Approaching Multicultural Issues in Education – 11-15 May 2015 – Rob Dawson

Rob1

ITC Training, Prague! What better way to learn about multiculturalism in the classroom than to attend a training course with teachers from Romania, Greece, Croatia and Hungary in the Czech capital. Even a further step the teachers were from various parts of the Czech Republic as well as India. What’s more, the centre is located in a nice quiet area just at the edge, literally, of the wonderful Letna Park (absolutely, the best place in Prague). This is seminal as it is easy to reach the site and the atmosphere of the area is great. Upon entering the first morning it was immediately obvious that the office staff were on the ball and actually at the top of their game. They filed any and all questions from our group with ease. They provided maps, pamphlets, info on the city and cultural events. If you had other questions, they immediately looked into for you. So, from they get go we were set for a useful, exciting and educational set of workshops in a pleasant, friendly and welcoming environment run by more than qualified teachers and staff.
The five day training course funded by the EU within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme covered a wide Rob2range of topics related to dealing with students from cultural backgrounds different from the mainstream of the school. There were discussions on ethical and racial backgrounds, religion was touched upon as well. One unexpected benefit was the section covering how to work with early school leavers, rather ways of preventing early school leaving. As we learned, there are often cultural issues at play. The more we are aware of these issues, the better we can deal with them, intervene, help students stay in school and matriculate. The added attraction of non native speakers of English running our courses really did help us all pay attention more. Several participants’ grasp of English was nearly non-existent and this required all of us to be even more welcoming, open minded and helpful. All the teachers took these difficulties in stride and taught us by example as much as by describing methods, theories etc.
To be honest, it was this leading by example that in the end had the most positive effect on our work. Everybody, more or less, understood the theory of working with students from various cultural backgrounds. We tended to all agree on approaches, in particular acceptance and open mindedness. However, the manner in which teachers and staff handled the lack of English of several participants was what really drove home the concepts they were trying to teach.
In addition to their openness, teachers and staff, altered the course materials and tacked the direction of flow to accommodate linguistic shortcomings of participants. This was the most useful and interesting aspect of the entire five days.
Rob3I came away with even more compassion and empathy for students from different cultural backgrounds and the willingness to help them even more than before the course.

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