Intercultural events at school
Group 1 – whole school approach
all pupils of the school
parents, associations representing minorities in the community
- Supporting pupils to actively challenge racism and discrimination
- Acknowledging the normality of diversity
During the whole school year – the events should preferably be organised on the occasion of European / International Celebration days, like the European Day of Languages (September 26th), EFIL’s Intercultural Dialogue Day (last Thursday of September), the International Peace Day (September 21st), the International Volunteer Day (December 5th), Europe Day (May 9th), the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (May 21st),…
See UN International days: http://www.un.org/en/sections/observances/international-days/
Teachers run intercultural activities in their classroom during the school year and in set moments of the year, the outcomes of these activities are presented at the intercultural event(s) involving the whole school, parents and community. The activities to be organised by teachers during the year should celebrate diversity and challenge discrimination.
These kinds of activities in the classroom preferably also involve parents who are invited to share their stories, language, fashion, food, music, crafts and other cultural practices. Parents can tell their life story, and their story of migration which can be discussed alongside contemporary stories of migration from other perspectives. It is important to avoid suggestions that all people within a group had similar experiences or similar reasons for migrating to the country.
These activities can be about sharing stories of identity, family and belonging: pupils can listen and interview each other and develop respectful curiosity and appreciation for each other’s lives.
Children from diverse cultural backgrounds can offer their perspectives in geography and history, and other subjects. Current affairs and global news stories can be debated in class.
One activity can be the one of asking pupils to make research on a specific ethnicity and decide together how to represent it.
Another activity can be asking pupils to make signs in multiple languages in the school and classroom.
Questions for teachers to include intercultural learning in their general approach to pupils and teaching
- How would the pupils in my class describe their ethnicity?
- How many native languages are represented in my class?
- What religions are in my class?
- What perspectives have I considered when teaching?
- What images are represented on the classroom’s wall?
- How many parents have I consulted in preparation for teaching?
- Who wrote the books I use? Where are they set? Whose lives do they depict?
- Who contributes most to class discussions? How can I address those who do not contribute?
- Have there been racist incidents or racist bullying in my class or the yard? How have I challenged this?
- What have I done to improve the pupil’s sense of belonging in the class and school?
Questions to review an intercultural event
- Is this a once-off or stand alone celebration or does this event bring together and share the intercultural work planned and in progress?
- How has this event been informed by the relevant policy context related to the promotion of intercultural dialogue (Council of Europe Competences for Democratic Culture (see Intercultural Competences above), EU Paris Declaration on Promoting citizenship, any national initiative in this regard)
- Have we avoided representing diversity as something new and exotic? Is the normality of diversity reflected in this event?
- How has the school’s ethos been represented in the event?
- Has otherness been avoided?
- Have minority groups been involved in the planning process?
- Have single story identities been avoided and have pupils been supported to represent the complexity of their life stories?
- How has school management supported and been involved in the event?
- In what way is this a whole school event?
- How have teachers learned from the event?
RECOMMENDATIONS / TIPS
Avoid tokenism, e.g. put one pupil in the position to represent an entire group: this does not recognize that we have all multiple identities or that within a group there are different stories.
Do not use stereotypes, e.g. talking about Africa as one country.
Engage parents: invite them to the festival and give them an active role.
Provide name tags for everyone attending the festival.
If food is involved in the festival, write name cards for the food and indication whether it is vegetarian, halal, vegan…
If within the teacher’s group there is cultural diversity, teachers from a diverse cultural background than the majority should take a leading role in the planning, given the higher degree of sensitivity to the matters.