In 2016, I visited NGO Husk’s community and school hub in Kompheim, Cambodia where I worked with local people in the sewing room and classrooms. Fiona and Anthony Jaensch warmly welcomed our group and shared the programs for building well being, literacy, financial skills and environmental conservation.
In an article, Do Students Enjoy Writing? the latest UK data shows that while children and young people’s enjoyment of reading has been increasing in recent years, enjoyment of writing is heading in the opposite direction. So much so that the National Literacy Trust is now calling for a focus on writing for enjoyment in schools. Results of its sixth annual literacy survey of more than 32 000 eight- to 18-year-olds, released this month, show 44.8 per cent said they enjoy writing very much or quite a lot in 2015 – down from 49.3 per cent the previous year and 10 per cent lower than the 2015 figure for enjoyment of reading.
I pose the question, “How would I respond to this disappointing trend in attitudes to writing?”
What seems lacking is student motivation and engagement. The enjoyment of writing is greater enhanced by the learner choosing the topic.
Writing in the 21st century has changed and has expanded beyond the genres commonly taught and the development of traditional pieces. We now need to learning to write in a digital space- to think about using social tools for writing, coding, to write with precision and brevity, sometimes within 140 characters, to write using hyperlinks, to use the skills of curating, archiving and sharing.
How can you create the context to connect your students to a real audience beyond the classroom? By stimulating curiosity and encouraging learners to envisage a purpose for writing, inspiring learning can be fashioned.
First, you should become familiar with common tools such Twitter, Facebook, Seesaw, Blackboard Collaborate, Edmodo groups, Google docs, Sway, blogposts, WhatsApp, Skype groups, Padlet and Global Projects including Flat Connections. As educators, we cannot expect to be confident facilitators unless we have some working knowledge of digital tools.
Now for a purpose? What would learners like to find out? What do learners wish to say? Learners easily adapt to online communication to seek answers to their own questions. Martha Payne, a young school girl from Scotland, started her blog, NeverSeconds as a writing project. Her blog went viral and involved school children across the globe to write. With a reason to write, learners found their voice and expressed themselves in their unique style. A global audience is waiting-an audience of varying cultures, ages, faiths, gender, beliefs and experience.
Writing becomes authentic. This has been measured to increase motivation and engagement. Success can be shared with the school community as well as with wider audiences.
How can you enrich your learners’ experience of writing with a real audience beyond the classroom?
The Budgie nine are free to think about their behaviour whilst in Malaysia.
Upon return a spokesperson, one of the nine urged Australians to be sensitive to the cultures of other countries and then asked for privacy. I see the funny side-men who want to strip down to their underwear in public now wanting privacy.
It’s hard to believe that nine, not two or three grown men, some at least with tertiary education and including a staffer of Australian Defence Industry Minister, Christopher Pyne, should agree to such behaviour in a country with a majority of people of Muslim faith. Or didn’t they know that fact.
Lesson here? How do we avoid the diplomatic time, money and embarrassment when Aussies still commit ‘I didn’t know that we would be offending them” behaviour?
I agree with and stand committed to the inclusion of intercultural understanding as a capability in the Australian curriculum. However, it begs the question, “How many of our educators are culturally aware and know how to impart intercultural understanding in their programs? Has the provision of face to face support been made available to schools to facilitate this?
Sadly, the answer leaves us pondering when will the Australian Government next have to apologise for or bail out Aussies arraigned with indecency charges through lack of cultural education, lack of judgment or both?
I’m heading down a different path today.
KOGO which stands for Knit One, Give One, started out as a small group who wanted to knit for others. In the first year, 180 scarves were knitted and distributed to those experiencing homelessness. Enabling others to be protected from the cold and to experience the self worth that comes from being valued, the group has grown over to over 5000 knitters and crocheters in 12 years. They come from all walks of life and they vary in age – the youngest being an 11 year old girl and our oldest being over 100. In 2015, the not-for-profit organisation distributed 65,500 hand knitted winter woollies to the most vulnerable in our community through 250 community partner organisations.
What’s the point of ALL this?
Let me give some background…
Caritas Australia calls upon Catholic Social Teaching to guide its work. No human being should have their dignity or freedom compromised. The common good is reached when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world.
The Global Perspectives Framework highlights global values and attitudes and mentions a commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all people and maintaining a sense of personal identity and self esteem.
Partnerships for action work best when those whose skill base can be shared, find those who will gain value from that skill. Generosity of effort can make an immeasurable difference to someone else. The benefits are mutual.
In KOGO’s work, the principles of ‘the dignity of the person’ and ‘the common good’ apply. KOGO’s values are global values and action starts right at their own front door.
There are so many exciting experiences happening in classrooms all over the world. Ordinary teachers doing amazing things with their learners at the heart of each experience-professional learning networks of teachers willing to share in order to strengthen the skills and awareness of their learners. You’ll find digital and/or global learning examples right here in this posting.
Colleague, Julie Lindsay, of Flat Connections constructs a learning model whereby all learners have freedom to communicate across borders rather than up or down – with no hierarchy.
On Global Collaboration Day (15th September), experienced global educators and professionals will host connective projects and events. The goals of this whole day event are to demonstrate the power of global connectivity in classrooms, schools and universities around the world, and to introduce others to the tools, resources and projects that are available to educators today.
Take a look at the active global projects from iEARN. This organisation enables interactive curriculum-based groups to create, research, share opinions and become global citizens.
How can you engage your learners in learning about the world from the world?
I’ve been hearing rumblings about voluntourism. You know, when people go on an adventure to a destination in a developing country and offer to help the locals.
Often with the best intentions, school groups, adult groups and individuals make their way to assist organisations in places like Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand with under researched information and unintended negative consequences. Not realising the impact of their generosity, children in care can be left vulnerable or at worst, and through easy access, exploited.
The words of Jim Wakelam from Commission for Missions, say more than I can write. Please take a look at his piece which appeared in Crosslight earlier this year.
Marilyn, Australia, says, “I’d like to see all schools in Australia become global learning hubs—places where the process of learning is connected, collaborative and communicated in as many ways as possible, to many interested learners in local, national and global communities, through the use of tools for social learning. Here we are challenged by the availability of reliable connectivity for all global communities, available education hubs for all learners and the proficiency of teachers to enable global and connected learning to take place in their schools. Changes to the traditional thinking behind the delivery of education—the buildings, rooms, the blended learning model, the flattening of classrooms, the pedagogies involved—these are all part of providing a conducive environment for global learning” (Marilyn Snider, @malmade1).
As Marilyn Snider, Senior Global Consultant, Australia, shares with us, “As a global education leader I promote open-mindedness leading to new thinking about the world and a predisposition to take action for change. Taking responsibility for their actions, learners come to respect and value diversity, and see themselves as global citizens who can contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. Enabling young people to participate in a better-shared future for all is at the heart of global education. In terms of impact, my perspectives of the world infuse my thoughts and ideas on a daily basis. I am more perceptive, more analytical, more understanding. I can see many angles to a story. My input is thoughtfully constructed with attention to identity, cultural diversity, human rights, social justice, and peace with its counter side, conflict resolution.”
Julie Lindsay’s book, The Global Educator, is a collaborative effort and a fine example of social tools for learning in use.
Many months ago I came across a TED talk by Elora Hardy. I marvelled at her attitude to designing stuctures in bamboo.
Magical houses made of bamboo Take a look at this inspiring TED TALK
Elora Hardy’s designed her dream house was when she was nine.
She shares the potential of bamboo, as both a sustainable resource and a spark for the imagination.
Then months later a friend was inspiring me with talk of our proposed visit to Bali and a visit to Green School. We checked out a TED talk about this unique school built by John Hardy but still the penny hadn’t dropped.
You know when you have that AHA moment. Well that happened!!
John is Elora’s father.
After being asked to present at the Victorian Community Language Schools conference I sat down and my inner voice said, “On what? What do you have to say to the wonderfully tireless workers who deliver their language to community members?”
Grapple, delve, research. Something jumped onto my lap; the Asia Education Foundation report called the Senior Secondary Languages Education Research Project.
An experiment in justice
The national court system was unable to handle the aftermath of trialling perpetrators following the genocide in Rwanda.
Another system hand to be found to supplement the overcrowded justice system. Rwanda embarked on an ambitious justice and reconciliation process at grassroots level with the ultimate aim of all Rwandans once again living side by side in peace.
The Rwandan government in 2005 re-established the traditional community court system called “Gacaca” (pronounced GA-CHA-CHA).
Watch this video and decide whether the principles of Gacaca could be applied to handling bullying in schools.