The Power Of Differences


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This presentation was held in 2010 as a part of an Intensive Program in Barcelona. I was asked to give an introduction on diversity.

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  • original title presentation was: “Positivising Differences” I changed that, because: what is negative about differences?
  • We tend to think about identity as if it were a list of features. You either have or do not have (all) the features on the list; you either have or do not have a particular identity. But is that really the case? What if identity is something shifting, something fluid (Z. Bauman)?
  • Differences can be a positive power, can contribute in a positive way in the formation of identity. Identity and difference are two sides of the same coin.
  • Special Needs require Special Education. But thus that need to imply separate schools?
  • Why is it a problem to have religious symbols in public space?
  • Personal identity: your “private” personality (beliefs, family background, character,...) – Professional Identity: Who you are as a professional (your competences as a teacher, a baker, an astronaut) – Insitutional Identity: (a) Who you are as a representative of an institution (you as an representative of your school, your bakery, ESA), (b) the identity of an institution (the tradition of a school, the mission statement of a company)
  • We need new tools to think about identity.
  • What we need to learn teachers is (a) to see identity as “ nomadic ” : something that can change and does change through interaction with others – (b) the importance of “ liminal space ” : the “ gap ” between two identities is the room for creative change within both identities. We need to learn (a) because that will make the idea of change less threatening, and we need to learn (b) because that will help to see differences as a postive and necessary part of identity-formation.
  • The Power Of Differences

    1. 1. Acknowledging the Power of Differences
    2. 3. <ul><li>Different View @ Differences </li></ul>
    3. 4. <ul><li>When we see them as </li></ul><ul><li>a threat </li></ul>
    4. 5. <ul><li>Physical differences </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural differences </li></ul><ul><li>Religious differences </li></ul>
    5. 9. <ul><li>What the other is </li></ul><ul><li>What you are not </li></ul><ul><li>The basis of identity? </li></ul>
    6. 10. <ul><li>Male </li></ul><ul><li>37 years old </li></ul><ul><li>Brown hair </li></ul><ul><li>1 m 83 cm </li></ul><ul><li>Belgian </li></ul><ul><li>Married </li></ul><ul><li>Father of two children </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher </li></ul><ul><li>Likes to read </li></ul><ul><li>Catholic </li></ul>
    7. 13. <ul><li>Debate in Flanders: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inclusive Education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Separate Special Needs Education </li></ul></ul>
    8. 14. <ul><li>Debate in Flanders: </li></ul><ul><li>Religious symbols </li></ul><ul><ul><li>at school </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in public life </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Diversity as a threat for social cohesion? </li></ul>
    9. 15. <ul><li>Differences as an opportunity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to grow </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to become human </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to be yourself </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Differences as a challenge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to grow </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to become human </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to be yourself </li></ul></ul>
    10. 17. <ul><li>Describe your “essential feature” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Workaholic (according to my children) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Explain why this is essential for you </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Want to do it right </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Compare with your neighbour(s) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is your identity questioned by theirs? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How and why? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Short plenum </li></ul>
    11. 18. Research Project Catholic Schools in Flanders
    12. 19. Personal Identity Professional Identity Institutional Identity
    13. 20. <ul><li>Is it possible for teachers </li></ul><ul><li>who do NOT share the same personal identity </li></ul><ul><li>to constitute one constitutional identity, </li></ul><ul><li>or: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we form a coherent identity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>without neglecting diversity? </li></ul></ul>
    14. 21. Professional Identity Institutional Identity Personal Identity