Student-Teachers Reflecting on Student Diversity in Schools and Their Future Role as Teachers

Student-Teachers Reflecting on Student Diversity in Schools and Their Future Role as Teachers

Hermína Gunnþórsdóttir (University of Akureyri, Akureyri, Iceland)
DOI: 10.4018/IJBIDE.2018070103

Abstract

Icelandic society and schools are becoming more diverse than ever before and teachers need to be prepared and skilled to teach in multicultural and inclusive schools that account for student diversity. This article reports findings on how two groups of student-teachers see student diversity as an element in their future job as teachers in Icelandic schools. Data were gathered by reflective diaries through two terms in a mandatory course (fourth year/master) in the teacher education programme at the University of Akureyri in Iceland. The students reflected on the course reading material that was based on both international and local literature on inclusive education, bilingualism, multicultural education, social justice and democracy. The findings indicate that a majority of the student-teachers had not thought critically about how student diversity would affect their future work as teachers, but their ideas about their role as teachers show that they want and hope to be responsible for all students.
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Background

Icelandic schools represent the diversity of students in many ways, with various backgrounds and criteria for study. The role of schools has changed by the years (Jóhannesson, Geirsdóttir & Finnbogason, 2002) and today the main objective of preschool, compulsory school and upper secondary school is to promote the general education of the citizens. Schools should make an effort to operate according to the status and needs of children and youth. Educational work is to encourage their active participation in democratic society, within and outside school (Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c). These areas of emphasis correspond to international developments relating to human rights, social justice, inclusion and equity in education (OECD, 2010; UNESCO, 2015).

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