How to expand possibilities for learning and transcending marginalisation
In Danish as well as in international comparative educational research, there is a tendency to foreground lack of skills or lack of achievement in discussions about learning among ethnic minorities. Empirically, this kind of research (see for example Ragnvid, 2005, about the PISA-Copenhagen results) is based on statistics and test scores - and it often lacks a basis in a theoretical understanding of how learning comes about. Theoretical and qualitative examples of recent educational research about ethnic minorities are often poststructuralist analyses of discourses and social categories according to race, ethnicity, gender, and class (e.g., Arbor, 2000; Phoenix, 2001; Staunæs, 2004). These approaches are good at documenting inequalities and analysing processes of societal and local exclusions of ethnic minorities, such as lower grades or processes of ‘othering', but they tend to suffer theoretical shortcomings with regard to understanding processes of learning, the expansion of learning possibilities, and ways to transcend marginalisation in concrete practice. As Phoenix puts it, to transcend inequality is "not a matter of ‘changing attitudes' but of understanding how, so early, children come to be positioned in ways which can cumulatively disadvantage them trough intersections of ‘race', gender and social class. The factors that produce such cumulative disadvantage can surely be thought of as institutional racism, however unwitting and unintended" (Phoenix, 2001, p. 137). In this chapter I do a critical psychological case analysis of how these differences in possibilities (related to ethnicity, religion, gender, and class) are intertwined with possibilities for learning, and I consider how we may expand possibilities for learning and for transcending marginalisation. I apply and thereby join the continuing development of a Danish-German version of critical psychology, arguing that we need a theory which can grasp the complexity of learning and transcend marginalisation in and across the action contexts and the personal trajectories of young girls and boys, as well as reflect and transcend negative social categories about a ‘Muslim school girl' as ‘isolated and oppressed' and ‘too studios'.  I use the term ethnic minority, not as a distinction with numerical proportions, but rather related to societal power relations (Phoenix, 2001). In that way the Danish Palestinian pupils in this chapter can be termed ethnic minorities even though some could say that they, seen locally, actually are a numeric majority comprising 9 out of 14 pupils in their ninth grade class.  Holzkamp talks about how to do "generalization of possibilities based on single cases" (Holzkamp, 1983b, 2005). See also Dreier (this volume).  Building upon the work of Nissen (1998, 2000a), Dreier (1999a, 1999b), Lave (1996, 1997), Lave and Wenger (1991), and Wenger (1998); also see Lerche Mørck & Huniche (2006), Nissen (2000b).
Citizen City: Between Constructing Agent and Constructed Agency, 2007, p. 149-159
Young Ethnic minorities; education; young muslims; learning; transcending marginalisation; othering; race, gender and social class; Danish-German critical psychology; Case analysis; etniske minoritetsunge; marginalisering; folkeskole