Last year, schools participated in a day of putting aside tools, whiteboards, pens, paper and other resources (that are so readily at our fingertips here in the UK) to develop a sense of empathy for those not so well resourced.
#NakedTeachingDay is back!
The concept emerged from working in schools in both Ghana and Nepal where the contrast between rich and poor is even more stark than we see at home. The poorest communities have schools that operate on very little. Teachers don’t get paid on time, books from the government don’t always show up and resources are pitiful. Goats and chickens frequent the classes as often (if not more) than some of the children, all as a result of lack. How can we possibly begin to feel empathy for this situation?
We can’t. But if you can do something then you should! The news has been dominated by the colossal destruction taking place in America right now. I’ve heard very little mainstream discussion of the monsoons that are destroying villages across South East Asia. According to the UN, about 40 million people have been affected with thousands losing their lives. Perhaps because this kind of thing happens every year to them… it’s no longer big news? We return to Nepal in November to continue working with schools that, in truth, may no longer still be standing… but many (not all) of the humans will remain.
The focus of our return visit is curriculum planning. How do we develop a purposeful curriculum that is worth turning up for when the school that delivers it may no longer exist? Simple… We teach humans first. We will be spending time in the homes of our children, learning about their and their parents’ lives. We will be spending time with teachers to explore their current curriculum and its outcomes. We will be exploring – with them- how we can work together as humans, that all have experiences to offer, to create schooling that will not rely on whiteboards and technology (yet) but will support them in living purposeful, safe, equal and joyful lives.
What can you do?
Two years ago, I left an amazing job as Teaching and Learning Leader with the intention of having more time to contribute. I’m immensely blessed to be in the position to be able to support in person. Do not give up your teaching roles on a whim! Taking a step back into being a supply teacher is not easy and I yearn to have my own classes again. You do not have to take such a leap to support.
On September the 29th, put away your resources. Clear your classroom of the crutches: whiteboards, paper, pens, videos, computers… whatever it is and join in. As you participate, feel empathy for your fellow teachers that teach this way every single day. Brene Brown describes sympathy as, “I feel so bad for you.” and empathy as, “I’m with you.” Do not look upon the teachers picking up the debris of the yearly floods in sympathy. Be with them as you teach your class. Feel what it is like to be without so that you can be grateful for what you have the rest of the time.
Share your day using the hashtag on twitter #NakedTeachingDay so that, like last year, your ideas can be collated to be taken out to your colleagues that teach this way every day. In October of last year, Crista Hazell and I journeyed out to Ghana where your ideas from the UK were very well received, especially by community school teachers (see video below). In November, I went out to Nepal where the teachers of Jeevan Jyoti School loved the simple ideas from #NakedTeachingDay. In April, teachers of a community school in Chitwan were the next to benefit and both of these schools look forward to collaborating as myself and Wendy Brown return to Nepal in November. Curriculum planning is essential but so are every day teaching ideas that work in their context. Your creativity and ideas mean a lot to these teachers. Please don’t forget to blog, tweet and share so the ideas come out of your classroom and make a difference to teachers across the globe.
We cannot do what we do without some financial support. If your school wanted to turn this day into a fundraising experience, the charities that take us there: Lincs2Nepal and WWEP started this journey. As the work develops, I have also become a trustee of ReachOut2Schools, a charity started by Isabella Wallace. This charity will be a huge part of our future training in developing countries. Financial support is always welcome. However, this is not all about the money. This is a PHSE day for all. Teachers and students should understand how lucky they are when there are so many human beings – no worse or better than you just born in a different place – that have nothing.