What price respect: exploring the notion of respect in a 21st century global learning environment

Wilson, Doirean (2010) What price respect: exploring the notion of respect in a 21st century global learning environment. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 3 (1). pp. 95-106. ISSN 1940-5847

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Abstract

This paper evaluates the meaning of respect in a 21st century global learning environment, with a view to exploring the implications for promoting harmonious working relationships among students of culturally diverse ethnic backgrounds in the classroom. Research conducted since 2005 that investigates the understanding, meaning and experience of respect between final-year undergraduate students on a consulting to business module, provides the context for this paper. The methodology consists of the following four consulting teams of volunteer focus groups, comprising of between four and seven students each, over a two year period of the study that includes two phases (based on two focus groups per phase). Each team is made-up of students from different ethnic minorities and cultures and of mixed genders, aged between 22 and 43 years. The focus group sessions are conducted weekly or fortnightly over a 28 week period (the life of a module in an academic year) with each session lasting 30 minutes or an hour, which are also videoed. These focus groups are facilitated using a collaborative dialogue research approach which as acknowledged by Kitzinger 1995 who stated that “although group interviews are often used simply as a quick and convenient way to collect data from several people simultaneously, focus groups explicitly use group interaction as part of the method”) and share stories of respect and disrespect as they emerge and affect them. I draw on the work of Prado (2006), Cohen (2001), Langdon (2007) and Noddings (2005) to explore definitions of respect research and provide a framework for discussion and analysis. I intend to disseminate findings from this research that reviews perceptions and attitudes to respect and their impact on beliefs and behaviour of the students in the study. The aim is to improve interaction and dialogue while promoting a positive approach to cultural difference. A review of historical concepts of respect is conducted to determine its influence in today’s 21st century global age. An exploration of key factors regarding the notion of respect will also be discussed. Langdon (2007) intimates that research evidence indicates that whilst acknowledgement of respect is frequently reputed to be the driving force in improving situations where there is conflict or a need for dialogue, there is limited evidence to show that its relevance and effects have been assessed. This is something I intend to do in this paper. Findings to date indicate that respect is an important shared value for members from culturally diverse learning environments. The research findings also show that respect has a common meaning for those with similar cultural upbringing. That is, those students from collectivist societies (using Hofstede 2001, `Three levels of Human Mental Programming` Values and Culture mode model). According to Hofstede, (ibid) “at the collective level, most or all of our mental programming is learned, which is shown by the fact that we share it with people who have gone through the same learning processes but who do not have the same genetic makeup”. Those from collectivist societies are therefore likely to exhibit the same or similar attitudes and behaviour towards respect such as, respect for extended family members and for members from their minority ethnic group. Initial findings suggest that these behavioural characteristics remain fairly consistent over different generations though marginal change is evident amongst second generations. This suggests that perceptions of respect are culturally situated and reinforced and can make behavioural change problematic. However, an awareness of difference based on facts, qualitative experience, rather than fiction or stereotypes are possible drivers for a positive approach to respect that can shift behaviours and mental models which Senge (2006) refers to as “internal pictures of how the world work” (pp. 163). The significance of respect from a global educational perspective is therefore crucial in society today.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:Middlesex University Schools and Centres > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
Middlesex University Schools and Centres > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations > Diversity and Gender group
ID Code:3827
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Deposited On:21 Jan 2010 12:17
Last Modified:04 Dec 2014 14:22

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