COMPLEX ISSUES FOR SUPPORTING EACH LEARNER IN DIVERSE POPULATIONS
In Myers (2014) we report a study conducted for the Ontario Ministry of Education on newcomers and their needs in educational contexts. Questionnaires had been administered to all School Councils of French language schools in the mostly English speaking Province. The data were analyzed and based on the findings we made recommendations for a number of desirable measures. The newcomers in these schools came from 14 different countries. Most concerns that emerged were linked to intercultural issues around ways of being, ways of learning and knowing how to live better in the adopted country. The analysis of Ministry documents compared to the contents of our research report made us wonder if elements underlying our recommended pathways which involved more complexity, were in fact being transposed adequately with sufficient explanations given. We feel that in cases of topics more difficult to address, the language used in the Ministry documents was more authoritative than explicative. Overall in line with recommendations to improve newcomers’ well-being, a great emphasis was placed on mental health issues. Where improving the learning context was concerned, measures were recommended for the success of all learners with, in addition, an emphasis on problem solving strategies. All the directives given by the Ministry are very positive and useful, although perhaps too general or lacking precision and given the fast pace of continuous impacts in the field of knowledge and therefore did not have the expected impact. Measures to be implemented have to be thoroughly explained as regards the reasons for their being and expected result. At the basis, there is a dire need to fully understand the underlying theoretical context in order to take steps in the right direction, without feeling hesitant about maneuvers and also avoid getting into pitfalls. It is all about mediation and step by step transpositions at each point. We constantly try to make sense of what is happening around us and hope to understand links between events. This is very complex today, and along these lines, Broch’s (1966) views it as being the cause of human disintegration. Reflecting upon cultures, Spengler in Knopf (1962) connects the differences between cultures mainly to an influence of depth perception which he thinks accounts for cultural differences because of its variation among peoples, especially based on the fact that language forms are connected to the evolution of our visual systems. We have to recognize cultural influences and ask ourselves about the impact of the personal filtering of information in multicultural contexts. To enable us to shed more light on these issues we examined more closely the three overarching themes that emerged from our previous study and also were given prominence by the Ministry, i.e. enabling people to feel better, learn better and to live better. If the three are connected at some level, we still need to examine the discussion surrounding each of these aspects to uncover the parameters that will enable working solutions.