Chapter 4- Selected social backgrounds and the specification of the intercultural competences needed
The Italian school system promotes intercultural competences mainly through successful international mobility programmes; in the years, the Ministry has organized itself to offer teachers continuous training
on these issues.
are considered to be part of global citizenship ones, which have recently been recognized as part of the so called “civic education” included in all secondary schools programs.
Despite the importance of developing students’ international dimension through mobility, this approach should be supplemented by other strategies because it has some limitations. First, only a few schools have a specific international vocation; second, only culturally and economically advantaged students can afford international mobility periods; and third, sometimes students themselves have no interest in international mobility. For this reason, we suggest to increase the internationalisation at school
also through hospitality, digital platforms, and development of new international curricula. Moreover, intercultural competences could also be developed by promoting non formal education programs together with other educational stakeholders.
A question that seems relevant is whether the overlapping between the international dimension and the intercultural one is a correct approach. For instance, if students learn that different cultures are only those in other countries, they may not recognise and welcome different cultures in their own country. Therefore, the dilemma may be the recognition of the other with a ‘not in my back yard
’ attitude. Besides, if students tend to interpret internationality with a prevalent culture (after a six-month mobility in a British campus, for example), they may develop bi-cultural sensitivity but their interculturality might be just a superficial illusion.
It would probably be better to concentrate on intercultural competence as the ability to communicate with persons who have different cultural backgrounds, linked with empathy (emotional intelligence) as the ability to presume that each person has a unique cultural background.