Tasks on diversity
Tasks on diversity
Tasks on diversity, representation, inclusion, norm critique
The topic of the teaching material is diversity. The tasks make it fun to get to know the theme with children and young people. The tasks are divided according to working methods, so you can try drawing, poetry, acting, writing, reflection, or creativity. Tasks can be used in primary school, middle school and second grade.
At the beginning there is background information for the teacher and literature tips related to the theme. At the end, you will get information about the DRIN project, which is behind the tasks.
Background information and literature tips
Diversity, representation, inclusion, norm critique
We are all unique individuals. For example, we have varying skills, unique habits, and we all look different as well. At the same time, some of us also have a lot in common with each other. We can speak the same language, be the same gender, enjoy the same foods, have the same hobbies, or read the same books. In other words, backgrounds and preferences can be both unique and shared. This great variation that exists among us is called diversity and it is a strength in our society that the DRIN project highlights.
However, this diversity is not represented enough in children’s literature, even though many different languages, such as Russian, Arabic and Somali, are spoken in Finnish school classes as well. Regardless of what our own background is, each of us has the right to find characters we can relate to in the stories of books, because the characters in the stories help us to feel and understand the world around us.
Through this book list below, you will get suggestions for literature on diversity. The books are needed in some tasks, and they can be read by themselves in the class.
Laura Henry-Allain Mbe: My skin, your skin (Ladybird Books, 2021)
Joanna Ho: Eyes that kiss in the corners (Harper, 2021)
Colin Kaepernick: I color myself different (Scholastic Inc, 2022)
Liisa Moore Ramée: A good kind of trouble (Balzer + Bray, 2020)
Dean Atta: The Black Flamingo (Hodder, 2019)
Li Jian: The magical rooster: a tale in English and Chinese (Translated by Yijin Wert, Better Link Press, 2016)
Katri Tapola: Linnun neljä laulua (Translated by Aya Chalabee, Aviador, 2022)
Christine Pillainayagam: Ellie is brown (Faber, 2022)
Harald Haarmann: Modern Finland (McFarland & Company, 2016)
Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing (Penguin Books, 2017)
Reni Eddo-Lodge: Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race (Bloomsbury Circus, 2017)
Multicultural and multilingual poems based on English
DRIN publication with book recommendations https://www.goethe.de/resources/files/pdf251/publikation-drin-v1.pdf
The German Academy for Childrens’ and Youth Literature booklist https://www.akademie-kjl.de/tagungen/jahrestagung/#iLightbox[gallery_image_1]/0
10 recommended books for different ages
10 facts about global literacy by the Finnish Reading Center
- Imagine the cartoon characters
The following pictures show Trilce García Cosavalente’s characters without speech bubbles in an African refugee camp: https://trilcegarcia.com/illustrating-refugees-desires
What speech bubbles would you write for them? What are they talking about? What are they thinking? What are their names? Where are they going? Use your imagination!
And what would happen in the pictures were they not in the refugee camp? how does the story change?
Draw your own cartoon about people who arrive in Finland. How old are they? what do they look like? why have they come to Finland? and what do they see first in Finland and what do they think about it?
- Study the illustrations of a children’s book
Take a look together at a children’s book that has illustrations. What kind of characters are in the story? What kind of characters can you not find? Can you relate with the characters? You can also reflect upon how culture is visible in the style and color of the illustrations.
A Zine exercise designed by Trilce García Cosavalente. A Zine is a fun and easy way to make a small eight-page presentation booklet about yourself. To start, watch this video in English that explains how to make the booklet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixqr9e3wCxI
Use your unlimited imagination and draw on the next eight pages
1. Cover image
3. What is your greatest strength?
4. What is your greatest weakness?
5. What achievement are you most proud of?
6. How do you think your best friend would describe you?
7. What would you like to tell the world?
8. Free drawing
While you are presenting your Zine booklet, think about how the booklets are different and what do they have in common?
Culture means many different things. It includes big things like behaviors, norms, knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, and customs. A certain time and place are also often associated with a culture. When there are so many big things combined, it’s called multidimensional, and it’s hard for anyone to explain clearly and simply. Fortunately, poetry helps with this! Poetry dresses up bare thoughts and makes us think in a new way and find the essence of experiences.
- Poetry and culture
Read some poetry that is written from different cultural areas. Are the cultures visible in any way in the poems?
What kind of poem would you like to write about culture? How would you describe your culture in a poem? Share your experiences with each other and combine poems! Do the poems together create a story?
- Is culture a patchwork quilt?
As you can see, poems can be made in many different ways, and they can help us visualize one hard-to-grasp, abstract idea. Another imaginative way to strengthen one’s grip on slippery slick ideas is through figures of speech and similes, i.e. metaphors.
There have also been attempts to describe culture through words such as melting pot, salad bowl or patchwork quilt. Why do you think such words are used to describe culture? What other words could you come up with besides these? This task can be done either by talking, writing, or drawing.
- Notes of beautiful words
Now that the linguistic knots have been opened and the thought mills are grinding, do you notice if a certain word has stuck in your mind? Write this word as beautifully as possible on a small piece of paper. You can also write down your favorite word. You can even create more than one note of beautiful words. What do these words say about you?
- A multilingual poem together
Finally, let’s think about linguistic competence. What all languages can you speak? Do you know other languages, even partially? How many languages can you say hello or thank you in?
Now use your comprehensive language skills to create a new free-form poem. Below is an example of how you can make a multilingual rhyming poem together.
1.Write different words in a language other than the language of the classroom on three pieces of paper. Add next to the word what the word means in the common language.
2.Collect the word tags of the class in a hat. Everyone picks up 1–3 words for themselves.
3.Make step-by-step a little poem on a paper, using the words you picked:
4.Rhyme: Come up with a common language word that rhymes with the word you picked up when you read it out loud (initial or final chord). Ask a classmate if you don’t know how to say a word!
5.Rhyme pairs: Write two verses or lines of the poem around the rhyming pairs. One word comes in the first verse and the other in the second, depending on the rhyme either at the beginning or at the end of the verses.
6.Combine the pairs of verses into a poem! You can add words or extra verses in between if you want. You can also come up with a name for the poem.
You can hang the poems on the wall and wonder together how they came to be. Study the poems. How does mixing different languages affect poems? You can also hold a small stage poetry session and read poems aloud!
Examples to support the construction of the poem:
- Rhyming: cat – kevät, Gruß – grön, halla – yalla
Rhyming can take place in the final verse:
- I wish I was a cat, so I could sleep until kevät
Rhyming can take place in the beginning:
- Grön, the greatest color to Gruß
The rhyming can be combined into a poem:
- Once there was a cat
it was caught in talven päivät.
In its nights it felt halla
In its days it dreamt of grassy grön.
Yalla yalla kevät was its Gruß.
When you meet a new person, you meet an individual, not a culture. Even within cultures, there is enormous variation between individuals. None of us is purely a product of one culture. When meeting people from other countries, it is good to remember that we are primarily individuals and only secondarily products of our culture.
Also remember that you can always ask if you don’t know! There is no way we can know about each other in advance. That is why it is important when interacting with other people to ask the person itself about cultural issues. That person is the best expert of the own culture.
- The monologue of an expert
One method for acting is to jump into the role of an expert. Does an admirable expert come to mind? what would this expert talk about in front of an audience? remember that an expert doesn’t have to be a genius, it can also be a master potato cooker! A solo play is called a monologue.
The audience can also guess after the monologue who, or what kind of character, it was.
To have more of a challenge, and perhaps more fun, is if a solo play is performed without words, in which case the play is a pantomime. Then it’s already good if the audience can guess what’s going on in the play in general, but then props can help.
- A miniplay in small groups
If teamwork is more preferable, the play can also be done in small groups. First, think for a moment about what would be a pleasant topic to make a short (approx. 5 minute) play about.
Ideas for a play:
After the earlier poetry performance, is it possible to construct a dialogue where two or more people talk to each other? Other examples of a free-form play could be how do several different cultures meet each other? What kinds of misunderstandings can arise? How do people get along? Why does an individual or group behave the way it does? How can one person’s culture change over time or place?
Tip: New feelings and thoughts can arise in the play, so it’s also worth setting aside time for a discussion after the play.
- Normativity and empowerment essays.
The essay can deal with either normativity or empowerment, or both at the same time because these terms are multidimensional.
A norm refers to informal rules of interaction and expectations for social behavior. Write down examples of situations where norms have appeared in your life. At the same time, think about alternative norms, what you would like to see, how these would arise, and what kind of effects they would have?
Empowerment often means increasing the self-esteem, courage, social activity, and influence of a certain group of people. How can one increase another person’s experience of inner strengthening and balance with their environment? In what ways can this be done at different social levels (e.g. individual, organization and international cooperation).
The recommended length of the essay must be one that suits the age and situation of the writers. The most important thing is not how many pages can be written, but how deeply one can write about the topic.
- Essay on a book
Choose a book that deals with diversity. You can find recommendations for such books at the beginning of these materials. Write an essay based on the chosen book.
Examples for questions to answer in a book essay are:
What is the subject of the book? How does the book approach the subject?
How is the point of view limited? From whose point of view is the matter presented? What other possible perspectives could there be?
How is the subject of the book linked to my own life and everyday life? What kind of feelings did it evoke?
- Other themes for essays or shorter writing assignments
What characters have you identified with in a book or cartoon?
How would you summarize the most important thing of the lesson? How would you put this into one sentence with a justification?
Based on the assignments, a lot of new thoughts might have arisen. To get a better structure for all these colorful and complex thoughts, you could draw the thoughts as a mind map. You can create a mind map by hand with a pen and paper, or digitally, for example here https://app.mindmup.com/map/new/1672760519897
- Three points on diversity
Reflect for a moment on all the discussed issues. You can also study the mind map. Be sure to write notes about your thoughts.
After reflection, you can underline what you think are the three most important things when thinking about diversity. These three most important things can also be shared afterwards in small groups and discussed further.
- The common culture of people
All the same, all different. Culture can be understood either as an element that either unites or separates people: Humanity unites us all, in which case we could think that there is only one culture in the world, the culture of people. On the other hand, we acknowledge that everyone is unique. Thus, we could think that each person has their own unique culture and that there are as many cultures in the world as there are people.
How would you define one culture? You can think about this question silently by yourself or, for example, in groups of three.
Can you come up with other creative ways to deal with diversity? Can you make a meme, song, short video, social media post, or news headline about the topic? How do you best present your experience? How do you convince the listeners of the importance of the matter?
The Finnish Reading Center is also happy to hear experiences and other examples at firstname.lastname@example.org
Behind the tasks: the DRIN project
The background of the DRIN project is Goethe-Institut Finnland’s multicultural expert group, which brings out multi-perspective approaches to children’s literature