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Intercultural Literacy and the International School


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Heyward, M 2004 , 'Intercultural Literacy and the International School', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In this study a new developmental model describing the nature of intercultural literacy and how it is learnt
is proposed and trialled. Intercultural literacy is defined as the understandings, attitudes, competencies and
identities which enable effective participation in a cross-cultural setting. As such it is presented as a
crucial literacy for the globalised world of the twenty-first century.
The Multidimensional Model for the Development of Intercultural Literacy is developed on the basis of
theory from social psychology and international education, is checked for validity against reference groups
in the field - practitioners in international schools in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand - and is modified
in the light of inputs received.
The model is then trialled in the context of a case study of the Tanjung Bara International School and its
community in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The case study seeks to map the school and community in
terms of intercultural literacy, evaluate the school's intercultural literacy curriculum and explore the
relationship between the community and school in relation to intercultural literacy learning. The broad aim
is to determine the extent to which the proposed model is useful in helping to describe the case and to
answer the questions posed by the case study.
The case study concludes that the school and its community is predominately at a monocultural or
'distancing' level with a smaller group moving into the more positive learning stage characteristic of the
cross-cultural level in the model. The community is found to have been deeply divided on cultural lines
between the Indonesian and the largely Australian expatriate communities. The international school
contributed to this divide through reinforcing the status of expatriates as privileged and separate. The
objectives of the curriculum and non-core school programs to facilitate intercultural literacy were found to
have been seriously hampered by this cultural divide, among other factors. The school was not found to
have played a significant role in facilitating intercultural literacy learning in the broader community.
The thesis concludes that the proposed Multidimensional Model for the Development of Intercultural
Literacy is useful in this case study and is potentially useful in a wide range of contexts, particularly in
international schools and their communities. It provides a tool which may assist educators in
understanding intercultural literacy and facilitate the development of policy and practice including
curriculum, extra-curricular programs and assessment.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Heyward, M
Keywords: literacy, education, international school
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