Segregation in classrooms.
The teacher unions are up in arms saying this is deeply unhelpful. However if what I read in the Times is true, then there is a decent level of fence sitting going on
'The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said it supported the idea of separate classes initially for some immigrant children that would focus on English language skills. It said best practice in this field was to provide "immersion classes" when it came to the integration of students.
However, it said it did not support "segregating" pupils and that second-level teachers had been welcoming students from diverse backgrounds into schools for many years."
Hayes own party, Fine Gael have stated it is not their views but his own he is expressing.
And more from today's Times.
"Lucy Gaffney, chairwoman of the National Action Plan Against Racism, accused the Government of "sitting on its hands for the last decade" on the issue of guidelines for teaching immigrant children in schools.
She said the classroom was the ideal place for children of different cultures to mix and criticised the Department of Education for failing to show leadership on the issue. "We should be doing all in our power to promote integration rather than separation," Ms Gaffney continued.
"I find it incredible that after 10 years of net immigration into Ireland, of families and children from all over the world, the Government is still waiting on the publication of reports and research before it decides on the best approach for teaching immigrant children in our schools.
"What has the Department of Education been doing for the past decade if it finds itself unable to provide clear guidelines on this important matter?"
So what do you think? Personally having lived abroad I don't think anything in the world helps
learn a language quicker other than total immersion. But then again I wasn't trying to learn a subject on top of a language. On the other hand I don't have children in a classroom who might be held up because one of their class mates is struggling.
Then there are teachers, some are frustrated due to lack of support and find it difficult to deal with children who don't speak a word of English, what options do they have? Ignore the child and carry on teaching whatever subject they teach, or hold up the class painstakingly explaining every word and comma?
A lot surely depends on the age of the child too. Younger children are like sponges and can pick up a language quickly and without to much difficulty, but after 12? !5? Is it air to throw these children in at the deep end and expect them to swim?
Integration is new to Ireland, there are bound to be hiccups and mistakes made along the way. But in the real world ideas that may not be palatable to our emotions might not always be the wrong ones. If a child can develop faster in a shorter language intensive class is it wrong to consider it before allowing that child to blend into the mainstream classes of a school? Or is it better to allow that child to immerse his or herself in the day to day class, but perhaps suffer and fall behind in terms of the curriculum.
Like I said, it's a tricky one, but it needs to be discussed-I feel- without everyone yelling racism at the outset.
Labels: Education for all.