Note: This is the final post in a series of reflective posts that form part of a university course that I am taking. I hope that you will find something valuable in my reflections as well.
Throughout this course we have explored what education could be - from Will Richardson's Why School to how organizations are using technology to provide education in developing countries we have looked at changes in thinking and teaching methods that will help to create communities where students are engaged and empowered to lead their own learning. I wondered about finding the balance between a complete orientation towards technology and the need for hands-on, place-based learning opportunities, finding that sweet spot for the pendulum to rest. As I've dug deeper into these ideas, I've found educators across the world doing amazing things, from inquiry to literacy, numeracy to empathy. What I've come to realize, however, is that no one person is doing it all; each is focused on their own personal passions, passions that change and grow as they do. And as students move through their classrooms and teachers move through their professional development sessions, they will connect with and learn something new from each one. So perhaps the goal isn't to have the pendulum settle in any one spot, but rather to encourage it to swing from person to person, spreading new ideas that will land where they need to land when they are most needed. Balance, it seems, can be found between people as much as it can be found within people.
So what does this mean for my vision of the future of education? Well, as I originally outlined in this blog post, I continue to believe that we need to focus on what is important to us - what keeps us grounded and sane, what we can confidently hold up as what we value for children. As Dr. Jody Carrington said - "Find your purpose. Relentlessly pursue what your believe to be true, and do it only because you believe, to the core of you, that you can change the world." The future of education is passionate people believing in kids and sharing their passions with those kids. Just as each of us is a different person with different likes and dislikes, so too are kids; we need to trust that what we share - whether that is the latest app, hands dirty from the garden or a quiet corner to read and reflect - will land with the kids that need it the most, providing them, individually, with the balance that they may be unable to find in a larger group. The world is changing and we do need to ensure that kids have the skills to meet the needs of this world but we also need to keep in mind that those skills are varied and every kid does not need to have them all to "successfully wield the abundance at their fingertips" (Will Richardson, Why School).
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I chose to showcase my vision by highlighting educators who are truly living their passion and their purpose. Under the For Teachers tab on this website, you will now find 5 sections - Literate, Numerate, Curious, Kind and Healthy. In each of these sections I have created a post entitled 5-4-3-2-1. Borrowing from James Clear's 3-2-1 (which I learned about in Teachers These Days by Jody Carrington and Laurie McIntosh), I outline 5 educators to follow, 4 apps/websites to check out, 3 things to try, 2 quotes to consider and 1 question to ponder. My hope is that this will increase connection, inspire innovation and support teachers as they do the work of educating the next generation of citizens.
Carrington, J & McIntosh, L. Teachers These Days: Stories and strategies for reconnection. IMPress, 2021.
Richardson, W. Why School: How education must change when learning and information are everywhere. TED Conferences, 2012.
Note: This is part of a series of reflective posts that form part of a university course that I am taking. I hope that you will find something valuable in my reflections as well.
There is no question that literacy is key to upward socioeconomic mobility and escaping poverty. According to the UN, "education helps reduce inequalities and reach gender equality and is crucial to fostering tolerance and more peaceful societies." While the global literacy rate for people over 15 is 86%, the literacy rate in Sub-Saharan Africa remains below 60%, with some countries below 30%.1 It is in these countries where access to education is desperately needed.
Libraries play a key role in providing access to education, especially literacy. Public libraries, however, are few and far between in developing countries (the reasons for this are complex - if you want the deep dive, I highly recommend you check out the paper by Young et al. linked below) and have been often overlooked as partners by development organizations.2 As a result, most efforts to improve literacy rates in developing countries tend to be through development organizations acting as libraries rather than state-sponsored public libraries. While this matters philosophically (public libraries uphold the values of political, social and intellectual freedom, while development agencies may not), the end result for users is the same regardless of who is providing the service - access to books and technology.
Here are 3 NGOs working to increase literacy rates in creative ways:
Nal'ibali - based in South Africa, Nal'ibali focuses not just on reading for enjoyment, but on the power of language and cultural relevance. They acknowledge the importance of reading in the mother tongue and work to create a community of stories and storytellers across South Africa. This rich website includes storybooks, audiobooks and writing resources for all ages, not too mention the ability to access physical books, reading and writing clubs and more. Nal'ibali can be enjoyed on all major mobile networks in SA for free and without data (wow!) as well as on What'sApp, making it super accessible for just about anyone (95% of South Africans own a cell phone3).
Room to Read - Room to Read focuses on literacy and gender equality in low-income communities throughout Africa and Asia. They partner with community and government organizations to provide teacher training, quality reading materials in local languages, construction of classrooms and parent education programs. Their intent is to create sustainable literacy initiatives that will last long after Room to Read moves to a different community.
World Literacy Foundation - The WLF supports a number of different literacy initiatives across the globe, including the distribution of solar-powered tablets pre-loaded with books and educational games in Africa, an app in Australia that provides books in both English and local Indigenous languages, an Ambassador program for young adults and the provision of books to schools and community reading groups throughout Africa, South America and Asia.
1. Literacy Rate, 2015. Retrieved 07/29/2021 from www.ourworldindata.org/literacy.
2. Young, J.C., Lynch, R., Boakye-Achampong, S., Jowaisas, C., Sam, J. (2021). Public libraries and development across Sub-Saharan Africa: Overcoming a problem of perception. Retrieved 07/28/2021 from https://www.degruyter.com/docwww.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/libri-2020-0096/htmlument/doi/10.1515/libri-2020-0096/html.
3. McCrocklin, S. (2021). Mobile penetration in South Africa. Retrieved 07/29/2021 from https://www.geopoll.com/blog/mobile-penetration-south-africa/.
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!