Listen: Priscilla Bryce chats to Laura Bennett about the anti-racism app for students, ‘Kids Together Now’.
An Aussie-made smartphone app is reducing racism in schools, by helping kids and teachers to put themselves in other peoples’ shoes.
The award-winning app, ‘Kids Together Now’, was developed by the anti-racism organisation All Together Now. It’s already been downloaded more than 25,000 times, with 60% of users reporting that they’ve spoken out against racism since playing the app.
In a chat with Hope 103.2, All Together Now managing director Priscilla Bryce said the app was aimed both at students and teachers.
“A study came out saying that about 50 percent of teachers had never had any anti-racism training,” Priscilla said, “so we thought, ‘Why don’t we create an app to both teach children about racism, and give teachers the confidence to speak up when it happens in the classroom’.”
Priscilla said racism was reaching “scary” levels in Australian schools. In fact almost 18% of ethnic children report racial discrimination at school, while more than half of all teachers agree that racism is a problem in the playground.
“Racism tends to manifest in students telling other students that they don’t belong in Australia, calling them names, leaving them out of playing in the playground in groups, and some students get spat on or pushed or hit” said Priscilla. “As an adult in Australia I feel really scared that this is still happening in schools in 2016.”
Helping Children Understand How Racism Feels
The Kids Together Now app is an eight-week program designed to be played in the classroom for 10 minutes each week. It presents children with a series of scenarios based around what children from different ethnic background might experience, describing what exclusion looks like, and asking children to consider how racism would make them feel.
“It gets students to empathise with what their classmates might be feeling and experiencing,” Priscilla said.
The app also provides resources for teachers so they can process each scenario with the students.
“It’s really important for teachers to have the confidence to be able to do that. It can take some debriefing for some students who have never experienced any form of exclusion.”
App Created by Experts in their Fields
One of the app’s creators, Professor of Human Development Melanie Killen, says that children start to adopt biases and stereotypes at the age of 6 to 7, so age 8 to 10 is a key time to help them challenge those stereotypes.
The Kids Together Now app has been produced by a team of academics including Sydney University’s Professor Fiona White, expert in prejudice reduction, and social researcher Dr Naomi Priest from the Australian National University in Canberra.
Students, teachers and parents can access the app and lesson plans at alltogethernow.org.au/app-for-children.