The Ca’ Foscari University of Venice was officially invited by the International Society for Historical and Systematic Research on Textbooks and Educational Media (IGSBi) to the Annual Conference of the International Society for Historical and Systematic Research On Textbooks And Educational Media present EU projects related to Religious Education. Never, as in the year of the Fifth Centenary of the Protestant Reformation, addressing the important and often neglected topic “Religion and Educational Media” has proved so relevant. The numerous proposals and the pleasing number of more than 60 participants, were further proofs of the importance of the topic.
Within this context, the IERS – Intercultural Education through Religious Studies project and its successor, the SORAPS – Study of Religions against Prejudice and Stereotypes have been presented and greatly appreciated by the participants. The contributions from the conference will be published in a volume in 2018.
The second SORAPS project meeting took place in Augsburg (Germany) last October, with the participation of all the consortium partners. The summit marked the definitive transition from the IERS to the SORAPS, other than an opportunity to assess all the project activities implemented and the working processes carried out so far, especially those involved with a greater engagement of the partner schools.
The IO1 (Guidelines on Stereotypes and Prejudices on Religions) finalization was also assessed, with the consortium partners committing to bringing it up to date with new insights throughout the life-cycle of the project. The IO2 (i.e. the Teachers Training Course) was also thoroughly discussed, and its curriculum, the topics addressed, and the training materials, schedules and activities to be done by teachers during the course were revised accordingly. The Training Materials for IO2 are currently under realization, while the design of the IO3 (Teachers Training Platform) is now being developed.
Last, but not least, the project meeting also allowed to discuss the consortium’s future strategies for widening our pool of potential stakeholder to whom disseminate SORAPS’s news and products.
The first Intellectual Outputs of SORAPS Project, the document entitled “Guidelines on Prejudices and Stereotypes about Religions” is published and freely downloadable in its first version.
It is a short publication which discusses, on the basis of existent literature and surveys in partner schools, which prejudices and stereotypes regarding religions should be engaged in schools and which training approaches are required to debunk them in a critical and scientifically informed way.
It will serve as guidance for the design of the training materials of the Intellectual Output 2, the Teachers’ Training Course.
Even if is complete in its contents, it is a living document that will be reviewed and updated through the life-cyle of the Project.
Starting from Wednesday 4th, until the Friday 6th, the city of Augsburg will be hosting the partners of SORAPS for their second project meeting.
The end of the first year of the project becomes closer and partners want to discuss about the challenges faced in this period in order to improve the implementation. Beside the management tasks that are constitutive part of project meetings, partners would like, in particular, to deepen the opportunities that this project offers in terms of exploitation, considering the relevance of the topic addressed at this particular historical moment in Europe and worldwide. In fact, stereotypes and prejudices not adequately addressed lead to an increase of intolerance that we are witnessing today. Education and cultural awareness, ofchildren and youth in particular, are the main and the priority channel through which we need to heal and to work on further prevention of this intolerance.That what is SORAPS about!
The analysis of the results of the survey carried out in the pilot schools identified five topics to be addressed through the implementation of peer mentoring activities, which will be developed during the school year 2017-18.
9 school managers, 27 teachers, 51 parents and 113 students participated in the study providing their personal perspectives on positive impact, challenges, teaching strategies and resources relating to their school community and the inclusion of migrant pupils.
Personal Wellbeing / Social Skills
Developing an awareness of our mental, physical and spiritual health is an important life-skill for all people, especially the students in our care. At different times, our students may have positive and negative experiences that have an impact on their self-image, self-esteem and how they feel about the world around them. For students who have a migrant background, these experiences can be even more intense because of changes in family circumstances, living conditions and a degree of ‘culture shock’. It is very important that these students be enabled to attend to their levels of self-esteem, to be aware of their feelings and thoughts and to be able to articulate them where necessary and appropriate.
Language / Communication Skills
Many students of migrant background find themselves in a location where the main language is new to them. This can impact on their personal, social and academic development. It is important to give these students specific targeted opportunities to learn the language of the country in which they now reside at a pace suitable to them. It is also recommended that they be enabled to have additional practise in listening, speaking, reading and writing in their new language.
My Culture, Your Culture
In a school with a migrant student population, there is much opportunity for all students to learn from ‘real people’ with ‘real life experience’ of a culture other than their own. Celebrating such diversity is a positive way of exploring the similarities and differences in many aspects of our cultures from language, literature and music to food, lifestyles and religions. Encouraging students of both native and migrant backgrounds to share their cultures with each other offers them the opportunity to explore their own culture more deeply and give each other a chance to ‘taste the flavour’ of another culture. Such activities promote inclusion and tolerance.
Different countries have different approaches to education. Students of migrant background may be adjusting to different school sizes, class levels, academic subjects, school calendars and timetables, styles of teaching and learning, and school ethos. It is important that the students develop an understanding of these issues and refine their skills in study and time management. They should be enabled to try different study techniques and ways to prepare for exams, both oral and written, and how to present their work well.
Interests and hobbies
A holistic approach to education is important to achieve a healthy balance between the academic and non-academic school experiences of students. For their own personal wellbeing, as well as the forging of new friendships or broadening their social circles, it is recommended that students be given the opportunity to share with others their interests and hobbies and be given the chance to try out new experiences.
The SORAPS Project has premiered on 29 September at the Researcher’s Night of Venice, an event of major importance within the larger European Researchers’ Night initiative promoted by the EU Commission.
This round of events has been especially designed to disseminate the outputs of several research projects to the larger public and at the same time to raise awareness on the very same topics in the same day; within this context, the SORAPS project has been presented as another successful output of the long-lasting involvement of Ca’ Foscari in Religious and Intercultural Education thanks to EU funding, just like the previous IERS project was.
The Researcher’s Night provided a nice opportunity to set out the overall aims of the project, as well as the ways SORAPS finds its place in an increasingly globalized era, where intercultural dialogues seem to be the keys to playing a full role as active European citizens. The findings related to the IO1 (Guidelines on Stereotypes and Prejudices on Religions) were also presented, followed by a discussion by Ca’ Foscari researchers.
The E-EVALINTO project was included to the Booklet of case studies, testimonials and collaborative programs that was created within the framework of the Mediterranean Migration Network (MMN) project. In detail, CARDET is the coordinator of the Mediterranean Migration Network (www.migrationnetwork.org), an initiative that aims to establish a multilateral network with countries in the Mediterranean region. One of the objectives of the MMN is to support the exchange of information and best practices among organizations active in the fields of migration, integration and diversity.
At the symposium took part many prestigious European universities, addressing religious stereotypes and analyzing the way in which education could prevent religious based discrimination, built on stereotypes and prejudices.
In this post, Sofia and Cristina, the young colleagues who made the WYRED video, talk about the ideas behind it.
Adults tend to view “youth” as a homogenous group, talking of the concerns of youth as if all of us shared the same opinions and values. We are, of course, as diverse as adults, though like adults we may share some concerns. One of the key aims in the WYRED project is to reflect and explore this diversity, and to give young people not just one voice, but as many as possible. This was the principal concept we were asked to capture in the WYRED promotional video.
When it comes to advertising an important and innovative project like WYRED, there is a need to make something different, attractive, but at the same time functional. We wanted to create a video with a strong visual meaning, with a different look to other work of this kind, and we decided to use a metaphor to transmit the central idea of WYRED.
Of course the other vital aspect is to attract the attention of the public. The metaphor technique we chose allowed us to capture the meaning of the key idea through the use of an object, in order to make it more concrete and eye-catching, and to ensure the effect of the video as a whole would be more immediate and arresting.
During the pre-production phase, we considered a wide range of objects that might be used to represent the idea of youth metaphorically. The object chosen needed to be attractive to the eye, easily recognisable, with a range of possibilities to play with (shape, colours, movement…) to show the variety and heterogeneity of youth. It also needed to be an object in some way associated with this age group. The balloon has a range of characteristics that make it an appropriate choice. It was really just what we were looking for: it’s attractive from an visual point of view, it has a large range of different forms and colours, and movements, which provided a lot of flexibility, and most important of all, it is an object that is related with youth. Adults don’t use balloons, they no longer see them as fascinating. Not only is it associated with childhood and youth, but it has associations of lightness, play, movement, lightness, vibrancy, colour and so on.
Another very important tool that we used to represent the challenge and solution involved in WYRED is light itself. We played with it as much as possible. During the first 15-20 seconds of the video the balloons are not well lit, but as the voiceover moves to describe the potential of young people they become more and more well-lit until eventually they are freed to float in the sunlight as the WYRED solution is described.
And last but not least, another key element was the voiceover. The images were very important but the tricky part came with the sound. We didn’t want that the weight of the meaning and purpose of the video to be carried only by the images or the sound. There needed to be a balance with voice accompanying image and visa versa. Furthermore, to reinforce the notion of diversity we chose to have a combination of different voices rather than just one, We hope you like it!
My school’s “intercultural profile” is a survey developed by the E-EVALINTO team with the objective to provide the schools interested in dealing with the challenge of the integration of pupils with migrant background, with a tool for the evaluation of the school context as regard to the management of intercultural issues (identification of needs and individuals potentially at risk and development of specific action plans).
It is composed by a set of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to be applied to the different school actors, school managers, counsellors, parents or legal guardians and pupils, because we consider that in order to obtain a multi-perspective picture of the context, it is crucial to identify the “intercultural profile” of an entire school instead of taking isolated assessments oriented to single individuals or groups.
This tool has been applied during the Spring 2017 in 5 pilot schools in the project partners’ countries and the four target groups have been involved by questionnaires or semi-structured interviews depending on the target group to be addressed. The results helped the project teams to design, with the support of the schools, a specific “tailored” training for the teachers, which will be held next November in each school.