Nowadays, schools and educational programs are welcoming a wide variety of people whose socio-cultural backgrounds are very diverse. To help students adjusting to a new cultural environment, on the one hand, and to model critical and open minds valuing and celebrating diversity rather than rejecting it, on the other, is one of the biggest challenges for teachers.
How can we promote and celebrate cultural diversity in the classroom, transforming a multicultural classroom into a classroom that is inclusive of all diversities?
To answer this question, 10 teachers coming from Spain, Germany, Croatia, Norway and Austria met from 14/11/2021 to 20/11/2021 to take part in the course “Intercultural learning and cultural diversity in the classroom”. They all shared a mutual need and desire to improve their intercultural skills and to enrich their toolbox to shape an inclusive classroom.
The course started with acknowledging the importance of reflecting on the meaning of words. The participant altogether tried to build an understanding of what “intercultural learning” means to them and explored the differences between “multicultural”, “cross-cultural” and “intercultural” to become more attentive in describing an interpreting the interaction of different cultures.
Participants engaged then in practical activities and reflection exercises to build a stronger understanding of the vicious cycle of stereotypes. It was a chance for them to reflect on real cases they experience at school every day, whereby the reiteration of stereotypes leads to prejudices and discrimination generating a vicious cycle that strengthens the stereotype itself. As put in a inspiration TED Talk we saw - “Show a people as one thing — as only one thing — over and over again, and that is what they become.
In the last thematic area of reflection, participants reflected on the importance to foster respect, awareness, emapthy and membership in their classes as desired outcomes of a inclusive classroom. To do so the group engaged in challenging and engaging simulations activities. We learned, while having fun, that behind the ambuguity and misunderstanding that may arise in cross-cultural communication, we can find the key to ackowledge the complexity of “intercultural communication”. The activities can be proposed in the class to make students questioning assumptions about what they consider to be “the norm”, while embracing the willingness to find connections and common grounds of understanding and respect among different cultures.
As part of the learning process and the (inter) cultural offer of the course, participants had the chance to meet a representative of a local association in Bologna dealing with intercultural projects. They were thus given the chance to see Bologna from another perspective, making them even more eager and curious to put the knowledge gained in classroom into action while discovering the city and interacting with our locals. Not only they discovered hidden places but they recorded their discoveries in a Padlet, enriching a collection of local experiences perceived through mutliple glasses! ;)
More info on the course “Intercultural learning and cultural diversity in the classroom” at this link: https://www.erasmustrainingcourses.com/diversity-and-intercultural-learning-in-the-classroom.html