Mapping cultural diversity through children’s voices: From confusion to clear understandings

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This research examines children's conceptualisations of cultural diversity. In particular, this project examines the following two research questions: how do children define and understand the concept of cultural diversity; and what do they perceive as the implications of cultural diversity on their daily lives? To this end, interviews were carried out with 40 (immigrant and native) students, aged 11 to 12, at five primary schools in Cyprus, which presented high concentrations of immigrants. On the basis of our analysis of the data, the participant children appeared to perceive cultural diversity in terms of two contrasting perspectives. On the one hand, they viewed cultural diversity in terms of the cultural-deficiency perspective. Such perceptions stemmed from the model of monoculturalism implying the need to assimilate the culturally ‘different’ in order to counteract the negative consequences of cultural diversity. On the other hand, the same children also perceived cultural diversity in terms of cultural celebration. To this end, some children drew upon the model of multiculturalism to define cultural diversity as a culture-enriching and culture-celebrating process, pointing to folkloristic activities including traditional music, dance and food. Nonetheless, few of the participant children—both Cypriot and immigrant—defined cultural diversity in terms of the model of interculturalism, pointing to the intercultural exchange that stems from ‘real’ friendship development between natives and immigrants, equality of rights and inclusion. As the participant children appeared to confuse the meanings and languages of cultural diversity, this paper concludes with suggestions on teacher practices to ‘crystallise’ children's views.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-349
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • children voices
  • cyprus education
  • diversity
  • inclusion
  • interculturalism


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