Connect : Connect March 2012
24 When I started my journey as an educator, I recall thinking that my university subject of ‘School and Society’, with associated textbook titled Schooling, a Socialisation Process, contradicted what I had already learnt. Wasn’t education about subject matter, and my craft as an educator to make it active and creative? Socialisation, I thought, was to be avoided - better to encourage creative and critical thinking - rather than put students in a box. I was rather naïve. I was also full of enthusiasm. I had beneftted from an education system where I was encouraged to pursue my potential, and as a teacher I hoped to assist others to do the same. Now I fnd myself thinking that focused attention to quality social engineering in schooling is perhaps my most critical task as an educator. A love of learning and a key thought – ‘learning is a lifelong journey’ - continues to equip me in this task. Today I am located at another university, as an Education Capacity Building Offcer at Universitas Syiah Kuala, Aceh, Indonesia, in the primary teacher training department. I believe the benefts of volunteering are mutual - I am constantly learning as I work alongside local counterparts to apply effective educational principles and practices. Aceh is a region that has known decades of confict and its people proudly proclaim their long history as fghters. During recent battles many schools became sites of armed confict and were subsequently destroyed. Confict has left many adults without basic numeracy and literacy skills. Some want a better future for their kids; others are apathetic about the need for school. Teachers often do not turn up for class; some are afraid of violence, others are inactive or not focussed or motivated in their professional role. Broken communities are reticent to support schooling, possibly originating from a thought of ‘education as a responsibility of central government’, with whom there has been confict; or those daily routines, like washing in rivers, make tasks take a lot longer, leaving little time for education. Harsh confict zones led to scarce food supplies so even if children and teachers attended school, their capacity to learn or teach was limited because of hunger or malnutrition. I’ve been visiting or living in Aceh since March 2005. In this time I’ve had a special opportunity to hear and see needs and to respond. My frst volunteer assignment focused on teacher training in village schools. I was part of a small local community welfare group focused on grass roots community development, working with staff who in turn worked alongside teachers in situ, with coaching, and demonstrations. We were able to assist in the implementation of UNICEF trainings and projects committed to education department initiatives focused on ‘Active, Joyful Learning’. Developing relationships, learning national and local languages, honouring local culture, and building trust over time were instrumental in facilitating long- term change. As we worked on lesson planning and coaching in active strategies to engage creative and critical thinking, it became obvious that a behaviour management plan was needed. When teaching in Australian classrooms, this is a given – we, members of the shared classroom, were here to learn and reach our potentials. In the villages, our team worked at recognising and valuing each teacher and the contribution they made to their community, setting up a model for teachers in turn to value each child in their care. Stories of Socialisation or Social Engineering?
Connect Magazine July 2012 Edition
Connect November 2011