Launch of You, Me and Diversity by Dr. Anne Dolan
You, Me and Diversity: Picturebooks for teaching development and intercultural education by Dr. Anne Dolan was launched in Mary Immaculate College on May 22nd 2014. This book explores how picturebooks can be used in primary schools to inspire, educate and encourage children to care about the world. It describes how carefully selected picturebooks can introduce complex global issues such as social justice and sustainability to children in ways they can understand.
Speaking at the launch Prof Michael A Hayes, President of MIC said
“This book demonstrates how children’s literature can be used as a resource which promotes critical thinking, intercultural learning and action based projects in line with contemporary thinking in development and intercultural education”.
Launching the book Professor Paul Conway, UL said:
“Anne Dolan’s important, thoughtful, expansive and resourceful book helps us to understand picturebooks and their use in teaching about development and intercultural education, and thereby retrieve and re-configure the relationship between pictures and text and its potential in educating for a more sustainable planet”.
Continuing he said;
“Every school should have a copy of this book - both as a resource for individual teachers but also as the basis for teams of teachers to develop their use of picturebooks”.
You, Me and Diversity provides a simple framework or planning tool for teachers based on three concepts Respect, Understanding and Action. This framework is supported by an extensive list of picturebooks categorized according to children’s stage of development. The picturebooks listed feature development and intercultural themes such as climate change, migration and social justice, and range from the recent earthquake in Haiti to the struggle for civil rights in the United States of America.
One such picturebook The Flower (written by John Light and illustrated by Lisa Evans) is a beautiful book about sustainability and the natural environment. The Flower depicts a boy moving from a colourless dreary existence to a world of nature after discovering how to plant seeds. This picturebook was the inspiration behind the recent successful production of Bláth in the Lime Tree Theatre by Branar, Mary Immaculate College’s Theatre Artist in Residence.
In this publication Dr. Dolan critiques a selection of the books she identifies and advises on how to use them in the classroom.
“A quiet revolution has been occurring in the world of picturebooks. They engage the minds of children as well as their hearts. The most challenging picturebooks make children think in new ways. This book was written as a resource for primary and student teachers. Through the methodological approaches proposed, children will be able to engage with complex global issues such as climate change, culture and bullying through picturebooks which are works of art in their own right” according to Dr. Dolan.
Additional comments on the book’s merits include one from the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, T.D. who said;
“This useful book is not just for teachers of culturally diverse classes but will help all teachers promote understanding of different people and perspectives.”
Anne Looney, Chief Executive with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) had this to say about the publication;
“One of the first things a child learns is how to distinguish – light from shade, sound from silence, mother from everyone else – all such differentiation is first and foremost a sensory experience. Anne Dolan’s work on picturebooks recalls this earliest experience of diversity as a simple feature of the environment. She shows, with lots of examples, how the skilled use of picturebooks can both normalise and problematise diversity and development for children”.
You, Me and Diversity is based on research funded by Irish Aid through the DICE (Development and Intercultural Education) project. DICE is a collaborative project between Irish Aid and all Colleges of Education in the Republic of Ireland. It aims to equip student teachers with the necessary values, ideas, skills and capacities to integrate development education and intercultural education across all relevant areas of the Primary School Curriculum.
Speaking at the launch Siobhan Sleeman, DICE Project Coordinator said;
"The DICE Project warmly welcomes the launch of this unique and practical resource for teacher educators, which opens our eyes to the wealth of diverse and quality storybooks that bring global justice themes into the classroom, in a child-centred way"
Dr. Anne Dolan is a lecturer with the Department of Learning, Society and Religious Education at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland where she teaches methodology courses in primary geography. After working as a primary teacher for a number of years Anne worked in development studies in Ireland and abroad. She spent two years in Lesotho with the Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO) working in the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) as a lecturer in development studies. Anne has also conducted research and consultancy for several non-governmental organisations in Ireland. Current research interests include development education, primary geography, participatory approaches to education and children’s concepts of place. Her research for this publication supports her lifelong commitment to development and intercultural education. You, Me and Diversity is the culmination of three years of research and was partly inspired by the Department of Education and Skills’, Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life: The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy Among Children and Young People 2011-2012.
You, Me and Diversity is currently available from O Mahony’s book shop, Limerick or online from Amazon and the Book Depository.
Pictued at the launch of You, Me and Diversity were Dr. Anne Dolan and Prof. Paul Conway
Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of MIC, pictured with Dr. Anne Dolan