A First Milestone for Learn to Change

L2C has offered its very first training at the University College of Southeast Norway in September. The 3-day training focused on Intercultural Competence and Cooperation for students following the International Teacher Education for Primary School Programme (ITEPS).  It addressed some of the most pertinent issues that we face in a globally connected world and explored the opportunities and challenges that diversity brings about.

How do intercultural contexts affect learning? Why do we need democratic schools and cooperative work environments? Is diversity a right, a policy, a choice, or rather a struggle?

As teachers evolve in classrooms today, they are bound to delve into these questions in order to reach for a deeper understanding of how intercultural competence can be developed and assessed in today’s classrooms for better social cohesion and cooperation.

Starting with exploring personal identity, nonverbal cues of communication, labelling, stereotyping and prejudice, activities provided participants with opportunities to reflect on who they are and what they bring to real-life situations. The first day focused on developing understanding of intercultural competence and how this is related to who we are. The activities supported participants to realise that we all come from many different “’places”, as a group and individually. And that we we all have different worldviews.

Values were at the center: we questioned whether and how we actually live the values we claim we hold dear. Participants identified how cooperative learning environments can support learners’ reflection on how values, worldviews, traditions and upbringing orient the way we perceive, judge and evaluate others, in the classroom and in all walks of life. For this, we explored the context of Social media: de-constructing online communication and personal digital footprint to carve out our role as individuals and as future educators to prevent discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, and bullying. We also immersed ourselves in a fairytale to investigate our ethical stances, helping participants question their worldviews and value judgments as a way to develop their intercultural competence.

Finally, participants considered what they can do, as future teachers and learners, to develop and assess their own and their student’s intercultural competence. A debate on number controversial issues further highlighted the diversity within the group and the relevance of intercultural competence and cooperation for education. They were given the opportunity to self and peer assess their own intercultural competence. They envisaged how they could apply the cooperative learning structures and principles they experienced throughout the training and were introduced to a variety of tools that they can use to assess intercultural competence.

The intensity of the training experience created the right conditions for participants to really get to know each other, within a safe context that enabled participants to grow together. The term “eye opener” was used repeatedly in the evaluation. Activities were an “eye opener” on pertinent issues including stereotyping, prejudice and the importance of understanding people, while the conceptual reflection on respect and tolerance provoked many of the participants to re-assess their mission as future teachers. They were supported to move out of their comfort zone, to think and to express their thoughts, feelings, issues and aspirations.

The training both increased and decreased
my understanding!

My teaching will include activities
that will allow students to decentralize.

Learning about other opinions, values and beliefs made me think
and sometimes reconsider my point of view.

This training will be remembered
in the future.

I liked how everyone’s opinion mattered.
There was so much room to have a say!

The stereotype activity opened my eyes as to how we treat others
based on labels and judgement.

If you speak Norwegian, you may also want to check out articles about this training in the local press!


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