Bridge building week in primary schools
People are born open-minded and free from prejudice, but already in primary school, children begin to ask questions about the unfamiliar. If we want to ensure understanding between population groups, it is essential that we start encouraging dialogue with and between children about what it means to be different as early as primary school.
The Tryg Foundation has supported the Bridge Builders Association in developing a method that has been used to train 600 pupils to be the bridge builders of the future by strengthening their ability to engage in dialogue and reflect on fear and ‘the others’. During the Bridge Building Week, the students learnt about how dialogue can give them improved understanding, relationships, and insight into the things we talk about and the people we talk to. Students from different schools met together along with a dialogue corps; an experience that has broadened their horizons.
On this page, you will find all the relevant teaching material for starting your own Bridge Building Week at your school.
We hope that the material we have developed will allow you to quickly prepare bridge building and dialogue lessons with the aim of raising pupils’ awareness of the fact that freedom for all demands that differences are tolerated.
In the methods catalogue, you can read more about the aim of bridge builders, as well as how the overall and specific learning objectives are implemented. In addition, you will find guidelines for organising your lessons, the pedagogical considerations behind the choice of topics and exercises, and reflections on the role of the teacher in bridge building. Finally, there is also a detailed description of the content of an actual Bridge Building Week including suggestions for timetabling.
Theme: Democracy and disputes
The first day consists of an introduction to fundamental constitutional and human rights, bridge building and democracy. This provides the overall framework for the rest of the week and gives you the opportunity to discuss, among other things, the advantages connected with freedom to be different and how dialogue can be used to understand disagreements.
The teaching material includes specific exercises that will give your students practical training in how to engage in dialogue.
Theme: Language that opens and closes
The aim of this module is to strengthen your students’ awareness of how language can be actively used to reduce or increase the distance between people and to give them a range of techniques they can use to identify such use.
Theme: Prejudices and understanding
On Day 2, the concepts of prejudice, pre-understandings, outsiders, insiders, the majority, the minority and norms are introduced. This will give you the opportunity to discuss, among other things, how prejudice emerges and what can be done to prevent it. In addition, you will take a closer look at the role our pre-understandings play when we meet people and how conversation can build bridges.
The teaching material includes dialogue exercises, which will help your students reflect on their own prejudices.
Theme: Dialogue and communication
Day 3 will give your students an insight into how our preconceptions and inner images affect the way we communicate. The module teaches the pupils that dialogue and conversation can help them better understand and relate to other’s ways of thinking, interpretations and inner images, as well as their own.
The teaching material includes dialogue exercises that will make the pupils more aware of their own inner images.
Theme: Conflicts and solutions
Day 4 focuses on the norms that exist within society and groups. This will give you the opportunity to discuss, among other things, how having different norms can affect the way you solve problems. Making societal norms explicit helps us to understand what leads to prejudice and discrimination.
The exercises and discussions that are included in the teaching material highlight and raise awareness of the different norms and encourage the pupils to reflect on how norms shape and constrain us.
Theme: Meeting ‘the others’
On day 5, the pupils visit ‘the others’. They may go to a school where the mix of pupils is different, or visit religious, political or voluntary institutions. There will be opportunities to organise suitable rehearsal activities, be inspired by the catalogue of exercises or invite a dialogue corps from the list. See under ‘timetable example’ in the methods catalogue.
Here you can read more about the specific Bridge Building Week exercises, which strengthen the students’ ability to engage in dialogue and manage fear and conflicts connected with ‘the unfamiliar’. Through exercises, the pupils will learn how to use tools that will help them make conscious choices about relationships, while highlighting prejudice against other people’s religion, language, culture, ethnicity, sexual identity, attitudes and boundaries.
Bridge building game
The purpose of the game is to promote democratic dialogue between the players and encourage conversations that do not demonise and are not prejudiced, but instead are critical and constructive. If you are interested in buying the bridge building game, you can do so by pressing the button below: