Mobilities, Transitions, Transformations

The need for multicultural schools

Boreczky, Agnes –Nguyen Luu Lan Anh
The need for multicultural schools

Institute of Intercultural Psychology and Education, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary


In post-communist countries the idea of multiculturalism has not got very far either in public discourse or in the theory and practice of education. Consequently, researches on multiculturalism have been quite scarce and multiculturalism has never become the guiding principle of changes in education. This poses a special problem for schools and all of its actors at the time of the recent flow of migrants, when transformative or reconstructionist multicultural schools would be badly needed to counteract the effects of overheated debates on migration, loaded with words like terrorism, threat, fear and national defense, while contributions of migrants and benefits of migration are hardly ever mentioned. Moreover, schools should have to play a vital role in transforming societies into multicultural communities that equally value all sorts of diversity and reflect them in their structure, policies, public affairs, self-understanding and self-definition (Parekh, 2000, 342) and they also should have a part in forming public mind so that it could include the Other (Beck, 2015). It is needless to emphasize that schools should be able to provide equal opportunities to all and help immigrant children’s acculturalization, as well. Shortly, schools should be multiculturalized.


To fill in the vacuum between over-politicized debates and social reality interdisciplinary researches are of major importance. Having all things considered we worked out a research plan that combined sociological, psychological and educational approaches. The study aimed at revealing teachers’ views on multiculturalism and multicultural education together with their concept about migrants, their attitudes toward migration and immigrant children. As for migration we strongly relied on approaches that conceptualised the positive outcomes of migration, like mutual benefits (e.g. Tartakovsky &Walsh, 2016), exceeding the perspective of threats (e.g. the Intergroup Threat Theory, Stephan, Ybarra, Rios, 2016). When constructing a hypothetical framework of interpretation, we supposed that views on multicultural education and attitudes concerning migrants would be connected to, or, indeed, interrelated with teachers’ awareness of cultural diversity, with their own identity, as well as their previous experiences of diversity. Thus, for the questionnaire we adapted items among others from the National Group Essentialism Inventory (Pherhson, Brown, Zagefka, 2009), the Benefits-Threats Inventory (Tartakovsky, Walsh, 2016), the Teacher Multicultural Attitude Survey (Ponterotto et al, 1998) and the Cultural Diversity Awareness Inventory (Henry, 1986). To be able to compare our findings with a former Hungarian survey (Bernát-Sik-Simonovits-Szeitl, 2015) and with some results of a study on teachers’ multicultural views carried out by our own faculty at ELTE (Gordon Győri, 2014 ), we also inserted some scales from these studies.


We had a sample of 317 pre-service and in-service teachers. Results show that while multicultural views and attitudes are strongly correlated with those on migration, endorsement of multicultural views negatively correlates with perception of threats and positively correlates with perception of benefits of migration. Most of the teachers have fears from migrants and it is just a few who can identify with statements on the realistic and symbolic benefits of migration. The sense of threat seems to be interrelated with an essentialist national identity, which on the other hand has a negative relationship with (the ethnic, religious and linguistic) diversity of the respondents’ families. Teachers who see more benefits in migration tend to have more favourable attitudes to multicultural education and vica versa. These findings also support the conclusions of a number of researchers before, namely that the inevitable transformation of schools should start with „multiculturalizing” teachers’ attitudes and teacher education.


keywords: migration, benefits-threats, teachers’ attitudes, multiculturalism, multicultural education


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