Interview Zouhair Hammana – Diversity and Decolonization in Secondary Education

Zouhair Hammana, doctoral candidate within the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens, studies how secondary school teachers cope with diversity. This means looking into the teaching material, the composition of the class and other related determinants. How do they perceive diversity? And how is this shaped within the classroom? The focus of his study is mainly on teachers, but he also takes into account future teachers, currently in teacher training. 

What research methods do you use?

My research is qualitative, and I conduct in-depth interviews with secondary school teachers. So far this has mainly been done in Rotterdam, but I want to conduct more interviews in (hopefully) Amsterdam, London and Manchester. Furthermore, I will possibly conduct a content analysis and survey as well. However, it depends on the developments around the corona pandemic for it to be possible.  

How interdisciplinary is your research?

I have a background in sociology and my research is both sociological and anthropological in nature. In addition, I use many theories from other disciplines, like postcolonial and decolonial studies. You could say that a part of these studies is sociological, but a bigger part can be found in different disciplines. I conduct my research from the Media and Communication department, in which there are many researchers present with various disciplinary backgrounds.

How does your research impact society?

I try to generate impact in many ways; within, but also beyond my current research. Last year I was interviewed for a podcast about decolonialization in education and I wrote an article for the Sociology Magazine. Furthermore, the book ‘de goede immigrant’ (the good immigrant) was published this year for which I wrote a chapter, and I recently gave an interview on the NOS-radio, on the workload of doctoral candidates. Besides that, I mainly use social media to share my knowledge and beliefs and interested people also approach me on these channels. 

In what way would you like to make an impact in the future?

It is my wish to contribute to systemic changes. After completing my PhD, I would like to extend my current research to observe society on a larger scale. For example, by shifting from diversity in education to decolonization of education. This could include adjusting the curriculum and teaching approaches. This can be done in different pedagogic ways, like reorganizing the classroom, but also looking into the hierarchical structures of teachers and students. 

Vital Cities and Citizens

With the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to help improve the quality of life in cities. In vital cities, the population can achieve their life goals through education, useful work and participation in public life. The vital city is a platform for creativity and diversity, a safe meeting place for different social groups. The researchers involved focus on one of the four sub-themes:

•    Inclusive Cities and Diversity
•    Resilient Cities and People
•    Smart Cities and Communities 
•    Sustainable and Just Cities

VCC is a collaboration between Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).