The creator of the game demonstrating it to school kids, Source: Ville de Paris / Clement Dorval

Some Paris schools teach anti-racism with a board game

Some Paris schools teach anti-racism with a board game

The creative idea to instil tolerance among the youth was the result of a participatory budget initiative

Can we make teaching and acquiring the values of cultural tolerance and respect for those different from us a fun and inobtrusive activity? The City of Paris thinks that we can. In fact, the idea to create a board game that teaches just that was spurned out of a citizen’s suggestion in the 2019 Participatory Budget proposal drive.

The name of that citizen is Michèle Zivy, a resident of the 16th arrondissement in the French capital. Her suggestion was picked for development after winning the vote in that district and resulted in the creation of an anti-racism game that was freely distributed in the local schools of the arrondissement.

Learning tolerance as you play to win

Ms Zivy spoke to Paris City Hall describing how she came up with the idea: “As I was a delegate in the schools, I realized there is a multitude of nationalities and it is not always easy to manage. Furthermore, children are not often spoken to about issues of racism. So I had the idea of ​​doing it with a game. Racism is often just ignorance of the other. If we don't know it, we are a little afraid of it, so we become aggressive.”

She says that she gathered a multitude of questions and answers on the habits and customs of the five continents. “We were interested in what is common to all children, what they also talk about, such as clothes, food, houses. We completed this with arts and storytelling.”

The way the game works is a classic type of moving pawns across a board (the world) based on the roll of dice. Landing on certain boxes leads to the game master (an adult) asking the children different trivia questions about cultural habits and customs.

After a first test in a leisure centre with CM2 (aged 10-11) students, the game was adapted, because some questions were very difficult to tackle with children of this age. “We added a booklet of clues so that the game remains a game, where you win, and so as not to put the children in a situation of failure, which would not be productive.”



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