As teachers and education staff, we always aim for our students to be successful and have the right knowledge, skills, and attitudes to find their best place in the society we live in. Our modern society is extremely diversified as well as multicultural, promoting diversity and tolerance in the classroom has become a crucial goal for teachers, schools, and adult education. Building emphatic and open-minded characters can make a real impact on learners and for the whole of society.
The new edition of the course “Diversity in the classroom: teaching tolerance and overcoming prejudices and discrimination” took place in Tenerife from 22/05/2023 to 28/05/2023. The participants came from all across Europe, with Veronika and Zuzana from Zakladni skola Bernarda Bolzana obecne prospesna spolecnost in Czech. Coming from Lithuania, Natalija teaching at Siauliai Salduve progymnasium. From Centro Formativo Provinciale G. Zanardelli in Italy, we had two participants, Mariagrazia and Donata. And last but not least, five participants, Maja, Suzana, Kamelija, Ornela, and Maja from OOU Goce Delcev - Centar, Skopje in North Macedonia.
The first key step of the course was to explore the concept of identity. Teachers were engaged in a very practical and visual activity to experience the expression of their own identity. Their task was to draw their portraits. Half part of the portrait had to represent the visible appearance while the other half was all about their deep personal characteristics and values. After that, we discussed how our identity and what comes with this concept may influence how one perceives the world and others.
We also faced key challenges and concerns in acknowledging and promoting cultural diversity. A TED talk helped us to reflect on the importance of asking “Where are you local” instead of “Where are you from” because what makes us and our students who we are is not our country but our whole culture: indeed our identity is being developed on various and interconnected levels.
It is a well-known fact that we cannot immerse ourselves in the concept of diversity without mentioning the notion of stereotypes. We discussed the cause of their existence and their negative and positive impact, how we form stereotypes, and where they lead us. We implemented the storytelling technique to see how stereotypes evolve into judgments and discrimination.
Moreover, we touched on a really sensitive topic: awareness and respect. The glasses through which we perceive the world are a product of our identity so the reality is different depending on which glasses we are wearing. We did a lot of activities and simulations connected with critical thinking in order to understand how our values affect the culture and vice versa. And also how to respect multiple views of one another once we have acknowledged our different points of view.
The part of the course dedicated to membership and inclusion helped us to recognize how it feels to be excluded and how difficult it is to include others in our dynamics. The geese exercise with its leadership styles perfectly matched this aim.
Finally, our last point was empathy. We dug into feelings and emotions, fostering teachers to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Being aware of our emotions is crucial but it’s important as well to train ourselves and the students to express them.
After all, it was a bright week full of new knowledge, practice, sharing, deep conversations and thoughts, ideas, and emotions.
Discover more about this course here.
Welcome to the ELA Blog. Here you will find articles and photos of our courses and have a look at the topics addressed during the week in Bologna, Palermo and Tenerife. You will also have the chance to take a peek at our projects and check out what we have been up to.