If we are to develop a more intercultural sensibility to the creating and using of public space then it would surely help to nurture the skills as early as possible, such as in primary school.
The Escuela Pública Amara Berri, in San Sebastian which has come up with its own method of teaching (described as “edu-communication”) inspired by the pedagogue Loli Arnaut. It is practically-based and student-led education, in that the pupils do not follow an ordinary text book, but enact their learning as if they were citizens in the community outside – to the extent that the classroom is set out to resemble a street. In studying mathematics, for example, they learn the metric system by pretending to be people in charge of an imaginary shop, or the meaning of a mortgage through having to repay a loan to the bank which is run by another classmate.
Nor do they have ordinary language classes but, instead, they produce a newspaper every day, present and edit radio and television programmes, and interact through their personal websites. Since 1990 when the Basque Government recognised the innovative nature of the school, the Amara Berri System has become a benchmark to the point where it has been adopted by another 20 schools in the area, and is a key component of San Sebastian’s intercultural city approach.
It seems the system is also likely to counteract the stultifying taciturnity and emotional constipation which remains in parts of Basque society as a legacy of decades of inter-communal conflict. It is impossible to imagine that children schooled in this system could possibly keep their mouths and minds closed in the way older generations were prepared or compelled to do.