Josef StrasserWiebke Waburg

Students’ perspectives on minority teachers in Germany


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In recent years, there is an ongoing call to employ more minority teachers in Germany’s educational system. Associated with this call is the hope that minority teachers can deal with diversity issues more adequately and professionally. Students with migration backgrounds as well as majority students are believed to benefit from the employment of minority teachers. Up to now, there is little or no evidence to support this hope and previous research primarily examines teachers’ perspectives. In order to explore the conditions that make it possible to realize the supposed benefits of minority teachers, the present paper focuses on students’ perspectives. It is assumed that a positive effect of immigrant or minority teachers occurs not through their mere presence but through interaction with their students and due to specific constraints and affordances of their classrooms. Relying on group discussions, an ongoing project tries 1) to reconstruct students’ experiential knowledge concerning minority teachers and 2) or explore what relevance and meaning they attribute to their experiences with minority teachers. So far, the results indicate that teachers’ minority statuses become relevant only in certain situations and this difference dimension seems to be tightly linked to other dimensions (e.g. age, gender, class) that are more salient for students.