II. The educational approach
The activities in this pack have
been designed to enable you to work on intercultural education
issues from two perspectives: participation and group work.
Taking a participatory approach implies
that young people are not the target of our work, but that
they are the resources we count on. Using this pack implies
working with people rather than working for them. Our main
task and challenge is to encourage people to take control
of their own actions and thereby to empower them.
Group work is an appropriate way for people
to gain a deeper understanding and ownership of their experience,
knowledge, skills and attitudes. In this way the group work
process is the vehicle, which ensures that what each individual
learns will have a social impact beyond the personal.
Intercultural education (more fully described
in Part A) is a social education process through which people
may become more aware of their own culture and of the interdependence
between cultures, including a respect for the difference,
whether this difference is due to culture, religion, ethnic
background, sexual orientation, nationality, social status,
ability or disability. Thus people appreciate their culture
in the context of the wider world in a way that will enable
them to understand, to empathize with and value people who
are different, and to work together to build a better and
more equal world.
Intercultural education involves working
with aspects of human nature such as attitudes, feelings,
perceptions, values and experiences. These aspects can not
be reached solely from an intellectual approach, they require
also an experimental dimension. For example, if we want
to promote young people's solidarity towards immigrants
it is not enough just to give information about their situation
or present statistics and figures. It is necessary that
young people have a far deeper feeling and understanding
that immigration does not happen by accident, but that their
own way of living may force people to immigrate and that
the countries of origin of the immigrants are not poor,
but have been impoverished. Similarly in order to deal with
homophobia or with discrimination towards Roma People (Gypsies
and travellers) rather than giving simple lectures it may
be necessary to give people the opportunity to feel what
it is like being subjected to daily discrimination and prejudice.
This is not to diminish the importance of basic information
which is necessary to counter deeply rooted stereotypes
and prejudice e.g. that most Roma people do not live in
tents and caravans but have a perfectly 'informal' way of
life or that homosexuals have existed in all societies and
cultures throughout history.
It will only be possible for people to
understand the situation if we start working from their
own knowledge, feelings and experience. From this starting
point they will be able to learn to adapt to different cultural
and personal realities and from there go on to acquire new
perceptions and knowledge. Thus we work, not only on the
cognitive or intellectual level, but especially from life
experiences and on the effective or emotional level. At
the same time we should not forget that gaining the values
promoted by intercultural education, solidarity, respect
and empathy is only possible if, at the same time, we help
people develop skills such as cooperation, communication
and critical analysis.
We can think of our educational task as
being in three steps: Think, Feel and Act, we are going
to work with our Heads, Hearts and Hands.
Working with young people
Working on intercultural education
with participative group dynamics presupposes that we base
our work on some fundamental principles:
1. That we start from what people already know, their
opinions and experiences and from this base enable them
to search for, and discover together, new ideas and experiences.
We all have ideas and opinions about the issues and questions
that relate to our daily lives which we gain from our families
and social environment, from our own direct experience;
from what we read; from the information we receive in school,
on TV, radio etc.; from discussions and exchanges of points
of view with other people; and from our own personal reflections.
All these form a kind of filter through which we see 'reality'.
That is why you, as the facilitator of the group, instead
of ignoring it, must start from this reality and use it
as the basis upon which to build new experiences.
2. That we encourage the participation of young people
to contribute to discussions and to learn from each other
as much as possible.
Each of us always has something to learn and something
to teach. Group work reinforces our capacity to learn; it
allows us to explore new ideas and to analyse new information
together and thereby promotes personal development. In addition,
when people actively participate in something, as in this
case, in intercultural education, they have a much stronger
sense of ownership and consequently they commit themselves
3. That we think all the time about how people can translate
their concrete experiences of intercultural education, into
simple but effective actions that demonstrate their refusal
of the processes of marginalisation, discrimination and
Intercultural education does not operate only at the individual
level, it requires working simultaneously the personal and
collective levels. Our task therefore consists of reinforcing
the "practical" dimension of intercultural education
by making sure that young people, through the group, reach
concrete conclusions relevant to their daily lives.
In order to pursue our work with
young people (taking a group work and participative approach)
we count on a major tool: the activities. These are the
resources with which we work to facilitate young people's
ownership of their experience, both intellectual and emotional.
It is important to understand that the activities are not
an end in themselves but the pretext, or the key to the
door to what is really important, a common learning process
based on the exchange of opinions and experiences, the discovery
of new dimensions of reality, the common creation of alternatives
and the awareness of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and
The activities in this pack have been
developed as tools to use within a group learning process.
How you decide to use them will depend on the age, abilities
and interests of the young people in your group and the
space and time you have available but they have been designed
to enable you to develop your programme according to a sequential
G - indicates activities which will
help form and consolidate the group. These activities will
help the creation of a good group atmosphere and reinforce
communication skills and group dynamics. They include icebreakers.
If people do not have good discussion,
active listening and interpersonal skills and if they do
not have an insight into the process and dynamics of group
work (the ability to work with others towards a common goal
in a spirit of mutual respect and co-operation) then they
will find some of the activities, especially those at level
three, hard or even impossible. The activities in this pack
have been developed within the framework of Intercultural
Education, they are based on mutual respect for the individual,
the belief that everyone grows through experience and that
experimental learning is fun, enjoyable, rewarding and positive
and leads to personal and social development. If this is
not clearly understood then difficulties and conflicts may
develop as people are challenged to explore their thoughts,
feelings and emotions about their prejudices, beliefs and
view of the world. Good group work ensures a safe environment
to explore these.
I - indicates activities which will
provide an insight into our images of people from cultures,
countries or social origins different from our own.
It is important to work with these
images because there is a strong link between the images
or stereotypes we have of people and prejudice and discrimination.
Unless we understand where these images come from and learn
to be critical of them we cannot analyse the influence they
have on us and on our view of the world. If we are to be
able to tackle racism and intolerance then the first step
is to recognise these images for what they are - namely
just that - images which often have little to do with reality.
M - indicates activities which will
enable people to discover and analyse the social, economic,
cultural or educational reasons that lie behind situations
of discrimination, refusal, exclusion and marginalisation.
Unless we are able to recognise
the mechanisms that exist which perpetuate exclusion and
discrimination we will never be able to tackle and change
them. It is essential that we have an insight into the vested
interests, power and politics at local, national and global
levels which are the root cause of the conflicts between
people. Few people would choose to leave their homes if
it were not for war, famine, lack of employment opportunities,
political and religious persecution etc. Similarly competition
for housing, jobs, education and health services set people
against one another. We have to ask ourselves why the world
situation is as it is and why it is so hard to reform.
A - indicates activities which develop
awareness about the possibilities for individuals and
groups to act in order to bring about or to pursue social
change based on values of solidarity, respect, acceptance
of 'difference' and free exchange of ideas.
There will have been little point
in people using this pack unless they learn and grow and
start to make changes as a result. Change is seen as an
essential outcome of the activities. Taking action may be
at a personal level, for example being more aware of ourselves
and our view of the world and recognising the importance
of our personal actions. Action can also be things people
do together at local level within their own communities
to support minorities or others who are 'different'. Action
can also be working together for change within organisations
at local, regional, national and international level to
bring about a fairer, tolerant intercultural world.
In English there are phrases like: 'No
one ever made a greater mistake than they who did nothing
because they could only do a little' and 'To walk a mile
you have to take the first step'. Such phrases exist in
all languages and we suggest that you start making a collection
of your own. You will find other ideas to help you start
taking action in the A-Z for the campaign.