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IL TEMA IN DISCUSSIONE

LLP
Diversity and Democracy in Education


Non c’è democrazia senza diversità. La diversità genera la democrazia, la democrazia difende la diversità. Nella prima parte del loro lavoro gli autori introducono e trattano due nuovi concetti tra loro connessi: equal differences e diversimilarity. Contestualmente, illustrano l’equilibrio tra il concetto di di-versity e il suo opposto uni-versity, per chiedersi se non possa essere proprio l’università il tempo e il luogo del lifelong learning in cui si attuano pienamente le equal differences e la diversimilarity. Quindi viene esaminato un tema di primaria importanza: investire nell’educazione, nella diversità e nell’innovazione è investire nella democrazia. Tale investimento restituisce un dividendo inestimabile: una società più equa e giusta. Educare ripaga!
 

“Non c’è democrazia senza diversità. La diversità genera la democrazia, la democrazia difende la diversità”. E’ il concetto centrale su cui si impernia il lavoro di Gianna Prapotnich e Alfredo Mazzocchi, che consiste di due sezioni, entrambe in inglese: la presente pagina web e il paper allegato. Nella prima parte del loro lavoro gli Autori introducono e trattano due nuovi concetti tra loro connessi: “equal differences” e “diversimilarity”. Contestualmente, illustrano l’equilibrio tra il concetto di “di-versity” e il suo opposto “uni-versity”, per chiedersi se non possa essere proprio l’università il tempo e il luogo del lifelong learning in cui si attuano pienamente le “equal differences” e la “diversimilarity”. Quindi viene esaminato un tema di primaria importanza:  “Investire nell’educazione, nella diversità e nell’innovazione è investire nella democrazia. Tale investimento restituisce un dividendo inestimabile: una società più equa e giusta. Educare ripaga.”

Nell’ultima parte gli Autori propongono la formazione di un gruppo di ricerca-azione internazionale sul tema della diversità e la democrazia nell’educazione dei giovani e l’organizzazione di una conferenza finale nel nostro Paese. Parte di questo lavoro è stato oggetto di discussione nel recente Corso di Formazione in servizio GRUNDTVIG  n. 2010-3-IT2-GRU03-18769 tenutosi a Riga dal 16 al 22 gennaio 2011 presso la UNIVERSITY EDUCATIONAL CIRCLE, cui ha preso parte come borsista la Prof.ssa Gianna Prapotnich.


Leggi il paper completo /2011_Eventi/Diversity&Democracy.pdf Diversity and Democracy 

Questo lavoro è stato presentato anche a Torino nel corso di Biennale Democrazia e delle celebrazioni di Italia 150, al seminario Let's Learn to Decide Together... Two Years After.


Europe, maybe more than any other country in the world, is blessed with cultural diversity. Educators are at a crucial time in Europe’s history - a time when national policies concerning cultural diversity can truly affect the stability of Europe - and  schools, colleges and universities should plan accordingly.

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We contend that students who interact with diverse students in classrooms and in the broad school and university environment will be more motivated and better able to participate in a heterogeneous and complex society. The congeniality of democracy and diversity, however, is not self-evident. Neither representational, nor participatory conceptions of democracy deal with the issues raised by multicultural educators, namely the cultural dimensions of citizenship and the central tension of modern social life — the tension between unity and diversity.

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While "di-versity" has a connotation of "division", the act of drawing people together and attempting to unify their myriad cultures (as schools, colleges and universities tend to do) has created a European sense of "uni-versity".  In democracy Diversity  and University  are in balance.

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A word, a destiny. Might university be the time and place in our lifelong learning experience in which di-versity turns into uni-versity, equal differences and diversimilarities increases to their highest and divides (gender divide, digital divide, culture divide, etc.) decreases to their lowest?

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One day we might find a new definition at the entry “university” in future English dictionaries:

University

  1. an institution at the highest level of education where you can study for a degree or do research

          Is there a university in this town?

          Ohio State University

          the University of York

          York University

          (British English) Both their children are at university.

          (British English) He's hoping to go to university next year.

          a university course/degree/lecturer

  1. The time and place of life-long learning in which our dream of equal diversity in education comes true.

(based on the Oxford English Dictionary, on-line edition, 2011)

Europe’s commitment to making school and college access and completion a priority is a huge opportunity for students in the higher education community. It calls us not only to invest in education, but also to invest in equity. Such investments will require the higher education community to ensure that substantial resources - financial resources, human resources, and resources of talent, training, and mentoring, among others - are directed toward historically underrepresented students and the institutions that strive to educate them well. It will also require us to focus strong efforts on creating and sustaining innovation. Investment in education and equity is the first and most essential steppingstone to improving school and college access and success for all students.

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In these challenging times, school and university leaders must recommit themselves to fostering diversity and inclusion in and across our schools, colleges and universities, not only for the benefit of the many who aspire to attend school and college, but also for the benefit of the larger society. Facing the divides, respecting diversity, lifelong learning, and pathways to inclusive excellence are the issues of a multifaceted challenge that will focus on the pragmatic ways in which school, college and university leaders are fostering inclusive learning environments.

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Since 1971 Europe has developed initiatives that bring together school and faculty institutions of both lower and higher learning to provide national leaderships that advances diversity and equity in education, and the best educational practices for an increasingly diverse population. Europe understands diversity and equity as fundamental goals of education and as resources for learning that are valuable for all students, vital to democracy and a democratic workforce and to the global position and wellbeing of Europe and the rest of the world. Europe’s commitment to make excellence inclusive - to bring the benefits of liberal education to all students - is rooted deeply in commitment to a diverse, informed, and civically active society.

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Lifelong learning & lifelong mobility, equal diversity, equal differences, diversimilarities, di-versity v. uni-versity …. But what are we doing in this article? Maybe we are coining new words and expressions. Maybe we are introducing new concepts. Is this democratic?

Once a very famous author of the past wrote in one of his very famous books:

“In aristocracies language must naturally partake of that state of repose in which everything remains. Few new words are coined because few new things are made; and even if new things were made, they would be designated by known words, whose meaning had been determined by tradition.

“The constant agitation that prevails in a democratic community tends unceasingly, on the contrary, to change the character of the language, as it does the aspect of affairs. In the midst of this general stir and competition of minds, many new ideas are formed, old ideas are lost, or reappear, or are subdivided into an infinite variety of minor shades. The consequence is that many words must fall into desuetude, and others must be brought into use. Besides, democratic nations love change for its own sake, and this is seen in their language as much as in their politics. Even when they have no need to change words, they sometimes have the desire. The genius of a democratic people is not only shown by the great number of words they bring into use, but also by the nature of the ideas these new words represent.”

Elsewhere in the same book the same author wrote:

“In aristocratic ages each people as well as each individual is prone to stand separate and aloof from all others. In democratic ages the extreme fluctuations of men and the impatience of their desires keep them perpetually on the move, so that the inhabitants of different countries intermingle, see, listen to, and borrow from each other. It is not only the members of the same community then, who grow more alike; communities themselves are assimilated to one another, and the whole assemblage presents to the eye of the spectator one vast democracy, each citizen of which is a nation. This displays the aspect of mankind for the first time in the broadest light.”

Isn’t this a perfect description of how lifelong mobility and democracy are interwoven?

The author is Alexis de Tocqueville, one of the most outstanding fathers of modern democracy. The book is Democracy in America, appearing in New York in two volumes in 1835 and 1840.

 Théodore Chassériau, Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

di Gianna Prapotnich (gianna.prapotnich@istruzione.it)
e Alfredo Mazzocchi (alfredo.mazzocchi@istruzione.it)