“I find it odd that people have to highlight other people’s differences – even when there are none”: Experiential learning and interculturality in teacher education

  • 18 January 2017

Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 87–102

Author: Fred Dervin (Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki)


This article examines the role of experiential learning in developing intercultural competences in the context of teacher education in Finland. Local and foreign students studying to become teachers were asked to write five short narratives each about meaningful intercultural encounters they experienced prior to enrolling in an intercultural course. Based on these narratives, the author analyses the potential overlap between the way the students reflect on and interpret these encounters and an understanding of interculturality which concentrates on the construction of selfother and social justice. The discourse analysis of the students’ narratives shows that in most cases, important intercultural learning seems to have already taken place before these students embarked on the course. The article ends with a discussion of the importance of starting from this observation in teacher education and of providing the student teachers with theoretical tools and methods which can support them in expanding their understanding of interculturality in their job as teachers.

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