Diversity is something that must be embraced and faced with open-mindedness. All of us should feel privileged if we have the opportunity to live in a diverse environment. It's an enormous occasion to grow up in various aspects as an individual (by practicing a different language, getting to know better new cultures, becoming more international, understanding different points of views). This will lead us to have a much more advanced society, more connected, open minded, tolerant and with much less prejudices. In a classroom the importance and the benefits are clearly connected, when working and learning with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, students gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. It also teaches students how to use their own strengths and points of view to contribute in a diverse working environment.
The new edition of the course “Diversity in the classroom: teaching tolerance and overcoming prejudices and discrimination” took place in Palermo from 21/05/2023 to 27/05/2023. The participants came from all across Europe, with Naiara from Agrupamento de Escolas Amadora Oeste in Portugal; Sára from Aranykéz Gimnázium, Technikum és Szakképző Iskola in Hungary; Pilar, Victor and Sheila from IES MARJANA in Spain; and Thea, Mariann, Veerle, Yolanda and Judith from SG de Overlaat in the Netherlands.
Starting this very rich week, we took advantage of our classroom, since here every week we coexist with diversity, welcoming people from different countries. So, by a virtual platform every one of the participants had the chance to share a little bit ineresting features of themselves and their culture.
With this, the door was open for understanding and analyzing the concept of identity. Following our methodology of interactive and practical activities, for example, we tried to challenge their imagination and critical thinking by using concrete objects to under stand what identity is. Then the participants explored their own personal idenity using creativity, focusing both on what everyone can see and on what is visible only after getting to know the person better, like the values, the personal characteristics and so on. In this beginning, we also talked about perceptions, tank to which we saw how something can have extremely different values in another culture. To compare values, we played a game where everybody had to agree or disagree after hearing a statement, as a group they could discuss all the diverse points of views and, most of all, try to under stand the other’s point of view.
The diversity around the planet is what makes our world better, it is what permits us to grow up in a lot of ways as a society. One consequence that diversity brings are the stereotypes. We opened this discussion with a super interesting video where we saw how super stereotyped this world can be for some people, whether they are negative or positive.
Related to this last topic, we saw how it can appear that the concept of privilege is way bigger than we thought. Usually, the first impression that comes to our mind is related to extreme situations (you have a house and food and others don’t even have that); however, we thought in a deeper way and understood that you don’t need to go so far: for example, if you are a white, Christian, heterosexual man, all the struggles that you will face in your life will not be related with your skin colour, religion or sexuality. And we don’t have to feel guilty for this but just be aware of it, in order to use our privilege to make small steps toward a fairere world.
Creating a supportive classroom is a fantastic method to delete the bad stereotypes that can possibly be in the students' heads and mainly create a good atmosphere for diversity. We experienced that with various activities that aimed at fostering membership, empathy and connection.
The last topic we dealt with, that is seen as a common situation in our daily lives but can also appear in the classroom, is conflict. Having said this, it’s important to be aware of how to handle it, how to educate and especially learn from these current situations.
In the end, this week was very rewarding for all of us, because all the participants had great intentions and they had the chance to share their experience related to the topic with the aim of showing how rich diversity can be and how much we can learn from it. Thank you all!
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.