Intercultural and interreligious Dialogue Eglantine Kientz
Introduction • My project consists of a set of 10 classes intended for high school students in France. The students are around 15 (Grade 10). I am still working on them and I will add more details for the final report. • The aim of the class is to give students an introduction to intercultural communication and some tools in order to improve the quality of interpersonal communication in an often multicultural school environment. • I decided to integrate this set of classes in the already existing “Citizenship Education”. • Before going into the actual classes, I will first motivate my choice and explain why such an approach could be appropriate.
Assimilation VersusAssimilation versus Integration Assimilation Integration • The first idea was to assimilate the newcomers to the Republican values based on citizenship. • However, the border between the public spherebased on Republican values and the private spherewhere a cultural and religious views can be expressed is blurred. • Political assimilation remains abstract: everybody has a culture and some people are sometimes discriminated because of their culture. • Today, integration, has replace assimilation as a desired outcome of multiculturalism. • Individuals can keep some cultural features and practice their religion. • Nevertheless, since in France secularism and universalism are still strongly promoted, in the public sphere, including school, integration is still difficult to implement in practice.
Citizenship Education • In France, today: citizenship education mirrors the values mentioned previously concerning “national identity” and the desired outcome for multiculturalism, which sways between assimilation and integration. • In the 10th grade, the main themes of citizenship education are: citizenship and civility, citizenship and work, citizenship and family, and citizenship and integration.
Cultural Tensions at School • 8 % of the population in France are foreigners but many more have foreign origin. • Concerning religion 65 % of the population is Catholic (only 5 % of them are regularly practitioners), 6 % Muslims, 25% do not have a religion. • Ethnic statistics are forbidden. • Because of the principle of secularism, religion or history of religions is not taught in public schools. • No “pluralist” approach in school. • However, students with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds meet in school which result sometimes in tensions and misunderstanding between different groups.
Adolescent Identity Formation • Adolescents are chosen as a target group since they experience often an identity formation process: torn between self assertion and identification with a group. • This is especially true for children with an immigrant background who experience often a different cultural environment at home and in school.
Module Dialogue between Cultures and religions • Since “Citizenship and Integration” is part of grade 10th curricula for “Citizenship Education”, the introduction of the set of classes “Dialogue Between Cultures and religions” is particularly appropriated. • The key idea of this set of classes is to raise awareness among students about cultural and religious diversity and to understand some features of particular religions and cultures. • In order to increase cultural awareness and understanding, the course consists of an association conceptual tools and practical exercises, inspired by “A Peace Corpse Classroom Guide To Cross-Cultural Understanding”, which I would try to adapt to the French context. • Each lesson lasts 1 hour.
Conclusion • Even if the unity of the country is prioritized in all aspects of the French public life, school is actually the place on which the success of integration policy depends. • Avoiding to address the cultural and religious identification issues, may actually reinforce them in a conflictual perspective. • Thanks to the introduction of intercultural communication in schools, they can be perceived groups identification can be perceived in an integrative manner in the broader framework of society. • By learning to communicate with students from other cultural background, they can socialize beyond their cultural community and learn how to both appreciate difference and what they have in common.