Opening Pandora’s box: a culturally relevant perspective on elementary teachers’ approaches to educating immigrant and refugee students in Turkey

Akın Sabuncu S., Chen Lee C., Knight-Manuel M.

European Journal of Teacher Education, 2023 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/02619768.2023.2181072
  • Journal Name: European Journal of Teacher Education
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, EBSCO Education Source, Education Abstracts, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
  • Keywords: culturally relevant pedagogy, Immigrants, phenomenology, refugees, teacher education
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Given the influx of immigrants and refugees in Turkey and across the globe, our study aims to examine how elementary teachers in Turkey are responding to the growing needs of immigrant and refugee students. Drawing on culturally relevant pedagogical frameworks, we interviewed 21 teachers to highlight if and how they build on cultural and individual strengths to reimagine educational contexts. In our phenomenological study, we found that teachers had trouble enacting all three tenets but discussed two out of three tenets the most: a) academic achievement/student learning and b) cultural competence. This study shows how national and international policies need to support the holistic needs of immigrant and refugee students in Turkey and beyond. Our study demonstrates glimpses of hope despite the multitude of issues we uncovered. We find light, beyond a Pandora’s box, where teachers desire and want to learn more about immigrant and refugee students’ holistic needs.