Connecting Theory To Practice: An in-depth look at the topics covered in the RadioZilla Project

Regent Park Focus recently completed a collaborative project with RadioZilla along with Facing History and students from the Toronto District School Board to create insightful, intelligent and meaningful radio documentaries.

Facing History and Ourselves' mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds to examine the contemporary perspective of youth on race, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more informed and humane society. They use the power that teachers have in the classroom to connect young people to Canada's multicultural identity and how to be an active citizen in a democracy.

The student groups examined a wide range of topics in their radio documentaries including: religion, upstanders vs. bystanders and life as a refugee. Religious freedom and expression can be a contentious subject within school environments and is often an issue that youth face as they mature and develop into young adulthood. The group from Radiozilla discussed how public schools should be an accepting and enriching environment for students of all faiths, but it often a taboo topic of conversation.  The TDSB's current policy on religious freedom is:

"to follow the legal requirement that religious exercises and indoctrination shall not occur in its schools. However, there are requests for religious accommodation that can be accommodated. For example, students are not required to attend school on a religious holy day. They are also accommodated with respect to religious dress requirements."

The students spoke of commonalities of popular religions including the connected belief of promoting kindness amongst one another and caring for the poor. They touched on recent and popularized incidents of minority religious groups who take the scripture to the extreme and do not have a modern perspective on religion. It is often these groups that promote hurtful stereotypes and cause tension amongst students in public schools.

Most people are familiar with the term Bystander. It often refers to someone who is not taking part, not involved, or chooses to avoid a particular situation. Upstander is a word, recently created and based on its root word of "upstanding"; a person who stands up for something, as contrasted to a Bystander who remains inactive. The group from RadioZilla was able to clearly clarify and provide core examples of these two principles. At the centre of acting as a Upstander is to inspire participation. To promote interaction and leading an active lifestyle within your surroundings, will lead to engagement and ultimately increase activism.

The last group of RadioZilla entitled their project "The Life and Times of A Canadian Refugee".  As the title indicates, the students discussed the vastly diverse and ever changing Canadian demographic and how refugees play an integral role in it. Canada is often referred to as a Cultural Mosaic versus the American, Melting Pot ideology.  The mosaic is based on our belief that Canada as a whole becomes stronger by having immigrants bring with them their cultural diversity for all Canadians to learn from. The cultural melting pot, tells immigrants that no matter who they have been in the past, upon landing on American shores, they are Americans and are expected to adopt and follow the American way. The students creating the project first learned about Canada's policies on immigration in their Canadian Geography class. Canada has changed a lot since first accepting refugees and immigrants and the process can be extremely complicated and filled with bureaucratic red tape. The group ended on the importance of being aware about your country's policies in order to make informed opinions about immigration and Canada's identity.

Source:http://www.tdsb.on.ca/Portals/0/HighSchool/docs/Guidelines%20and%20Procedures%20for%20Religious%20Accommodations.pdf




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