ABSTRACT

The European discourse on intercultural education is fully inscribed into Italian educational regulations, which place an intercultural perspective at its center and consider schools as the preferred spaces for the formation of intercultural competencies. In this chapter, we present a case study of Italian educators’ understanding and practice of intercultural education. We apply a critical lens to analyze how educators take up, or not, intercultural education in the classroom and school community at large. We also consider what scholars of interculturalism and multiculturalism have noted about the conceptual framework’s incongruities, tensions within the framework, and the lack of concreteness as we move forward with our analysis. For example, Meer and Modood (2016) underline that the argument for interculturalism in the European documents is very general and is not built on an empirical basis, something that even interculturalists can agree on (Cantle, 2015; Zapata-Barrero, 2015). Zapata-Barrero (2015) recognizes that an “empirical theory” does not exist that could aid in the implementation of intercultural policies. Cantle (2015) calls for theorization of already existing intercultural practices in order to gain a better understanding of praxis. This is imperative given that the processes of integration as well as the acquisition of intercultural competencies depends largely on the educational policies and practices implemented by the host countries (Crul, 2015; Crul, Schneider, & Lelie, 2012; Crul & Thomson, 2007; OECD, 2007; OECD-PISA, 2006) and as illustrated in the case study in some cases also largely influenced by school administration and school culture.