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Behaviorism versus Intercultural Education in the Novel Purple Hibiscus: A Literature Study of Education in Purple Hibiscus from a Swedish EFL Perspective
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this essay is to analyze two different educational paradigms, which I refer to broadly as the behavioristic way of learning through imitation versus intercultural education, as these are depicted in the novel Purple Hibiscus by the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The analysis focuses on how the narrator Kambili´s learning, identity and personal development are differently affected by these two contrastive approaches to education. After the analysis, examples of how the novel can be taught in intercultural, communicative EFL classrooms will be given. In the analysis theories of mimicry and imitation, and identity will be used as well as understandings of the terms intercultural education and behaviorism. The analysis shows that Kambili´s father Eugene represents behaviorism in the novel, whereas Kambili´s aunt Ifeoma symbolizes intercultural education. At home, Kambili learns to imitate her father´s behavior and values. In Ifeoma´s house on the other hand she encounters a kind of intercultural education, where critical thinking and questioning are encouraged.

The thematization of contrastive educational and developmental paradigms in the novel is relevant to the comprehensive goals of Swedish upper secondary schools, which promote intercultural learning, as well as critical thinking and reflection on learning processes. Reading literature in the EFL classroom at this level may promote these broad educational objectives as well as the achievement of more specific, language- and culture-based learning outcomes. For many Swedish EFL students, Purple Hibiscus may represent difference, and therefore it is a suitable novel to include in intercultural education, as the students are encouraged tounderstand and reflect on different perspectives. By discussing the novel in groups, the education becomes intercultural because everyone becomes active participants and everyone´s voices are heard.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 36 p.
Keyword [en]
EFL, literature, intercultural education, imitation, behaviorism, learning, identity, personal development, communicative competence
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-19099OAI: diva2:627369
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-06-11 Created: 2013-06-11 Last updated: 2013-06-11Bibliographically approved

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