Refugee Simulation: The Experiential Cycle

Last week, three students in my Global Issues class organized a refugee simulation experience for our school as part of their Take Action Project. Muuxi Adam, a Somalian refugee and founding member of HumanKind International, had inspired them at a visit he made in January.

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Muuxi Adam from HumanKind International sharing his personal experience with Grade 12 students.

The students began to make plans to host a refugee simulation to help bring attention to the dire needs of asylum seekers and specifically to the plight of refugees in the largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab. (See the map below.)

Prior to the experience, however, our class began to research the global refugee crisis from historical and contemporary perspectives and many students chose the crisis as their topic for their major papers and Take Action Projects. In order to prepare and front load for this experience, we also participated in the Glassen Essay Contest which asked: What, if anything, should Canada do about the global refugee crisis?

In doing so, we had created a neural network that would help us properly engage in the primary experience — the simulation.

On April 29th, Muuxi , Grade 12 students, and several volunteers came to campus and designed a refugee experience that would take our learners on a journey that involved fleeing their homeland, a 6 KM march, an ambush by rebels, mind fields, and border crossings. You can see via the images and vines below  to get a sense of what the experience was like.

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Students grabbing what they can to flee their homelands

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Students walking to the next safe place

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Rebels rob the refugees

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Land minds!

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More walking

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The border is up a head.

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Confusion at the border

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Refugees try to fill out paper work in other languages. Families are split apart.

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Reflecting on the experience.

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Muuxi and student organizers debrief with Grade 12 and 9 students.

https://vine.co/v/iPdKQOTHIgL/embed/simple https://vine.co/v/iPd2L7LP9Pe/embed/simple

The students were then provided time to think and write about their experience and communicate how their research informed the experience. Here is one of the student organizers speaking on CBC about his experience:

The experience was tremendously educative for all of us and it began with the curiosity of a few members of our learning community, priming the pump in terms of creating a pre-existing neural network, designing an exceptional primary experience, and then having the time and space to reflect on our learning. This experience now feeds into greater and deeper educative experiences.

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Kolb’s Cycle of Experience

I would encourage all educators to invite Muuxi and Humankind international to organize a similar experience. It is critical for understanding the plight of our fellow species mates and developing empathy for all forms of life.

 

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MLTS: Reflection

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Strini Reddy speaks to educators about the Newcomer Youth Education Support Services — the organization supported by the screening of Most Likely to Succeed

On Wednesday, February 3rd, over 200 educators came together at the University of Winnipeg to view the provocative film Most Likely to Succeed. The film challenged whether or not the current educational paradigm meets the needs and challenges of the 21st century.

The film addressed several major themes in terms of learning, teaching, and the purpose of education. From the brief discussion that followed the screening, it is clear that everyone in the room reacted differently to this experience.

Please feel free to reflect on what you thought about the film below. As we do with our more formal learning communities, please ensure that our comments are precise, respectful and not anonymous.

On behalf of St. John’s-Ravenscourt School and the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg, thank you for sharing time and space with us.

Experimental Lakes Area 2016

The 2016 Experimental Lakes Area Student Experience (ELSE) applications are now open. If you are a high school student entering Grade 11 or 12 this fall, check out the application form here. The dates for this year’s experience are July 18th-29th, 2016.

ELSE is a joint project between the IISD and St. John’s-Ravenscourt School. Students from all schools in Manitoba are invited to apply.

Check out this slide show to see what happens at ELSE!

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For more information, contact me at hendem at learners dot sjr dot mb dot ca

Sustainability & the Environment

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Image taken from Eco-Labs.org

For those folks in the Post Baccalaureate programme at the University of Winnipeg or for those teachers thinking of heading back, here is a preview of a course I will be facilitating in the Winter term.

The course is officially titled Sustainability and the Environment and it is a requisite for the Sustainability stream in the Post Bac programme. The course can also be used as an elective in other courses.

The course is a hybrid course, meaning that much our interaction will be online using Edmodo while we will also meet on three Saturdays between January and March. We will meet on the following days:

January 16th – 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

February 20th – 8:30 AM  – 4:30 PM

March 19 – 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

If you wish to join the Edmodo group now, simply enter this code: nxmw6d.

Here is the official description of the course: This course is designed to expose educators to the concepts of sustainability, ecological literacy, and systems thinking within the context of teaching and learning. As such, our learning community will explore the ecological crisis that confronts our age, the reasons why we are often paralyzed to engage in meaningful solutions, and how education, be it in its present form or other, may act as a catalyst for changes in our individual and collective attitudes and behaviour.

Course participants will be asked to engage in scholarly research and writing, virtual discussions, curriculum design, resource review and creation, and application of learning pertaining to how we help develop an ecologically literate society.

This is an intensive course and will require full engagement from all participants within the learning community.

Here are the texts we will be using:

Denton, P. (2012). Gift ecology: Reimagining a sustainable world. Rocky Mountain Books, Vancouver, BC (Those who took the Global Citizenship course with me will already have a copy of this.)

Orr, D. (1992). Ecological literacy: Education and the transition to a postmodern world. State University of New York Press, Albany, NY.

Callenbach, E. (1975). Ecotopia. Bantam Books, New York.

I would also heavily recommend the following texts for the course and for our teaching and learning in general:

http://www.amazon.ca/Beyond-Learning-Doing-Theoretical-Experiential/dp/0415882087

http://www.amazon.ca/Beyond-Learning-Doing-Theoretical-Experiential/dp/0415882087

To advance our thinking within our learning community, there will be weekly assignments, tasks, and subsequent readings to help us focus on how and why we teach and learn and how, as educators, we might play a massive role in creating sustainable communities.

As a learning community, we will be creating two ebooks in our time together. The first will be a review of resources currently “out there” which focus on systems thinking and ecological literacy. The second ebook will be a collection of learning experiences we have created and applied in our teaching.

You can check out the rest of the assignments and University policies on the official course outline. Please note, if you take the course, you will need to be active on Twitter, Edmodo, Google Hangout and other platforms which will enable us to connect and share ideas. The course, ultimately, is what you make of it. I am looking forward to it, as I love learning from master teachers.

If you have any questions, please email me at mhenderson at sjr.mb.ca