Modern societies, especially the European ones, become all the more multicultural due to globalization and its subsequent movement of populations. Traditionally mono-cultural or immigrant-exporting countries, such as Greece, have come to face a multicultural reality that resulted from the influx of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and generally people on the move. In this paper we will examine how school, the miniature of society, can contribute to the harmonious co-existence of local populations and all those people, who are carriers of multiple identities, in a constantly changing society.
School is the most appropriate institution to prepare citizens that recognize and appreciate difference, treat it as a source of wealth, consider it an opportunity for cultural exchange, not a segregating factor that gives rise to phenomena such as racism, nationalism, xenophobia, exclusion and so on. What is the situation in the Greek primary and secondary schools at the turn of the millennium, almost 20 years after the opening of global borders? How have the changes in society affected the balance in the school class? How are minority students treated? Are different students integrated or marginalized within and outside classroom walls? Are teachers properly educated to address and ‘exploit’ cultural diversity? Are students’ families a contributing factor to integration? Is the broader social environment mature enough to accept difference? And on the other hand, are minorities eager to be integrated into the host society? Are they interested in adopting the way of living of the country they chose to reside in? One cannot help wondering if and to what extent majorities are tolerant towards minorities and vice versa. A look into the classroom reality of primary and secondary education schools provides some useful information and interesting answers to the above questions. If not anything else, school is the place where one can be taught the importance of sharing and exchanging knowledge, experience and culture with a view to becoming a mature citizen able to co-exist with all others in the modern globalized world.