The 7th edition of the Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange focused on the topic ‘The intercultural training of teachers: what, when, how?’ and took place in Colle val D’Elsa (Italy) on 3-5 November, hosted by Fondazione Intercultura, in cooperation with EFIL and AFS Intercultural Programs. The event gathered 60 people among practitioners, researchers and policy makers such as the European Commission (Ana-Maria Stan) and the Council of Europe (Joseph Huber) and, as usual, there was a great atmosphere made by the willingness to learn and share in order to advance on the mission of promoting intercultural learning further. Here you can read the full programme and list of participants.
The key note speech was held by Ken Cusher (Ket-State University, USA), who presented an overview of teacher training on intercultural competences and two key elements were the fact that teachers are a homogeneous population (predominant ethnicity in a country, female) and this does not encourage the presence of diverse perspectives at school, and that according to some studies, pupils are more interculturally competent than their teachers. In the following two days, meaningful presentations of researchers and practitioners enriched the discussions.
The main outcome of the Forum was that intercultural learning need to encompass all subjects and all levels of education (from pre-school to high school) and it should be a component of teachers’ education both in initial and in-service training. Also, participants concluded that the best way to gain intercultural competences is through in-person trainings based on experiential learning methods, bringing learners from practice to theory and building on emotions, personal stories, biographies etc. Any training of this kind should also include field work, namely intercultural experience made through mobility or by encountering a different environment at local level. Teachers, when including Intercultural Learning in their teaching methods, should be role models, foster reflection, include competences and emotions of pupils (learner-centred approach), and be empowered as change agent in the faculty/school. Teachers should be able to count on a community of peers dedicating time to research and cooperation on the topic, striving together for implementing new methods and pedagogies and explore the complexity of diversity. Finally, formative assessment was confirmed as the successful method in the case of intercultural competences, since it trigger reflection and transformation. Questions related to the long term impact on trainings on intercultural competences and certification/recognition processes were touched upon.
EFIL will continue the work started at the Forum thanks to the Erasmus+ project ‘Intercultural Learning of pupils and teachers’ and will hopefully be able to advance practice and research in this specific field.
As usual, the proceedings of the Forum will be available in the first half of the following year. In the meantime, preparations have already started for the 8th edition in Colle Val d’Elsa, which will build on the previously mentioned outcomes and tackle the topic of secondary school teachers’ training on intercultural learning more practically. Save the date for 2-4 November 2017!
Gratitude goes to Fondazione Intercultura, the preparatory team and the group of experts that keeps coming to the Forum every year: all of this makes this event possible and so unique.
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