Pluralism Reflection Tool for Schools

Helping Education Leaders Identify and Address Exclusion

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.

Our Pluralism Reflection Tool for Schools (the Reflection Tool) is being developed 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 Culture and Commitments
  3. Hiring, Professional Development and Training
  4. Physical Spaces and Activities
  5. Curriculum and Content
  6. Methodology and Pedagogy / Teacher Preparedness
  7. Community Engagement
  8. Pluralism-Specific Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes

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: Identify Resources and Tools
Step 6: Implement Action Plan
Step 7: Share and Learn from Each Other

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 2021, the Centre will pilot 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 Too

Note: The following questions are a selection of the Global Centre for Pluralism’s full-length Reflection Tool which will include approximately 130 questions. The Reflection Tool and guide for implementation will be piloted in selected schools in 2021.

1. Vision, Mission and Strategic Planning

  • What more can we do to ensure that policies (international, national or regional) that address the inclusion of children with diverse backgrounds and abilities are discussed in the school and made available to administrators and teachers/staff?
  • What more can we do to ensure that the school’s mission/vision statements emphasize that everyone has the right to feel like they belong as equal and valuable members of the school?

2.1 Inclusion in School Culture

  • What more can we do to ensure that all members of the school community (teachers, staff, students, parents/carers) take responsibility for making the school more inclusive?
  • What more can we do to ensure that exclusion is understood to take place not only in learning spaces but also on playgrounds and in the cafeteria, lunch/dining and staff rooms?

2.2. Inclusion of Staff and Students

  • What more can we do to ensure that students are involved in assessing their feelings of inclusion in their schools?
  • What more can we do to ensure that staff treat each other with respect, irrespective of any differences (e.g., gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, religion, class, ethnic background or political affiliation)?

3. Hiring, Professional Development and Training

  • What more can we do to ensure that the school has (or has a plan to develop) a diverse school staff (women and men, and individuals with non-binary gender identities, and with different races, ethnicities, physical abilities, religions, languages, socio-economic statuses, etc.)?
  • What more can we do to ensure that the composition of leadership/management, teaching and non-teaching staff reflect the communities that are present in the school?

4. Physical Spaces & Activities

  • What more can we do to ensure that the school environment is visually inclusive (e.g., signs in multiple languages, including those spoken by the school community, land acknowledgements, art from different cultures, etc.)?
  • What more can we do to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to participate in all school activities (e.g., children from disadvantaged families are given the same opportunity to join afterschool activities that require a financial contribution)?

5. Curriculum and Content

  • What more can we do to ensure that the curriculum frameworks and guidelines (e.g., those provided by the Ministry of Education or other external bodies) include promoting respect for different racial, ethnic, linguistic or religious groups and Indigenous Peoples?
  • the curriculum promotes knowledge about one’s own and others’ diverse identities as well as attitudes of respect and recognition?

6. Methodology & Pedagogy / Teacher Preparedness

  • What more can we do to ensure that teachers can identify culture and gender bias in teaching materials, the school environment and in their own teaching, and can they correct this bias?
  • What more can we do to ensure that students are encouraged to bring their own cultural or historic knowledge into the classroom?

7. Community Engagement

  • What more can we do to ensure that the differences (religion, language, socio-economic, etc.) between school and home cultures are recognized and addressed sensitively?
  • What more can we do to ensure that the school actively seeks out and acts on feedback from parents/carers on how to improve inclusion?

8. Pluralism-Specific Skills and Attributes

8.1 Critical and Historical Thinking

  • What more can we do to ensure that students are encouraged to question and think critically about the dominant historical narratives in their society?
  • What more can we do to ensure that teachers and students are encouraged to consider historical events from multiple perspectives?

8.2 Media and Digital Literacy

  • What more can we do to ensure that critical media and digital literacy are addressed/integrated into the school curriculum?
  • What more can we do to ensure that students are encouraged to deconstruct media representations of diversity (including who is included/excluded in different stories)?

8.3 Dialogue for Respectful Disagreement

  • What more can we do to ensure that teachers are confident in supporting students to discuss controversial topics in productive and respectful ways?
  • What more can we do to that staff, teachers and students are encouraged to think critically about their own biases, stereotypes and assumptions?

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