Working out loud

You’ve got to love what digital connection and social tools can do.

I recently reached out on LinkedIn to broaden my professional learning network and connected with Ciarra Greene at Portland University, Oregon.  I asked Ciarra about global education and her reply set me thinking.  I had an ‘aha’ moment.  She gave me the missing dots to connect so many ideas rushing about in my head. Ciarra mentioned place-based learning and whilst I understood the concept I had not heard that name.

Place-based learning immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of other learning areas across the curriculum.

I immediately thought of My Place by Nadine Wheatley and the wonderful offerings for learners relating to PLACE.  I’ve wandered from my original pathway!

Ciarra is connected to the Nez Perce tribe, who are an Indigenous people of the plateau, living in the Pacific northwest region of the United States.

Indigenous tribes in the USA are in the news right now, battling Trump’s directive to the Army to continue laying the Dakota Access pipeline across sacred sites with the threat of contaminating drinking water.

What if learners in the United States exchanged their understandings of the traditional cultures of indigenous tribes with learners in Australia and their understandings of the traditional cultures of our First People, the Aborigines?  What if the identity and indeed existence of these indigenous tribes was being threatened?  What if environmental issues are being exploited?

I think Ciarra and I are learning just in the same way we want our young learners to learn-through collaboration, communication and deep thinking.  Through technology, our learning has shot past the four walls of the classroom and entered the biggest ‘classroom’ that is our world.

How amazing!

 

It’s Real

More people are on the same page and acknowledge climate change is real. Climate change is not some mythical creature flying over rainbows.

It’s real.

Education is going to be part of climate action so that every person on the planet is aware of what climate change is and what needs to be done to achieve quality air, water and land across the planet.

The A in STEAM and climate change. 

We are hearing much about STEM but I’m advocating for the rightful inclusion of the Arts and a place for STEAM.

I am wanting to hear from schools where leadership and educators have supported their learners to respond artistically to the issues surrounding climate change.  This may be in the form of the visual arts, music, theatre, dance, literature and or cinema.

Hoping to be proven wrong, it is my feeling that educators do not highlight climate change in the curriculum.  It’s not a hot topic (pardon the pun).  Traditionally slotted into the curriculum under Science and Geography, many educators are insufficiently informed, too fearful of tackling what they see as a controversial topic or both.  The links to many issues of global significance can be traced to the warming of the planet.

In the sphere beyond the classroom I’ve come across a group called CLIMARTE and a theatre troupe called ClimActs.

CLIMARTE’S mission is to harness the creative power of the arts to inform, engage and inspire action on climate change.  Climarte will present their ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 festival which will run from 19 April to 14 May 2017. 

ClimActs is an Australian theatre troupe playing a role of peaceful protest to support demands for social justice and human rights.  Using striking spectacle as well as satire to communicate and educate on the urgency of climate change, each act has been carefully created to address an aspect of the climate debate. For instance, the Climate Guardians represent selfless and fearless care and guardianship, the Coal Diggers epitomise the recklessness and insatiable greed of vested interests.

The Climate Guardian Angels in peaceful protest at the COP21 talks in Paris 2015

 

School leaders and educators, don’t forget the A in STEAM and broaden the opportunities for young people to find their voice and respond to the concerns of their generation.

Don’t forget to contact me if your school is already taking this approach.

 

Marilyn Snider is an Australian global education activist who promotes a dynamic, self-directed approach where learners explore real world issues and challenges whilst delving into deeper and more satisfying conceptual understandings. Creativity, critical analysis and action are hallmarks of her work. www.bethinkglobal.com.au

 

 

Raising the roof with recycled rubbish

 

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 written by Kezia Parkins and published in the Phnom Penh Post, Fiona and Anthony tackle environmental and societal issues in partnership with the local community. 

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Authentic writing-a pleasure

 

kids-on-computers

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?

 

Cop that!

The Budgie nine are free to think about their behaviour whilst in Malaysia.

The menbudgie-smuggler issued an apology when they appeared in a Malaysian court, saying they had “no idea” their conduct would be considered inappropriate.

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?

With the best intentions

Laos 1

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.

The Global Educator

My colGlobal Educatorleague, Julie Lindsay, has just published her new book, The Global Educator.  When Julie put out the  request for input from global educators across the world I was only too happy to oblige.

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.

Aha Hardy

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.

Elora’s housebuilding a sustainable future

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.

 

 

 

 

Revelling in the richness of cultural experiences

Community Languages

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.                  
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