How to use storytelling in a strategic partnership between higher education and primary schools: writing for inclusion
From Firenze University Press Journal: Studi sulla Formazione
Mireia Canals-Botines, Docente di letteratura e comunicazione — Universitat de Vic-Central de Catalunya
Angel Raluy Alonso, Docente di didattica della lingua inglese — Universitat de Vic-Central de Catalunya
Creating an inclusive community was a primary goal in the process of European integration from its start and this may be the reason why social inclusion has become one of the eleven priorities for Cohesion Policy (2014–2020) within the Europe 2020 Strategy. Indeed, social inclusion has been a long-term key priority for the European Commission in the belief that social cohesion and education played a paramount role to foster social mobility within an equitable society. More recently, the European Com-mission has launched an initiative called “European Pillar of Social Rights “ (2019–2024) which, among other principles, strongly advocated for anchoring a strong social dimension in education in order to attain equity.In line with these actions, our project “Writing for Inclusion” (WIN) aims to focus not only on rising awareness or changing perceptions to enhance equity but mainly seeks to promote the effective use of digital storytelling as a tool to promote inclusion. In order to mainstream inclusive practices, transnational cooperation among European universities and schools is paramount since it gives the opportunity to act in a problem-related manner that bridges the gap between schools and universities to offer a solution to the existing challenge of setting up a school where all students are treated equally. All in all, this project aims to realize synergies between the different stakeholders involved in the education of young learners since collaboration may the best way to solve the complex issue of social inclusion in education that Europe is currently facing. Thus, a four-country consortium was created: University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia (Uvic-UCC) from Spain, Università di Firenze from Italy (UNIFI), Eötvös-Loránd University (ELTE) from Hungary, and Poltava V.G. Korolenko National Pedagogikal University (PUET) from Ukraine; and four schools: Les Pinediques, from Spain, Isitituto Compresivo Le Cure from Italy, Erzsébetvárosi Két Tanítási Nyelvű Általános Iskola és Szakgimnázium, from Hungary and Poltava Comprehensive school of I-III degree # 18, from Ukraine. With regards to the target groups, the project intends to approach in-service teachers, young learners, and more marginally teacher trainees. According to Savic (2009), teachers are “key factors to developing inclusive culture and practices” and their positive beliefs about the benefit of mainstream education are essential to creating inclusive environments. Thus, many international studies (e.g., O’Gorman & Drudy, 2011) confirm that the factors that may favorably impact on teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion in the classroom are related to being properly trained and having adequate classroom resources. Pupils are also crucial since when children are exposed to inclusion at an early age, they are more likely to accept disabilities in their environment (Rafferty et al., 2001). Nonetheless, this attitude may wane if not specifically supported by school practices and this is why digital storytelling could be a suitable method to increase the motivation of students towards diversity within their school curriculum. Inclusive schools must respond to the needs of their pupils by ensuring appropriate curricula in the belief that diversity should be valued and not “tolerated” or “accepted”. Finally, universities are also relevant stakeholders. According to Crawford and Porter (2004), Higher Education institutions should prepare student teachers for diversity and inclusion in regular classrooms and should also develop ongoing professional development for in-service teachers. Additionally, Slee (2010) has argued that one of the most relevant areas for promoting inclusive practice is pre-service teachers’ understanding of its implementation in classroom practice.
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