Applying post-critical approaches to refugee-centred education
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It is the existence of trauma and its associated responses that categorize refugees as different from other migrants. These circumstances create significant and complex special needs which this thesis suggests should be addressed (initially) on resettlement programmes. Because of the high vulnerability of refugees as a consequence of previous losses and their exposure to sustained deprivation, empathy must be a primary requisite of teachers who are responsible for delivering these programmes. This thesis enquires whether the teaching methodology and approach for refugee resettlement programmes, however, should entail more than just an empathic disposition and indeed whether educational programmes should seek to address the unique and very special needs of refugees through the imparting of 'critical' skills and strategies. Furthermore, the thesis investigates the various educational theories and approaches that appear to have particular correspondence with the unique needs of refugees.The six-week period at the Mangere Refugee Reception Centre represents a significant moment in the lives of refugees. It is for many the turning point from their traumatic past to a future of hope. During this 'renaissance' period, the Centre for Refugee Education under the auspices of AUT University, offers an education programme for all quota refugees. It is this programme, in particular, that forms the focus of this thesis; however the principles and recommendations have wider ramifications and could (with modifications) equally apply to refugee provision in the wider sector. The broad aim of this thesis is to investigate what it is that refugees need on arrival in New Zealand and the extent to which the content and methodology of the orientation programme offered to refugees can be enhanced to better support and prepare refugees for the transition into New Zealand society. A teaching approach heavily nuanced by the post-structural appropriation of critical theory is discussed and it is proposed that this approach in conjunction with collaborative, participatory and constructivist elements could form a 'refugee-centred approach' which has the potential to more effectively and appropriately address the specific needs identified as pertaining to refugees. An oft-heard criticism of 'critical theory' and its many renderings is that it is 'too theoretical' and difficult to implement. This thesis argues that the post-structuralist interpretation can, indeed translate into practice and suggestions for its pedagogical implementation represent a key outcome of this research.