MODULE 4: CULTURE AND IDENTITIES
The “Report on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations” (European parliament 2015) “notes the importance of empowering teachers to take an active stand against all forms of discrimination and racism; notes the essential role of education and competent and supportive teachers in not only strengthening social ties, encouraging a sense of belonging, developing knowledge, skills, competences, embedding fundamental values, enhancing social, civic and intercultural competences, critical thinking and media literacy but also in helping young people – in close cooperation with their parents and families – to become active, responsible, open-minded members of society; emphasises that schools can build students’ resilience to radicalisation by providing a safe environment and time for debating and exploring controversial and sensitive issues and highlights the importance of interfaith and intercultural dialogue as a tool for social cohesion and inclusion, mediation and reconciliation.”
In this connection teachers need methods in order to foster the intercultural dialogue among their students and create spaces for reflection of sensitive issues in this context. The following module will give teachers access to these kinds of methods.
The objective of this module is to enable teachers to apply methods in the classroom that raise intercultural awareness and foster intercultural dialogue among their students. The learning objectives for the teachers are:
- Enabling teachers to identify suitable methods for their students for raising intercultural awareness and fostering intercultural dialogue in class
- Enabling teachers to carry out exercises that enhance intercultural awareness and foster intercultural dialogue of their students.
In order to achieve these goals comprehensive methods will be described that can be carried out by teachers together with their students. The methods will be divided into three different parts each with a different learning objective for the students:
Make it visible: exercises to address cultural diversity in the classroom
These exercises can be used to make the students reflect on their own and their class mate’s cultural backgrounds and develop intercultural sensitivity and foster intercultural dialogue.
Simulation games on dealing with cultural differences
These exercises can be used to make students reflect on the way they deal with other cultures and help them to find out which strategies are more constructive and which are less.
Fight racism: Exercises to address exclusion, stereotyping and discrimination
These exercises can make students reflects on the connection between cultural identity and powerful or less powerful positions in society as well as on mechanisms of stereotyping, exclusion and discrimination and help them to develop empathy.
THEORETICAL AND CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND
Part A: Make it visible: cultural diversity in the classroom
Today’s European schools are culturally diverse. In many schools there is a big part of migrant students or students whose parents have migrated. Usually there are also different religious beliefs represented among the students. In addition student’s diversity is reflected by many other aspects: concerning their physical abilities, their financial situation, their family situation etc.
By making this diversity visible and enhancing a respectful way of dealing with these differences can make students perceive this diversity as an enrichment instead of an obstacle.
The activities 1 and 2 make students reflect about central aspects of their cultural identity. Ideally they will experience appreciation for being an individual who is different from the others. It will be the task of the teacher to moderate the exercise in a way differences will be valued.
Part B: Simulation games about dealing with cultural differences
“Simulation games are experiential exercises which, like Alice’s looking glass, challenge assumptions, expand perspectives, and facilitate change. (…) Just as Alice experienced the manipulation of time and space in Wonderland and gained personal insights, players of simulation games gain insight as they turn the present in the possible future. (…) Simulation games provide interactive opportunities to practice new behaviours and experiment with new attitudes and points of view in a nonthreatening non-judgemental environment. They are particularly useful in intercultural training, since in a short time they can stimulate cognitive and affective understanding and broaden participant’s perspectives.” (Sisk 1995 – Simulation Games as training tools. In: Fowler/Mumford – Intercultural Sourcebook: Cross-cultural training methods, S. 81f).
There are many simulation games to be used as a training activity in an intercultural context. One of them is described in Activity 3.
Part C: Fight racism: Exercises to address exclusion, stereotyping and discrimination
Some students never think about potential forms of racism that occur in their everyday lives especially if they are in a privileged societal position. But there are also many students who experience stereotyping, discrimination or feelings of exclusion even in school. Nevertheless these issues are rarely discussed in the classroom. The following exercises are designed to provide a space for reflection on the connection between cultural identity and powerful or less powerful positions in society as well as on mechanisms of stereotyping, exclusion and discrimination. Understanding how these processes are a potential part of the interactions in the own environment and developing empathy towards those that are harmed by stereotyping and discrimination can contribute to reduce their negative impact.
Activity 4 can be used to draw awareness to the phenomenon of stereotype Halloween costumes. Dressing up as a ethnicity, race, or culture that is not your own can be perceived as problematic or racist by people from the culture concerned. This is a controversial issue that can be used to start a complex and multilayer discussion in class.
Activity 5 is an exercise to reflect about minority /majority relationships and can especially be used to develop empathy.
Exercise 6 is an exercise to find out how stereotypes determine the way we perceive people from minority groups. Please find here a detailed description of the exercises:
SUPPORTING MATERIALS AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
Council of Europe (2016): Education pack All different All equal. https://rm.coe.int/1680700aac
European Parliament (2015): Report on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-8-2015-0316_EN.pdf#page=2&zoom=auto,-107,6
Kriz & Nöbauer (2002): Teamkompetenz – Konzepte Trainingsmethoden, Praxis.
Sisk (1995): Simulation Games as training tools. In: Fowler/Mumford – Intercultural Sourcebook: Cross-cultural training methods.
Sivasailam Thiagarajan & Raja Thiagarajan (2006): Barnga- A Simulation Game on Cultural Clashes.
The „Listen“ Project (2019) The LISTEN Manual: https://listen.bupnet.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/LISTEN_IO3_Training_Manual_EN.pdf
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Coordinator – Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci – Italy