iNTerNaTiONaL CONFereNCe ON “TraNsFOrmiNG mOmeNTs”
In January this year, Dr Scherto Gill was the Keynote speaker at an international conference on ‘Transforming Moments: Dissonance, Liminality and Action as Learning Experiences’. The conference asked questions such as “What should be the role of transformative learning in today’s educational institutions and practices?” Educators, practitioners, researchers and students from different disciplines were drawn to the University of Kent in Canterbury to explore theories and practices of transformative learning.
In her lecture, Scherto discussed dissonance and liminality as the result of encountering otherness especially in the context of international higher education. She focused her discussion on exploring the place of the other in our learning and the different ways to engage with the myriad forms of otherness in our growth. She took the opportunity to re-examine the nature of (higher) learning and propose ‘the pedagogy of encounter’ for its potential in supporting transformative learning. Her lecture invited the participants to imagine ways to bring these insights to the learning lives at the universities.
PreseNTiNG HumaN-CeNTreD eDuCaTiON
This year, the GHFP presented our work on humancentred education in various international platforms.
Human-Centred Education seminars in Vietnam In May 2016, our CEO Professor Garrett Thomson gave four one-day-long seminars on Human-Centred Education at universities in Vietnam. The audiences consisted in university professors and dignitaries, school teachers, and some student teachers. In each case, the seminars were attended by about 70-90 people. These seminars introduced the concepts and ideas of Human-Centred Education and discussed with the group how these might be applied in schools in Vietnam.
An important goal of the GHFP’s work is to understand how education can enable individuals to live a more meaningful life. We are particularly interested in exploring the educational values, principles and practices necessary for nurturing the growth of the whole person, which help children and young people become more able to care for and respect one another and the world around them.
Through research, publications, conferences, workshops, seminars and project support, the GHFP strives to promote an education that prioritises human flourishing that is connected to the thriving of communities.
Inspiring Learning Life Conference.
In April this year, the GHFP participated in an international conference entitled ‘Inspiring Learning Life’ held in Norway. At this event, the GHFP provided two workshops that explored relational learning in schools, and one workshop on spirituality in education using the Saturday Satya as a case study. These workshops were attended by both students and educators from around the world. This has presented an opportunity to discuss the importance of relationships, care and respect and other core values in education.
Training of School Leaders in China.
This year, Dr Scherto Gill returned to Beijing to present Human-Centred Education at UNICEF’s Social Emotional Learning Project meeting, and to lecture at the China National Training Centre for Primary School Leaders on how to implement human-centred governance in schools. This led to her being appointed an International Advisor at the Centre, and prepared the ground for further collaboration between Centre and the GHFP on promoting the importance of research into educational governance and leadership in China and beyond.
PiLOTiNG HumaN-CeNTreD eDuCaTiON iN a seCONDary sCHOOL
As part of the development of the HCE Handbook, since 2015, the GHFP has launched a Human-Centred Education (HCE) Pilot research project in an English secondary school located within one of the most deprived residential areas in Southeast of England. The pilot involves an action research that aims to explore three key aspects of HCE:
Mentoring / Direction which consists of building a relationship with a student in order to guide him or her to identify his or her talents, interests and future directions in the short, medium and longer term. This culminates in an individual student’s learning agreement, a personalised curriculum towards developing qualities and virtues, and which challenges the student to become more self-aware and more independent and self-reliant.
Group Emotional Exploration which focuses on facilitating students’ sharing of their emotions in a safe group setting; using experiential approach to enable students to explore their emotional landscape in the safety of the group; cultivating listening and practising different kinds of listening and attentiveness to others; supporting students’ development of their self-awareness and other-awareness through emotional sharing; developing bonding between students in the group and encouraging mutual support; and motivating students to work together in order to transform tensions and conflicts towards group cohesion and developing a sense of community.
Cognitive Development which involves building the arts of mapping basic concepts and vocabulary bank; basic thinking skills such as understanding contexts of a text; distinguishing various kinds of text, including oral speeches; basic approaches to reasoning and applying logic and building confidence so that students are willing to think for themselves.
The students have benefited greatly from the programme. Some of the students have had very difficult times in their personal lives and although they were not always attending other lessons in school, they did attend the pilot sessions because they felt included, safe and listened to. Students’ attitudes towards each other and their learning are overall very good in the group and they appreciate the diversity of input that is not the same as their other learning experiences in school. The GHFP’s research team has been documenting the pilot and providing support to the teachers who are involved in the pilot.
sPiriTuaLiTy iN eDuCaTiON
This year, the GHFP was commissioned by an Independent State Schools Partnership (ISSP) project, the Saturday Satya, to explore in what way the programme’s pedagogies have contributed to students’ experiences of learning. The ISSP originated as a Department for Education and Skills initiative to provide structure and funding for cooperation between schools in the state and independent sectors. The aims of the ISSP included, for instance, breaking down barriers between the state and private sectors, sharing professional expertise, providing equal opportunities regardless of background, improving pupil self-esteem and promoting social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) learning.
The Saturday Satya consisted of four weekend workshops attended by 25 students aged 14 from Eton/Slough partnerships schools. The workshops challenged and guided the students to explore their understandings of themselves and the world around them in more empowered and nuanced ways.
The GHFP’s exploratory research sought to understand and to capture the spirit, values and significance of Saturday Satya, through listening to the voices of participating young people and the teacher-facilitators.