Sparking Dialogue on Diversity: A School Workshop Combating Racism and Fostering Courage

Students at reie Waldorfschule Berlin Südost discuss the meaning of “discrimination” with their English teacher
Students discuss the meaning of “discrimination” with their English teacher

In the spirit of fostering dialogue and understanding, we recently held our second workshop of the “Research meets school” project series at Freie Waldorfschule Berlin Südost, coinciding with the school’s “Courage Day”. This day marked the school’s commitment to the “School without Racism – School with Courage” network, an initiative aimed at empowering students to stand against racism, exclusion, and discrimination.

Despite the relatively small number of students with a migration background at the Freie Waldorfschule, the institution is passionately committed to creating a learning environment free from racism – or as they put it, a school “against” racism, because our societies are never free of racism. Collaborating with teacher Jana Blöchle and migration researcher Julia Stier from the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), we engaged with 25 students from the 10th through 12th grades in thoughtful discussions about the interplay of racism, migration, and identity.

Students at Frei Waldorf Schule Berlin Sudöst write down what “integration” means to them

Students write down what “integration” means to them

Our interactive session commenced with a self-reflection exercise where students were asked to describe their identities in three words on a post-it note. Most students focused on personality traits, rather than physical ones. Peers examined each other’s descriptions, pondering the commonalities and differences within their group, leading to a broader conversation about how external perceptions shape our self-image.

We enriched the discussion by presenting videos from our “I Am European: Young migrants share their stories” series. This prompted the students to consider perspectives that were often new to them – ranging from a Vietnamese-Pole in the UK to a Finn in Germany – and recognize that their experiences might differ significantly from those with migration backgrounds or histories.

Dividing into smaller groups, the students delved into topics such as the essence of identity, the impact of discrimination and racism, and the sense of belonging within a community. They tackled questions like what actions can combat discrimination, how to better support migrants, and who ultimately defines one’s belonging—is it society, politics, or something else?

The teacher and Migration Matters/WZB team at the Courage Day workshop at Frei Waldorf Schule Berlin Sudöst

From left to right: Sophia Burton (Migration Matters), Jana Blöchle (Freie Waldorfschule), Julia Stier (WZB)

The level of engagement was palpable as students acknowledged the need for progress in battling discrimination and racism. One reflection from a student encapsulated the sentiment of the day: “Migration is the future. We need more education in schools and between generations.” We hope that our workshop series and videos contribute, even in a small way, to this journey of raising awareness, empathy, and sparking nuanced dialogue.

Through these workshops, we aim to continue the conversation and expand students’ understanding of these critical social issues. Supported by the Friends of the WZB (Social Science Center Berlin) and the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (LPB), our “Research meets school – new perspectives on migration and integration” series is dedicated to building a more informed and inclusive future. If you’re interested in holding a workshop for your students, reach out to us at team[at]

All Migration Matters videos are freely available on YouTube and can be used for non-commercial purposes such as school workshops, trainings, conferences, and similar events.