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Floating Between Two Worlds: Investigating Discourses of Continuity and Change within Akha Educational Practices in Thailand
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning.
2007 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

As the postmodern view on local perspectives and situated knowledge is becoming increasingly more important, educational issues regarding ethnic minority groups and multicultural aspects of learning are rapidly turning into a major focus throughout the international educational world. Distinct minority cultures and languages are rarely given enough attention within formal school settings. Instead national languages and curriculum are mandatory, leaving minority students confused and at a disadvantage. The Akha people of Northern Thailand find themselves sharing these minority struggles and this paper sets out to explore issues of continuity and change within Akha discourses from an educational perspective.

Eight semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with individuals from the Akha minority group in regards to their views on education. The aim was to analyze how their educational discourses were constructed and what perceptions they carried, primarily in relationship to knowledge and learning.

When analyzing the interview material it became evident that the informants’ discourses about education constructed two completely different worlds. Their descriptions of traditional Akha learning in a community setting was distinctly different from how they depicted the mandatory Thai schooling. Conflicts between continuity and change also emerged in the interview material. At the same time as a strong wish for continuity of traditional Akha culture was clearly visible, the interviewees also expressed the necessity to change and adapt to the outside world. This paper, therefore aims to discuss these conflicting discourses in relation to four different aspects of life where education seems to play an essential role for the informants in promoting and preventing changes and continuity: knowledge and learning, social structures, morals and ethics, and cultural identity. It will also be discussed how these discourses construct and impact reality, as well as how perceptions are constructed and reproduced. Furthermore, this paper will also consider how the different issues and conflicts mentioned above could be addressed by a formal Akha school setting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. , 58 p.
Keyword [en]
mother-tongue-based bilingual minority education, discourse analysis, curriculum theory, critical theory, Thailand, Akha minority group.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-10720ISRN: LIU-IBL/DIPA-A--07/002--SEOAI: diva2:17433
Subject / course
Pedagogical Science
2007-06-10, Key22, Key, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2008-04-15 Created: 2008-04-15 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved

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