Teaching Diversity – Successful Antidiscrimination and Inclusion in Schools
Discrimination is seldom a topic of discussion in schools, despite its relevance to educational policy. Though the presence of discrimination is often nonobvious, its existence is undeniable – during instruction, during breaks, outside of the school setting, and on the internet. A small survey conducted at our school reveals that a student may be discriminated for tabooed reasons: for being gay or lesbian, for living in poverty, or for belonging to a religious minority.
An understanding of “otherness” must be addressed as an essential topic in classroom. Furthermore, the principle of inclusion should be considered more than didactic. It is the key to creating a more respectful and tolerant society.
- The phenomenon of discrimination will be approached. The following questions will be posed and answered: Who is discriminated and why? What can discrimination lead to? How can one stand up against discrimination?
- Students will formulate their own opinions after thorough, thoughtful discussion in which various perspectives are addressed
- The fundamental values of the European Union (tolerance, freedom and plurality) are not supposed to remain empty words but should be made clear with examples from school’s daily routine.
- Students will learn how to work and communicate and how one becomes socially integrated.
Four schools will take part in this project: The coordinating school, GCLS in Ober-Ramstadt (Germany); the 3rd Senior High School in Chania (Greece); the Istituto Russell/Netwon in Scandicci (Italy); the George Cosbuc in Cluj (Romania). 60 students and 15 teachers will be selected to work directly on this project. Selected students will have exhibited a special competence for, interest in, and motivation to approach social problems. Teachers chosen will be those that can best attend to the central topics and offer special insight, as well as those that exhibit a competence especially relevant to the project.
Description of the Activities:
The project will take place over a 22 month period, beginning in September of 2017 and ending in June of 2019. The project is based on 4 central mobility exchanges. Each member school will specialize in its own mobility exchange focusing a specific topic. Each topic is supposed to be intensively prepared and consolidated. To make that possible, at each school a series of activities will be planned and used: inside the school (role-plays related to discrimination, interviews, and presentations) and obviously outside the school (field trips, meetings, workshops).
- We call the first mobility exchange (Ober-Ramstadt, Germany) “Natural Sciences”, involving themes such as: Altruism, social behaviors, and sexual diversity in nature.
- We call the second mobility exchange (Chania, Greece) “History, Politics, and Economics” involving themes such as: Cultural diversity, heritage, and economic challenges/development.
- We call the third mobility exchange (Florence, Italy) “Art and Culture” involving themes such as: Development of the arts, culture as an instrument of integration
- We call the fourth mobility exchange (Cluj, Romania) “Language” involving themes such as: Multi-lingualism, protection of minority languages, and intercultural life.
We expect the following outcomes:
- Students will be conscious of discrimination. They will be able to recognize the risks of a discriminatory society and recognize the value in tolerance, respect, and unity.
- The project will provide the space for a productive exchange of experiences and ideas, from which teachers and students will profit. Materials produced as a result of the project will be made easily accessible.
- Didactic units will be developed and become a part of the teaching curriculum.
- The students will develop essential skills (language, intercultural, communication) essential for university and careers.
- An Office for Diversity Affairs will be established at the school, as well as a “Europe Day”, to take place on the ninth of May.
- A “Diversity Book” will be created to be aware of discrimination and to develop strategies to fight it.
- A fashionable accessory will be planned and realized to symbolize our project and our faith in the European family.
Italian approach to the project:
Our work and activities for the Erasmus + programme were focused on specific goals:
- Develop knowledge of the European Union-its history, aims and institutions
- Reflect on the concepts of stereotypes, prejudice ,diversity and discrimination
- Promote integration, respect and acceptance of diversity and open up the students’ mind-set
- Educate the future European citizens
First of all, we aimed at giving our students an insight into the key-steps leading to the European Union, its aims and political institutions. We examined these aspects in our first lesson; in this the Erasmus+ students also worked out a questionnaire to be distributed to the other students of the school and which would be later used for the celebration of Europe’s Day… Our second goal was based on the topics of diversity, discrimination , integration, and inclusion. Here we intended to get the students acquainted with the concepts of stereotype and prejudice and make them reflect on discrimination and diversity also suggesting ways to overcome prejudice and promote acceptance and respect. This was the main focus of our next lessons (lesson plan on stereotypes) as well as of the whole programme of the Italian mobility.We started with a workshop on stereotypes and prejudice ; this was followed by reading some extracts from books which deal with the issue of discrimination. All this was later discussed ; in particular we tried to put the stress on the idea that diversity is to be seen as an enrichment; in this regard we analysed diversity in different fields- biological and sexual, social, economic, religious, etc.This first session was concluded with a survey on discrimination addressed only to the third-year students of the school; the results were displayed during the German mobility..The various mobilities were fundamental steps in the direction of promoting integration because they offered our students the opportunity to experience directly integration through the contact with boys and girls from different cultural backgrounds, coming from other countries and speaking different languages.