In our opinion, previous activities concerning education about discrimination issues have had two major disadvantages. Firstly, they are sparse, and there is a lack of institutional support for exchanging “good practices” in this area. Secondly, the formats of educational materials on offer seem to under-use contemporary media such as film. Nonetheless, the results of a survey published by IAB Poland (Video on the Internet research report, IAB Poland/IIBR, July 2013, sample size: 6000 Internet users, aged 15+) indicate that videos are the preferred means of communication among Internet users.
In this respect, we recognise the need to prepare video footage and create a database of films depicting the cultures of various minorities. We would also like to devise lesson plans to suggest ways the films can be used in education. The films we make will be posted on our YouTube channel.
We will create:
YouTube videos: short films revealing the culture of minorities and their lives in Poland.
Educational video material consisting of sociological interviews and films showing the lives of six minorities, with sociological commentaries.
An e-book (for teachers, students, public institutions, and NGOs) containing (a) sample lesson and workshop plans for using our video materials and commentaries, and (b) an in-depth analysis of our interviews with minorities’ representatives, demonstrating the broader socio-historical context of the life and problems of minorities.
Anti-discrimination education in Poland
The report we have prepared for you as part of the Tolerance Network project is a description of recent educational activities to combat discrimination in Poland. The report contains details of dozens of projects implemented by non-governmental organisations. We have sorted these activities into thematic project areas:
General tolerance education.
Education to counter hate speech.
Human rights education.
Attention was also focused on activities aimed at reducing prejudice against certain minority groups, such as Jews, Roma, LGBT and women.
This report is not exhaustive, but merely the authors’ description of trends emerging in Polish NGO projects. We have deliberately omitted activities implemented by political parties and organisations to counteract hatred against particular minority groups, thus discriminating against others.
Poland is a country of residence for representatives of numerous minority groups made up of individuals with various distinguishing features, since their national, ethnic and religious backgrounds differ from those of the majority. Nonheteronormative individuals are also regarded as minority groups. Nevertheless, what all these groups have in common is the fact that their members are to some extent different to the majority in society. Incidentally, being perceived as “different” is not solely restricted to representatives of the aforementioned minority groups. Social and cultural categories of diversity are much more widespread, and cover differences in class affiliation, wealth, health and physical condition, age or gender, for example. One might even say that dividing the social world up into one we know, understand or consider our own, and one that is obscure and alien, seems to be natural to us – an integral part of our self-perception.
Nevertheless, the nature of our relationship with “others” is not predetermined, and it can either take the form of affinity or hostility. Even though difference (foreignness) inspires aversion, however, it is also a vital element in forming opinions about similarities (familiarity). While examining the consequences of encountering “otherness”, Elżbieta Czykwin (2008) emphasises that we may either reject and shut it out or, on the contrary, open up to it, allowing us to revise our perceptions of ourselves. Aversion towards “others” is often associated with discrimination against them. This may take forms ranging “(...) from brutal physical aggression – sometimes leading to their total annihilation through propaganda of hatred and verbal attacks intended to violate their dignity and create a hostile or humiliating atmosphere – to various difficulties for their normal functioning in society” (Jasińska-Kania, Łodziński, 2009, 13).
The Tolerance Network Online Anti-Discrimination Platform project aims to develop a toolkit to help given minorities protect themselves more effectively against this type of practices. One of the project’s specific goals is to create educational tools to allow representatives of minorities, and organisations or institutions which support them, to influence a change in attitudes among groups such as students, teachers and officials.