Tensions experienced by teachers of Dutch culturally diverse senior secondary vocational education and training : An exploratory study

Tielman, Kennedy; Wesselink, Renate; Brok, Perry den


Senior secondary vocational education and training (SSVET) is highly culturally diverse, with a majority of students having an immigrant background. Teachers in culturally diverse classes are more often confronted with tensions in their daily practice and they are uncertain of how to manage these tensions. This exploratory study investigated what value-based tensions teachers encountered when teaching in culturally diverse SSVET classes. Furthermore, the reported tensions by teachers were examined in terms of (inadequate) knowledge, skills and (hindering) attitudes as a possible cause to deal effectively with the experienced tensions. We collected interview data from 16 SSVET teachers from five schools, each with more than 60% of students with immigrant backgrounds. The results showed that most of the value-based tensions that the SSVET teachers encountered were related to the intercultural loaded values diversity and respect. Next to tensions related to values also found in prior research, teachers additionally reported tensions with regard to professional ethics & stance of students, which seems unique to SSVET. Most experienced tensions were perceived as being caused by self-reported lack of skills. Less often, teachers experienced a shortage of knowledge or hindering attitudes when faced with these tensions in culturally diverse SSVET classes.