UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ethnocultural pluralism and the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Jamal, Sameena Karim


The concept of international-mindedness (IM) is a key feature of all schools offering International Baccalaureate (IB) educational programmes. IM is acknowledged as an aim but realizing it in practice is a process fraught with tensions. This study explored one facet of IM: ethnocultural pluralism (an ethic of respect for ethnocultural diversity). Guided by Stuart Hall’s work on representation and Norman Fairclough’s dialectical-relational approach to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), I analyzed sections of the official IB website and 89 Unit Planners from three schools implementing the Primary Years Programme (PYP) in Africa, the Middle East, and North America, representing the documented pedagogical plans and praxis of teachers of Grades 1 to 5 at each of these schools for the 2018-2019 academic year. The findings of the study indicate that although the IB has made strong statements of commitment in relation to ethnocultural pluralism, its practices do not always reflect enactment of these commitments. The findings further indicate that although all IB schools share this commitment to nurturing IM, there is a great deal of variance in the ways in which this is manifested in schools’ Unit Planners. Additionally, the extent to which, and manners in which, particular ethnocultural groups are included in the Planners draws attention to multilayered issues of representation. The comparative analysis of teachers’ representations of their pedagogical practices, as self-documented in their Unit Planners, generated a continuum of praxis reflecting a range of manners in which teachers at IB PYP schools in diverse geopolitical contexts conceptualize and enact IM and, by extension, ethnocultural pluralism. The meso and macro level contexts and their influences on teacher praxis are unpacked in light of the theoretical and analytical frameworks of this study. The contributions of this study include: deep insights into the PYP; a broader framework for conceptualizing teachers’ approaches for IM and ethnocultural pluralism; concrete examples of praxis for ethnocultural pluralism, including specifically for each of Grades 1 to 5; contributions to literature in overlapping domains; detailed exemplification of analytical processes involved in CDA, including visualizations to guide budding analysts; and a bespoke Analytical Guide for critical analysis of discourses.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International