In the same boat?
Young Adult Fiction by minority authors and the implications for transcultural learning

Grit Alter , Friday 11.30-12.00

During the last decade our classrooms have evolved into a composition of pupils and students as diverse as the colours of a kaleidoscope. Young people of various ethnic backgrounds study together at one school to become active members of one society. With the demands of globalization and a world that grows together faster and to an extent that hardly anyone is able to grasp, the pupils should be enabled to move beyond their own cultural boundaries and widen their perspectives on the world.
What better way is there to develop an understanding and a concept of tolerance of “the others” than through the exploration of multicultural literature? Engaging in fiction written by authors of multiple ethnic ancestries students will have the opportunity to become acquainted with different cultures disclaiming stereotypes and derogative terms. Instead they are able to relate to these cultures which is a foundation for understanding and appreciating them. Reading texts by minority authors students are exposed to a wide range of human experiences which helps them to realize that often our similarities outweigh our differences.
This presentation aims at connecting the ideas of inter- and transcultural learning with young adult fiction by minority authors mainly from Canada and the United States. How can inter- and transcultural learning be achieved; how can students explore similarities but also differences? Selected texts will be introduced and their implications for inter- and transcultural learning will be outlined. Thus, the canon of literature in our classroom will be enhanced.
A kaleidoscope derives its beauty from the single pieces that form a whole picture in which each piece from the margins has the chance to take centre stage.

Grit Alter studied English and Philosophy to receive a teaching degree for secondary schools/grammar schools at Greifswald university. She received her “Erstes Staatsexamen” from Greifswald University in 2006 and her “Zweites Staatsexamen” from the State Institute of Schools and Education Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania in 2009. Since April 2009 she’s a Ph.D Student and member of research staff at Hildesheim University. Grit Alter is also a freelancer for the schoolbook and teaching material publisher “Klett” conducting teachers’ training.