Will robi (7, gypsy) be good in school after the reform?

The depth and diversity of stereotypes we have in Europe against each other are one of the greatest obstacles to the economic growth of the continent.

The current system (structure, methodology applied) gives a perfect framework to separation of kids from one another where practices of discrimination have become widespread.

Unfortunately public spheres (politics, education, health, employment) are mostly slow at getting and applying innovation. I think that is especially true in the online world.

The way we educate our children definitely needs a thorough overview and a prompt change. Although reforming the system of education will not only require transforming relevant legislations, curriculum, retraining of teachers and changing habits of schools but also changing habits of politicians and actually of all citizens :slight_smile:

We have a good track record of identifying the differences and thus we tend to develop an identity of being different than others which is many times interpreted as a “bad thing” in Europe. Our history has shifted us towards this approach.

One of the toughest habits I have been coming across as a child as well as a father of three is discrimination in school. The current educational system and the educational methodology used provides a real chance to less than 1% of all Roma/Gypsy children. Extreme right wing thinkers argue it’s for the bad genes Roma/Gypsy (hereinafter referred to as ‘Roma’) have and when it comes to judging Roma than 6 to 8 ppl out of ten would think alike irrespective of political, religious background in all Central and Eastern European states. The same applies to media too.

The very first thing a Roma child is confronted with on the first school day in his/her life is that s/he is different, comes from a criminal group that lies, cheats and is stinky. These are the first attributes associated to our ethnic group. So how enthusiastic will you be with any kind of reform when you get this from school mates and many teachers also contribute to deepening the stereotypes against Roma kids in the class (Roma children sit in the last row in the class, they have a permission to miss out certain classes so they do not disturb the others, Roma children are overrepresented in special schools for physically and mentally disabled children etc.).

So I am definitely FOR changing the educational system but it should be done in a way where stereotypes are challenged and kids are completing projects in groups where they are always asked to join new and new groups.

Just to show you guys how deep stereotypes are, check out this video. THis is ‘Robika’, a 7 year old Roma kid who just got featured in the Hungarian version of the x-factor talent program. In the last couple of days, he’s been receiving a vast number of racist comments from tens of thousands of people across the country. Now you can imagine what this kid may expect to receive from the other pupils when walking in the classroom on his first school day.

P.S. This was posted originally as a reply to this thread http://edgeryders.ppa.coe.int/reality-check/mission_case/changing-education-paradigms#comment-1368 and I decided to repost it as a mission report to increase visibility of the topic. Hope it will work out :slight_smile:

He’s fantastic and as a dancers and community member of a transnational pop cultural scene it’s horrible to read what you write. I will do my best to spread this clip to all the people that will appriciate this little amazing kid.

Also check out our project, I would consider you a so called Stereotypophobe just as me: http://edgeryders.ppa.coe.int/we-mix-culture/mission_case/search-transnational-identities-or-stereotypophobes-around-world-0#comment-1340

Max diversity = no diversity?

My brother (Italian father, Austrian mother) went to an international school in Lyon, France, when he was Robi’s age. The school catered to expat families from different background (Anglo-Americans, Germans, Italians, Russians, Chinese, Japanese and a couple more I don’t remember). It was quite interesting to watch kids bring to school whatever fad the toys and children media companies were pushing in their own countries. The international environment functioned as a filtering device: some stuff which was all the craze, say, In Italy turned out to be completely uninteresting for al of the other kids. Other stuff got enthusiastically picked up by everyone, like Japanese Dragonball Z collectable stickers. The result was that kids tended to befriend people whom they happen to like: everybody was weirdly different, so it was very hard to single out anyone in particular for being “more different”. My brother’s best friends was Chinese, but that was not a big deal because the whole school celebrated Chinese New Year, not just the Chinese.

So, maybe a way that Robi could fit in is for him to be in an environment where there is so much diversity that it is hard to get excited about him being Roma, or anything else. Of course, that’s a high cost solution to your problem - though, with so much internal mobility within the EU and so many mixed nationality marriages, diversity is definitely increasing within European classrooms.

Another possibility is to start out the educational journey online, the “classroom on the wire” argument. If people start to interact through computers and avatars, by the time they get together physically they already have their own identity recognized by others: Robi will be Robi, not “that Roma kid sitting in the second row”. But I don’t know how that might play out at that age.

Collecting initiatives that work

HI Gyula,

thanks for opening the space for a conversation around these topics. I feel very uneasy even discussing them for several reasons I won´t into now ( I posted some as a comment on Decida´s description of her 2Faced1 project).

The problems are out there. I can only speak for myself but I am often at a loss with regards to what contribution can we make towards addressing them in ways that feel non-contrived to me as an individual. Also, I think  expression of hate in any form is a symptom of a whole set of underlying wicked problems. With that said I am a firm believer in the " less yack more hack" school of thought- I rather focus my attentions and energies on initiatives and approaches which seem promising: i.e are visibly producing some good results. Prefereably initatives and approaches that are not expensive or DIY friendly- the less red tape and costs involved, the less centralised they are,  the more attractive they are to me personally.

The first initiative that comes to mind is a Swedish one called friends, I don´t know how effective they are, based on the information on the website (you´ll need to google translate it) the approach seems reasonable for the cultural context. A second is an immersive exercise that Ronald Eissens at the Magenta Foundation told me about called Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes.

I don´t know how effective any of them are and in which contexts…maybe there is a space here worth exploring…what do you think?