Developing an international perspective into the curriculum at Moordown St John’s. Gina Angiolini and Sophie Bennett
Our aims... • To establish if misconceptions existed regarding other cultures. • To challenge stereotypes. • To develop an international learning approach. • To develop a system of peer coaching. • To support an open minded approach to cross cultural studies.
Previous learning Our Year 6 children had: • Participated in a topic about Uganda • Made links with Uganda through a business enterprise project • Participated in a whole school Africa project • Participated in European day
What we did • We wanted to establish if misconceptions existed and give the children an opportunity to realise this for themselves. • We developed a sequence of lessons focussing on developing an understanding of the typical day of a 10 year old in another culture. • We highlighted reflective practice, particularly on acknowledging similarities as well as differences. • We used collaborative learning methods. • We promoted independent research / child initiated research using different mediums (internet, books, personal life experiences, video clips). • Encouraged children and staff with a first hand knowledge of other cultures to share their experiences.
Initial assessment • We chose 5 countries for the children to research as part of our topic - national, European, African and Asian countries. • The countries were Spain, Scotland, Ghana, Italy and Korea. • The children added to a mindmap of each country, writing down what they knew about each one. • They were then asked to summarise the comments from each country with a single sentence. • The results were very interesting!
Ghana In Ghana they have to work long hours and they are very poor. Spain In Spain it is very hot and they use swimming pools to cool down. Italy Italy is famous for its food (pizza) and car companies (Ferrari, Lamborghini and Alfa Romeos). Korea Korea is a very polluted country. Scotland In Scotland they wear kilts and play the bag pipes for entertainment.
The children were then shown some pictures of each country. • They gave some unexpected responses.
From a slide about Scotland Is that Australia? Did the Scottish discover that place? Did the Scottish supply the building materials?
From a slide about Ghana That could be England. Look at all of the cars. Are their houses made out of wood or brick?
Finding similarities • We then talked about finding similarities. • Children initially found this difficult. • In a picture of a Ghana a man is waiting for his house to be built. A builder is seen working on the roof. • The children could spot some similarities – • He has a house • He is a builder • He is waiting for his house to be built. • However when asked what he may be thinking, the children found it difficult to relate and said “He is thinking how lucky he is to have a house” rather than how he wishes his house would hurry up and be ready. • Another child then spotted some blue plastic building materials and assumed that it must be a mosquito net.
Stereotypes. • We then asked the children what a stereotype was. • They responded well to a game which enabled them to recognise that stereotypes may also be made about us eg if we like reading or wear a hoody. • During the topic, children began to realise about the role of the media and how misconceptions can be assumed. They reflected about charity adverts and discussed shock tactics which enabled them to see how they had easily assumed these stereotypes.
Before the topic • The children found it difficult to find similarities between cultures. • They made generalisations about other cultures based on narrow media portrayal. • They found it difficult to relate to the everyday lives of children in the other cultures e.g assuming everyone in Spain is on holiday all the time. • They assumed that they were very knowledgeable about the cultures that we looked at. • They judged everything by appearance.
During the topic • As the topic progressed the children developed an open minded approach to other cultures. • They realised that there were many similarities as well as differences. • They understood the term stereotype. • They recognised that the media manipulates us all. • They stopped making sweeping generalisations.
What we learned • We may have contributed to some of the children’s stereotypes through fundraising days such as Red Nose Day. We have learned to remember to put things into perspective when talking about countries / cultures. • To always focus on similarities as well as differences. • We enjoyed taking part in Peer Coaching. It enabled us to feel confident in what we were doing and helped us to share good practice between colleagues. • Observing each other’s good practice in a supportive way. • Even though the children have participated in topic learning about other cultures, they still held inaccurate existing ideas about them ( had we promoted cultural misunderstanding and stereotypes?) • There is a need to develop international learning across the school.
What we have done • The concept of international learning has been discussed at SLT level and they have reviewed the findings of our pilot work. • Governors have been made aware of the findings of the case study. • We plan to spend an INSET session introducing international learning and integrating it into our curriculum.