Barbara Weber

Associate Professor

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
Adjusting to the debris : a phenomenology of exile (2016)

This thesis will address the difficulties children of newcomer families face as they transition to life in a multicultural country like Canada. As immigrant families represented about 39 percent of total immigrant landings in British Columbia in 2013, there is an increasing need to accumulate knowledge about the development and adjustment of the children from this population. The lives of First Generation immigrant children are marked by dramatic adjustments due to difficulties with language, family dislocation and culture shock. The following will examine the current approach of the BC Ministry of Education in its aim to make newcomer students feel at home- and thus, adjusted. The underlying question of this research investigates whether adjustment should, in fact, be the end goal of newcomers? And what critical aspects of the lifeworld of newcomers are neglected when the aim is to cultivate acculturated individuals? In answering this question, this thesis will first analyze how adjustment is defined in the domains of dominating theories, current research, as well as pedagogical practices geared towards newcomers. It will be illustrated that the majority of studies dedicated to immigrant children has overlooked the emotional experiences in navigating the education system, and has instead opted to measure proficiency in the English language as a marker of adjustment. Yet the struggles of newcomer children run much deeper. In a phenomenological exploration of adjustment and critiquing its necessity as an aim for both policymakers and newcomers, the ideas of three authors, Søren Kierkegaard, Mikhail Bakhtin and Homi Bhabha will shed light on the lifeworld of immigrant children in order to propose a new approach to the recognition of this group. This thesis can enhance the understanding of educational leaders when it comes to addressing diversity in education, for they are in a favorable position to acknowledge the struggles children must face in bridging their past and present experiences, and to incorporate them into strategies to counteract the many negative experiences they may be receiving in education.

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