Developing a Classroom Tool to Promote Critical Perspectives on ‘Single Stories’

Developing a Classroom Tool to Promote Critical Perspectives on ‘Single Stories’

EERA is delighted and honoured to be partnering with the Global Educational Network in Europe (GENE) to make significant research funds available to our members to further research the area of global education. We asked the recipients of the Global Education Award 2020/21 to share their research with the broader EERA community.  

In 2009, the Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, delivered a Ted Talk about what she called The Danger of a Single Story. Adichie’s central theme is that how stories are told, who tells them, when and how, is ‘really dependent on power’. She illustrates this by drawing on her own experiences of being subjected to single stories about Africa as a place of ‘catastrophe’ and juxtaposing this with examples of the single stories she has held about others.

So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.

Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, 2009

Adichie’s talk was translated into 45 languages and clearly resonated deeply with many people. In common with other educators with an interest in facilitating Global Citizenship Education (GCE), we (the two researchers) found it useful to use The Danger of a Single Story as a stimulus for conversations about challenging prejudice and stereotypes.

We became interested in how this could be supported by developing a tool for exploring global issues critically from different perspectives on how the world is. Building on previous research on teachers’ experiences with GCE (Franch, 2020), we were influenced by Vanessa Andreotti’s (2010) ideas on developing critical literacy to pluralize ways of knowing, and possibilities for thinking and practice. Andreotti’s ideas have also been significant in developing GCE as a form of critical pedagogy; influencing our use of the term ‘critical GCE’ here (Blackmore, 2014).

Whilst ideas about critical GCE are generally familiar to those working in the field, we were aware of concerns about the lack of opportunities for teachers to engage with these in practice (Blackmore, 2014; Pashby and Sund, in Bourn, ed. 2020). For instance, we knew The Danger of a Single Story might be popular with teachers, but we were less clear about whether and how far they might use it to promote critical GCE. We aimed to develop a tool to support the use of Adichie’s talk, which could be explored with teachers. As educators based in Italy and the UK, we were also interested in comparing responses between two different European contexts.

Developing the ‘Single Story’ tool

To begin developing the tool, we drew on existing ideas and frameworks developed with similar aims in mind. These ranged from tools like the Development Compass Rose and Andreotti’s (2006) framework for distinguishing between ‘soft’ and ‘critical’ GCE, to more recent work on applying her HEADS UP tool in classrooms, developed into a resource for teachers. Whilst acknowledging these developments, and not wanting to ‘reinvent the wheel’, we felt there was space for a tool which could support responses to Adichie’s Single Story specifically.

We devised a series of six themes or ‘lenses’ through which different questions could be applied to any issue identified as a Single Story. This might be represented by an image, text, film clip, or even an object.

For instance, Adichie’s example of the single story of Africa might be represented by an image typically used by organisations seeking donations for development projects (see image below from Radi-Aid).

“The frequent portrayal of Africa as a continent in need prompted sadness among the respondents in the study, which was carried out in collaboration with the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK.

Such campaigns often depict black children in need, and several of the respondents wished that these stories could be complemented by showing children of other colors or backgrounds, or black doctors, professors or aid workers. They would like to see portrayals of people with agency in their own situations and results of their accomplishments.”  — RADI-AID

Photo: Edward Echwalu
Design: Click Design. For RADI-AID
Having drafted the tool, the next step was to pilot it with teachers in Italy and the UK via online webinars. To prepare teachers, we encouraged them to complete an Identity Starburst from a template provided. During the webinars, stimuli such as images and ‘values cards’ were used in conjunction with activities and reflective questions to facilitate a participatory process.  Activities encouraged individual reflection on themes of identity and perceptions of self and others, before inviting teachers to respond to Adichie’s talk, identify their own ‘single stories’ and use the tool to analyse them. This process attempted to strike a balance between the need to produce research outcomes and empowering teachers to co-construct the tool with us as researchers (Bullivant, Ayre and Smith, 2022).

Reflections on Teachers’ Responses, the Tool, and Issues of Power

Our comparative analysis found some differences, influenced partly by the way in which GCE has evolved in each country, as well as differing cultural, social, and political factors and histories.  UK teachers were more likely to have encountered Adichie’s talk and were more familiar with the enquiry-based and participatory activities used in webinars. This reflects the influence of critical and postcolonial discourses towards a more critical form of GCE in the UK (Bullivant, 2020). In contrast, Italian teachers’ experience has been grounded primarily in intercultural education (Franch, 2020). Whilst topical events and issues unique to each country shaped the kinds of single stories shared by teachers to some extent, these were often part of over-arching themes common to both contexts.  For example, discussions of single stories in the Brexit debate in the UK overlapped with themes of identity, migration, and populism in Italy. Beyond this, a number of other common themes emerged: 

  • Teachers in both contexts welcomed the space to share and reflect on complex issues, and experiment with the tool. They shared ideas about how they might use the tool in practice, including adaptations for different age groups.
  • The concept of single stories resonated with teachers’ experiences personally and in their teaching with young people. They reflected on the responsibility of schools and available resources in perpetuating the ‘single story of progress’ about “developed” and “underdeveloped” countries (Andreotti, 2015).
  • When reflecting on their own identities and the way in which single stories originate and persist, many teachers tended to remain at the level of superficial analysis of factors shaping identity and perceptions of self and others, rather than more critical analysis of the roots and power dynamics influencing these.

 

These themes support our rationale for developing the tool in the first place, especially the resonance found between the concept of single stories and teachers’ experiences and reflections on the inadequacy of existing resources to challenge these. They also informed ideas for developing it going forward. These include straightforward adaptations to terminology to create versions for different age groups and the more complex need to draw teachers’ attention to their own positions and perspectives, and questions of power underpinning these.

 

Dr Andrea Bullivant

Dr Andrea Bullivant

Dr Andrea Bullivant is employed by Liverpool World Centre and has facilitated Global Citizenship Education for twelve years. Her work has focused increasingly on bringing research and practice together to develop new understanding across the sector, to engage community partners and develop evaluation and research that can support practice outcomes and influence policy. She is the Director of TEESNet, a UK wide network promoting GCE and Education for Sustainable Development in Teacher Education. She currently co-chairs Our Shared World and is the lead evaluator for a number of UK based GCE projects.

Dr Sarah Franch

Dr Sarah Franch

Dr Sara Franch is an expert in international development cooperation and global citizenship education. She holds a PhD in pedagogy from the Free University of Bolzano and is involved in research and training on global citizenship. She currently works for a publisher and is responsible for developing products on pedagogical innovation.

GENE Awards

EERA is delighted and honoured to be partnering with the Global Educational Network in Europe (GENE) to make significant research funds available to our members to further research in the area of global education.

These research awards are funded by Global Education Network Europe (GENE), the European network of Ministries and Agencies with national responsibility for policymaking, funding, and support in the field of Global Education. For this reason, the subject area for research projects undertaken is that of Global Education.

The purpose of the award is to support quality research around the themes outlined here  – which have been identified as of interest to policymakers. Gathering of existing research, application of existing research from other areas of education to Global Education, follow-up studies, all are perfectly acceptable. It is not expected that the research has to draw policy conclusions – but to make available up-to-date, policy-relevant research from which policymaker can draw their own conclusions.

References and Further Reading

Andreotti, V. 2006 Soft versus Critical Global Citizenship Education. Policy and Practice – A Development Education Review. Centre for Global Education https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue/issue-3/soft-versus-critical-global-citizenship-education

Andreotti, V. 2010 Postcolonial and post-critical ‘global citizenship education’. In G. Elliott, C. Fourali & S. Issler (Eds.), Education and Social Change: Connecting Local and Global Perspectives (pp. 238-250). London: Continuum. https://www.routledge.com/Postcolonial-Perspectives-on-Global-Citizenship-Education/Andreotti-Souza/p/book/9781138788060

Andreotti, V. 2015 Global citizenship education otherwise: Pedagogical and theoretical insights. In A. Abdi, L. Schultz & T. Pillay (Eds.), Decolonizing Global Citizenship Education (pp. 221- 230). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-6300-277-6_18 

Blackmore, C. (2014) The Opportunities and Challenges for a Critical Global Citizenship Education in One English Secondary School. Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy University of Bath, Department of Education. April 2014 https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/studentTheses/the-opportunities-and-challenges-for-a-critical-global-citizenshi

Bullivant, A., Ayre, J., and Smith, A. Facilitating the ‘Tipping Point’: Co-creating a manifesto for education for environmental sustainability. British Educational Research Association. Research Intelligence, Issue 150, Spring 2022 https://www.bera.ac.uk/publication/spring-2022

Bullivant, A. 2020. From Development Education to Global Learning: Exploring conceptualisations of theory and practice amongst practitioners in England. PhD Thesis. Lancaster University http://www.research.lancs.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/from-development-education-to-global-learning(9202418c-5116-425e-b0eb-40af09e3cc08).html

Franch, S. 2020 Global citizenship education discourses in a province in northern Italy. International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning. Vol. 12(1):21-36. https://www.scienceopen.com/hosted-document?doi=10.14324/IJDEGL.12.1.03

Pashby, K and Sund, L. Critical GCE in the Era of SDG 4.7: Discussing HEADS UP with Secondary Teachers in England, Finland and Sweden. In Bourn, D (ed). (2020) The Bloomsbury Handbook of Global Education and Learning. Bloomsbury https://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/the-bloomsbury-handbook-of-global-education-and-learning/ch23-critical-global-citizenship-education-in-the-era-of-sdg-4-7-discussing-headsup-with-secondary-teachers-in-england-finland-and-sweden

Building Partnerships via an Interactive Map of Critical Global Citizenship Education

Building Partnerships via an Interactive Map of Critical Global Citizenship Education

EERA is delighted and honoured to be partnering with the Global Educational Network in Europe (GENE) to make significant research funds available to our members to further research the area of global education. We asked the recipients of the Global Education Award 2020/21 to share their research with the broader EERA community.  

The ECIGAL research group at the University of A Coruña in Spain is dedicated to promoting and researching Critical Global Citizenship Education (CGCE). We are committed to designing collaborative projects that bring together regulated education institutions (such as schools and universities) with other relevant social agents, such as NGOs and other organizations devoted to social and environmental justice.

We prioritize the use of participatory research methodologies and the development of critical (digital) literacies that can help us identify, re-interpret and deconstruct global inequities (Andreotti, 2006; Bourn, 2015). As part of this overall strategy, we have sustained a long-term partnership with the NGO Solidariedade International de Galicia (Galician International Solidarity), initiated in 2013, that has led to the creation of an interactive mapping project. Our first pilot project used social cartography to create an interactive digital map of CGCE practice in Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain. We designed a cartographic room where teachers and NGO representatives came together to discuss and create a structured description of their initiatives that could then be added to the map, to provide ideas and inspiration for other practitioners (Cruz-López, Digón-Regueiro, & Mendez-García, 2021).

 

The EERA/GENE-Funded Project MAPESS (March-December, 2021)

With our most recent project Mapping Critical Global Citizenship Education in Spanish Schools, we expanded our pilot map from the regional to the national level, providing teachers, schools, and NGOs with a platform for sharing practices and forging new collaborations. We´ve called this new map Cénit, or Zenith in English

Cénit Map of Global Citizenship Experiences

 

Preparing critical global citizens from the early years

We have chosen to focus on the primary level (year groups 1 to 6, roughly from 6 to 12 years of age) because most CGCE practice that we have identified through our research to date has been at the secondary level. Nevertheless, as the first phase of obligatory schooling, these early years are especially important to awakening children’s awareness of global connections, and introducing a critical mindset towards our roles and responsibilities as citizens of the global north. Furthermore, the most recent Spanish education legislation, which came into force on the 19 January 2021, explicitly provides for the introduction of “Education for sustainable development and global citizenship” throughout “all compulsory education,” allowing people to “adopt informed decisions and take an active role – both locally and globally – in facing and solving problems common to all citizens of the world” (Statement of Motives, LOMLOE, 2020).

 

Connecting to the core curriculum – mathematics, science, and language

The project has focused on core curricular areas in primary education, since our previous research has found these to be relatively under-explored. We wanted to explore ways to incorporate a CGCE perspective within and across subject areas that are generally considered to lack social relevance: mathematics, science, and language. We have chosen these core subject areas because they tend to have a highly structured and content-oriented curriculum (Berglund & Reiss, 2021). Creating another cartographic room was not feasible, due to Covid-related health restrictions, so we used videoconferencing to interview three different kinds of social agents working in each of Spain’s 17 Autonomous Communities: 1) representatives of development NGOs working with schools, 2) subject areas specialists in mathematics, science, and language, and 3) primary school teachers.

 

Expanding the Cénit map throughout Spain

Through these interviews, we hope to expand the Cénit Interactive Digital Map of CGCE throughout Spain. Instructional videos and documents support participants to add guided descriptions of their own practice. These are reviewed and validated by the project team and then made public for practitioners to access from any part of the world.

ECIGAL

Keeping teachers in the centre of collaborative networks

We intend to support teachers in seeking collaboration from external specialists (NGOs and subject area specialists), while at the same time maintaining a central role in the design of CGCE projects. Teachers are best positioned to understand their own particular classroom contexts and adapt their lessons accordingly. Taking a more central role is likely to foster sustainability, so that teachers can repeat, extend, and share their work with colleagues without depending on external agents to take the initiative.  And since teachers are expected to follow the state-mandated curriculum, helping them to find ways to achieve both CGCE and curricular objectives simultaneously reduces the possibility that the former may be abandoned when covering required content takes priority (Digón-Regueiro et. al, 2017).

 

Renée DePalma

Renée DePalma

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of A Coruña, Spain

Renée is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of A Coruña (Spain). Her research over the years has focused on equalities and social justice in terms of race, ethnicity, language, sexuality and gender. She coordinates the ECIGAL research group, which promotes and investigates Critical Global Citizenship Education (CGCE). For more on us and our work, please visit our web site https://www.ecigal.gal/

GENE Awards

EERA is delighted and honoured to be partnering with the Global Educational Network in Europe (GENE) to make significant research funds available to our members to further research in the area of global education.

These research awards are funded by Global Education Network Europe (GENE), the European network of Ministries and Agencies with national responsibility for policymaking, funding, and support in the field of Global Education. For this reason, the subject area for research projects undertaken is that of Global Education.

The purpose of the award is to support quality research around the themes outlined here  – which have been identified as of interest to policymakers. Gathering of existing research, application of existing research from other areas of education to Global Education, follow-up studies, all are perfectly acceptable. It is not expected that the research has to draw policy conclusions – but to make available up-to-date, policy-relevant research from which policymaker can draw their own conclusions.

References and Further Reading

Andreotti, V (2006) ‘Soft versus critical global citizenship education’, Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 3, Autumn, pp. 40-51. https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue/issue-3/soft-versus-critical-global-citizenship-education

Berglund, F. & Reiss, M. J. (2021) Biology. In: What Should Schools Teach? Disciplines, subjects and the pursuit of truth. Sehgal Cuthbert, A. & Standish, A. (Eds) UCL Press, London, pp. 189-201. https://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/165025 

 Bourn, D (2015) From Development Education to Global Learning: Changing Agendas and Priorities. Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 20, Spring, pp. 18-36.https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue/issue-20/development-education-global-learning-changing-agendas-and-priorities 

Cruz-López, L., Digón-Regueiro, P., & Méndez-García, R. (2021) Social cartography as a participatory process for mapping experiences of Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship: an account of the design. International Journal of Research and Method in Education. Available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1743727X.2021.1966621 

Digón-Regueiro, P., Méndez-García, R. M., DePalma, R.; Longueira Matos, S. (2017). A place for development education in the current Spanish and English curricula: Finding possibilities for practice. International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning 9(2), pp. 29-46. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1167862.pdf 

 

Translating across words, paradigms, and traditions of education 

Translating across words, paradigms, and traditions of education 

EERA is delighted and honoured to be partnering with the Global Educational Network in Europe (GENE) to make significant research funds available to our members to further research the area of global education. We asked the recipients of the Global Education Award 2020/21 to share their research with the broader EERA community.  

 At the beginning of 2021, the two authors of this blog, along with Finnish colleagues Inkeri Rissanen and Katri Jokikokko, received a Global Education Award from the GENE network. With this award, they promised to do something they were all passionate about: Explore teacher students’ implicit knowledge in issues related to global education and consider how teachers’ beliefs might play out in their future work as teachers.

As we write this blog a year after receiving the award, we are deeply immersed in data analysis in Bamberg, Germany, where Mervi is visiting Susanne. While delving into the data, we try to see if we can find harmony within the diversity of Finnish and German teacher students’ thoughts. Yet we find that we must also create harmony in our research practices, translating not only data in three languages but also our own implicit understandings of the educational traditions and research paradigms we may take for granted.

In our research, 32 Finnish and 35 German preservice teachers discussed issues related to diversity, culture, and change. All of the students had participated in a course focusing on these issues, and we hoped this shared experience would re-activate their common orientations. The groups conversed in three languages, Finnish, English, German, depending on the language of instruction of their course.

 Our method, documentary analysis (Bohnsack, 2010), requires us not only to understand the literal meaning of words but go beyond it and understand the values behind words. This proved rather difficult to do in a group in which none of us spoke all three of the required languages. For less critical sections of the transcripts, we used transcription software. For crucial parts of our research, we hired professional translators. The software, trying to be helpful, created words that looked Finnish but made no sense. We were able to remove this nonsense with a lot of manual revision and discussions, but the trickier task was to translate the context-specific understanding behind the words.

Translation beyond words

Our analysis focused on concepts such as culture, diversity, or change, all loaded with meaning. For example, instead of translating the term diversity, Germans use the English word, but as a strictly normative concept, meaning plurality is a good thing. In Finnish, diversity can be translated as moninaisuus, but it has not yet found its way into natural everyday conversation. So, it is not surprising that it could rarely be found in the preservice teachers’ discussions. The fact that some terms are missing could be a methodological challenge: how can the students talk without these particular words? However, with the documentary method, it was not: after rounds and rounds of analysis and abduction, the discussions revealed the students’ orientations towards diversity without the word even being mentioned.

Translation beyond paradigms

The need to translate went beyond needing to agree on the literal meaning of words. We also had to translate our practices as researchers, making them compatible. Susanne works within a reconstructive paradigm, focusing on language. Mervi is most at home within participatory paradigms, with the analytical focus on practice. We soon found out that our attention points in the same direction, trying to find educational practices that can respond to the needs of the changing world; we just use slightly different lenses.

Translation beyond traditions of education

Finally, perhaps most interestingly, we translated our understandings across slightly different educational traditions. We share an interest in global education, but explicating what we mean by education, Bildung or kasvatus, was a fascinating task. The Finnish kasvatus and German Bildung are both complex terms describing educational processes and practices which are impossible to simply translate into English. We came to an agreement that Bildung is in line with our understanding of global education: it refers to the processes in which an individual acquires the needed skills and knowledge for individual growth and character formation (on an individual level), while also learning to be an active and critical member of their community (on a social level) to open up new possibilities for individual and shared lives (Kaukko, et al. 2020).

Experimenting with new research methods required us to problematise some of the ways of working we might take for granted. Multilinguality pushed us to scrutinise our understanding of some of the words we work with. Only working in and through English would have left some of the nuances in the shadows. All the steps pointed out very clearly that we need humans for all this as software cannot do this. Moreover, all these steps pushed us to consider the dimensions of global education in our own work. It is not enough to say that our research is framed within global education. We need to shape our research practices accordingly, so that we genuinely try to see the issues from another point of view.

A global education lens also requires us to reconsider our own responsibilities as researchers: What can we as educational researchers do to “open people’s eyes and minds to the realities of the world, and awaken them to bring about a world of greater justice, equity and human rights for all”? (Maastricht Global Education Declaration, 2002, see also 2018; Scheunpflug, 2021) A deeper understanding of the beliefs and orientations of preservice teachers, which could help us develop better, fairer, and more sustainable teacher education, is one way to pursue this.

Blog Authors

Dr Mervi Kaukko

Dr Mervi Kaukko

Associate Professor in Multicultural Education, Tampere University, Finland

Dr Mervi Kaukko works as associate professor in multicultural education in Tampere University, Finland. She was previously a lecturer at Monash University, Australia and Oulu University, Finland. Her interests include global education, refugee/migration studies, participatory methodogies and practice theories.

Dr Susanne Timm

Dr Susanne Timm

Research Assistant, Otto-Friedrich-University, Bamberg

Dr Susanne Timm worked as a research assistant at the University in Göttingen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and is currently at Otto-Friedrich-Universität in Bamberg. Her special interests are comparative and intercultural education. During the last years, Dr Timm has carried out a qualitative study on culture in teacher education while focusing more and more on global education.

GENE Awards

EERA is delighted and honoured to be partnering with the Global Educational Network in Europe (GENE) to make significant research funds available to our members to further research in the area of global education.

These research awards are funded by Global Education Network Europe (GENE), the European network of Ministries and Agencies with national responsibility for policymaking, funding, and support in the field of Global Education. For this reason, the subject area for research projects undertaken is that of Global Education.

The purpose of the award is to support quality research around the themes outlined here  – which have been identified as of interest to policymakers. Gathering of existing research, application of existing research from other areas of education to Global Education, follow-up studies, all are perfectly acceptable. It is not expected that the research has to draw policy conclusions – but to make available up-to-date, policy-relevant research from which policymaker can draw their own conclusions.

References and Further Reading

Bohnsack, R. (2010). Documentary method and group discussions. In R. Bohnsack, N. Pfaff, & W. Weller (eds.),Qualitative analysis and documentary method in international educational research (p. 99-124). Barbara Budrich. http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-317339 https://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/bitstream/handle/document/31733/ssoar-2010-bohnsack-Documentary_method_an_group_discussions.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y&lnkname=ssoar-2010-bohnsack-Documentary_method_an_group_discussions.pdf

Kaukko, M., Francisco, S., Mahon, K. (2020) Education in a world worth living in. In Mahon, K., Francisco, S., Edwards-Groves, C., Kaukko, M., Kemmis, S., and Kirsten P. (eds). Pedagogy, Education and Praxis in Critical Times. Springer, 1-13. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-15-6926-5 

Maastricht Global Education Declaration (2002) A European Strategy Framework for Improving and Increasing Global Education in Europe to the Year 2015. Dublin: GENE. https://rm.coe.int/168070e540

Scheunpflug, A. (2021). Global learning: Educational research in an emerging field. European Education Research Journal, 20(1), 3-13.https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1474904120951743