Learning Spaces

> Mankind owes to the child the best that it has to give.< “It is with these words that the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1924, followed by a Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959.”
Taken from humanium.org                                                  (Together for Children’s Rights)

The importance of a child being able to learn is paramount, anywhere in the world. When we realise how many children do not have access to education because they are refugees, we should take a stance to make a difference. Children who are fortunate to perhaps have a school in their camp may not have the possibility to learn in a safe environment or have suitable resources.

The Six Learning Spaces are all very important when I consider what would work best in Alexandria. It is especially difficult, for the purpose of this assignment, to narrow it down to the two I feel are most beneficial to not only Muhammed but all the young children in the camp. All the learning spaces are intricately connected and I can see value in all of them  to enhance each child’s opportunities in their education. The learning spaces should be transformative, realistic, thought-provoking, contemporary and empowering.

Above all, children need to be children again.

Retrieved from YouTube, UNICEFmena, All they need is a moment to be children again

This poster really epitomises what we should value in each child as they work within any learning space, especially when they are living in a refugee camp. As educators, they are the reason we are here.sd-classroom

Image retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sylviaduckworth/

Schools in any country that is accepting refugees are now, more than ever, struggling to integrate Syrian children into their education system. The following blog article from the series ‘Inside Syrian Refugee Schools’ describes the difficulty faced by two schools in Germany.

Teachers are also struggling themselves to do their best in teaching in difficult circumstances. This quote taken from the same blog series details the work that two teachers are doing in Lebanon

 “Hadia and Aaron do a remarkable job of creating healthy classroom environments. Yet they need additional training to meet the needs of their refugee students. Globally, this is the number one request we hear from teachers of refugees. They wish for more and better-targeted professional development to help them create conditions in their classrooms where all of their students can learn.”

Therefore, the need to recognise the learning spaces that both teachers and students can work within are imperative for them to attain success in their education. Reflecting on my previous research on these spaces, I have chosen the following to be effective in the Alexandria Refugee Camp as part of my Vision and Mission, my TWB Initiative and my Implementation. All learning spaces allow the student and teacher to each identify their strengths and challenges and to achieve continued success through their individual learning. All the ideas that are documented connect into all the learning spaces identified for the Alexandria camp however, I will identify the individual spaces that I feel are the most important.

The Personal Space                                                                                                             “A personal space should be one that sets you up for success, however that may look and be it physical or virtual. We should consider the personal space to be our mindset for our learning. That is… how do we learn best, where do we learn best, what do we need to learn at our best, how will we celebrate our strengths in our learning and how will we engage with the challenges we encounter in our learning.” (O’Flynn, 2016)

In Alexandria Refugee Camp, the children need purpose, positivity and opportunities for moments of happiness. When working within a Personal Space, it allows them to engage in meaningful activities that show their skills and talents and to then be able to share them with a wider audience, within the camp and beyond to children and schools worldwide. They may not have the perfect classroom/school surroundings but that does not preclude them from working within the facilities that they have to participate and interact with each other and their camp community.

In the Child-Friendly Space within the camp my Vision and Mission and the Implementations are all supported by the Personal Space.

eSpace                                                                                                                         “The eSPACE is a way to move from traditional teaching/learning to working in a digital manner that is meaningful, engaging and connected. It opens up a myriad of opportunities to learn from others all over the world. An eSpace allows teachers and students to be actively co-creating their own knowledge. Allows teachers and students to have an instant connection with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Teachers and students can learn/teach together as they investigate what works and doesn’t work within their eSpace (collaborating and cooperating).” (O’Flynn, 2016)

The children in Alexandria need to be eLearners. They must connect beyond their camp to equip themselves to be 21st Century learners so when they arrive in their new homeland they can continue their education, having developed appropriate digital literacy skills. Using Skype in the classroom would benefit teachers and students to gain access to a wide variety of people and activities to help develop these skills. Even though the children may not have access to many computers or iPads most of the children and their families have mobile phones in the camp. Here is an example of how one teacher is using the technology of smart phones in her classroom.

An article on Edutopia on Global Education states that…“A globally competent student is one who can investigate the world, weigh perspectives, interact with diverse audiences, and take action.” (Boss, 2016)

Millionaire 18 year old Jaylen Bledsoe taught himself web design in sixth grade after taking a yearbook design class. At age 12, he started an IT consulting company, and just last year, he became CEO of The Jaylen D. Bledsoe Global Group, valued at about $3.5 million. He says…“Give kids access to technology, and with a curious mind, they will succeed in any environment,” he said.

An effective eSpace would facilitate this for the children in the camp and also lead them to further engage beyond their school to their families scattered throughout Europe. Engaging adults within the camp that have IT skills would also be encouraged, for them to be involved in coming into the classroom and working with the teachers and the children to enhance their skills.

In the Child-Friendly Space within the camp my Vision and Mission and the Implementations are all supported by the eSpace.

Group, collaborative, cooperative Space                                                                          “For them all to be effective learning spaces, I think it is important to set up group work as the introduction or foundation “space”. Then as everyone becomes more familiar, comfortable and understanding of the framework and expectations, they can move into the cooperative “space”. When there is a culture of confidence, respect, trust and motivation set up everyone can comfortably move into the collaborative “space”. All three spaces are fluid and can be chosen depending on task, activity, outcomes expected etc. The success of all three spaces is very dependant on the social structure of the classroom.” (O’Flynn, 2016)

Alexandria camp needs to cater for children of many ages in its schooling facilities. A buddy system would be beneficial for older children to work with and set examples for the younger children. All forms of group, collaborative and cooperative learning would enhance the skill set of all the children. This article details how a Happy School can help students to succeed. Teachers and adults working together within the structures of the three forms of learning could achieve this sense of school being their ‘happy place”. It would develop a sense of community within the camp, especially when utilising the talents and skills that many adults would have from their previous professions before they arrived in Alexandria.

In the Child-Friendly Space within the camp my Vision and Mission and the Implementations are all supported by the Group, Collaborative, Cooperative Space.

Liminal Space                                                                                                               “As a teacher, I believe that hearing a student say “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t know how to work it out” allows for valuable lessons. It gives opportunities to explore, take risks, perhaps fail and then learn from that failure, try again and perhaps succeed. Within the Liminal Space it is possible to not always succeed but having an understanding of the process and using it in a different way is valuable learning in itself. Resilience is also an important skill to teach students and one that is needed within the Liminal Space. If a safe culture is developed within a classroom and a school to allow students to celebrate failure and success, what powerful learning and achievements would develop.” (O’Flynn, 2016)

For many children in the camp the Liminal Space would be where they are working though they wouldn’t have the vocabulary to describe it. They would have that sense of not understanding, of not knowing. A culture would be developed within the classroom that will allow the children to feel comfortable in saying “I don’t understand…yet” and “I don’t know…yet”. Perseverance, resilience and a positive mindset are all imperative in allowing the children to be comfortable in the Liminal Space.

ClassDojo and GoNoodle would be complimented with this free program Smiling Mind.

In the Child-Friendly Space within the camp my Vision and Mission and the Implementations are all supported by the Liminal Space.