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A Key Issue in the Initial Training of Future Teachers

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Intercultural Education
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  Journal Plus Education, ISSN: 1842-077X, E-ISSN (online) 2068-1151 Vol XII (2015), No. 2. pp. 151 - 157 151 INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION, A KEY ISSUE IN THE INNOVATION OF THE INITIAL TRAINING OF THE FUTURE TEACHERS IN PRIMARY AND PRE-PRIMARY EDUCATION.CASE STUDY Gabriel ALBU, Ph. D. Petroleum Gas University of Ploie ş ti, România gabrielalbu04@yahoo.com  Abstract: Significant changes in society in the late twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first led to increase and strengthen cross-border exchanges and multi- and intercultural human relations. With them, contacts between people belonging to different cultural areas have multiplied and intensified. Linguistically, culturally and axiologically heterogeneous institutions and companies have also diversified.In recent decades, it has become increasingly common to talk about intercultural communication, intercultural management, intercultural psychology and intercultural relations. Therefore a new formative vision for the growth of young generations and a new approach to learning and education has become a necessity, either taking into account the contemporary processes, or  participating in facilitating these processes, a better understanding and a deeper respect between people, groups and /or human communities.This study seeks to capture the way future teachers in primary and pre-primary education, in their initial phase of training at UPG Ploiesti, understand the importance of intercultural education for their professional training, on the one hand, and to formulate proposals on the other hand. Keywords: education, intercultural education, student, primary and  pre-primary school teacher Introduction The world we live in is asking us to be open. Whether it is about business/trade, financial transactions, initiatives and political responses, cultural programs or creative-innovative approaches, the great majority are oriented toward openness. More than ever, businesses operate on a worldwide basis. Their innovations unfold rapidly (Hofstede, Hofstede, Minkov, 2012). Mergers take place and stock market fluctuates, which may at any time throw the business landscape out of balance ( idem ). Cross-border exchanges intensified and diversified.  Journal Plus Education, ISSN: 1842-077X, E-ISSN (online) 2068-1151 Vol XII (2015), No. 2. pp. 151 - 157 152 At the same time, we are witnessing a dramatic process of expansion and dominance of technologies for information and online communication. For most of us (and growing day by day in numbers), the Internet has become the main go-to instrument to solve multiple problems of our daily life, both professionally and personally. The number of users grew exponentially (and will increase hereafter). It allows meeting and human interaction, no matter whose cultural area users belong to. Intercultural communication has become a necessity, and a common practice. However, all this does not help intercultural understanding sort itself. On the contrary, it seems that it shapes the problem of individual and group identity dynamics people enable and maintain (Gavriliuc, 2006), as well as the deeper issue - of confronting values, of tensions between the various articulated structures/systems of values. G. Hofstede and collaborators (2012) believes that one needs an outstanding flair for survival - when life calls - in the different cultural and value contexts. As a result, we understand that in the conditions of a competitive and interconnected world (Khan, 2013, p. 14), intercultural learning has become an overriding necessity. When, potentially, we are in danger, on the one hand, of having our cultural identity deleted, and, on the other hand, we witness conflicts out-breaking, misunderstandings, threats, marginalization, and axiological confrontation, our welfare - believes Ch. Leadbeater (2010) - depends less on what we possess and consume, and more on what we share and create together (p. 28). In other words, our life depends very much on cooperation and mutual trust among people, no matter which culture they belong to. In short, we live and shall live through times of intercultural awareness. Education is faced, therefore, with the reassessment of its fundamental grounds. Intercultural approach is a new way of designing and pursuing education. Methodology The purpose of the present research was to disclose the meaning given to the intercultural dimension of contemporary education in the context of intensifying economic globalization and cross-border mobility by students in Pedagogy of Pre-primary and Primary Education, Faculty of Letters and Sciences of the Petroleum Gas University in Ploiesti, at the beginning of their initial training as teachers. The method consisted in the implementation of a questionnaire (with pre-coded answers) on 56 subjects, of whom 15 were already teaching, and the rest (41) had no experience behind the desk.  Journal Plus Education, ISSN: 1842-077X, E-ISSN (online) 2068-1151 Vol XII (2015), No. 2. pp. 151 - 157 153 Table no. 1. The structure of the experimental sample Subjects Number Percentage With seniority in education 15 27% Without experience behind the desk 41 73% Total 56 100% It reveals that more than a quarter of the subjects in the experimental sample work in education, they have daily direct contact with students. The trial has been conducted at the beginning of April 2015. Data and results  After the collection and processing of data, the following were revealed: Table no. 2. The opinion of subjects relating to the purpose of intercultural education* a. b. c. d. e. f. g. Total 9% 7% 7% 16% 46% 2% 13% 100% * a. Knowledge of the most important cultures of humanity; b. Knowledge of world culture history; c. Discouraging potential conflicts between different human groups; d. Facilitate dialog between people; e. Knowledge of the habits, traditions, and rituals of different cultures; f. Deleting cultural identity of human groups; g. Shaping a global culture. Table no. 3. The opinion of subjects relating to the usefulness of intercultural education in inter-human relations* a. b. c. d. Total 14% 40% 34% 12% 100% * a. Know ourselves better; b. Know others better; c. Identify what we have in common with others; d. Identify what sets us apart from the rest of the people. Table no. 4. The vision of subjects relating to the importance of intercultural education in the development of one's own personality* a. b. c. d. e. f. g. Total 20% 2% 3% 48% 7% 18% 2% 100% * a. Makes us more curious towards the ones from another culture; b. Determines us to be a bit more cautious in relation to those of another culture; c. Motivates us to express ourselves as we know better; d. Makes us open our hearts to the ones from another culture; e. Gives us more confidence in the one belonging to a culture other than ours. f. Determines us to be more firm in promoting and growing your own culture; g. Determines us to be more cautious in promoting and growing your own culture.  Journal Plus Education, ISSN: 1842-077X, E-ISSN (online) 2068-1151 Vol XII (2015), No. 2. pp. 151 - 157 154 Comments and interpretations 1. First of all, we were interested in finding out the opinion of respondents relating to the central purpose of intercultural education. From the data collected, it appears that almost half of them (46 %) consider that the purpose of intercultural educationis to know habits, traditions, rituals, and fundamental values of the various cultures. To them, this type of education is a favorable opportunity to become familiar with what is specific, srcinal to each culture, no matter whether it is about the cultures on the African continent or Asian one, belonging to Australia or Oceania, North or South America, or anywhere in Europe. Almost half of the subjects centered on what they might know about the roots and pillars of resistance - beyond the passage and erosion of time - of the various parts of the world (regardless of their geographical location or their influence on the course of history humanity). Other options have obtained a relatively small percentage and have, from our point of view, a low significance. For instance, only 16% think intercultural education is a necessary tool for  facilitating dialog between  people. Therefore, such a dimension of education would, rather, play a part in knowledge and introduction to world cultures than a facilitating role in relations between people. It has to do, in particular, with our cultural equipment than with the creation of availability to more easily interact with other people belonging to other cultures. Next, there comes the 13% of subjects which consider that intercultural education aims at shaping a global culture. Therefore, to this category of respondents, intercultural education is more directly linked to the trend of globalization, to the requirement to participate in a global culture of humanity, less (or increasingly less) differentiating. 9% believe, in their turn, that intercultural education has as its objective the knowledge of big cultures of humanity. They believe that we can talk about large and small cultures; that the latter could not constitute a point of much interest. We need to know about the world’s major cultures, exemplary cultures, worthy to be followed and which influenced - in one way or another - the destiny of mankind. Of course, it would be interesting to reveal what would be the criterion according to which we could distinguish between the two categories of cultures, if indeed there is such a criterion. In their turn, 7% of the respondents consider that intercultural education aims, by its objectives and approaches, to discourage potential conflicts between various human groups. We see, therefore, that this insignificant experimental segment (comprised of those at the beginning of their initial training) understands that it is important to have a tool, a cultural device through which we can act with a view to possibly defuse tensions
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