Learning from an extraordinary community of educators: doing teacher education in Myanmar Andrew Barfield, Chuo University, & Jenny Morgan, Wayo Women’s University

In March 2015 we spent a week in Yangon leading 30 hours of teacher education workshops with trainers of trainers working in non-state education (aka non-formal education). The workshops focused on life skills, critical thinking, personal English development, and producing low-cost materials. In Yangon, we constantly adjusted the tentative plans that we had set in Japan to find ourselves creating a minimum but complex scaffold for the workshops. The whole experience had profound effects on both of us and enriched our own teacher learning for our university teaching and teacher education in Japan. Our LD Forum presentation-display explored the approach we took, and why, and what we learnt together.

LD Forum 2015 Barfield Morgan Handout Text

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Hi Jenny and Andy – many thanks for posting your presentation materials here. Reading through made me wish that I’d been one of the participants in the Myanmar workshops too! It sounds like a really amazing experience – all the more so because of the intensity of all the planning before you went to Myanmar and while you were there.

    I was really struck by a term you use: “minimum but complex scaffold” and have been thinking about what that might mean. My take on it is that it’s the fine balance between the freedom to be spontaneous and creative and learner centered together with the knowledge and experience and awareness to make sure that everyone gets as much as possible out of the shared event. But I’m sure that’s something that you will expand on in the write-up.

    The handout was very helpful – and your article is already half-way written! Although the focus is on what you yourselves put into and got out of the experience, I’m wondering about the Burmese participants and what you got from them. The posters that they made are included in this post, but I don’t have a sense of their voices or impressions otherwise. I wonder how much this experience challenged their expectations, or changed their thinking about teaching? What kind of low-cost materials came out of the event? (Do they have access to computers in their schools/homes, do they have to pay for materials themselves? – I really know very little about the context.) I suspect that the strong commitment and engagement that you yourselves had toward the workshops would have been infectious and that the teachers would have responded in kind. Maybe this is also true of students in our classes back in Japan…?

    I’m really looking forward to the expanded version of this paper!

  2. Andy Barfield says:

    Hello Alison

    Many thanks for your response to our summary and visual materials – we had quite a few more visuals in the display at the forum, showing the trainers (of trainers) in the workshops doing various tasks. During the workshops themselves we video-recorded with mini i-pads different interactions. Participants also video-recorded themselves telling the stories of different experiences and interviewing each other about their work. A real wealth of voices, but none has been transcribed, and we don’t have permission to make the videos public. We both feel we need to think through this dimension of the workshops.

    The trainers are all quite familiar with Child-Centred Approaches (CCA) to education, so they were at ease with the interactive style of the workshops that we did. It may have been the regular emphasis on the reflective dimension that was in some ways different. We probably need to look back again to clarify that further.

    As for production of low-cost materials, the participants created/wrote and shared stories to do with water issues. They were familiar with collecting pictures and creating materials with what they, or the people they work with, have available in their environment. Some of the trainers worked for a community-based educational NGO that produces readers of local folktales and stories in one of the Karen languages; two other trainers worked for a different NGO that produces textbooks on social issues in Burma. Another participant was a human rights activist whose organisation had produced a pocket guidebook to basic human rights, which was illustrated with local drawings and a brief explanation of each right. She uses these in workshops and trainings that she does.

    Cheers

    Andy

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