Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Intercultural “Tracking”: Students Explore Migration Histories

Do different family narratives and migration backgrounds have influence on the historical consciousness of young people? A current project run by Demokratiezentrum Wien (Democracy Centre Vienna) investigates how students in culturally and ethnically diverse classrooms approach history.

Austria, like many European societies, is an immigration country. This fact becomes evident in culturally heterogeneous classrooms, where students with different national and religious backgrounds learn, play, and work together. 16 % of Austrian school children have a mother tongue other than German. In Vienna the percentage is even higher (38 %). But unequal language skills are not the only challenge to intercultural teaching and learning. Due to the diversity of family narratives, migration backgrounds and national historical traditions, for young people dealing with the past is not limited to the national context of Austria anymore.

The project is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research within the initiative “Sparkling Science: Science Linking with School, School Linking with Science”. According to one of the major aims of “Sparkling Science”, the students are highly involved in different working phases throughout the project: As interviewees the students provide insight in their historical consciousness, the relevance of family narratives, and about the historical topics they are interested in. The students even become researchers themselves by conducting interviews with their parents about their origins, their migration background, and their feelings of belonging.

Moreover, together with their teachers, the team of Demokratiezentrum Wien, and the project partner Initiative Minderheiten (Initiative for Minorities), the students work on a touring exhibition on migration and integration in Austria. The exhibition will be opened in summer and then be shown in schools all over the country. At the same time, a “tool kit” for using the exhibition in school lessons will be developed and thereby offering new perspectives for inclusive teaching.

Project Director: Gertraud Diendorfer

For further information please contact: Elisabeth Röhrlich, Demokratiezentrum Wien (Democracy Centre Vienna), Austria