I’ve asked Andrew for 5 minutes a reflection on my recent experience in Cambodia – while I was not on official library business in Cambodia – the learning I have drawn from our time volunteering in Kampong Thom is something that I think can be directly linked to what we do here in Learning Services. So – slide night, call to arms, a moment to reflect – the plan is to keep it very brief.A short anecdote to begin and one that happened early in our time in Siem Reap and kept my brain firmly in learning mode for the duration of the journey – apologies to those reading my blog.Siem Reap street kids – Gillard, Holt, BartonV australian kidsAuthentic learning – albeit heartbreakingI suppose my journey ended up being a lot about questions of Perspective, Priorities, Purpose of educationImportance of challenging oneself – personal learning journey, questioning the digital divide
Cambodia – horrendous recent history is so present in the day to day.
We volunteered in Kampong Thom with Teachers Across BordersMotto is To inspire, support and value the efforts of teachersworking in fragile educational environments.Our class – team taught with my mum – experienced teacher and a dear friend who is a primary teacher studying her masters in global ed – sister supported – in community development in Melbourne.My husband, gracie and dad also came along to support
Running workshops in Cambodia since 2007 around 300??? Australian and international teachers have been involved in PD programs in Cambodia Volunteers are asked to raise approx $1000 for the running costs of the workshop including $30 paid as a stipend to each participating teacher and workshop materials, translater, lunch each day – our supporters – and that includes some of you here – raised over $2500 for our group, surplus went to TAB’s pther programs and we paid all of our own travel expenses 150 – 200 Cambodian teachers participate in each program, with between around 20 in each workshop
Our workshop was aimed at Khmer Language teachers – a similar curriculum to our English curriculum – and we focussed on strategies, activities and resources to engage students in the middle years. Thinking tools, games … Physical continnum – strongly agree to strongly disagree.
A newer classroom
Teachers writing ‘sensory poem’ in the gardens of the teaching college..
– this image shows a student singing his poem – we didn’t realise they were going to!Huge learning curve for me – who talks a lot – having every word translated! I’m trying to incorporate skills learnt in being clear and succinct in my practice here!As with any experience like this – I felt like I gained more – personally and professionally than I could have possibly given.
We had a huge range of experience among the teachers in our room. We had been prepared that Khmer culture may mean that the teachers disliked being asked questions directly and may not question us as we would be considered ‘experts’.We had a fabulous woman in our group – So Van – who very quicky made it known she was happy to discuss, question, disagree. She questioned that some of our strategies and resources would work in a class of sixty and challenged us early on the differences between Australian and Cambodian classrooms. Turned this in to an activity which ended up giving us all huge insights in to the similarities and diffs.We worked in groups to look at straegies to overcome some of the problems and had a heartbreaking discussion that nearly reduced me to tears as I taught where we looked at the factors we had the capacity to change and those we did not. One incredible student Taing Or challenged that we should not accept that poverty = for instance was a factor w\\e could not change – as teachers we had that capacity to change the future.Learning networks – how can we collaborate with, learn from and share with teachers in ‘fragile educational settings’what can we ‘give away for free’ (MIT and Charlie Leadbeater)
An immensely personally satisfying part of the tripBek introduced to Narith – Alphington PS raised $1500 in an inquiry learning project that led the students to decide to run market stalls each week to support Bek’s trip. Students here are also holding on to donated copies of Australian picture books – some from Christine…With the donated money we were able to purchase 2 years worth of school supplies, 80 school uniforms, 10 bikes (30 more students could attend) and 6 water filters…Bek has commented since her return the extraordinary power it had for her students to see the consequences of the work they did in such a direct and transformational way
Through some of my school and union networks I’m hoping to help to make real one of the ideas of one of our Khmer colleagues – Samnang - to ask Australian teachers to donate $15 a month of their wage to subsidise the wage - $45 - $80 a month of a Khmer teacher.It is so powerful to see the change an old laptop or an extra $50 can make to a family in Cambodia.
This really was the beginning of something for me and my family – mum and dad have already planned to return at Easter, while our finances will mean we will wait until 2014 to return to Kampong Thom. My social networks have now expanded to teachers and friends in Cambodia and I continue to think, talk, plan, read and write about ways in which education can transform the lives of young people from all types of backgrounds of disadvantage in ways that are innovative, sustainable and relevant.I wrote on my blog last week that I have got such a huge buzz out being at a stage of my life when my personal and professional values are truly aligned. The work that I am doing in each of my work places – changing nature of education and reducing disadvantage here at SLV, pre-service teacher training at RMIT and with TAB - is so connected and it is energising to feel that synchronicity.
I was going to propose that we put forward a workshop from our team and send a group over to share some of our skills and knowledge – that’s a bit cheeky of me and this isn’t the time to discuss but… If people are interested I’ll put this up on slideshare and please – come and have a chat if you have questions, want to know more, or want to get on board the next trip!
BorderCrossingReflections on teaching andlearning in Cambodia
Cambodia Population 14.8 million 50% of population under 25 Average income $380 per year• War with Khmer Rouge 1975-1979 Education system destroyed during the war
Teachers Across Borders Non profit organisation - registered charity Run week long workshops for 150-200 Khmer teachers, across a range of subject areas & teaching methodology Programs run in conjunction with MOYES Volunteers, not government supported Workshop presenter;donate time, skills, money $30per Khmer teacherto participate