Educational Approaches in

Inclusion Youth work

Summary

A new approach in Inclusion Youth work

Inclusion youth work requires well planned educational and methodological approaches to develop not only a comprehension of new knowledge and skills but especially an open, democratic and critical development of attitudes of respect towards dignity and diversity.

This thematic chapter introduces the methodological approaches used in the inclusion activities tested by, for and with young migrants and refugees.

Responding to the diversity of contexts and groups, practitioners are invited to take these elements into consideration when using and adapting inclusion youth work activities.

Index

Creating a favourable learning environment

Adaptation to the educational contexts: informal, formal and non-formal

Materials and techniques to support the learning process

The Experiential Learning Spiral

Designing an educational programme

Introduction

Inclusion youth work requires well planned educational and methodological approaches to develop not only a comprehension of new knowledge and skills but especially an open, democratic and critical development of attitudes of respect towards dignity and diversity.

This thematic chapter introduces the methodological approaches used in the inclusion activities tested by, for and with young migrants and refugees.

Responding to the diversity of contexts and groups, practitioners are invited to take these elements into consideration when using and adapting inclusion youth work activities.

A number of publications and courses have been developed so far proposing a variety of learning approaches and topics of analysis. There is a need of adapted resources that can provide a common terminology and shared methodologies for the construction of a community of values through an educational perspective.

This is precisely the main challenge and at the same time the main objective of the pedagogical approach proposed in this website.

Content

Creating a favourable learning environment.

The key condition for all pedagogical approaches in formal or non-formal education is a favourable environment, in which the educator/learner relationship is not one of subordination but of partnership through an agreement accepted by all parties. And beyond this, all components, whether physical or intangible, must promote learning.

Space set-up – the environment is appropriate to the learning needs and features displays flip-charts, posters and other materials and tools relevant to the content of the training.

Comfort – educators should take time to arrange seating to encourage interaction between group members and make all presentations visible to all. Therefore activities should carefully be planned, for instance morning is more appropriate for learning and more active/moving sessions in the afternoon.

Atmosphere – An atmosphere that promotes learning is one in which the working group agreement is established collectively in order to allow harmonious interaction, and it is visible and respected by all learners as well as the facilitator or moderator.

Opinions are respected and mistakes are taken as a part of the learning process.

Humour and enjoyment are part of the learning process

Participation is encouraged and all members are involved in discussions and debates.

Participation – is the most important condition because participation is the essence of active citizenship. Accordingly, we must work to ensure the respect of the various conditions it requires dynamism and action

Competences are enhanced when the learner is able to apply them to new problems or situations. The learner must be able to find general patterns (concepts, principles, rules) and apply them to a variety of new tasks and challenges.

Horizontality is necessary to establish better relationships between educators and learners and recognise their role in a mutual learning process. Classrooms can reflect these new, more horizontal relationships by:

setting an horizontal organisation of the physical space

working on small groups in a circle with spaces between the different groups,

ensuring heterogeneity within the groups in terms of age, competence, gender, geographical and ethnic origin and group mobility

considering the educator as a human companion and a symbol of proximity,

facilitating regular changes in the spokesperson of the group so that everyone participates,

encouraging debate within smaller groups and between larger groups, collectively elaborating a group agreement to be able to work together respectfully.

Ownership of the educational space by the learner is a function of the movement, the organisation, the activity as well as the heterogeneity and dynamism of the group. It is recommended that the learners are involved in the organisation of the educational space and allowed to personalise it with their own touches such as decorative elements, colours, cleaning, maintenance

Motivation is essential. People cannot learn if they are not motivated, interested or curious to develop competences. There are several sources of motivation: common welfare, expectations, of success, change of status and pleasure in acquiring new knowledge. The more the learning process has a direct and immediate outcome, the more it is motivating.

While designing educational activities, educators can keep in mind the model of the “three C’s for active participation”. A correct balance of this three components will enhance the engagement of learners.

Connection: the proposed learning activity has a link with the reality, hopes, expectations,… of the learner.

Challenge: the activity represents a challenge for the learner.

Capacity: the challenge is accordingly balanced with the capacity of the learner to implement the task. Too demanding activities may de-motivate the learner as it is beyond their capacity.

For promoting active participation educators should propose an activity balanced in the frames of this triangle. Notice though, that these three elements may be very personal. It means that while designing an activity educators may engage a majority of the group in active participation while few learners may remain disengaged. Play with different roles and tasks’ division to ensure the inclusion of everybody.

Adaptation to the educational contexts: Informal, formal and non-formal

Educators should take into account the diversity and complementarity of learning methods, users and target audiences and provides resources that can be adapted to different educational contexts. Being the limits among them often fuzzy, we can identify three main learning approaches.

Informal learning is neither structured nor planned and does not lead to the acquisition of diplomas. Each individual acquires live competences from his/her living environment all along the life span. This way of learning provides general competences and, above all, knowledge, skills and attitudes for the own development in the social, cultural and personal sphere.

The agents are: family, friends, media, films, and songs, everything that in general we name as the culture of a community. Learning happens involuntarily and non-intentionally and the learner is often not conscious that is happening. It has as a main benefit the socialisation, but as well may have no so positive consequences as the acquisition of stereotypes and prejudices.

Formal education it is planned and structured and often enacted within a formal institutional framework (schools, universities etc.). It has a designed curriculum and it is structured in terms of objectives and time. It is intentional and leads to the acquisition of diplomas. It develops around the official curriculum and includes formal programmes provided by educational institutions.

The agents are: preschool, primary, secondary, university teachers and professors; specialised educators; school staff and professional training centres. The target audience includes students, scholars and teachers.

Non-formal education is planned, structured, intentional and based on clear objectives in a set time and space. Non-formal education methodological approaches are based on the voluntary engagement and promoting the active participation of the learner. Despite there is not an official curriculum, it is an organised process with educational objectives based on involving the individual and the group learning within a collective approach. The content is learner-centred based on the needs of learners and promoting the development of competences including knowledge, skills and attitudes. Despite does not lead to the acquisition of diplomas, it should be recognised by certificates or attestations.

The agents are: specialised educators, facilitators, moderators, trainers, companions etc., as well as school and university teachers. The target audience includes everybody and can be implemented in different settings. Therefore, an educator can use non-formal education methodologies in a formal education setting such schools or universities.

Educational materials and techniques to support the learning process

Educational materials are only a mean and not an end in themselves. In order not to hinder the learning process, they must be correctly chosen and well adapted to the context.

Recommended materials are those directly related to the context of learning such as ethnic, religious and cultural maps; Movies and documentaries; Texts; Newspaper articles; Photographs and slides; Comparison tables; Songs; PowerPoint presentations; International and regional conventions and all national and international legal texts.

As the name indicates, “Activity” implies that the learner is “Active” and is in “Action” involving physical and intellectual engagement. Action, activity, participation and dynamism are essential and even crucial, not only in the educational process but also in the whole civic attitude.

Some training techniques worth taking into consideration:

Icebreaking consists of activities to facilitate mutual knowledge among the participants, to create good conditions for teamwork, to establish positive relationships and especially to encourage participation.

Brainstorming is a technique of collective problem solving and thinking of new ways for the development of activities.

Visual mapping is a technique for the visual organisation of thoughts, associations and relationships that helps to acquire and retain information, develop concepts, transmit knowledge and solve problems.

Role-playing games and/or simulations are tools promoting empathy and exchange of ideas and opinions while taking a different position than their own.

When using visual aids in any of the above, the rule to be respected is “the fewer words the better”. Use graphics and increase the impact by using colours.

By making use of these methodical approaches, the educators supports the participation and involvement of the learner, therefore fostering their competences development.

This is particularly true with regard to the modification of the participants’ attitudes, which is the ultimate goal on gender equality education, when action transforms information into behaviour.

The Experiential Learning Spiral

Many of the compiled activities are based on the principles of the experiential learning methodological approaches.

“Experiental” is not “experimental”, it proposes not to experiment with participants, but to generate learning processes from experience where participants are the main leaders of their own learning process, aiming at gaining a sense of belonging towards the content and outcomes.

Experiential learning methodology supports learner’s development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values (competences) in a safe environment that is both challenging and engaging. It implies taking responsibility for their own learning, experiential learning enhances participation, self-reliance and self-confidence. Learners are proposed a joint common experience, and are challenged to observe, reflect, question and draw conclusions that can be used in further experiences in diverse context.

As an adaptation from the cycle proposed by David Kolb, we propose a development towards an experiential learning spiral, were the perpendicular axis represents the development of the learning process. The more experiential learning cycles we complete, the more open and developed the spiral circles became and more our learning process develops.

Experiencing

The activities based on the Experiential Learning spiral are based on the concept of learning through experience. Participants already arrive with a set of lived experiences that could be used as starting point in the introductory exercises, in that case we would start directly reporting about those individual previous experiences (Reporting stage).

However it may be interesting to implement activities that propose a common joint experience for all the group. These are very enriching because as they make participants aware of the multiple learning outcomes that can appear from a same situation.

But experiential learning is not only about experience, it is not learning by doing only. Experiential Learning needs to report, reflect and conceptualise before applying this learning generating a new experience. For that reason is essential that in the activities proposed we don’t remain only on the action but we go through the following steps.

Reporting

On this second stage of the spiral, educators encourage learners to express and verbalise their emotions and reactions that happened during the experiential part. Without adequate implementation and enough time to an activity is at best just a game, a period of fun that can be quickly forgotten. At worst, it can reinforce negative attitudes and stereotypes, mislead or confuse learners, or even arouse and not deal with painful emotions. If you do not have time for a thorough debriefing, do not run an activity.

Reporting generally done during the debriefing using questions such as: “Describe your feeling in one word” “How was this activity for you?”, “How did you feel during this experience?” or “What happened during this game?” Such open-ended questions invite a wide range of personal opinions in a non-judgemental context.

On situations working with learners that have less verbal competences, or in activities that have been emotionally very strong, the Reporting stage can be done through other ways rather than speech, for instance letting time for introspection and then sharing in pairs or small groups, using creativity and artistic expressions.

Reflecting

On the third stage of the Experiential Learning spiral, educators moves towards exploring why the activity happened in that way. Learners are invited to reflect on the inner and outer reasons that led them and their colleagues in reacting in a certain way, and to explore how this had an influence in their feelings. On this stage we are on the transition from the experience of the activity towards its conceptual implications in the learners life.

This is generally done during the debriefing using questions such as:

“Have you personally experienced something like this in your life?” or “Do you know someone like that?”

Conceptualising

On this stage of the spiral, the educator is supporting learners to “bridge” the experience of the activity to the ‘real world’ in general and especially to their everyday life and community. This stage should be specially directed towards developing critical thinking and promoting the exchange of opinions and learning outcomes among participants. Educators should be aware about the fact that the same learning experience may derive different learning outcomes and this should help enriching the learning process. Is therefore important to encourage in all stages the participation and dialogue among learners.

Applying

This stage is identified as “Ideas for Follow up”. Taking action is not only a logical outcome of the learning process, but also a significant means of reinforcing new knowledge, skills and attitudes (competences) which form the basis for the next round of the spiral. It is also a key element in developing active citizenship in a democracy where individuals and communities can make a difference.

Experiencing…again

At this stage learners should be better equipped to go through a new experience that will be more meaningful than the initial one as we have already gone through a complete learning process. Experiencing implies an increase in willingness to take action that might be individual and/or collective. Whatever its level and type,the action that learner undertakes should be voluntary and self-directed. The facilitator can encourage and assist learners to find an appropriate action to achieve their goals. However, the motivation to take action must come from learners themselves. The educator plays a crucial role in stimulating learners to think through their experiences and especially to relate their concerns to intercultural citizenship.

With the implementation of a new experience, learners start a new learning cycle contributing to their competences development.

Designing an educational programme

When planning an inclusive educational activity it is relevant to design a programme flow that facilitates the engagement of participants in the learning process.

Following the cycle of experiential learning as a flow we propose to consider at least some key steps in the development of the educational activities:

Introductions and group building

Sharing previous experiences

Creating new joint experiences

Conceptualising (bring reflection on experiences back to learners’ reality)

Planning action (follow up back in learners’ reality)

Evaluating

Introductions and group building

In every activity consider a space to introduce the background of the course. This space should help participants to get a clear idea of the objectives, the programme and the methodological approach of the educational activity. It is important to visualise as well the expectations of the participants towards the event and their potential contributions to the programme development.

Group building is an essential part of any activity on intercultural dialogue. Several of the activities may support this step that should contribute at creating a safe environment where everybody feels confident to express his/her opinion, and in parallel, setting the ground agreement to support the group’s work within this safe space.

Sharing previous experiences

When coming to an educational activity, participants arrive with many experiences that may be used as a basis to start the work. Often people never had the chance to reflect on them. The educational activity may be a good opportunity to reconsider them from different perspectives.

Creating new joint experiences

An educational activity offers the unique opportunity to generate new and collective experiences from where to extract learning reflections that may be shared through a collective approach. Some of the educational activities in this portal propose experiential learning approaches.

Conceptualising (bring reflection on experiences to reality)

The same proposed activities in this portal that are based on experiential learning, include a debriefing based on the conceptualisation of the outcomes. In addition consider addressing the “hot issues” in the participants’ communities from the gender equality education perspective.

Planning action in our reality

It is important to consider what concrete steps and actions can be undertaken by participants with their newly develop competences. These are suggestions and ideas to further develop the learning process through other learning exercises but as well to take action in the context of the participant after the activity itself.

Evaluating:

Sometimes neglected, evaluating a learning process is an essential part in any of the activities proposed. Evaluation may be undertaken by all stakeholders of the project such as organisers, partners, facilitators, participants.

Regarding the evaluation by participants the suggestions is to conduct continuous evaluations where participants can reflect, share and express the main learning achievements of the day/session. It will allow facilitators to fine-tune the programme and participants to get aware of the learning process, achievements and needs.

On the other hand, it is strongly recommended to have a “Final evaluation” to assess the achievements and potential impact the activity had.

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