Reader of cultural diversity in body, gender, health in schools

Do cultural differences have an impact on the daily routine of primary schools? Does diversity appear in the life of children, teachers and parents? And if so, what are its signs? To answer these questions we have launched different workshops in Spain, Italy and Austria inviting parents and teachers. We also realized more than twenty interviews with teachers and parents in France and Cyprus. We asked about experiences where they were surprised by the behavior of other people, where they felt they could not make sense of the other.

This is not an easy exercise: Nowadays we rarely allow ourselves to be surprised by the behavior of another, mainly for fear of being judged as the one who makes judgments or who is xenophobic etc. However there’s no wrong in being surprised. In fact, to pay attention to these daily surprises can be very enriching for the process of learning about others - and even more for learning about ourselves. What is surprising – or even shocking at times - shows what we value.

Through the stories that we collected, we identified several sensitive areas around the body, good manners (It is polite to touch the meat by hand or to burp?), relationship to the body (Could a father take a bath with his son without any bad intentions?) or gender (Are boys allowed to play with dolls without risking to lose their masculine identity?) and many others. If you’d like to learn more, please read our collection of critical incidents.

Methodology
We used the method of case analysis developed by French social psychologist Margalit Cohen-Emerique, which is widely used by practitioners in the social / education fields in France. Key pillars of the methodology:
a) It focuses on concrete experiences lived by professionals, thus helps to avoid preconceptions
b) It acknowledges both sides in a conflict and engages in exploring both to uncover the cultural values, norms, expectations that explain the actions, feelings of the two parties
c) It aims at highlighting ways to solve the conflict situations

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