Developing intra-personal competencies and social awareness in diverse socio-economic contexts, while integrating the SDGs and 21st Century Learning into their curriculum.

At 08:00 on the 23rd of May, 33 Bishops educators and HoDs made their way to the Bishops Diocesan College sports fields. Some bleary-eyed, others sceptical, but all enthusiastic.

After an initial briefing, the teams embarked on their learning journey. First challenge, navigating their way around the local mini-bus taxi transport routes to reach the workshop venue in the centre of Cape Town, and the terminus itself, the arrival point for hundreds of thousands of fellow commuters who work in the city: long queues, little signage, bustling crowds, formal and informal traders. The rationale for this exercise was for delegates to gain a deeper appreciation of the experiences, lives, pressures and joys of those from other contexts. Each delegate was issued with a small cash advance to cover transport and meal costs, and after a brief walk to a local pickup point where they alighted a mini-bus taxi, each delegate was required to engage in an active listening exercise with fellow passengers. Although this required delegates to embrace the discomfort of engaging with passengers previously unknown to them, the experience was a deeply moving one with one delegate commenting that, “I felt a sense of my privilege, as well as our shared humanity”

Second challenge to pay for transport, and lunch with only R75. After the mini-bus taxi journey where one delegate felt that she “looked like a tourist:  – I was greeted with “Welcome to Cape Town!…”, the delegates made their way on foot to the workshop venue, the A4 Arts Centre in District Six. Their route included a stop at the Eastern Bazaar food court where delegates had to use their cash advances to purchase lunch. This experience highlighted a range of issues for delegates and one delegate commented that, “there are two Cape Towns – [the] division is primarily on racial grounds”. This empathy was a key intended outcome of the Learning Journey in terms of developing the delegates awareness of bias, ‘blindness’ and discomfort – a critical skill for 21st Century learners when having to work with perspectives that may not seem to be relevant or applicable to their own experience or lives.

Once at the A4 Arts Centre, delegates were enthusiastic when describing their own barriers that hindered their initial attempts at conversations, as well as how profoundly personal their experiences of sharing conversations with strangers was. This shared sense of being challenged by different perspectives and experiences laid the foundation for the second workshop session. This session outlined how the Sustainable Development Goals could be used as a framework for CAPS aligned teaching in Grade 9, across each content area specified in the National Curriculum Statement for the Senior Phase. In addition, Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Framework was introduced to delegates as a lens for considering their pupils’ development processes. Finally, the SDG/CAPS framework was paired with the 21st Century Skills outlined in the Delors Framework developed by UNESCO as an approach to designing an interdisciplinary, project-based lesson or activity. Delegates were then paired off in dual subject pairs where they were expected to plan and outline a lesson or activity for their Grade 9 learners in Term 3 that utilised the SDG/CAPS/21st Century Skills approaches covered.

There was an overwhelming sense of positivity amongst the delegates when planning their interdisciplinary lessons/activities, especially when reflecting on how to incorporate the SDGs and ensuring learners developed 21st Century Skills. There was also a clear consensus that delegates were motivated to increase the level of experiential learning for Bishops boys and that they would forego other scheduling commitments to make time available for this.

After a powerful plenary session where delegates shared their lesson/activity planning progress, explored teaching strategies and developed collaboration plans going forward, the programme concluded with a return train journey to Bishops, with one delegate commenting that this was, “a perfect way to end the day and again pushed us to rethink our basic ideas and paradigms”.

All in all, the Bishops HoDs adventurous journey proved to be a fantastic opportunity for the delegates to gain new perspectives on 21st Century teaching and learning whilst developing their intra-personal competencies and social awareness. 

If you’d like to host an Adventurous Journey for Educators at your school, get in touch with us! Email info@routes2resilience.org.

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