Onderwijs als interactieprobleem
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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While research data indicate that Dutch education is problematic for Surinamese children, Dutch educational policy takes the view that the children can adapt to the curriculum quickly or even im-mediately, because they supposedly have a Dutch-speaking background. However, the language situation of Surinamese children is complex: a vast proportion of the children is bilingual and speaks a non-standard variety of Dutch: Surinamese Dutch (SN). Therefore, it is important to find out how the school fits the specific situa-tion of these children. The curriculum and the demands of the school, as well as the expectations of the teachers toward the children partly define the success of failure of the child. Language attitudes, too, can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy as regards to teacher expectations.This article deals with the perceptions of teachers with respect to language problems in the school and with teacher attitudes con-cerning the language use of Surinamese children. According to the majority of the teachers. Surinamese children have difficulties with a number of schoolsubjects as a consequence of their different home language. In particular the 'concentration schools', schools with a population of more than 15% Surinamese children, experience these problems most acutely. The majority of teachers indicate that they pursue command of the standard language as an objective. Most of the teachers locate the problems with the chil-dren, not with the school system itself.Investigating to what extent teachers-attitudes influence the educational results of the children is a complex task. First of all, the question needs to be answered wether teachers already have specific attitudes toward SN, since it is a rather new phenomenon to have Surinamese children in the classroom. The data suggest that, at this point, many teachers do not view SN as a seperate language variety, but as 'poor Dutch'. Nevertheless they are reasonably positive about the characteristics of SN, which may reflect their insecurity about this variety of Dutch. Comparing attitudes towards urban dialects and SN shows that teachers have a more pronounced and somewhat more negative attitude towards the urban dialects of their Dutch pupils. There is an important attitudinal difference between teachers from different cities. Teachers do not express stereotypes about the consequences of bilingualism for a child's intellectual development, but as regards the specific classroom situation, the majority of the teachers reports difficulties for children with a different home language. However, most teachers oppose special provisions in the school for use of the home language as a medium of instruction or as a subject.It seems that the views of teachers are linked to societal norms and educational policy, in which an ethnocentric point of view predominates. While information about sociolinguistic insights may not on its own change these norms, ignoring such information will certainly not bring about a change. Therefore, specific language curricula need to be developed.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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