PPR og den etniske minoritetselev - en overset udfordring?

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Sofie Friis Christiansen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Throughout my entire life, including 6 years of studying psychology at the University of Aalborg, I have had very limited encounters with ethnic minorities in Denmark. Moving to Copenhagen a year ago, and realizing that 30 % of the pupils in the schools here are ethnic minorities made me wonder if my professional university background had prepared me well enough for working with these children. I started to investigate the matter, and quickly discovered that I was not the only one without specific knowledge about the psychological work with minorities. While there is internationally a comprehensive focus on and research into ethnic aspects of psy-chology, there is a lack of focus on this subject in Denmark (Obiadi, 2009). This study is therefore to some degree groundbreaking in Denmark, in being one of very few investigations into how school psychologists deal with ethnic minority students in their consultations (Ovesen, 2010). I view this thesis as a wakeup call to the school psychologists in Denmark and to PPR, the organization in which all school psy-chologists work, and as a contribution to a debate which hopefully will receive more attention in the future. Both the empirical aspects and theoretical discussions will be concentrated around the main question: Which challenges does the PPR psychologist experience in consultations concerning ethnic minority pupils and is PPR profes-sionally and organizationally capable of overcoming these?

The empirical basis of this thesis consists of three observations of consultations con-cerning ethnic minority pupils, and follow up interviews with the three school psy-chologists. All the psychologists work in Copenhagen, where there are many ethnic minority pupils, and where they train specifically in the consultative method, which is quite new in Denmark. The analysis shows that the psychologists and teachers pay a lot of attention to cultural differences in the consultation, which they experience in terms of differing norms and views on child development and in the difficult cooper-ation with ethnic minority parents. The focus on culture is problematic since it can become too dominating, and remove focus from other important themes for the child, and hereby lead to wrong or delayed interventions. In connection to this, the inter-views and observations also show, that the psychologists primarily focus on culture in their minds, but don’t actually talk about them during the consultations. This is either due to the fact that they feel that cultural differences are taboo and a very sensitive subject, or it is due to a conscious strategy in which a focus on the child and the child’s needs are preferred to create a positive and productive dialogue. Either of these strategies seem to facilitate the long term development that is the goal within the consultative method. In addition to this, it is discussed how the overall neutrality and passivity that dominates PPR in relation to working with ethnic minorities leads to PPR being overlooked when new initiatives are set into place concerning these pupils. The passivity can on the other hand reflect conformity to the norms and val-ues of the majority in the society, whereby PPR represents a monocultural institution in a multicultural society. When the teachers and psychologists experience resistance from the ethnic minority parents, it can be due to the very fact, that PPR does not show any sign of understanding and incorporating alternative perspectives on the children, which excludes the parents from the important processes in their children’s lives. There seems to be a need for expanding the psychologists’ knowledge about how to work with ethnic minorities and minimizing ethnocentric tendencies amongst themselves and the teachers they work with, which could be introduced in the con-sultative training that already exists in the organization. But why does this develop-ment not take place, when it seems so obviously necessary? There are many answers to that question, one being that it is not only in PPR, but in the Danish society in general and amongst politicians that Denmark as a multicultural society is ignored. Therefore it seems important to focus on some of the preconditions that are currently maintaining the status quo in order to create development.
Publication date31 May 2012
Number of pages79
ID: 63446534