Approved by the European Union Erasmus+ program “Using behavior Analysis preventing and addressing racism in primary schools”.
Project total duration 36 months (01/-9/2019 – 31/08/2022).
The consortium consists of 6 partners from 4 countries (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Norway ) – 2 Universities (Panteion University, Greece, OSLOMET – STORBYUNIVERSITETET, Norway ), 1 public entity branch of the Greek Ministry of Education (Western Attica Administrative Office) and 3 NGO’s (OXFAM ITALIA ONLUS, Italy, ACTION AID HELLAS ASTIKI MI KERDOSKOPIKI ETAIRIA, Greece, 4CHANGE COOPERATIVA CULTURAL E DE SOLIDARIEDADE SOCIAL CRL, Portugal).
Panteion University is the leading organization and the Laboratory of Experimental and Applied Behavior Analysis, a government chartered unit of the Department of Psychology of the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences is the coordinator of the project.
In most European Member States racist violence in the form of verbal abuse or graffiti or harassment or vandalism or physical assault or even murder remains common and persistent. This is also reflected in education as according to evidence, racism in class is a persistent issue, in particular in areas where majority and minority social groups co-exist. Existing interventions to prevent and address racism in schools are based on punishment, which is ineffective according to experimental and applied behavior analysis. Specifically:
1. When intervention programs are implemented the racist behavior has already been established since the shaping of the behavior starts even before our birth.
2. The measures taken against racist violence and racist discourse are not consistent and are not based on scientific laws of behavior. They are «tricks» which are employed randomly because we think that it is logical to work or because they have worked in other cases of undesired behaviors. The usefulness of our approach in overcoming these drawbacks is the fact that all kinds of behaviors can be explained, investigated, predicted and altered based on the same principles.
3. According to our approach punishment is partly the cause of racism and it might intensify it. Our approach is based on shaping desirable behavior by employing techniques which are based on the principle of reinforcement.
According to FRA (2019), despite a number of legal instruments that offer protection against racism and related forms of intolerance, ethnic and religious minorities across the EU continue to face racism, discrimination, verbal and physical violence, and exclusion. Racism fuels social exclusion as it creates division across social groups, promoting intolerance, lack of understanding and hatred. Educators are being confronted with racism in school classes, without possessing the required experience and expertise in order to handle such incidents effectively. In view of the above, the proposed project:
• promotes social inclusion as it addresses the challenge of racism in schools through an integrated way involving the key actors of the school community, namely the educators, students and their parents. In this way, it seeks to address the lack of ownership of shared EU values of acceptance, human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. By promoting those values within school communities and thus in local societies, it aims to promote social inclusion while combating discrimination of the Roma and migrants / refugees. In particular, it aims to improve school children’s knowledge and awareness related to our behavior and its function with a focus on racist behavior. Racist violence is a defense against the fear of the unknown. All children have the right to understand the causes of their feeling and actions in order to avoid exhibiting racist behavior or to deal with it when it is exhibited against them. «Victims» and «offenders» have the right to live together without fearing each other. And this can become feasible with the knowledge and understanding of the causes of their behavior because people are not afraid of what they know. In order to promote social inclusion through an integrated way, the project aims to improve parents’ understanding of basic principles of behavior for the increase of collaboration and solidarity so as to decrease racist violence and racist discourse related to differences.
• Supports educators as it enables them to access research outcomes on behavioral analysis through an easy and practical way, which can benefit their day-to-day practice. Providing them with a reference behavioral analysis framework, placed within intercultural pedagogies, they will be able to address cultural and linguistic diversity in class through an effective way. Specifically, the project aims to improve teachers’ skills in monitoring and detecting risk factors of school racist violence and racist discourse by improving collaboration in the classroom as well as with parents and other external stakeholders.
• Strengthens the profiles of the teaching profession by enhancing the teacher’s professional development through their training in understanding and applying behavioral analysis and related principles. Despite the fact that teachers are the “architects” in students formation of identity, the public educational authorities do not focus on their training, provision of tools and resources to deal with contemporary issues in classes due to lack of action plans and economic resources.
The proposed project places educators at its center, considering them as key actors in dealing with racism in class due to the long term effects that their reactions can have to the children’s identity and behavior. It thus aims to provide teachers with quality learning content and innovative didactically materials to teach principles of behavior effectively as an independent school subject. The proposed school subject will contain evidence – based information about the different types of behavior, about feeling, thoughts, actions, punishment, escape, avoidance, attack, self control, discrimination and their causes, always placed within the framework of racism.
Finally, educational and training material will be developed for students and parents to be taught the basic principles of behavior analysis through various techniques with the use of videos – video priming and modeling – for all educational levels. Teachers will be trained to teach their students and their parents by making use of the developed material.