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Ethical Challenges of The Multicultural Classroom: A teacher's examination of Martha Nussbaum's theory of world citizenship education
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication, Centre for Applied Ethics. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The overall objective of this thesis is to examine in what way ethical theory and ethical analysis can contribute to further understanding of the ethical challenges of the multicultural classroom. Based on the fact that the world is going through a process of globalization and migration, the education-system and daily praxis of teaching is put in front of new ethical challenges. The teacher in the multicultural classroom is on a daily base confronted with various dilemmas regarding for example conflicting duties, universal and conflicting values and citizenship. Martha Nussbaum´s theory of world citizenship is used as an analytical framework for the thesis and student interviews from upper secondary school is used as a complementary perspective to Nussbaum´s theory. The research questions of the thesis are: Can the theory of World Citizenship Education, when structured and analyzed, give guidance for teaching citizenship in a multicultural classroom? Is it a plausible theory confronted with the ethical challenges of the multicultural classroom? In what way can a student perspective from a multicultural classroom try the relevance and present a complementary perspective to the theory of World citizenship education? The theory and the interviews are analyzed and structured out of the research questions and by the three ethical challenges of universal values, conflicting values and sense of belonging.

The conclusion of the thesis states that, even though Nussbaum´s theory does have some constraints, it is to a large degree applicable and possible to relate to the ethical challenges of the multicultural classroom and as a guide for teachers. The theory is plausible in some aspects because it presents reasonable arguments on the necessity of educational reform in an interconnected world and because it makes educational proposals of instrumental worth of the teacher. The theory is however not plausible in other aspects because; the universal values presented are to vague and not specified which makes the theory difficult to use in practise, it does not pay enough attention to the conflicting perspective of the ethical challenges in classroom nor the pedagogical importance of social inclusion when discussing conflicting values and finally the theory demonstrates a contradiction regarding how to act as a teacher about sense of belonging and recognising identity of the students. The interviews demonstrate similar but also different responses to the ethical challenges in comparison with the theory. The students recognize the existence of universal values across cultural borders in a similar way as Nussbaum, even though the values put forward are of another character than Nussbaum´s. They do however present a sceptical view towards the idea of a world citizenship and stresses the importance of bringing up discussions about nationhood, migration and belonging without being afraid of breaking any taboos. At the end the thesis presents some practical guidelines for the teacher in the multicultural classroom that follows logical out of the conclusion. The final discussion highlight the fact that the challenges of the multicultural classroom in Sweden will likely continue, and emphasizes the potential of using ethics as an analytical tool for further developing a professional teaching approach.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 65 p.
Keyword [en]
Applied Ethics, Ethics, citizenship education, world citizenship, multicultural classroom, ethical challenges, Martha Nussbaum, student interviews, universal values
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-89126ISRN: LIU-CTE-AE-EX--10/08--SEOAI: diva2:606961
Subject / course
Master in Applied Ethics
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-02-21 Created: 2013-02-21 Last updated: 2013-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Josefsson, Jonathan
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