered adrift: the procedures carried out first by the police and later by the institutions or NGO in charge of their legal and social protection systems. Finally, we will discuss how the fundamental right of education in this context can be implemented. We will close with some theoretical conclusions for the future of refugees in Spain and Europe.

J. R. F. Galguera (*)  A Coruña, Spain e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_13



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Immigration to Spain · Refugee in Spain · Asylum · Unaccompanied foreign minors · Dignity

1 Historical Introduction: From a Country of Emigrants Spain has been a country of emigrants for many years. In the twenties of the last century, many Spaniards moved to America, North Africa and other destinations in Europe. But at the end of the twentieth century, the migratory movements experienced a radical change. After being a country of emigration, Spain turned into a country of immigration. This change, which started to appear in the ­mid-eighties, acquired a special intensity at the end of last century. Between 1880 and 1974 about 83,000 Spaniards left the country every year. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Spain experienced one of the largest periods of migration in European history. From 1850–1950, approximately 3.5 million Spaniards went to Latin American countries. After our Civil War, that took place from July1936 to April 1939, many Spaniards emigrated first to countries of South and Central America, like Mexico or Argentina, and then, while these countries were affected by an important economic crisis, to the most industrialized countries of Europe, like Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Belgium and the United Kingdom. More than two million Spaniards migrated to Europe during the fifties and sixties. Though this tendency diminished during the seventies. Emigration was not only a relief for our economy then (the so-called Spanish Marshall Plan), but also helped Spain to come back into contact with Europe in the years of isolation that had followed the civil war and the dictatorship thereafter. Franco’s government, aware of the benefits of this phenomenon, created the Spanish Institute of Emigration in 1956, mainly to coordinate all the public policies regarding this issue. Some years later, the Emigration Law of 1962 was issued. This political and legal framework’s objective was to help the less qualified workers in areas with high unemployment rates so that they could emigrate legally through emigration programs and bilateral agreements with the receiving countries. Nevertheless, the high percentage of illegal emigration shows the failure of these political tools. The emigration agreement with Belgium in 1956 was followed in 1960 by the ones signed with the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Switzerland; in 1961 with the one signed with the Netherlands, and with Austria in 1966. Those

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agreements underlined the competence of the Spanish Emigration Institute in the recruitment of workers, in cooperation with similar institutions in the receiving countries. Some of these bodies opened delegations in Spain in order to facilitate the emigration procedures. The official way was as follows: the agencies in charge of immigration in each country reported the job offers they had received from national employers to the Spanish Emigration Institute. The Spanish Emigration Institute then decided on the recruitment areas, normally regions with the highest unemployment rates, like Andalucía, Galicia, Extremadura, León. The workers who wanted to emigrate were meant enroll in the local delegations of the Spanish Trade Union Organization (OSE) and were then picked up by the Spanish Migration Institute. This opportunity was unavailable to both the most qualified workers and the opponents of Franco’s regime as they could not get the required certificate of good conduct. As this process was slow—it could last between 4–6 months—most of the countries opened their borders to illegal emigration. Around 50% of the emigrants crossed the borders without a work contract. Nevertheless, the receiving countries would later legalize this illegal situation through post-regularization legal ­procedures.1

2 To a Country of Immigrants … After November 1975, the year Franco died, migratory movements suffered a radical change. It was the beginning of the political transition to democracy. General Franco had designated Prince Juan Carlos as his official successor. But King Juan Carlos I enabled a peaceful transition to democracy instead of continuing the regime. Adolfo Suarez led this political and legal procedure which started in the Parliament of the dictatorship. Right after Franco’s death, the King did not


up, there were two ways of immigration: a) Legal immigration. If the emigrant had registered in the Spanish Emigration Institute and was selected, he signed a working contract, which was delivered to him along with his passport, transit visas as well as temporary work and residence permits, or equivalent documentation. Afterwards they got some instruction on the life, customs and language of the receiving countries. Later, they were transferred to their work places by train or by bus. This procedure could be faster if a foreign employer asked the Spanish Institute of Emigration for a specific worker (maybe his/ her name had been provided by another Spanish worker or someone in his company).b) Illegal immigration. Usually, preceded by relatives and friends who had previously emigrated. It normally happened when getting a work contract was more difficult.


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appoint a new prime minister, but left the last one ruling under Franco’s regime in place: Carlos Arias Navarro. When the latter had resigned on July 1, 1976 the King chose Adolfo Suarez from a list of three candidates as the new head of government. He led the Spanish Transition to Democracy in two steps. First, he convinced the Cortes (Spanish Parliament) to pass the Law for Political Reform, which was ratified by a nation-wide referendum on December 15, 1976. Second, he called for democratic elections in June 1977 to choose a Constituent Parliament with its main task of drawing up a democratic constitution. By that time, most of the foreigners in Spain were Germans, French, British as well as some Mexicans and Argentinians. The return of Spanish emigrants overlapped an unknown immigration process from foreign countries to Spain. The radical change in terms of immigration, in other words, the turning point from being a country of emigrants to being a country of immigrants, took place after October 1982, when the socialist party (PSOE), led by Felipe Gonzalez, won the first general elections of the Spanish democracy. After that year, not only the number of Spanish emigrants, who used to go mainly to Europe, decreased continuously (to less than 1000 a year), but also the number of those who returned started to increase (around 48,000 a year). In other words, whereas, in 1975 the presence of foreigners was practically residual, between 1975 and 1985, residence permits for foreigners grew at a rate of 8000 a year. This tendency increased during the nineties. In that decade, the Spaniards did not really emigrate, instead they returned, especially from 1996: about 20,000 a year, a figure that doubled even in 2001. The foreign arrival peak to Spain occurred from 2000 (with an average of annual entries of 700,000 people) to 2009 (Miyar 2012, p. 6). Along with legal immigration, the illegal one was so high that it led to the first regularization legal procedure in 1985, which was then repeated every five years (Muñoz Comet 2016, p. 24). The last regulation procedure occurred in 2005 while the socialist, Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was the government’s president. This policy was censured by the European Union. According to Brussels, given that this kind of immigration policy provoked the so-called “call effect” or “encouraging other’s effect”. Any member state deciding to implement the regulation of illegal immigrants should first consult with EU partners. According to some experts, two of the positive effects of the crisis on Spanish public finances were that this phenomenon fostered the integration of many women in the labor market and the improvement of the public pension system (Rodriguez Mateos 2018, p. 76). The turning point of the growing period of immigrants coming to Spain was the financial international crisis from September 2008 onwards. That year, the number of legal immigrants fell for the first time in a decade. The majority of

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immigrants used to work in sectors especially affected by the crisis, like construction and services. Many of the foreign immigrants entitled to unemployment benefits rights signed voluntary return programs for jobless immigrants. Since that year, the number of family reunification visas declined by 30,000. The year with the lowest immigration rate was 2013, precisely the year in which the unemployment rate was at 27% for the working age population (the unemployment rate in 2012 was more than 6 million and 5.6 million in 2013, Instituto Nacional de Estadística [INE] 2018). Therefore, one of the effects of the crisis was that the Spanish became emigrants again. So much so that the number of Spaniards and non-Spaniards leaving the country overtook the number of arrivals. As a result, the migration balance was negative. Furthermore, the number of foreigners in Spain was also reduced as many of them got the Spanish nationality: from1995 to 2015 almost 1.2 million foreigners. That made Spain the third country in the EU (after the United Kingdom and France) who accepted most new citizens (Ministerio de Trabajo, Migraciones y Securidad Social 2018).

3 How Can Foreigners Get the Spanish Nationality? According to Art. 17 of the Spanish Civil Code, the following people are Spaniards by birth: those born of a Spanish mother or father (ius sanguis); those born in Spain of foreign parents (ius soli) if at least one of them was born in Spain, except in the case of children of a diplomatic or consular office in Spain. Also, those born in Spain of foreign parents if both of them lack a nationality or if the legislation of neither of them grants a nationality to the child; also, those born in Spain of uncertain filiation. In the latter cases, those whose first known place of existence is Spanish territory shall be presumed born in Spanish territory. Filiation or their birth in Spain only determined after a person’s eighteenth birthday does not constitute grounds to acquire the Spanish nationality. Nevertheless, the interested people should opt for Spanish nationality by adoption within the two following years after such a case. Foreigners can also acquire nationality by residence—which is also the most common way. According to Art. 22 of our Civil Code, it requires ten years of residence. Five years shall be sufficient for people who have obtained asylum or refugee status, and two years for citizens from Latin-American countries (Andorra, The Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Portugal); and also, for Sephardic Jews (Rodriguez Mateos 2018, p. 127). Two consecutive years of residence are needed


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for a person who has been legally subject to guardianship, custody or care by a Spanish citizen or institution, even if that situation persists at the time of the application. One year of residence should be sufficient for the persons born within Spanish territory, and also for a person who, at the time of application, has been married to a Spaniard for one year and is not legally or de facto separated

4 Immigration in Spain: Current Situation The total number of people registered in the Continuous Register2 in Spain as of January 1, 2018 was 46,698,569 inhabitants, according to the Preview of the Continuous Register Statistics. This figure represents an increase of 126,437 people (0.3%) compared to the data from January 1, 2017. The current situation of immigration (January 30, 2018) is as follows: out of the 46.9 million inhabitants just mentioned, there are 41,979,151 people with a Spanish nationality (89.9% of the total registered people) and 4,719,418 foreigners (10.1%). During 2017, the net number of registered Spaniards fell by 20,174 (− 0.05%), while the number of foreigners increased by 146,611 (+ 3.2%), of which the ones belonging to the European Union (EU-28) increased by 2,709 (+ 0.2%) and those of non-EU nationals by 143,902 persons (+ 5.1%). From 1998 to 2012 the population registered in Spain increased every year, since then it decreased until 2016. In 2017, there was a new inflection with an increase of 126,437 people. Since 2000, the increase was mainly due to the registration of foreign nationals, whose number rose from 923,879 that year to 5,751,487 on January 1, 2011. From that time on, the number of foreigners began to decrease, producing the greatest drop during 2013 (− 522,751). This trend continued in the subsequent years and in 2016 the balance (− 45,774) was the least intense. In 2017, the number of foreigners rose again, with an increase of 146,611 people (Continuous Register of Spain [INE] 2018).3


to the INE (the Spanish National Institute of Statistics), the reference to population and the registered population, must always be understood as the population registered in the Continuous Register, which is the coordination file of the Municipal Registers managed by the INE. Population refers to those people who reside in Spain, that is, it does not include Spaniards resident abroad. For those, the INE has different statistics known as the Register of Spaniards Resident Abroad Statistics. 3https://www.ine.es/.

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According to the nationality of origin of the foreign nationals registered in the Continuous Register, the number of people belonging to the EU-28 reached 1,780,698. Among these, the most numerous were Romanians (673,017), British (240,934) and Italians (206,066). Among the non-EU foreign nationals, the most significant were Moroccan (769,050), Chinese (215,748) and Colombian (165,608) citizens. Concerning the main nationalities, the most significant in 2017 were the increases in the number of citizens from Venezuela, Colombia and Morocco. On the other hand, the greatest decreases in absolute terms were recorded for Romanian, Ecuadorian and Bulgarian citizens. In relative terms, and among the nationalities with the highest number of foreigners, the greatest population increases in 2017 were registered among the citizens of Venezuela, Honduras and Colombia. In turn, Ecuador, Bolivia and Bulgaria showed the greatest decreases (Continuous Register of Spain [INE] 2018).4

5 Refugees 5.1 Human Dignity, Asylum and Subsidiary Protection: Concepts Human Dignity is the legal translation of a moral or metaphysic idea that goes beyond the legal sphere. Law cannot do more than recognize and protect human dignity, which is formed by human rights. This concept stands that people’s life is worth the same no matter their social origin. Any human being once born has not only physical (visible) organs but also another (invisible) organ that is as real as the physical ones: human dignity. Using a biological simile, all human beings— no matter their cultural, social or economic background—are born with dignity, which again is like an invisible organ formed by a kind of cells: human rights. The state does not offer dignity to human beings, as they have it already at birth. The duty of the state (of the legal system) is to recognize, protect and guarantee dignity or, in other terms, the possibility that the human being can exercise the human rights, which altogether form dignity. Refugees and immigrants, rich and poor, regardless of their origin or social status, they all have dignity. They are all entitled to human rights. The duty of the international community is to establish



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the scope and the core content of those human rights through international law and organizations. The first international law that established the concept of “refugee” was the Refugee convention of Genève in 1951. This important legal document that was ratified by 145 State parties defines the term “refugee” and outlines the rights of the displaced as well as the legal obligations of states to protect them. The core principle is non-refoulment (Rodriguez Mateos 2018, p. 140), which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom (Trinidad 2015, p. 51). This is nowadays considered a rule of customary international law. The 1967 Protocol of New York implemented this treaty. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (United Nations Refugee Agency), created in 1950 during the aftermath of the Second World War to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes, serves as the “guardian” of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, states are expected to cooperate with the UN Refugee Agency in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected. In European law, Directive 2004/83/EC states the minimum standards for qualifying for subsidiary protection status.5 And, regarding to the current Spanish law, the status of refugees is regulated by Law 9/2009 on the right of asylum and subsidiary protection, implemented by the Royal Decree 203/1995. Those legal instruments refer to two concepts: refugee status and subsidiary protection. The legal concept of refugee stands on three characteristics: a) He/she is outside the country of his nationality (or stateless). b) Due to well-founded fears of being persecuted because of his/her race, religion, nationality, political opinions, belonging to a certain social group, gender or sexual orientation. c) Because of such fears, he/she is unable or unwilling to ask for the protection of his/her country. The legal concept of subsidiary protection refers to international protection for people of other countries as well as stateless people who do not qualify as refugees, but seek asylum, because if they returned to their country of origin or previous residence they would very likely face a real risk of some of the following serious damages:


by directives 2005/85/CE and 2003/86/CE.

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a) being condemn to death penalty or suffer the execution of that sentence; b) suffer torture and inhuman or degrading treatment; c) having their life or integrity threaten by indiscriminate violence caused by international or internal conflict.

5.2 The Refugee Crisis in Europe When and where did the last wave of refugees, the so-called Refugee Crisis in Europe, start? The turning point was 2015. That year, over one million people— refugees, displaced people and other migrants—made their way to the European Union, either escaping a conflict in their country or in search of better economic prospects. While the numbers had shown a decreasing trend in 2016, by June that year, around 156,000 people had reached Europe. Regarding asylum seekers, most of them were escaping from the wars in Syria and Iraq: according to some statistics, 80% of the 1.26 million of asylum seekers were less than 35 years old (Marcu 2018, p. 3) But it was not until one picture emerged in the media that the European Union reacted resolutely: the reaction to the powerful and cruel image of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy of Kurdish background drowned on September 3, 2015, and found lying, like an exhausted angel, on the Greek shore. Five years of civil war in Syria had left many horrible pictures, but it was just this one that produced a turning point, that made the EU burst into tears and react. That same month, in September 2016, negotiations over quotas of refugees finally started among the state members of the EU. After an internal debate, the council of the EU agreed on an equitable distribution of 160,000 refugees, a very small number compared to the existing total, but it represented the first step in the EU’s joint response (Abrisketa 2018, p. 6). Spain agreed then to welcome 17,337 refugees from the European relocation and resettlement quotas. However, two years after that decision, our country had only relocated 1983 refugees, just 11% of the total (Marcu 2018). Six months later, on March 18, 2016, an agreement between EU and Turkey was reached. In general terms, this pact said that for each Syrian asylum seeker sent back to Turkey after March 20, Turkey would send a Syrian refugee who had obtained asylum in Turkey to the EU. As compensation, Turkey would receive 6 billion Euros in financial aid to finance projects for Syrian refugees (Marcu 2018, p. 3). However, the following year, the resettlement and relocation programs ended and had clearly failed. The number of people who applied for international


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protection in the EU (704,625) had decreased by half in 2017 compared to 2016 (1,259,265) and 2015 (1,321,600) due to the policy of closed borders. The Spanish commission for refugees (CEAR) condemned the practices as it was particularly worrying to see that people and organizations that defended the human rights of migrants and refugees were being increasingly treated as criminals. Which is true. But it is also true that there are very dangerous criminals when it comes to migration. Unfortunately, only the victims know them well— not only who they are but also about their organization. This is basic knowledge to combat them properly. So far, there are four main actors in the sphere of immigration: immigrants (or refugees) who are the ones who have to abandon their country; the potentially receiving countries, thus the places where the immigrants want to go; the means of transportation they use, some of them are legal (plane, boats) but most of them, mainly for illegal immigration, are criminal (ramshackle boats, cayucos) used by the mafia to leave the immigrants adrift at sea after charging them predatory prices; and NGOs that save some people from drowning (CEAR 2018 Report: Refugees in Spain and Europe. Executive Summary). Of the four actors, only the criminal mafias are winning (in terms of achieving their goal); not the immigrants (many of them die after having unknowingly paid for their own death), not the receiving states (who cannot control the immigration process) nor the NGOs, who, cannot but save the people adrift at sea. Fighting the mafias is crucial because these criminals know that if they leave the immigrants adrift, some NGO will try to save them from drowning. This little hope prompts the victims to continue taking that risk and as a consequence the criminal business of the slavers will also continue. Fighting these powerful mafias that use human lives as bargaining chips justify a foreign intervention (ONU, EU). Military intervention included. Thus, one of the challenges of international communities, scholars included, should be the research and analysis of who these organizations are, how they work and how they can act with such impunity. If we really want answer to illegal immigration the more we know about them the ­better. As for the situation in Greece, there was still a lack of protection for thousands of refugees, which was especially serious on its islands. Under the agreement signed with Turkey, five Greek islands became places for confinement of those who had applied for international protection and had to wait there for the ruling on their case. In 2017, Spain recorded the greatest number of international protection applicants since the first Law of Asylum was passed in 1984, rising to 31,120 applications. It had then the sixth-highest number of applications received in a EU-country, ahead of countries with a great tradition of asylum such as Sweden, but still far from the top countries: Germany (222,560), Italy (128,850) and

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France (98,635) (CEAR 2018 Report: Refugees in Spain and Europe. Executive Summary). However, the percentage of people who finally got a positive reply almost halved compared to 2016. Whereas Spain granted the refugee status to 595 people (the highest number since 1994) in 2017, the percentage that received some kind of international protection fell to almost half of 2016’s ratio, dropping from 67% to 35%, thus remaining clearly below the European Union’s average. The system of international protection as regards processing applications and programs for accommodation and inclusion were saturated. According to CEAR, by the end of February 2018, there were 42,025 people waiting for a decision on their case. The applicants came mainly from Venezuela (14,995), Ukraine (4645), Colombia (3345) and Syria (2680) (CEAR 2018 Report: Refugees in Spain and Europe. Executive Summary).

5.3 Legal Procedure for Acquiring Refugee Status in Spain Regarding the legal procedure for asylum existing in Spain, according to Art. 4 of the Royal Decree 203/1995 that implements the Law 12/2009 which regulates asylum and international protections, the application for asylum should be submitted personally by the interested parties in the following places: • • • •

at diplomatic or consular Spanish missions abroad, at Entry points at the border control, at the Office of Asylum and Refugee, which is part of the Ministry of Interior, at the Offices for Foreigners existing in the 17 autonomous communities or the ones existing in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla as well as • at any police station in Spain. The government publishes leaflets in several languages titled Information for applicants for international protection in Spain: right to asylum and subsidiary protection that should be available in the listed places. Once the claims are submitted, the asylum applicants should be identified and registered, based on their documentation as well as their fingerprints. The latter is also used to check whether the same people applied for asylum in another EU-country and/or whether the people have entered the EU through a country other than Spain. Once they have requested for asylum they cannot be returned to their country of origin or sent away until the request is resolved. Applicants can then ask for


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accommodation in one of the reception centers, receive material help as well as social, legal and/or medical guidance, including interpreters. The applicants are then invited for at least one interview at the presence of a representative of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR). Reception centers also organize support for asylum-seeking children so that they may attend school in the neighborhood, including evening homework classes. In general terms, the asylum seeker can stay in those centers between six and nine months. By the end of 2018, the refugee reception system reached 8333 places, distributed among the reception centers of the Ministry of Labour, mainly in Andalusia (1185), Madrid (776), Catalonia (591) and Valencia (526) (CEAR 2018 Report: Refugees in Spain and Europe. Executive Summary). In these centers, the asylum seekers also receive financial aid that can be extended up to 18 months, and even 24 months in the most vulnerable cases (Fiscalía General del Estado 2018).

6 Illegal Immigration We refer now to those foreigners that enter Spain without legal documents: visa residence permits etc. Spain is the only country in the European Union that shares a border with Africa: in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Before the refugee crisis, irregular entries of immigrants did not normally occur through these territories, rather usually by boat. The highest record of illegal entries of immigrants was set in the so-called crisis of the cayucos in 2006 when almost 40,000 irregular immigrants entered Spain through the Canary Islands. Nevertheless, since that year, the number of illegal immigrants who arrived by sea decreased significantly (Ministerio del Interior 2017). In 2010, 3632 illegal immigrants arrived in Spain, but the following year, in 2011, the year in which the so-called social-political movement “Arab Spring” started, the number increased to 5443. Then the following years the process started to decrease again: 3804 in 2012, 3237 in 2013 (Ministerio del Interior 2017). The first wave of Syrian refugees arrived in 2013 and the land entries equaled and then surpassed the arrivals by sea. In 2014, 4180 migrants arrived at Ceuta and Melilla, and with them 3300 Syrians who lacked the required documentation to enter Europe. That same year 4552 migrants arrived at the peninsula by boat. The situation was similar in 2015: entries by boat surpassed those by land. The situation suffered another turning point in 2015 when the so-called crisis of refugees in Europe started. That year, 5312 illegal immigrants entered by boat. The number increased in 2016 up to 8162 and jumped the following year (2017) to 22,103 (Ministerio del Interior 2018).

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In 2017 illegal immigration in Spain, again, got higher levels than expected. According to the Official Report by the Ministry of Interior for December 2017, illegal immigration had increased by 101.4% compared to the previous year. The reactivation of migratory pressure in the western Mediterranean was a matter of concern. Therefore, despite an increase in illegal immigration along the routes through the Canary Islands (− 37.8% less than the previous year) and Ceuta (− 44%), there was a considerable increase in entries through the Peninsula, Balearic Islands and Melilla, leading to an increase in entries by sea of 170.8% (Ministerio del Interior 2017). Concerning the illegal immigration over land the figures were better, even though they were not positive either since a decrease by 1% in immigration through Ceuta did not compensate the increase through Melilla (9.6%), leading to an overall increase of 5.6% (National Contact Point of the European Migration Network in Spain 2017). In June 2018, Pedro Sanchez, the secretary general of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and leader of the opposition, reached power via a motion of censure against Mariano Rajoy, the former president. A few days later the incident of the “Aquarius” occurred. On June 11, the Italian Coast Guard rescued 629 immigrants adrift in boats. They were transferred to the boat “Aquarius” that belonged to the NGO Sos Méditerranée. Immediately after, the Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, warned that he would not authorize the landing of the boat in Italy and asked the Maltese Government to let it enter their port instead. Malta replied that it was not their responsibility since the rescue had been taken place at the coasts of Libya, a rescue zone coordinated by Rome. The new Spanish president, in a clear need of international and internal support (the socialist party had only 84 MP out of the 350 seats in the Spanish congress) wanted to show a more supportive image and offered Valencia as a safe harbor for the refugees on the “Aquarius”. The boat arrived in the port of Valencia on June 17. But all of this led to the aforementioned “call effect” from that day. According to a Report of arrivals of irregular immigrants to Spain by sea and land published by the Ministry of the Interior in December 2018, from January to November 2018, 59,048 illegal immigrants entered Spain, mainly through Peninsular coasts, Baleares, Canary Islands and the African Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla. During the same period in 2017 the number of immigrants had been much less: just 25,786, thus more than half. That meant that 2018 experienced an increase of 129%. But we have to take into consideration that in 2017, the number of illegal entries had already doubled in 2016. Besides, the number of illegal arrivals in 2018 was higher than the total in the previous six years together. It was also significant that the number of immigrants increased much more than the number of boats. According to the data provided by the Ministry of the


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Interior, there was a disproportion between the growth of vessels arriving at the Spanish coasts and the number of immigrants that entered Spain. While the number of vessels had grown by 65%, the total number of immigrants that landed illegally by sea rose by 165% compared to the previous year. On the other hand, the illegal entryway by land did not follow that proportion: it only grew by 6% at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla with Morocco. Regarding the expulsion orders, according to the Organic Act 4/2015 on Protection of Public Safety, foreigners detected in the border of Ceuta and Melilla (between the two existing fences), while trying to pass the border illegally, can be rejected in order to avoid their illegal entry into Spain. But, in any case, the refusal should be done while still respecting the international norms on human rights and international protection (Final disposition of the Act).

7 Foreign Unaccompanied Minors (MENA)6 According to a report issued by the Public Prosecutor Office, in 2017, 2345 unaccompanied foreign minors arrived at the Spanish coasts by boats. This data represented an extraordinary increase (398%) compared to the only 588 that arrived in 2016, and an increase of 566% compared to the number of minors who had arrived by the same route in 2015 (414). According to sex, 97.05% (2.276) of the arriving minors in 2017 were male, while only 69 were girls. They came mostly from Morocco (56,33%), Algeria (19.95%) and other sub-Saharan countries in Africa like the Republic of Guinea (8.48%), Côte d’Ivoire (7.5%) and Gambia (2.85%) (Fiscalía General del Estado 2018). Unfortunately, there is no data available about the minors entering Spain through Ceuta and Melilla, crossing the border hidden in motor vehicles or by other means, for instance, as stowaways in the bowels of ships going to the ­Peninsula. According to the Registry of Unaccompanied Foreign Minors (under the control of the General Direction of the Police), on December 31, 2017, 6414 minors had been registered under the guardianship of social services. According to sex, 581 of them were girls and 5833 boys. There was an increase of 60.47% compared to the 3997 registered in 2016. They were accommodated mainly by ­Andalusia (2209).

6MENA = Menores

Extranjeros No Acompañados (Foreign Unaccompanied Minors).

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The number of unaccompanied minors under custody of the different autonomous communities in Spain has grown significantly There are 1293 minors (95 girls and 1198 boys), who escaped from the accommodation centers in which they stayed, now their whereabouts are unknown. Most of them (343) in Andalusia (Fiscalía General del Estado 2018).

8 Location and Identification Procedures for Minors According to Art. 35 of the Organic Law 4/2000 on the Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners, when police locate—either at the coasts or on the street—an undocumented foreign national whose age cannot be established with certainty, the police will provide them with a provisional identity card, and will register their data on the Register of unaccompanied foreign children, which is under the control of the general direction of the police. Once they are registered, the police will transfer these children to one of the public accommodation centers for minors existing in the 17 autonomous Spanish communities (or in the autonomous cities of Ceuta or Melilla). Depending on the autonomous communities there are three models of public accommodation centers: a) Specialized centers for unaccompanied minors like those existing in Tenerife or Vizcaya. b) “Safe house” centers for all kind of minors (foreigners and nationals), a model followed in Galicia, for example. c) Some other autonomous communities, like Castilla y León, Cantabria o Murcia, have both models (Bravo and Santos-González 2016, p. 58). It is very important that these centers are provided with the appropriate resources and social educators who have not only the language skills but also some knowledge of the children’s culture. These public centers, which hold the legal custody of these children, will provide them the immediate attention required and will inform the Department of the Public Prosecutor, so that, in case their age is undetermined due to missing documents, a procedure of determination of their age can be initiated. Doctors (mainly forensics) will then carry out the necessary examinations. The accommodation centers will also inform the government delegate of the autonomous community, which is the competent authority for the decision on the repatriation process. Before starting that procedure of repatriation, the government delegate (or deputy delegate) may request a report on the minor’s family circumstances


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from the embassy or consulate of the country of origin. The embassy or consulate can substitute the information on the child’s family with a report from child protection services existing in that country, as well as the promise that those centers will exercise the protection over the minor fully if needed. Once these preliminary actions are finished and the government delegate has received all the necessary information, the repatriation procedure may be started by the delegate if he considers it in the best interest of the child to be reunited with the family or delivered to the child-care services of his/her country of origin. In any case, the minor is entitled to appeal that administrative decision before the courts. Since the minor is underage, the government will provide them with a lawyer as their legal representative and they also have the right to be heard during the judicial procedure (Rodriguez Mateos 2018, p. 295). According to the 2017 Report by the Attorney General Office, there were no repatriation of minors until 2016, when six minors were repatriated from Spain to their families (one to Algeria, four to Albania and one to Romania). In 2017 there were five repatriations of minors (two boys to Algeria, two girls to Paraguay and one boy to Albania) and three minors just returned to their families (one to Germany and two to Romania). Unaccompanied foreign minors can remain in Spain, which is most frequently the case. That happens if the Government delegate decides the child should stay, or if six months have passed since the beginning of the repatriation procedure, or if nine months have passed since the minor has been delivered to the competent children-care authorities. In all these cases, the minor is entitled to a residence permit. The procedure for residence permits will take place at the Government delegate’s immigration office in the Autonomous community where the minor is staying. That office will provide the minor with a foreign identity card (TIE). This residence permit is valid for one year, but has to be renewed at the same immigration office, starting the renewal procedure six months before its expiration date. When the minor turns 18 (age of majority) they should apply for a renewal of their residence permit, also six months before its expiration date. In this case, the renewal procedure has more requirements than the previous one, for instance, they have to prove that they have the financial means to support themselves or they need to show positive reports submitted by the competent public bodies. The applicant’s degree of insertion in the Spanish society will be particularly taken into account. The following aspects determine the level of integration: a) respect for the rules of behavior existing in the safe house, b) the degree of knowledge of the official languages of the state, c) family ties with Spanish citizens or resident foreigners in Spanish territories,

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d) The time they have lived with a family, NGO or Spanish institution, e) continuity of their studies, f) existence of an offer for an employment contract, g) participation in training pathways. The renewed permit will last for two years, unless a long-term residence permit is needed (which is sometimes the case for an offer of an employment contract).

9 Education and Refugees According to Spanish law, education is not only a fundamental right but also an obligation: it is compulsory and free for children until they are sixteen years old. This is established, not only in Art. 4 of the Organic Law on Education, but also in the Organic Law 4/2000 on Alien’s Rights and Freedoms that proclaims that foreigners under the age of sixteen have the right and duty to education, which includes access to basic, free and compulsory education (Art. 9). Non-Spanish students also have the right to post-compulsory education. This right includes obtaining an academic degree and access to the public system of scholarships and grants with the same conditions as Spanish students. The right to education is not an abstract right. The law orders the public authorities to promote education and teachings for the better social integration of immigrants (Alegre and Subirats 2007, p. 112). But education is not only a right for children, because it is also an obligation for their parents. This means that all foreigners residing in Spain with children under 16 years of age must prove their schooling when they apply for the renewal of their residence permits. Primary and secondary public schools also offer intensive Spanish learning courses at public schools so that the foreign children get a sufficient level of Spanish to be able to follow the courses at school. Given that many immigrants come from countries where Islam or Protestantism are the main religions, another tool for integration is offering Islam or Evangelical courses in public schools to Muslims and Protestants. There are three types of schools in the Spanish education system: public, private with partial funding from the state (concertados) and private (Ferreiro 2010). According to Spanish law, Muslim or Evangelical students are entitled, upon request, to receive Islamic or Protestant religious instructions at pre-school, primary and secondary level public schools as well as state-subsidized private schools, provided, in the latter case, that said instructions are not in contradiction with the ideological nature of the state-subsidized private school in question (Laws 24, 25, 26/November 10, 1992). Over the academic year of 2017–2018, the


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Board for Evangelical Religious Teaching appointed 240 teachers that attended to 17,000 pupils. There were 800 schools in which Evangelical religious teaching was provided. Regarding Islamic education in public schools, during the same time there were 47 Islamic teachers, but only in primary public schools (none for the secondary level) and only in some autonomous provinces: Andalucía (16), Aragon (3), Canary Islands (1), Basque Country (1), Madrid (1), Castilla y León (1), Ceuta (14) and Melilla (10) (Ministry of Justice 2017). Teachers of Islam and Evangelical religions are paid by the state if parents or tutors of 10 or more students ask for the courses. To comply to the students’ religious freedom, these religion courses (Catholicism, Islam and Protestantism) are optative for the students. There are also some other institutional tools that can help the children’s immigration like teaching Arabic language or Moroccan culture after the ordinary classes, not only to students of Moroccan origin but to others also. According to an International Treaty signed by Spain and Morocco on October 14, 1980, the Spanish Government facilitates the teaching of the Arabic language and Moroccan culture to Moroccan students (and today also to students of non-Moroccan origin) on the levels of both primary education and high school. The Spanish academic authorities have to provide the necessary classrooms to the Moroccan teachers, while the Moroccan government will pay those teachers. This cultural after-class program is being developed in 13 of the 17 autonomous communities so far (Cooperation Agreement on cultural affairs between Spain and Morocco, October 14, 1980). The Spanish higher education system is composed of 85 universities (50 public universities and 35 private universities) as well as 322 research institutes and 78 science-technology parks (Marcu 2018, p. 6). Some universities offer programs for refugees. Traditionally, there has been a small number of foreign students in Spanish universities, but this number has been increasing in recent years. To access the education system in Spain, refugees do not need a special status. Like other national foreigners and national students, they must have a sufficient level of Spanish to be able to follow the academic course without difficulty. One example in Andalusia are the temporary classrooms to linguistic adjustment (Níkleva 2014, p. 37). The main barriers refugees face when accessing higher education in Spain are: lack of information, advice and guidance; lack of recognition of credits and qualifications, particularly in the absence of documents; inadequate language skills and a lack of funding (Marcu 2018, p. 7). Normally, when refugees flee their troubled countries they do not carry their university degrees with them. In

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Spain, there is no guarantee that they will be granted homologation and only just requesting this service costs a specific amount of money. Some universities, such as the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), include volunteer actions among national students, awareness and activism seminars or Spanish classes for asylum seekers, but those that have actually enrolled asylum seekers in undergraduate or postgraduate studies are still scarce. One of the most important initiatives of some of the Spanish Universities is the “Student-refugees Welcome Program” (Marcu 2018, p. 10) promoted by the ­ European University Association (EUA). Some universities have offered Syrian and Iraqi refugees, who had to interrupt their studies in their country of origin, that they can apply for a continuation of their academic studies by introducing a separate online registration for ­student-refugees that is different to the application for EU students. In Spain, 11 universities take part in this program: three in Madrid, three in Catalonia, two in Galicia, two in Andalusia and one in Valencia.

10 Conclusions Spain, like many other European countries, knows what it is like to be an emigrant nation. Not only during the last century, as we have shown in this paper, but also as a recent phenomenon. As a consequence of the financial crisis of 2008, many Spaniards left their country looking for jobs elsewhere. Precisely because we were (and are) a country of immigrants, we, as a nation, know what immigrants feel like in this process: despair, isolation and need. If only for that proximity, our nation, and the rest of the EU states, have the obligation to look for an effective, useful and solidarity answer regarding immigration and refugees. But a proper solution requires moving from concepts to reality. This means that it is not enough to talk about immigrants or unaccompanied foreign minor as a concept, but to get close to their reality—not becoming “them”, but getting closer to them. A correct and useful policy from the states, EU and international organizations is of course necessary. But the closer we get to this reality the more sensitized we will be. Using the world “we”, I am referring to all the people who are willing to help in finding a proper and moral solution (scholars, politicians, activists and citizens). Solutions are always more accurate when they come not only from our mind, from our offices, from the abstract world of figures and statistics, but also from our hearts enriched by the experience of being physically closer to this process’s real victims. I think it would be useful if all people who


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wanted to work with issues regarding immigration got a closer look (and not only through TV) at this drama.7 Of course, an effective solution to the tragedy of refugees, of which a growing part are unaccompanied minors, stands on two pillars: it not only takes time, but is also very complex. It has to take several other fields like development cooperation and fighting the organized crime into account. The people fleeing their homes and risking their lives to escape a dangerous political, economic or social situation are a fraction of the ones who remain in their home country. That shows that this problem has to be tackled together with other research fields or other public policies as, for example, an effective (not only affective) development cooperation policy. Being important, the existing policies are not enough. There are many European policies on immigration, police cooperation or regulations that decide which country is responsible for an asylum claim (the Dublin Regulation III). But we lack the regulation regarding the already underlined concept of human dignity referred to unaccompanied minors. We have already described dignity as an invisible organ formed by invisible cells, the human rights. As this concept is so important in our legal systems it is even more crucial when we refer to the most fragile of the human beings: unaccompanied minors out of their country of origin. We need a specific and clear European regulation that implements the several and concrete manifestations of the human rights of these minors in the social, legal and cultural realm, a regulation that can make those invisible cells visible. A clear regulation so that all European institutions of all the EU states can understand and respect the scope of these rights that form the dignity of unaccompanied minors.


order to not just talk but at least try to walk the walk in some way, from September 3‒15, 2019, and under a cooperation program organized by University of A Coruña, I went to a refugees camp in Athens under a Project regarding pregnant refugee women and their families lead by the Spanish NGO A.I.R.E. (Asociación Integral de Rescate de Emergencias). My goal was to just be two weeks closer to that phenomenon. Nothing impressive but, at least for me, necessary for my next step in this field of research that would be participating in the Capacity Building on Higher Education project “Création de Capacités Institutionnelles d’intégration des réfugiés dans l’Enseignement Supérieur (Ci-RES)” submitted under the 2018 call for proposal under the Key Action 2 of the Erasmus + Programme, which will be led by the Algerian University SETIF 2 that have has just been accepted by the European Commission.

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Ministerio del Interior. (2017). Anuario Estadístico del Ministerio del Interior 2017 [Official Report of the Ministry of Interior 2017]. http://www.interior.gob.es/documents/642317/1203602/Anuario_estadistico_2017_126150729.pdf/9947dc22-782a4c26-b15e-3aea87081331. Accessed: Dec. 2017. Ministerio del Interior. (2018). Anuario Estadístico del Ministerio del Interior [Official Report of the Ministry of Interior]. http://www.interior.gob.es/documents/642317/1203602/Anuario_estadistico_2018_126150729.pdf/9e18b1a3-c92747cf-b2c8-e5192be31f79. Accessed: Dec. 2018. Ministerio de Trabajo, Migraciones y Securidad Social [Ministry of Labor, Migrations and Social Security]. (2018). Observatorio Permanente de la Inmigración [Report of the Permanent Observatory of Immigration]. http://extranjeros.mitramiss.gob.es/es/ObservatorioPermanenteInmigracion/index.html. Rodríguez Mateos, P. (Ed.). (2018). Los flujos migratorios en el ordenamiento jurídico español (estudios de la Real Academia Asturiana de Jurisprudencia). Cizur Menor (Navarra): Thomson Reuters Aranzadi. Trinidad, P. (2015). La protección de menores no acompañados y el refugio: La respuesta de Europa. Invierno, 119, 49–59.

Frameworks of Otherness: The Challenges of Integrating Immigrant Children in Greek Cypriot Public Schools Spyros Spyrou


This chapter uses Cyprus as a case study for understanding the challenges of integrating immigrant children in public education. Though the contexts examined are not early childhood education settings, the findings from these studies can clearly inform efforts to shape early childhood education in ways that allow for an effective and sensitive handling of immigrant student diversity, be they of ethnic, racial, linguistic or religious nature. These studies include an in-depth ethnographic study of national identity construction among Greek Cypriot elementary school children, a qualitative study investigating the educational needs of Turkish-speaking children attending Greek Cypriot public elementary schools, and a mixed methods study of Greek Cypriot elementary school children’s attitudes and understanding towards immigrants. These studies reveal a strongly nationalistic discursive framework which early on shapes children’s worldviews towards others despite an overall European orientation for education, which has developed since the country’s entry into the European Union. A critical understanding of this ideological framework offers opportunities for restructuring education in ways that may facilitate the productive integration of immigrant children in early childhood education settings.

S. Spyrou (*)  Nicosia, Cyprus e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_14



S. Spyrou


Childhood education in cyprus · Ethnic · Racial · Religion · Greek · Cypriot ·  Refugees in cyprus · Minorities in schools · Turkish children

1 Introduction Frameworks which oppose “insiders” with “outsiders”, “locals” with “foreigners”, “us” with “them” are quite common in creating oppositional understandings of the world, and, in turn, shaping both public perceptions of “self” and “other” as well as official policy and practice. When such frameworks become dominant, they tend to shape all aspects of daily life, challenging and exposing the limits of multicultural societies, and of efforts at both social inclusion and integration. Nationalism is one such framework which delineates insiders from outsiders claiming the superiority of the former in relation to the latter. The nation, as an ideological construct, raised primarily in the imagination, shapes not just ways of thinking and seeing but also relations with “others”. In this chapter, I turn to a number of research studies I have carried out with elementary school children during the last 25 years in Cyprus and reflect on what these studies tell us about processes of the construction of identity as well as the integration of immigrant children into the public educational system. These studies include an in-depth ethnographic study of national identity construction among Greek Cypriot elementary school children, a qualitative study investigating the educational needs of Turkish-speaking children attending Greek Cypriot public elementary schools, a mixed methods study of Greek Cypriot elementary school children’s attitudes and understandings towards immigrants, and an ethnographic study of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot elementary school children’s understandings and experiences of border crossing in light of Cyprus’ territorial division. I extend this effort, by exploring related work carried out by other scholars in Cyprus with a view to complement the insights from my own work and findings. I argue that what all these studies reveal is a strongly nationalistic discursive framework which shapes children’s worldviews towards others early on, despite an overall European orientation for education which has emerged since the country’s entry into the European Union. Though the contexts I examine are not early childhood education settings and they do not all implicate immigration and immigrant students, the findings from these studies can inform efforts to shape early childhood education in ways that allow for an effective and sensitive handling

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of immigrant student diversity, whether ethnic, racial, linguistic or religious. My principal aim is to draw on this work to suggest that wider ideological frameworks often impede processes of integration and unless such frameworks are critically assessed, progress is likely to be limited by the extent of individual initiative, be it of a sensitive and critical teacher, principal or administrator or even a minister of education but with unlikely long-term success and prospects for sustainability. It is, in this sense, that any lessons which can be drawn from the case of Cyprus may escape the otherwise local particularities of a small Mediterranean island and have wider implications for other societies. Following these introductory comments, I offer a brief description of the contextual parameters of these studies to situate them in their proper historical, political and social contexts. Though the processes described are not in any way unique to Cyprus, it is the specificity of the context which gives them their particular form and explanatory power. The findings from each of these studies offer critical insights into the very processes by which identities are constructed and negotiated giving rise to both continuity and change. I conclude by discussing some of the implications of this critical analysis in an effort to consider how these studies might offer opportunities to scholars working with the integration of immigrants in other contexts to rethink what “frameworks of otherness” reveal about the potential for change.

2 Looking at Identity Construction in Context To situate Cyprus in its proper historical, political and social context within the space limits of a book chapter is impossible. Nevertheless, it is important to attempt, however briefly and inadequately, to offer some contextual information to avoid essentializing a political situation which is quite complex and requires a nuanced understanding of the historical dynamics at work. Despite its small size, Cyprus has had a turbulent history. In its more recent history, Cyprus was under Ottoman rule for over three centuries (1571–1878) followed by British rule (1878–1960), becoming an independent country in 1960 after an a­nti-colonial war against the British, and being invaded by Turkey in 1974 with 37% of its territory coming under Turkish occupation. Since then, the two major ethnic communities of the island, the 80% Greek Cypriot majority and the 18% Turkish Cypriot minority, have lived apart—with the island separated in north and south along what has come to be known as the “Green Line”. Until 2003, the two communities lived in total isolation from one another, with Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of the island and Greek Cypriots in the south. A partial lifting of


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restrictions in movement in 2003 has allowed members of the two communities to cross for short visits to the other side. Despite ongoing attempts to solve “the Cyprus Problem” the two sides have not been able to reach a solution to the political and ethnic separation of the island. However, to understand the dynamics at work, we also need to recognize the developing demographic scene on the island. Since the 1990s, significant numbers of individuals, mainly from South-East Asia have come to Cyprus to work as unskilled laborers, predominantly in agriculture but also in domestic services caring for children and the elderly. Cyprus’ accession to the European Union in 2004 further contributed to the changing demographics of the island with the arrival of European citizens (mainly from Eastern European countries) for work. Cyprus has been transformed in this way to a multicultural society whereby diverse “others” are now an integral part of the economy and society at large with, however, varied degrees of integration. This multicultural reality is visible in the educational context of Cyprus with students from Greece (including students with Greek-Pontian background), Russia, Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia, among others, attending public schools. The challenge for the educational system of Cyprus has been to develop policies and practices for the integration of these students into the school system. Despite attempts to develop programs toward this direction, including a program in intercultural education and intensive Greek language learning as well as teacher training, the educational system has not so far managed to create the conditions for a successful integration of these students into the school system. Rather, the measures taken have followed a more assimilationist trajectory based on a logic that considers the need to assimilate all kinds of difference into the host society’s social and cultural frameworks. It is within this set of parameters that we need to consider the role of education in processes of integration, both in terms of its limits and potential. To illustrate the challenges posed by the dominance of powerful “frameworks of otherness” which circumscribe to greater or smaller extents what is possible, I now turn to my own research work as well as relevant work carried out by other scholars in Cyprus. This work pinpoints the role of nationalist discourses in shaping relations between “self” and “other” in the context of a politically and ethnically divided society, and provides the backbone for understanding the larger ideological context in which any effort to handle school diversity necessarily operates. That nationalism plays this larger, overarching framework for understanding identity construction should not come as a surprise given the political situation in Cyprus. It offers a convenient, powerful and authoritative framework for understanding the historical past, making sense of the present and potentially

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imagining the future. Along the way, of course, it constructs a mythical nation which is erected in the imagination, but is no less influential in its emotional appeals as a result. More problematically, it also creates powerful and consequential exclusions for that is the logic of the framework it espouses; national identity and the sense of collective “self” it gives rise to needs to be fed by difference if it is to sustain itself (Anderson 1983; Alonso 1994).

3 Studying “self” and “other” in an Ethnically Divided Society In 1996, I set out to do an ethnographic study of national identity construction in two Greek Cypriot public elementary schools as part of my doctoral work (Spyrou 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2011). The child-centered study explored how children themselves construct and make sense of their identities in the two communities and their respective schools. The two communities—one urban community adjacent to the buffer zone in Nicosia and one rural community in the Pitsilia region—were chosen on the assumption that they constituted significantly different spatial and social contexts, which might reveal differences in identity construction even in the face of a uniform national curriculum. My main theoretical assumption was that children were not necessarily at the mercy of institutionalized ideological forces (e.g., a dominant nationalist ideology), but that they were in fact active producers of their identities, engaging with dominant discourses, producing and reproducing them, through their daily social practices. Methodologically, the study used participant observation and interviewing (of children, parents, teachers, principals and other community members) as well as a series of other data collection techniques such as drawings, essays as well as pile-sorting and ranking exercises carried out with the children. Reacting to earlier ­school-based studies of identity construction, I also looked at what happens in social spaces beyond the school such as the home and the neighborhood. Having had the privilege and the opportunity in this study to engage in ­in-depth ethnographic fieldwork extending over a period of 12 months, I was able to see how children’s daily lives unfolded in the flow of everyday activity, both inside and outside the school, and to gain a nuanced understanding of identity construction processes. What became quite clear from the very beginning was that the school curriculum provided a powerful constraining framework within which teachers and students could construct and perform their national identities. Being fundamentally Hellenocentric in character, that part of the curriculum which directly or indirectly implicated identity (primarily Greek, History,


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Geography and Religious Instruction courses) offered an oppositional view of the world: Greeks were presented as “good” and “civilized” while Turks were presented as “evil” and “barbaric”. This set of oppositional framings extended to all kinds of characterizations and covered all aspects of relations between the two groups, most notably conflicts and wars. Teachers often framed both “self” and “other” in essentialist terms leaving little room for constructing identity as multiple and variable or as ambiguous and complex. Often, the underlying message communicated to students was that both Greeks and Turks have always been the same, fundamentally unchanged and unchanging through time. In that sense, the “Turks” emerged as the national enemy par excellence. The more recent history of Cyprus and especially the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 37% of its territory provided the proof that relations with Turkey are indeed eternal, unchanging and problematic. Yet, there were instances when both teachers and students resisted and reworked received meanings and constructed alternative understandings of “self” and “other”. Alternative frameworks for understanding the world were on occasion enlisted to create more positive views of the “other” (e.g., we are all humans after all) or more critical evaluations of the “self” (e.g., we are not that innocent or noble as we like to claim). These instances of ideological reworkings showed that children (and teachers) were not necessarily at the mercy of dominant discourses, but that they sometimes were able to rethink, reframe and engage with historical knowledge and contemporary reality differently. Beyond the school, at home and the neighborhood, for example, these reworkings were more common and challenged to a greater extent school-based knowledge and its nationalistic character. This was sometimes done in indirect (e.g., emphasizing “our” Cypriot identity rather than “our” Greek identity in language) but also in direct ways (e.g., by challenging nationalistic understandings in the context of an interview carried out with a child at home). To the extent that these reworkings would surface and challenge momentarily the dominant discourse of nationalism, they allowed for more creative and complex identities to emerge, but ultimately they could not compete successfully with the nationalistic framework of understanding the world, one which pities “us” against “them”. Subsequent research with elementary school children has confirmed the findings of this study. Philippou’s study with Greek Cypriot elementary school children (Philippou 2005) illustrates how children’s national identities are constructed in essentialist and ahistorical terms within a strongly Hellenocentric curriculum. Within this framework, children imagine their “European” identities as well as their “Cypriot” identities in mono-ethnic terms (i.e., as only applicable to

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Greek Cypriots rather than also applicable to other ethnic/religious communities of Cyprus; Christou 2006, 2007; Leonard 2013). A few years later, in 2004, I was asked by the United Nations Development Programme in Cyprus to carry out a short-term ethnographic study to identify the educational problems and needs of Turkish-speaking children who attended public schools in the Republic of Cyprus (Spyrou 2004a). The fieldwork for this study extended to a period of two months in five schools and their surrounding community where there was a high concentration of Turkish-speaking children. Data collection included, among others, classroom observations, in-depth interviews with school administrators, teachers and a focus group with Greek Cypriot parents. Both Greek Cypriot children as well as children whose first language was Turkish, but came from diverse backgrounds such as Roma, Turkish Cypriot and Kurdish, among others, participated in the study. This study (unlike the former described above) offered me a chance to see what happens when “self” and “other” attend the same schools. What became clear quite early on during the research was that the schools attended by ­Turkish-speaking children were not in any important way equipped to tackle ethnic, religious and linguistic differences productively. The curriculum was almost exclusively designed to cater to the needs of the Greek-speaking majority failing to accommodate the particularities of children who came from diverse backgrounds. But, beyond the curriculum, the study also revealed a series of other problems faced by these schools. These included serious problems with prejudice and racism including name-calling by the Greek Cypriot children directed at the Turkish-speaking children, problems with discipline in the classroom, and reported incidents of aggression and conflicts among Greek Cypriot and ­Turkish-speaking children, high levels of absenteeism by Turkish-speaking children and a general lack of communication between the school and the parents of the ­Turkish-speaking children. In the classroom, teachers were often confronted with the limits of nationalistic rhetoric, which problematized what and how they could teach to an ethnically-mixed student audience that included the two ideological adversaries, “Greeks” and “Turks”. It was quite difficult, that is, for teachers to talk about those who were “good” and those who were “bad”, those who won wars and those who lost wars, in the presence of an ethnically-mixed class audience in which children would identify with opposing groups. The challenges of working with children who are constructed as “others” within the educational system have also been documented by a variety of other studies which also pinpointed the inability of a nationalistic ideological framework to fruitfully account for differences and the needs of diverse communities of children (Zembylas 2010; Theodorou 2011a, 2011b; Papamichael 2011).


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Zembylas (2010), for instance, examined the intersection of nationalistic and racist forms of ideological exclusion to show how each ideological framework reinforces the other within an institutional framework which supports the sense of superiority of the Greek Cypriot majority students against the ­Turkish-speaking minority students. Likewise, Stevens et al. (2014) used quantitative data to explore the nationalism-racism nexus by way of an analysis of how the national and ethnic identifications of Greek Cypriot students impact their perceptions of ethnic and racial minority out-groups such as Turks and Turkish Cypriots. The study illustrated how students with a more nationalistic outlook tend to perceive ethnic and racial out-groups more negatively. Though such understandings are never totalizing or overdetermining, they do nevertheless circumscribe the possibility for alternative constructions of “self” and “other” within the ideological space of nationalism-racism. The third study I will now turn to complements the emerging understandings and conclusions of the earlier two by looking at identity construction beyond the school context and more specifically by exploring Greek Cypriot elementary school children’s perceptions and attitudes towards foreigners living in Cyprus (Spyrou 2004b). In this study, I utilized both in-depth interviews and questionnaires in order to explore how children think and feel about immigration in general and certain ethnic groups in particular. The study revealed that for many children, non-Cypriots constitute a threat and are viewed with a sense of suspicion. For example, 77% of the children who participated in the quantitative study stated that there are too many foreigners living in Cyprus, while 46% of children stated that ‘some’ and 39% stated that ‘all’ (39%) foreigners should go back to their countries. Other striking findings illustrate the same general sense of xenophobia: 59% of children, for example, stated that foreigners are responsible for the increasing crime in Cyprus while 43% of the children stated that ‘foreigners make our neighborhoods worse off’ (Spyrou 2004b). When it came to exploring children’s perceptions and attitudes towards specific immigrant groups such as Filipino and Sri-Lankan domestic workers who live and work in Cyprus, there were mixed evaluations which were often placed within an overall hierarchical evaluative system where the “self” always emerged as superior to the “other” (Spyrou 2009). The fact that some of the families of the children who were interviewed employed domestic workers from the Philippines and Sri-Lanka contributed to a sense of ambiguity and contradiction in children’s evaluations. Since the children often developed intimate relations with these women who cared for them but also retained a sense of superiority (inherent in the employment situation) over them, they expressed an ambivalent sense about these women: they both liked and disliked them; they felt a sense of inti-

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macy and a sense of distance at the same time. That these women came from the East, much like the primary other and despised enemy, the Turks, also contributed to this overall sense of superiority felt by the children towards these women. Though this study did not take place within the institutional context of the school, the fact that the participants were school children whose sense of identity was constructed, at least partly, through their educational experiences is significant. The lessons they learned in school carried beyond the school to other arenas of daily life much like their experiences at home and other intimate contexts of life informed their experiences at school. It is, in this sense, that understanding schooling as an experience which is neither isolated nor disconnected from wider social processes is key to understanding both its potential and limits in handling diversity productively. The last study I will discuss in this chapter, also considers questions of identity construction beyond the school in regard to the role of extra-educational processes in both reproducing nationalistic frameworks as well as potentially challenging them. By moving beyond the school as a privileged site for the construction of national identities, we can trace the manifestations of discursive ideologies as they take shape and form in the flow of everyday life. The study, which was carried out in 2010, aimed to explore 10–12-year-old Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot children’s experiences and understandings from crossing the Green Line in Cyprus. Until 2003, the two communities lived apart from one another without physical contact crossing to the other side of the dividing line was impossible. Since 2003, following a partial lifting of restrictions in movement, people have been able to cross to the island’s other side. Our study aimed to trace how children themselves narrated their experiences of crossing over and therefore utilized a variety of data collection techniques including interviews, map-making activities and drawings. Analysis of the Greek Cypriot children’s interviews provided us with insights about both the role of official nationalistic discourses as well as of their lived experiences and how these implicated their identity constructions and claims. For most of the children, who recounted to us their experiences of crossing, these were emotional journeys. They were born after the war in 1974 and did not have direct memories of the occupied territories. However, they had learned about the occupied territories from their parents or grandparents who might have had direct memories, especially in the case of refugee families who moved from the north to the south in 1974. Moreover, they had learned about the occupied territories through school. Its curriculum exposed them to a nationalistic rhetoric, which constructed particular understandings of “self” and “other”, quite often oppositional ones with evaluative power attached to them: “us” as good, “them” as bad,


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“us” as civilized, “them” as barbarians, and so on and so forth. For many of the Greek Cypriot children this powerful nationalistic discourse greatly informed what they experienced from the moment they crossed to the north and until they returned back to the south. Those who came from refugee families, realized forthright during their visits to the north what it meant to be a refugee; in the company of their families, they often heard their parents and grandparents recount stories about life in the village before 1974 and developed particular understandings, which informed their identities in unique ways. Yet, at the same time, these visits were not entirely circumscribed and determined. In some cases, children encountered and interacted with “others” such as Turkish Cypriots or Turks. These encounters offered opportunities both for affirming and reproducing assumptions and stereotypes about the “other” as well as opportunities for negotiating new understandings about these “others”. In other words, there were opportunities for humanizing the “other”, recognizing the “other’s” diversity and complexity beyond the stereotypical images they had of them. In that sense, these visits constituted, for some of the children, occasions for rethinking established notions of “self” and “other” and re-evaluating their ­inter-ethnic relations (Christou and Spyrou 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017).

4 Discussion Despite efforts to carry out an extensive educational reform involving changes in the curriculum, the public educational system in Cyprus retains much of its nationalistic outlook (Philippou 2012; Klerides and Philippou 2015). Ongoing discussions about a European orientation to education are of course important to the extent that they bring forth critical issues about the ideological basis and orientation of the entire educational system and of the curriculum in particular. However, the powerful grip of nationalism as an orienting framework for learning greatly limits the potential for the successful integration of immigrant children and for the development of effective educational policies for handling diversity more generally. As an interpretive framework for constructing relations with “others”, whether these are with the enemy par excellence—the Turks (or with those who are seen, like the Turks, as coming from the East and who live among Greek Cypriots today such as Filipinos and Sri Lankans)—a nationalistic framework stands as an obstacle to all well-intentioned efforts to create a more just and humane educational space for all children.

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Theodorou’s (2011b) ethnographic study of Pontian children’s educational experiences in an urban primary school (fieldwork carried out in 2007) precisely illustrates the limits inherent in this kind of framing. The Pontian population originally studied by Theodorou came from the coast of the Black Sea, but identify culturally as Greek. They fled the Black Sea following persecution from the Ottomans in the early 20th century and settled in Greece or the former Soviet Union. Some of them came to Cyprus through Greece following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This population is interesting in the context of this discussion because, despite their affinity to the Greek nation, they still constitute a certain kind of ‘other’. In her study, Theodorou shows how teachers who had Pontian children in their classrooms were unable to recognize institutionalized racism and that the problems faced by these immigrant children stemmed from ‘the larger societal context, the policy-driven strategies of monolingualism and monoculturalism at the school, and the role these had to play in the integration of non-Cypriot populations’; rather, as she explains, teachers tended to overemphasize ‘the minorities’ ‘share of responsibility,’ to ‘minimize the importance of racist incidents,’ and to ‘avoid making educational (curricular and procedural) accommodations for ­non-native students’ (Theodorou 2011b, p. 517). It is clear that the increasing presence of “others” in public schools inevitably puts pressure for change on the educational system. The response to this pressure is slow and mostly on a rhetorical level rather than in terms of educational practice. Many changes can of course contribute towards rethinking and redesigning an educational system which is not equipped to handle difference. However, as I have argued in this chapter, it is crucial to address the larger ideological framework of nationalism which creates a priori exclusions that need to be addressed if integration wants to move in a positive direction. There are many steps which can be taken. Revising the existing curriculum to make it truly multicultural for it to accommodate the diverse needs of all students, irrespective of ethnic or other background, and to allow them to meaningfully and productively participate in their education, is an obvious one and perhaps a major step towards “reframing” identity more positively. Working against oppositional thinking (e.g., by identifying issues that cross-cut ethnic and cultural divisions and encourage children to participate equally) is also likely to effectively address these problems as is the need to provide more teacher training on intercultural education. I have argued in this chapter that to assess the larger context in which children’s education takes place, irrespective of the educational level in question, it


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is crucial to understand the powerful discursive forces which frame identity in particular ways and act as obstacles towards integration in everyday educational practice. Only then can alternative frameworks which combat oppositional and exclusionary thinking as well as normalize differences can be introduced to create a new logic through which understandings and relations with “others” can be built fruitfully in the spirit of respect and justice.

References Alonso, A. M. (1994). The politics of space, time, and substance: State formation, nationalism, and ethnicity. Annual Review of Anthropology, 23, 379–405. Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. London: Verso. Christou, M. (2006). A double imagination: Memory and education in Cyprus. Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 24(2), 285–306. Christou, M. (2007). The language of patriotism: Sacred history and dangerous memories. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 28(6), 709–722. Christou, M., & Spyrou, S. (2012). Border encounters: How children navigate space and otherness in an ethnically-divided society. Childhood, 9(3), 302–316. Christou, M., & Spyrou, S. (2014). What is a border? Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot children’s understanding of a contested territorial division. In S. Spyrou & M. Christou (Eds.), Children and borders (pp. 131–148). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Christou, M., & Spyrou, S. (2016). Children’s emotional geographies and the geopolitics of division in Cyprus. In M. Benwell & P. Hopkins (Eds.), Children, young people and critical geopolitics (pp. 75–89). Critical Geopolitics series: Ashgate. Christou, M., & Spyrou, S. (2017). The hyphen in between: Children’s intersectional understandings of national identities. Children’s Geographies, 15(1), 51–64. Klerides, E., & Philippou, S. (2015). Cyprus: Exploring educational reform 2004–2014. In T. Corner (Ed.), Education in the European Union: Post-2003 member states (pp. 51–73). London: Bloomsbury. Leonard, M. (2013). Young people’s perspectives on conflict, reconciliation and reunification in Cyprus. Children’s Geographies, 11(3), 326–339. Papamichael, E. (2011). Exploring intercultural education discourses and everyday practices in a Greek-Cypriot primary school. Published PhD Thesis, Institute of Education, University of London, London. Philippou, S. (2005). Constructing national and European identities: The case of ­Greek-Cypriot pupils. Educational Studies, 31(3), 293–315. Philippou, S. (2012). ‘Europe’ as an alibi: An overview of 20 years of policy, curricula and textbooks in the Republic of Cyprus—And their review. European Educational Research Journal, 11(3), 428–445. Spyrou, S. (1999). Small ethnic worlds: Identity, ambiguity, and imagination in Greek Cypriot children’s lives. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University.

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Spyrou, S. (2000). Education, ideology, and the national self: The social practice of identity construction in the classroom. The Cyprus Review, 12(1), 61–81. Spyrou, S. (2001). One and more than one: Greek Cypriot children and ethnic identity in the flow of everyday life. disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory, 10, 73–94. Spyrou, S. (2002). Images of “the other”: “The Turk” in Greek Cypriot children’s imaginations. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 5(3), 255–272. Spyrou, S. (2004a). The educational needs of the Turkish-speaking children of Limassol. Nicosia: Report on behalf of UNOPS. Spyrou, S. (2004b). Greek Cypriot children’s familiarity with, knowledge about, perceptions of, and attitudes towards a variety of foreigners who live in Cyprus. Unpublished Report. Spyrou, S. (2006). Children constructing ethnic identities in Cyprus. In Y. Papadakis, N. Peristianis, & G. Welz (Eds.), Divided Cyprus: Modernity, history, and an Island in conflict. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Spyrou, S. (2009). Between intimacy and intolerance: Greek Cypriot children’s encounters with Asian domestic workers. Childhood, 16(2), 155–173. Spyrou, S. (2011). Children’s educational engagement with nationalism in divided Cyprus. Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 31(9/10), 531–542. (Growing Up in Divided Societies, Special Issue). Stevens, P. A. J., Charalambous, P., Tempriou, A., Mesaritou, E., & Spyrou, S. (2014). Testing the relationship between nationalism and racism: Greek-Cypriot students’ national/ ethnic identities and attitudes to ethnic out-groups. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40(11), 1736–1757. Theodorou, E. (2011a). I’ll race you to the top: Othering from within—Attitudes among Pontian children in Cyprus towards other immigrant classmates. Childhood, 18(2), 242– 260. Theodorou, E. (2011b). ‘Children at our school are integrated. No one sticks out’: ­Greek-Cypriot teachers’ perceptions of integration of immigrant children in Cyprus. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 24(4), 501–520. Zembylas, M. (2010). Children’s construction and experience of racism and nationalism in Greek-Cypriot primary schools. Childhood, 17(3), 312–328.

The Problems of Syrian Students Concerning the Adaptation Process to Schools in Turkey: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis Mualla Yildiz


This study aims to evaluate and discuss the suggestions regarding the problems faced by Syrian children during the education process. Qualitative research on the school experiences of Syrian students educated in pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools and high schools is included in this study. A total of 80 academic studies at social sciences databases of TUBİTAK ULAKBIM (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey/Turkish National Academic Network and Information Center), YOK (Council of Higher Education) National Thesis Center, ERIC and Google Scholar have been analyzed. A metasynthesis was carried out on 24 studies, which were filtered after considering inclusion and exclusion criteria. In this study, the problems related to Syrian children were classified into eight groups: language barrier, registration and equivalency problem, lack of education materials and programs, social adaptation, academic failure, absenteeism, health problems, and the attitudes of the Syrian parents. Then, the suggestions for these problems and the addressees of the proposals were analyzed. Finally, it was discussed whether the Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge course will contribute to the solution of the problems.

M. Yildiz (*)  Ankara, Turkey e-mail: [email protected] © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020 E. Aslan (ed.), Migration, Religion and Early Childhood Education, Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-29809-8_15



M. Yildiz


Migration · Syria · Adaptation to school · Refugees in Turkey · Hegira · Religious education · Culture and moral knowledge course

1 Introduction In 2010, during the so-called Arab Spring, millions of people had to leave their homes and became refugees due to internal disturbances in Yemen, Libya and Syria. Turkey has been the country in which about 4 million refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria found asylum (Akbas et al. 2016). Although they are two neighboring countries sharing a 911 km of country border, Turkey and Syria have preferred to be emotionally distant throughout history, due of their political affinity to different countries and the prejudices from the past of each of their peoples. The fact that the relationship between the two countries is generally cold and tense (Benek 2016, p. 181) has also prevented the establishment of emotional ties between the two publics. Thus, although they are members of the same religion, very few Turkish people consider Syrians as religious fellows (12%) or feel them culturally close (17%) (Erdogan 2014). During the first years of the war, the Turkish people felt positively towards Syrians since they were seen as victims of war (41%). But, due to the extension of the war, the fact that Syrians went out of the camps, the documentations that Syrians have outnumbered Turkish people in some cities such as Kilis, the involvement of some Syrians in crime as well as the inquiries about the money spent for Syrians became a source of discussion for domestic affairs and led to a change in the positive feelings of the Turkish population (Erdogan 2014). Since about half of these refugees are underage and receive education (UNHCR 2019; Erdogan 2014), the education of refugee children is one of the most important issues for educators. This situation shows that it is clearly possible that war victims experience a second unjust suffering and poses a challenge for the institutions providing service for Syrians in Turkey. The fact that half of the refugees are in need of an education forced educational institutions in Turkey to deal with both the victimizations caused by the war and the social prejudices.

2 Syrian Children’s School Experiences in Turkey After the Syrian refugees were granted temporary protection status in October 2014, Syrians in Turkey have obtained the right to benefit from free education and health services. Thus, since it was understood that the war would not end any time soon and that all Syrians would not return even after the war, the need for

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the development of a service policy for Syrians in many areas ranging from education to health has emerged (Aker 2018, p. 268). The education of the children during the period when the Syrians lived in camps was carried out in the TECs (Temporary Education Center) by Arabic and Turkish teachers. However, due to the prolonged war and the gradual closure of these camps, Syrian children’s education has been moved to other educational institutions in Turkey. After the closure of the camps, many students remained outside the educational institutions. The transition from the camps to public schools has not been fully achieved and it was understood that there were approximately 525,000 Syrian children who did not receive any education in the school year of 2015‒2016 (Akpinar 2017, p. 16). The government wanted to prevent these war victim children living in Turkey from becoming a “lost generation”, while at the same time primarily ensuring that children attend school and are adapted to society through educational institutions (Akpinar 2017, p. 27). However, this expectation has faced many obstacles. The first and the greatest problem identified was the language barrier, as the other problems stemming from the language barrier are also the most important problems for Syrian children in order to adapt to school and environment, as well as possibly achieve academic success (Eres 2016). This problem starts at the school gate as the parents of these children are not fluent enough in the country’s language to communicate. Due to the lack of documents, failure in speaking the country’s language or failure in the education of these children, they are sometimes unable to enroll in the class that they should attend with their peers. Although the YOBIS (Foreign Student Information System), developed by the Turkish state, has facilitated the registration in recent years, school principals still have problems in terms of enrollment and follow-up of students due to legal regulations (Levent and Cayak 2017). Although the dynamic games, competitions and actions performed in the classes of preschool education institutions make it easier for children to love and adapt to school, the problems of a child who is unable to speak the language increase in the forthcoming classes and worsens the problems of these children in future classes. The language barrier makes it difficult for children to adapt to the classroom environment and prevents them from communicating with their friends, understanding activities or following instructions (Avci 2019). The language barrier prevents children from developing their social skills in peer relationships. In the study conducted by Bilecik (2019) on the social skills of Syrian children based on their Turkish peers’ evaluations, while Turkish peers gave the highest score to Syrian children’s listening skills (68%), they gave the lowest score to Syrian children’s usage of positive words (37%) as expressing oneself in case of happiness, apologizing or thanking requires very good command of the language. In addition, their Turkish peers thought that 24% of


M. Yildiz

their Syrian friends do not listen to the teachers enough and 12% of their Syrian friends do not listen to the school administrators enough, 46% of the Turkish peers suggested that their Syrian friends have an aggressive attitude, 39% said that they had a verbal polemic, 60% thought they used physical violence and 59% said that their Syrian friends blamed others for their problems (Bilecik 2019). In fact, the language problem transforms to a problem of adaptation to school. Because, people who are unable to express themselves can quickly lead to the formation of a new subculture in public spaces. Because children stigmatize and marginalize themselves as Syrians, sometimes children are afraid to participate in collective games and they form groups. When teachers want to integrate Syrian students with others, the ones who respond as “I came from Syria. I am not one of you!”, who are embarrassed for their inability to speak the language and have stopped communicating with friends, can pose a challenge to their teachers in the classroom. According to teachers, the students’ sense of strangeness and language barrier lead to an emergence of their feelings of inadequacy (Cirit Karaagac and Guvenc 2019). Teachers are often frustrated by the fact that Syrian children only tend to become friends with other Syrians. Thus, they do not desire to be separated from each other and cry when they are placed in different classes (Altintas 2018). This fact hinders integration in the classroom. In order to overcome the formation of groups—so-called “ghettoization” and based on inter-student ethnicity—teachers always ask students to play together during breaks. However, even there, their efforts can sometimes have cultural obstacles. While the Syrian children want to stick together and get emotional support from each other, the Turkish children also do not want to play with the Syrian students who have some prejudices about them, too (Bulut et al. 2018). In the study conducted by Akay et al. (2018) with the school counselors (N = 32) in Gaziantep province—one of the provinces with the highest number of Syrians—more than half of the school counselors stated that Syrian children had very serious problems in adapting to school, they could not express themselves because of the language barrier and resorted to violence. They failed academically and grouped among themselves. They remarked that school counselors and psychological counselors in schools needed practical trauma training. It is not easy for a child to survive war trauma. An ordinary earthquake exercise in schools may be misunderstood by Syrian students, which then leads to fear and anxiety, moreover, children can relive the trauma they experienced in war in the classroom (Basar et al. 2018). At this point, it is important that teachers are knowledgeable enough to help them, that their classmates have an awareness of the problem and act accordingly.

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As Turkey has adopted the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), all Syrian children in Turkey have the right for education. But the fact that 41% of the children at educational age cannot access to education is quite an intimidating situation for these children as well as for Turkey. Many of the Syrian families are very poor, employ their children as workers and do not send their children to school due to child marriages, all of which shows that much more is needed than just the efforts of educators (Gencer 2017). The possibility that the war in Syria could last for many years to come, which may cause problems that will last for generations, as Lebanon and Jordan experienced in the case of Palestinian refugees is very frightening (Cetin 2016). Therefore, many educators, sociologists, psychologists and managers are trying to solve these problems in cooperation. There is a dire need for this as it threatens the adaptation and academic success of Syrian children, and it should be done quickly enough before damaging the happiness of the children further. In this study, a meta-synthesis was carried out through the qualitative studies conducted by academics with the aim of determining the problems encountered by Syrian children in Turkey. This study also articulates possible solutions and finally provides an evaluation of these solutions.

3 Method This study, which focuses on identifying the problems of children fleeing from the war in Syria, is a meta-synthesis study that was conducted by collecting, analyzing and interpreting the qualitative research based on raw data on the subject according to the criteria of inclusion and exclusion. The meta-synthesis is a helpful research technique to create new approaches for researchers (Walsh and Downe 2005). Based on the stages in the 6-step meta-ethnography study by Noblit and Hare (1988) as well as similar meta-synthesis studies (Craggs and Kelley 2018; Konan et al. 2018; Howard 2018), the stages of the study were commenced: 1. The study field was defined. 2. Literature related to identified keywords was reviewed. 3. Literature was read, the studies that met the criteria of inclusion and exclusion were re-read and sufficient data was provided. 4. The most relevant method regarding the topic was determined. 5. A single framework was determined for qualitative studies with different techniques. 6. A new framework was identified and synthesized.


M. Yildiz

Within the study, the words such as Syrian student, Syrian child, migration, refugee, victim of war, adaptation to school were used as keywords. The academic studies published after January 1, 2012 were searched via social science databases, YOK National Thesis Center, ERIC and Google Scholar. Thus, 80 academic studies were encountered in the databases.

4 Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria Inclusion criteria were determined as follows: 1. Theses should be accessible. 2. Articles should be published in full text. 3. The study should be published after January 1, 2012. 4. The articles should be about the school experiences of Syrian children. 5. The research should be based on raw data. 6. The subject of the research should be pre-school, primary and secondary school students. 7. The research should be published on academic platforms. 8. The research should relate to the school experience of Syrian students in preschool, primary, secondary or high school. Exclusion criteria were determined as follows: 1. The article does not contain raw data, but is based on recommendations. 2. The sample has relations to those who have immigrated to Turkey but whose ethnic origin is Turkish. 3. All or the majority of the sample is selected from non-Syrian children. 4. Both quantitative and qualitative data are used in the study. 5. The study is conducted with Syrian students in TECs. 6. Sample is selected among Syrian higher education students. 7. Syrian students outside of Turkey should also be in the sample. 8. All or a part of the sample includes the students subject to internal migration in Turkey. 9. The research is a project report that has not yet been published. As they did not contain raw data or had been conducted with Iraqi or Afghan students, many papers were eliminated from the study. The theses, on the other hand, which were not accessible due to their recent completion, were also excluded from the study. Finally, the 24 qualitative studies given in Table 1 were included in the meta-synthesis study.

To identify the problems faced by Syrian students in primary schools

Case Study The problems experienced by the school psychological counselors working with Syrian students, for the development of proposals for their solution

Bulut et al. (2018)

Akay et al. (2018)

School counselors (N = 32)/Gaziantep


Language problem, adaptation to school, incapability for academic achievement, forming groups with friends from their own culture, financial difficulties, trauma problem, introversion, absenteeism, not being in the same class as their peers

Primary school teach- Educational process, communication ers (N = 14)/Ankara, problems, adaptation problems, educational program, educational material Bursa and Mugla

To reveal the problems faced by Syrian students during the learning process in primary schools

Basar et al. (2018)

Case Study

Problems related to adaptation to the class, language and communication, understanding the activities and following the instructions

Primary school teach- Language problem, adaptation and attiers (N = 20)/Usak tude problems caused by the students’ isolation from the class

Pre-school teachers (N = 8)/Eskisehir

Case Study To determine the views of teachers about the problems encountered by refugee students in the classroom attending preschool education institutions

Avci (2019)

Language barrier, social adaptation problems of Syrian children (being labeled, othering, being subjected to violence), unauthorized use of friends’ belongings

Findings – overall themes

Case-inCase Study

Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge teachers (N = 50)/from 10 provinces hosting the highest number of Syrian refugees

To reveal the problems faced by Case Study Syrian children through the eyes of Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge teachers

Participants and location

Altintas (2018)


Focus of study


Table 1   The characteristics of qualitative studies included in the research and the results. (Adapted from Craggs and Kelley 2018)

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School administrators Language barrier, registration system, from primary, second- adaptation problem, lack of identificaary and high schools tion document and equivalence problem (N = 30)/İstanbul Science Teachers (N = 15)/Kilis Secondary school teachers (N = 17)/ Konya

Phenomenological Research Design Case Study

Case Study

Opinions of school administrators on the education of Syrian students

Problems faced by Syrian students in science classes in secondary schools

Examining the problems and solution proposals for teachers who provide education to foreign students

Levent and Cayak (2017)

Sahin and Dogan (2018)

Simsir and Dilmac (2018)

Secondary school teachers (N = 19)/ Ankara

Case Study Determination of the views of secondary school teachers about the education of Syrian students


Academic achievement, language and communication, social harmony

Turkish language problem, cultural difference, adaptation problems and lack of appropriate course material

Language problems, problems in adaptation to school, difficulty in expressing themselves, propensity for violence, emotional problems, problems in making friends, difficulty in perception, incapability in mathematical skills, retardation in physical growth

Language problem, adaptation to school, lack of training material, exclusion

Kardes and Akman (2018)

Primary school teachers (N = 19) and school counselor (N = 6)/İstanbul

Content Analysis

Education problems of Syrian refugee students in primary schools

Findings – overall themes

Cirit Karaagac and Guvenc (2019)

Participants and location


Focus of study


Table 1   (continued)

246 M. Yildiz

Phenomenological Research Design

To reveal the views of the teach- Case Study ers about refugee students, the problems that teachers have in education and their solutions

Yurdakul and Tok (2018)

Saritas et al. (2016) To identify the problems faced by teachers and administrators with foreign students and to propose solutions

To examine the adaptation of Syrian students to primary and secondary schools

Yuce (2018)

Case Study

To determine the views of social Content Analysis studies teachers about Syrian Method students

Alpaslan (2019)


Focus of study


Table 1   (continued) Findings – overall themes

Language barrier, peer relationships, attitudes towards teachers, perspective on school and country, aggression, disintegration, exclusion, cultural differences, suspension of education, inadequacy of academic readiness

School counselors (N = 1), primary school teachers (N = 15), school administrators (N = 5)/ Denizli


Language problems, behavioral problems, problems of National EducationSchool Cooperation, problems in parent-teacher association and problems in the teaching process

Primary school teach- Language problem, cultural difference ers (N = 54), second- problems and emotional problems ary school teachers (N = 16)/Aegean Region

Turkish students (N = 10), Syrian students (N = 10), teachers (N = 10), administrators (N = 6), school counselors (N = 10) in primary and secondary schools/Ankara, Gaziantep and Hatay

Social studies teachers Language problem, academic failure, (N = 20)/Antalya failure to comply with classroom rules, attendance problems, indiscipline

Participants and location

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Primary school teach- Communication, adaptation, discipline, ers (N = 20), second- registration system ary school teachers (N = 44), administrators (N=15), Syrian parents (N = 42)/ İstanbul

Case Study The views of administrators, Keskinkilic Kara and Senturk Tuysu- teachers and parents about the problems experienced during zer (2017) the education process of refugee students

Determining the problems of Syrian students in primary schools

Eres (2016)

Primary school teach- Language problem of students, diploma ers (N = 20)/Tokat equivalency and adaptation problem, lack of in-service training of teachers, Turkish students’ inability to comply with their Syrian classmates, failure of refugee parents to show interest in their children

The instructional problems of primary school teachers with refugee students and their solutions to these problems

Erdem (2017)

Phenomenological Research Design

Language problem, problem of school attendance, adaptation and grouping problems, problem of violence, problem of equivalence, problems arising from the educator

School administrators (N = 5), primary school teachers (N = 7)/DenizliPamukkale

Primary school teach- Language problems of students, the teachers’ inability to organize the ers (N = 5)/Afyoncourse content according to the needs karahisar of refugee students, teachers’ material requirements for these students

Findings – overall themes

Participants and location

Case Study

Content Determination of the roles of teachers and school administra- Analysis tors in the adaptation of refugee Method students to the school organization

Atlihan (2019)


Focus of study


Table 1   (continued)

248 M. Yildiz

Focus of study

To identify the educational practices and problems for refugee children and to determine the relevant expectations and solutions

The education and problems of Syrian refugee children

Opinions on problems faced by refugee students and the determination of solution proposals


Yigit (2015)

Erol Emiroglu (2018)

Bozan and Kastan (2018)

Table 1   (continued)

Grouping of students based on their differences in language, race and belief; cultural harmony; access to school; indifference of families; lack of motivation; indifference to the lessons; academic failure; inadequacies in teacher education for refugees; lack of an educational policy and program Language problems; being in the classroom with younger students; lack of books and materials; transportation to school; student absenteeism; violation of school rules; peer bullying; lack of cleanliness and order; providing Turkish courses in other course hours; becoming part of a gang and use violence against other children; indifference of Syrian parents

Refugee secondary school student (N =2 7), teachers (N = 28), school administrators (N = 9)/ Kirsehir and Nevsehir

School administrators (N = 5), school counselors (N = 3), primary school teachers (N = 10), Turkish teachers (N = 4), Turkish parents (N = 10) and Syrian parents (N = 10)/Antalya Syrian students (N = 8)/Antalya

Phenomenological Research Design

Phenomenological Research Design

Case Study


Missing friends and relatives in Syria; exclusion; exposure; witnessing disciplinary problems

Findings – overall themes

Participants and location


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Pre-school teachers (N = 6)/Samsun

Primary school teachers (N=20) and Syrian students (N = 23)/ Eskisehir

Content Identifying the problems Analysis encountered by the refugee Method students attending pre-school education institutions during the adaptation process

Case Study To reveal the problems experienced in the education and training of foreign students studying in primary schools in Eskisehir province and to reveal possible solutions for problems

Mercan Uzun and Butun (2016)

Gungor and Senel (2018)

Findings – overall themes

Language and culture differences; basic language skills; understanding; expressing and commenting; staying behind the schedule; academic failure

Language problem; attitudes towards Syrian refugee children; need for psycho-social support; social adaptation; exclusion; needs for nutrition, shelter and cleaning

Descriptive Primary school teach- Language; the fact that trauma expeAnalysis ers (N = 21)/Bursa rienced by Syrian students damages the peer relations; lack of translation requirements

To determine the disruptive aspects in the education of Syrian students and to examine the solution suggestions by the teachers

Participants and location

Sensin (2016)


Focus of study


Table 1   (continued)

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5 Sample of the Synthesized Studies Among the samples of research there are 14 pre-school teachers, 263 primary school teachers, 73 school administrators, 20 school counselors, 32 psychological counselors, 4 Turkish teachers, 95 secondary school teachers, 20 social studies teachers, 15 science teachers, 51 Religious culture and moral knowledge teachers, 68 Syrian students, 10 Turkish students, 52 Syrian parents and 10 Turkish parents.

6 Findings As a result of the meta-synthesis, the problems experienced by Syrian children in schools are grouped under the titles of language barrier, registration and equivalency problem, lack of educational materials and programs, social adaptation, academic failure, absenteeism, health problems, as well as attitude of Syrian parents. Moreover, the recommendations and their addressees are given in Table 2. The identified problem areas are divided into eight separate categories. These categories consist of language barrier, registration and equivalency problem, lack of educational materials and programs, social adaptation, academic failure, absenteeism, health problems and attitudes of Syrian parents. The highest number of suggestions were made on social adaptation (14 items), lack of educational materials and programs (11 items) as well as the language barrier (8 items), while the lowest number of suggestions were given on academic failure (2 items). The reason for this may be the idea that academic failure is the result of other problems. Looking at the results, the solution of the problems about language barrier, registration and equivalency problem, lack of educational materials and programs, and academic failure is expected directly from the MoNE. The MoNE and the Ministry of Health and Universities are expected to cooperate so as to address health problems. For suggestions regarding absenteeism and the attitudes of parents, on the other hand, support is requested from the MoNE and teachers, but especially NGOs. Recommendations on social adaptation are addressed to MoNE, teachers and peers, and the solution is expected from the government. The most important reason why there are so many expectations from MoNE is the fact that MoNE was caught unprepared for this situation since Turkey has never witnessed such a numerous immigration from a single country before. The Foreign Student Information System was subsequently developed to solve the enrollment problem of Syrian students in schools. In addition, since the curriculum is not prepared for a multicultural school environment, Turkey’s education policy needs to be revised (Duman 2019).


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Table 2   Findings of the meta-synthesis of Syrian children’s problems in school. (Source own research) Problem


Language • Syrian teachers may be provided in schools barrier • The pre-schooling rate of Syrian students can be increased • A basic level Arabic course can be provided to Turkish teachers • A special class can be opened for Syrian students and a program can be organized • Syrian students can be provided with a one-year language education to prepare for school • Turkish language courses can be implemented throughout the country by applying a standard program • In order to prevent the forgetting of their mother tongue, Arabic lessons can be provided • In schools, where Syrian students are educated intensively, after receiving the necessary trainings, religious culture and moral knowledge teachers or teachers capable of speaking Arabic can be assigned as coordinators in schools

Addressee The Ministry of National Education (MoNE)

Registration and equivalency problem

MoNE • Interpreters may be available during registration periods • Syrian students can be put into schools evenly • Syrian students may be granted a school report and diploma instead of a guest student status • Deficiencies of Foreign Student Information System can be solved • After one year of preparatory training, they can be matched to their peers in classes appropriate to their education level

Lack of educational materials and programs

MoNE • More visual materials can be provided for use in lessons • A qualified Turkish teaching program can be designed • A multicultural and diversity sensitive education policy can be tried to be developed • Multicultural education curriculum applications can be prepared • An in-service training program can be developed to facilitate teachers’ adaptation to the multicultural school environment • Textbooks can be redesigned so that Syrian students can easily understand them • Additional modules can be placed in textbooks • Adequate laboratory support can be provided for the courses • A training program can be prepared for refugee students after examining their curriculum in their own country • Lessons related to their mother tongue and refugee children’s culture can be included into the education programs and a separate educational application can be provided to these students • A school adaptation model can be developed to ensure the integration of Syrian students into school (continued)

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Table 2   (continued) Problem



Social adaptation

• In schools, Syrian students can be informed about Turkish culture and school rules • Awareness studies appealing to Turkish parents can be carried out in order to overcome the prejudices • Seminars can be given to Turkish teachers to support multicultural and diverse educational policy • Awareness studies can be conducted with Turkish students about equality of people • Syrian students can be supported during lunch • Class activities can be organized to remind Turkish and Syrian students of their common values • Processes such as peer counseling, peer mediation and peer teaching can be used for the adaptation of Syrian students to school • In pre-school education level, adaptation to class can be supported through dynamic games loved by refugee children • Social activities that require students’ cooperation from two cultures can be organized • Turkey can be introduced to Syrian students by organizing various travels • A class seating chart can be prepared in a way that does not allow Syrian students to group in the classroom • In cities such as Kilis where the Syrian population lives densely enough to disrupt the demographic structure, population balancing or return policies can be implemented • Programs or public service ad-like programs can be carried out by respected and recognized people in the community in the most viewed channels • Longitudinal studies can be conducted for the adaptation of Syrian students to school

MoNE Turkish Teachers Turkish students Government

MoNE Academic • Teachers can give extra courses to students over the Internet failure •R  emedial trainings can be applied for main courses by opening weekend courses Absentee- • Financial supports can be provided to the families in order to ism prevent Syrian students from working • Studies can be organized to make Syrian students love school • Legislation can be prepared to provide follow-up of students

NGO Teachers MoNE (continued)


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Table 2   (continued) Problem



Health • Courses related to post-traumatic stress disorder can be problems included in the academic programs of Education Departments • Action-oriented trauma training can be given to the psychological counselors in schools • Psycho-social support given to Syrian students related to their traumas may be intensified • Syrian psychological counselors may be provided in schools • A connection can be established between the psychosocial ­support units in schools and psychiatric services in hospitals

Universities MoNE Ministry of Health

Attitudes • Teachers can make home visits to better understand the of Syrian s­ tudents’ situation • Syrian parents can be provided with Turkish literacy and Parents language education • Instructional trainings about Turkish culture and society rules can be given • Arabic informative texts or brochures introducing school rules and the education system can be distributed • Families can be supported with building bilingualism in ­children in the home environment • The Turkish education system can be described in family ­meetings with the help of translators • To prevent early marriage of girls and child labor, informative seminars on Turkish education legislation and children’s rights can be organized for Syrian families • Awareness raising trainings can be given to parents about ­family planning • As Syrian families have been exposed to trauma experiences before and after migration, services can be provided for them to cope with the trauma

Teachers MoNE Ministry of Family and Social Policies

Concerning the problems that arose as a result of traditional lifestyles and economic deprivations such as the early marriage of girls and the employment of boys as workers, suggestions were made to MoNE, NGOs and teachers to prevent the absenteeism caused by these problems. It was thought that the problem would decrease with the Syrian parents’ learning about the legislation on children’s rights and thus raising awareness of the importance of education. In order to overcome the psychological problems caused by the war, a solution should be found by the work of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Family and Social Policies, Ministry of National Education and Universities. As can be seen in Table 2, the solutions are generally expected from the Ministries.

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When looking at Fig. 1, it is obvious that many of the problems have arisen from social adaptation and almost all of them—either directly or indirectly—lead to academic failure. In order to overcome the language barrier, suggestions were made especially for pre-school education. Since it is easier to learn the language at an early age and because of the presence of the many fun games in the curriculum, not having too many issues requiring information and having no obligation for promotion to a higher grade, pre-school period has been shown to be golden years of language learning (Avci 2019). In the years of secondary school, on the other hand, acceptance and approval by classmates is very important. As the development of children’s self-esteem during adolescence is highly related to the acceptance of friends (Sahin and Ozcelik 2016), children will be more sensitive to their classmates’ attitudes. There is an interesting relationship between social adaptation and the language barrier. The realization of one depends on the existence of the other. A primary school teacher explains how social acceptance works in overcoming the language barrier as follows:

Language barrier Attitudes of Syrian parents

Social adaptation

Problems of Syrian children in schools

Academic failure


Registration and equivalency problem

Health problems

Lack of educational materials and programs

Key Higher order concept

Conceptual relationship

Main concept

Inter-conceptual relationship

Fig. 1   Diagrammatic representation of the higher order concept, main concepts and conceptual relationship. (Adapted from Craggs and Kelley 2018)


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‘I think love does not need any language. When we say “I disinterestedly accept you” with a smiling face, that child understands us. They understand whether this interest is sincere or a lie by looking at our faces, our attitudes and manners. That’s what kids are all over the world. They understand us very well. By touching them, in moderation, without any privilege, we accepted them as if they were natural members of this class, like other students. As if they are children of our neighbors.’ (Bulut et al. 2018)

On the other hand, in secondary schools, children are embarrassed because of misunderstandings, which leads to them becoming introverted: ‘Our teacher saw the Syrian student who attended our school this year. When he saw that the student could not wash his hand, he directed the student to wash his hand to the WC. Since the student did not speak Turkish, our teacher tried to explain it with signs. But after leaving the classroom, he came back to the classroom with a face painted with pastel.’ (Altintas 2018).

This situation in the presence of his classmates would naturally keep the child away from both social adaptation and success. Some of the problems of social adaptation are not only related to not knowing the language, but are also related to social conventions. For example, while chewing gum in the classroom or littering does not bother an Arab teacher, this is quite uncomfortable and unacceptable for a Turkish teacher (Dogan and Ates 2018). Cultural differences, therefore, sometimes lead to misunderstandings, which in turn make communication and language learning difficult. In fact, no problem is separate from another. Economic weakness and adaptation problems of the Syrian parents (Gencer 2017) or document deficiencies in records (Levent and Cayak 2017) prevent the children from accessing school. Besides, physical problems caused by malnutrition (Kardes and Akman 2018) or psychological problems stemming from the experience of war (Akay et al. 2018; Sensin 2016) make it difficult to understand the lessons at school. All these problems caused by unfavorable living conditions lead to academic failure, as shown in Fig. 1.

7 Discussion When the solution recommendations are examined (Table 2), it became visible that the solution of the problems are expected generally from the Ministries in Turkey. Peer mediation was the subject in a single proposal and it was thought

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that the support of the students could be a solution to the problem of their Syrian friends. However, it was not specified in which lesson these students giving peer support will show love, clemency, compassion and tolerance or in which lesson these subjects will be covered. Units were requested to be added to the books. However, in the recommendations, it is not clear which unit can be added to which book. Yet, values such as love, clemency, compassion and tolerance are the subjects of the religious culture books in schools. However, no suggestions were made directly for the course of religious culture and moral knowledge. Only one recommendation suggested that teachers of religious culture and moral knowledge in schools should be coordinator teachers as well, because many of them had a year of Arabic language education during their university education. However, when we investigate the sources in the history of religions, it becomes clear that many prophets had to leave their places, moreover, also the people who believe in the prophets were exiled from their country. The Islamic prophet had to leave the city of Mecca, where he was born and raised (Demir 2018; Demirci 2012), and had to go to Medina. Moses, because of the Pharaoh’s persecution, fled from Egypt with his people and came to today’s Palestinian land (Koksal 2004, p. 356). Jesus, as well, lived under the pressure and threat of the Roman state (Koksal 2004, p. 332). The Holy Qur’an (Al Balad 90/17), the Bible (Corinthians 13/4‒5) and the Torah (Pirkei Avot, 18) often emphasize values such as mercy, love and justice, and they seek protection of society’s weak people. Moreover, in a study conducted by Yilmaz (2010) with secondary school children (N = 1022), it was found that positive role models and religious moral precepts have a significant effect on shaping children’s perception of value and preventing violence in schools. In the study conducted by Koc (2011) that examines the violence in schools (N = 1374) found that 57.3% of the students reported that they did not participate in violent acts in school as it is prohibited by religion. Bilecik (2019) found that secondary school students who received religious education were more positive in terms of their social skills than their peers. This was related to the school culture and the positive learning of secondary school students who received religious education from religion-related courses. Although there were 51 religious culture teachers in the sample of this study, it was noteworthy that there was no suggestion that the content of religious culture and moral knowledge course would facilitate the social acceptance of Syrians (Altintas 2018; ­Keskinkilic Kara and Senturk Tuysuzer 2017). The study conducted by Tosun et al. (2018) on 83 Iraqi and Afghani refugee students in high schools found that while the percentage of those who thought the courses for religious education were effective in knowing their friends was 17%,


M. Yildiz

the percentage of those who thought these lessons were effective in knowing the culture was only 6%. The most important reason for this may be the fact that textbooks in Turkey are predominantly written from a local and cultural perspective. Because Turkish textbooks have a mission, such as raising good citizens (Zayimoglu Ozturk 2018). In religious culture and moral knowledge textbooks, subjects such as patriotism and giving one’s life for the sake of the homeland if necessary, or heroic people struggling to save the homeland from the invaders are given significant places (Macit et al. 2018, p. 72). A religious culture teacher, while telling the Islamic Prophet’s hegira from Mecca to Medina, associated this event with Syrian war victims and explained one of his student’s reaction as follows: ‘In one of my lectures, while I was discussing the brotherhood of Ansar and Immigrant, “Syria and us”, I said, but several of the students reacted too much. I asked for the reason of the reaction. “My teachers, they are not even Muslim”, said one of them. I asked her what the criterion of Muslimism was for her. “I feel like that, my teacher, a Muslim cannot be like that.” she said. I asked her to give an example of why. “If we experienced the same case, no foreign country would accept us. Even if they did, we would not have so many children like Syrians do. They are not like they are in a war at all, my teacher. We understand the women and children, okay, but why their men are here, they should go to their country and fight!” she said.’ (Altintas 2018).

It is understood that the students were disappointed with the Syrians, since the Syrians are expected to cry, mourn and fight to get their country back. In this case, no one was prepared that the description of the defense of the homeland in religious culture and moral knowledge textbooks as an often armed struggle (Macit et al. 2018, p. 88‒89) could lead to the development of prejudice about the victims of war. Even though religions have universal values and the fact that those values are supported by cultural elements in religious culture and moral knowledge courses strengthens religion’s place in the Turkish society, transferring religion through the experiences of a single nation in history can increase the prejudice against foreigners in that country. As a result, in order to contribute to the solution of problems such as ‘exclusion, stigmatization and othering’ encountered by Syrian children in schools in Turkey, religious culture and moral knowledge textbooks need to be updated considering the multicultural school climate.

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