Reflection Tool for Schools

EDUCATING FOR PLURALISM: Reflection Tool for Schools

Living peacefully with diversity is a shared global challenge. As the world becomes more interconnected, the pace of migration increases and levels of inequalities rise, building peaceful and inclusive societies has become ever more urgent. Education is critical to building inclusive societies that are resilient to fear and hate.

Pluralism is an ethic of respect for diversity. In a pluralistic society, the dignity of each person is recognized, and everyone feels they belong.

The Global Centre for Pluralism’s Reflection Tool for Schools is being developed to equip school leaders and educators to identify and address exclusion in their schools.

Schools are incubators for inclusive and equitable societies. The Reflection Tool will empower schools to identify and implement initiatives to become more inclusive, deliberative and active in addressing exclusion of all kinds.

Reflection Tool objective: To assist schools around the world to examine how inclusion and equity currently figure in their existing policies and practices, and determine the actions required to model pluralism in policy and practice, at all levels of the school environment.

A HOLISTIC FRAMEWORK UNIQUE IN ITS APPROACH

Existing measurement tools target specific issues such as bullying, racism and ability. They do not tend to take the whole-school approach needed to create safer and inclusive schools for all students. In addition to taking a holistic approach, consistent with the Centre’s Learning Framework, the Reflection Tool asks questions related to what extent policies, curriculum and teaching incorporate:

• critical and historical thinking,
• digital literacy, and
• respectful dialogue on social and political issues related to diversity and inclusion

The Reflection Tool enables school leaders to look at policy and institutional issues that may inadvertently favour one group over another as well as the more subtle forms of exclusion related to language, history, biases and assumptions about diversity that underlie one-dimensional and/or negative perceptions of and responses to difference.

The Reflection Tool framework measures a holistic mix of institutional and cultural responses to diversity with eight dimensions:

1. Vision, Mission and Strategic Planning
2. School Ethos, Culture and Commitments
3. Hiring, Professional Development and Training
4. Physical Environment and Extra-Curricular Activities
5. Curriculum and Content
6. Pluralism-Specific Skills and Attributes
7. Methodology and Pedagogy
8. Community Engagement

METHODOLOGY: FROM REFLECTION TO ACTION

Step 1: Establish a Steering Committee
Step 2: Contextualize the Reflection Tool
Step 3: Hold consultations
Step 4: Develop an action plan
Step 5: Provide training
Step 6: Monitor implementation
Step 7: Showcase best practices and challenges

The Centre views schools themselves to be the ‘owners’ of this process. Building the reflective capacity of school leaders increases the chances that such a process will have a long-term and sustained impact on the school. Each school is unique, serving a different community, with context-specific challenges and opportunities. Action plans must therefore be developed by and for the school communities, within existing parameters and with a deep understanding of what is possible.

PROJECT TRAJECTORY

In 2020, the Centre is piloting the Reflection Tool in selected schools in Canada and internationally.  To realize this important project, we are seeking a wide range of partners.  We invite expressions of interest to join this effort.

Sections and Sample Questions from the Reflection Tool

Note: The following questions are a selection of the Global Centre for Pluralism’s full-length Reflection Tool which will include approximately 150 questions. The Reflection Tool and guide for implementation is currently being reviewed and will be piloted in selected schools in the fall of 2020.

1. Vision, Mission and Strategic Planning

● To what extent are policies – at international, national or regional levels – that address the inclusion of children with diverse backgrounds and abilities in education discussed and made available?
● To what extent do mission and vision statements emphasize that everyone has the right to feel like they belong as equal and valuable members of the school?

2. School Ethos, Culture and Commitments

● To what extent do senior staff – at the national, district and school levels – provide leadership on inclusion and equity in education?
● To what extent is exclusion understood as a process that can take place in staff rooms, classrooms and playgrounds?

2.2. Inclusion of Staff and Students

● To what extent are students involved in assessing their education and feelings of inclusion in their schools?
● To what extent do staff treat each other with respect regardless of their class or ethnic background?

3. Hiring, Professional Development and Training

● To what extent does the school have (or has a plan to develop) a diverse school staff (women and men with different backgrounds in race, ethnicity, physical ability, religion, language, socio-economic status, etc.)?
● To what extent are there opportunities for all staff, including new staff, to share their knowledge and expertise?

4. Physical Environment and Extra-Curricular Activities

● To what extent is the physical environment inclusive? (e.g. signs in multiple languages, land acknowledgement, art from different cultures, etc.)
● To what extent are efforts made to ensure that all children have equal opportunities to participate in all school activities?

5. Curriculum and Content

● To what extent do curriculum guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education include promoting respect for other nations, racial, ethnic or religious groups and indigenous peoples?
● To what extent does the curriculum allow for different teaching methods, such as discussion and role-play, to meet different learning rates and styles?

6. Pluralism-Specific Skills and Attributes

6.1 Critical and Historical Thinking

● To what extent are children encouraged to be confident critical thinkers?
● To what extent are teachers and students encouraged to consider historical events from multiple perspectives?

6.2 Media and Digital Literacy

● To what extent is media literacy addressed in the curriculum?
● To what extent are students encouraged and equipped to deconstruct messages about difference?

6.3 Dialogue for Respectful Disagreement

● To what extent are teachers trained on how to have discussions on controversial topics?
● To what extent are students encouraged to think critically about their own biases, stereotypes and assumptions?

7. Methodology and Pedagogy

● To what extent can teachers identify culture and gender bias in teaching materials, the school environment, and in their own teaching, and can correct this bias?
● To what extent are children actively involved in their own learning?

8. Community Engagement

● To what extent are the barriers that arise through differences between school and home cultures recognised and addressed?
● To what extent do parents and community groups offer ideas and resources about the implementation of measures to improve inclusion?

To learn more about the Education Program, contact the Education team at [email protected]