Friday, January 1, 2016

Breaking Down Cultural Barriers with Education

Image courtesy of @dandesignthink & @ASTsupportAAli

Terrorism has increased intolerance and even bigotry. A Sikh man was beaten by two men in Fresno, California last week. The assailants thought he was a Muslim. And a number of Muslim mosques have been vandalized in different parts of the country. 

Some educators are trying to bridge this cultural divide. 

Two new programs that incorporate social media attempt to put together students from different cultures. One is called FaithBoxEd and the other is called CulutreBoxEd. FaithBoxed, founded by Amjad Ali, an English and religion teacher in England, tries to break down cultural barriers and allows students to "interact with each other in ways they never get a chance to do." 

Educators with questions or issues about Islam can tweet them to the Faithboxed hasthag (#faithboxed).  Muslim educators will respond to the query. Eventually, students may be able to tweet questions to the hashtag. Ali explains the process in this short story for UKED Magazine

Ali also founded Cultureboxed. That program pairs two classrooms from different parts of the world. Each class fills a virtual box of cultural items that the other class tries to decipher. Students might share their national flag, or anthem, or national sport. You can read more about the process here. And the short clip below explains the process further.
Face to Faith is another program that attempts to break down barriers  by introducing students from different cultures and faiths.

The organization, which was started by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, offers several different kinds of conferences for students. Multipoint conferences are based on teaching modules. Other modules include topics like the environment, festivals, and storytelling.

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