Challenging perceptions and stereotypes
August 1, 2011
| by lisibo
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One of the aspects of our Comenius Regio project that I have particularly enjoyed and that has given me great pleasure is the change in perceptions about being ‘foreign’ and by extension different.
Although pupils at WCPS are bright, and have had some contact with children in Spain previously, many still thought that every town in Spain was near a beach, that it was always hot, and that everyone steak and chips whilst speaking English. Their idea of a Spanish person was a lady with dark hair wearing a sevillanas dress or Lionel Messi (who isn’t Spanish!)
As one of the strands of the project was Intercultural Understanding, challenging and changing these perceptions has been key to the success of the project.
As pupils have met teachers from Barcelona in person, and children from Els Pins via Skype, and asked them questions, many things have dawned on them – for example,we all wear similar clothes, our food isn’t so different although we eat at different times and that we have many interests in common like sport and the environment. It’s also been noted that, whilst they do speak English quite well, people in Spain speak Spanish , but people in Barcelona also speak Catalan.
Now that we’re more aware about Spain- and India through Connecting Classrooms, being ‘different’ has become cool and there are several pupils who would never have ‘owned up’ to having another first language who are now wanting to share.
There’s always further to go of course and whilst this infographic is deliberately provocative, how many of the ‘perceptions’ can be identified as not just being held by Americans?
If we were to draw a similar map based on our perceptions, what would it look like?
Might be interesting to ask learners what they know and think, and then set about challenging the accuracy of their perceptions.