University of Calgary

Education professor to explore politics of education

UToday HomeMarch 19, 2013

By Clayton MacGillivray

Associate professor Shibao Guo’s March 26 presentation, Immigration, Integration and the Politics of Education, explores the importance of providing accessible and inclusive education to individuals new to Canada. Associate professor Shibao Guo’s March 26 presentation, Immigration, Integration and the Politics of Education, explores the importance of providing accessible and inclusive education to individuals new to Canada. Photo courtesy of the Faculty of Education In order to mitigate declining fertility rates and an ongoing labour shortage, Canada has embraced a policy of immigration. But with the many benefits of this approach come a number of challenges.

One significant challenge is building accessible and inclusive education. On this issue, Faculty of Education associate professor Shibao Guo has some concerns.

“Immigration has played an important role in transforming Canada into an ethno-culturally diverse and economically prosperous nation,” says Guo, who will present his research on the subject in a talk entitled Immigration, Integration and the Politics of Education on March 26.

“But differences have been viewed as deficit and deficiency, which negatively influences our thinking and daily practices in education.”

Guo believes educators have an ethical and educational responsibility to embrace cultural difference and diversity in all aspects of education to build a system that is inclusive and socially just.

“Immigrants bring their language, culture, values, educational background, and work experience to the new society, adding to and enriching our educational environments. They also need educational programs to help them navigate the complex paths that citizenship entails and to upgrade their language, knowledge and skills to fully participate in the host society or community.”

Failure to provide these programs further alienates immigrants and their children as full and deserving citizens he says. And this failure carries political implications.

“To me, education is not neutral and, indeed, it is a politically contested term. When we discuss the politics of education, we often think about who gets what, when, and how. Issues of immigration, race, and ethnicity are often ignored.”

In his talk, Guo plans to juxtapose issues of education with the politics of difference, knowledge and recognition associated with immigration.

“It is important to examine how education operates to facilitate or hinder immigrants’ transitions in Canada.”

Guo’s talk is the final event in the 2012-2013 Engaging New Ideas in Education lecture series and will be held Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. The talk is free and open to all. Registration information is available at educ.ucalgary.ca/eni/shibaoguo

 

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