Ten students, five countries, three days!

The world around us is changing rapidly. There has been a debate globally about the kind of knowledge and skills that are important for the increasingly diverse, interconnected, and innovation-oriented societies of the 21st century. Thus, learning in 21st century cannot be limited to literacy and numeracy but should be broadened to enable students to think, deliberate and address contemporary socio-emotional problems they face individually and collectively. This can be achieved only if we bring about a change in teaching and learning processes. Thus, the need of the hour is to foster innovative, dynamic, and interactive pedagogies. It’s time that we move beyond the traditional ‘banking model’ of teaching (Freire, P.1968), where students are treated as empty vessels to be filled.  For learners to be able to pose questions, analyse, take action on social, political and cultural issues that influence and shape their lives, emancipatory pedagogies where students are co-creators of knowledge are required 1. With this background, UNESCO MGIEP launched Transformative Learning Labs programme that connects students from varied social, economic and cultural contexts and help them engage in dialogue with school children from across the globe allowing them to share ideas and drive their own learning on issues related to peace and sustainable development. The project aims to promote dialogue-based learning as an alternative pedagogical tool at the school level.

Phase II of the Transformative Learning Labs programme concluded in a three day long workshop organised from 12-14 July, 2017 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.  Students and teachers from United States, Malaysia, India, Norway and South Africa participated in the workshop and came together to share their experiences and learnings from the programme. The workshop started with an inaugural address by Dr. Anantha Kumar Durraiappah, Director UNESCO MGIEP, where he highlighted the importance of ‘dialogue’ and ‘constructive engagement’ amongst the young people for mutual understanding and collaboration.  The address was followed by ice breaking exercises and experience sharing by the students and teachers where the participants spoke about how ‘sharing different perspective enhanced their understanding of multiple identities and their ability to accommodate differing opinions’.

It was for the first time that students and teachers, who had been interacting with each other online met in person, excursion trips to crafts museum and ethnic dinner were organised to understand the local cultures and interact with each other informally. As part of the exercise on collaboration and cross cultural communication two day workshop on participatory film making was also organised. The workshop was facilitated by the renowned film maker, Krishnendu Bose where students from different countries came together, brain stormed and collaboratively developed the idea of the film entitled, ‘Candy Chaos’. The film highlights the oneness of humankind and similarities in spite of differences.

Fun filled, exciting and culturally enriching workshop came to end with an invigorating session on concept of mindfulness and critical inquiry with students and teachers agreeing that to carry out a critical dialogue is a life skill that is a lifelong enriching process.

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