- © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Sönke Tollkühn
"Diversity in Schools"
A project for the development of a school culture oriented toward sharing and participation
In mid-February 2012 the Jewish Museum began "Diversity in Schools" together with the German Children and Youth Foundation (Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung, DKJS). The goal of the project, funded by the Mercator foundation, is to foster the inter-cultural opening of schools and a discrimination-free learning environment through a combination of continuing education for teachers and process-focused school counseling.
Given that we live in a society marked by diversity, one of the daily challenges facing schoolteachers is to adjust to their students’ diverse experiences and perspectives and to take them into account in their lessons. The project “Diversity in Schools” has taken on the task of supporting teachers in this and advising them in the establishment of a respectful school environment. To this end, our project team will work with three Berlin schools over the course of two school years. In March, Berlin schools were given the opportunity to apply for participation in the program. In selecting the schools we will work with, we are particularly keen on those with an interest for continuous re-evaluation and re-design in the daily life of students and teachers. In addition to receiving education seminars tailored to their specific needs, the schools taking part in the project will have the opportunity to develop and carry out their own idea of school organization with professional assistance.
Based on the careful observation of individual roles in everyday life at school and a close analysis of the personal and school-specific needs, we will work together with teachers, administration, and students to develop and test pedagogical approaches and materials that help promote a school culture sensitive to its own diversity. Methodological and substantive principles will be introduced to foster respectful interactions, an awareness of discrimination, and individualized learning. In this way, we hope to make a contribution toward more fully realizing the promise of equal opportunity for children and young adults of all backgrounds.
More concretely, over the next two years we will design and carry out a series of teacher seminars on the subjects of competence in diversity, Germany as a culturally diverse society, and textbooks as purveyors of stereotypes, media literacy, and cultural education. Here the Jewish Museum Berlin can introduce its special experience as a museum for the history of a minority. Through debate over historical examples, such as the wave of Jewish immigration to Berlin in the early twentieth century, issues of exclusion and belonging will be raised and applied to present-day circumstances. In another planned seminar, shifts of perspective will be the primary focus. We will examine learning and teaching materials with an eye to stereotypical representations. How are various groups represented? What perspectives are only marginally represented in teaching materials? Using these questions, we will develop approaches that allow different experiences and perspectives to be acknowledged and respected in every aspect of learning and teaching in schools.
The continuing teacher education will be accompanied by continuous exchange among the participating schools. The DKJS will provide on-going support to school administrators and teacher associations in connection with both the planning of school development processes and fostering greater inter-cultural openness. We will thus take the school culture as a whole into account and the project results will eventually be incorporated into everyday school-life and teaching plans.
An advisory board, with members drawn from the City of Berlin’s Department of Education, the Regional Institute for Schools and Media Berlin-Brandenburg, as well as educational scholars, among others, will support the project over the next three years. One function of the advisory board will be to prepare the transfer of knowledge gained through this project to other regions in Germany. Following an academic review of the project, results will be sustainably incorporated into the process of educating teachers countrywide.
The project "Diversity in Schools" is part of new programs on migration and diversity, which in connection with the opening of the museum’s new Academy, will broaden the Jewish Museum’s impact in the realm of education.
Tel.: +49 (0)30 259 93 464