Watch the video below which I made in order to gain an insight into the context of the Calais Jungle refugee situation:
*Note: Please explore the many hyperlinks within this page for further information/resources or to follow my thinking.
My inspiration for my future learning space is the plight of prior Calais Jungle residents, eight-year old Khalid and his mother, as covered in this post. The pair fled from Aleppo in 2011 and spent the five subsequent years moving from country to country, eventually finding temporary refuge in the Calais Jungle.
At the time of writing this (October 24,2016) unaccompanied minors have the promise of being relocated from the razed Calais Jungle and resettled in the U.K. While this is wonderful and heartening news, the fate of children WITH parental supervision is not so promising: they are destined for further uncertainty as they are dispersed to temporary camps and “welcome centers” all over France. Their future is one of an indefinite, ever-changing liminal space, and if the past and current reports are any indication, they will continue to wander from camp to camp.
My future learning space, therefore, targets students and parents such as these. To go without any education for years on end is severely detrimental, and it is (obviously) not the desire of either the parents or the children (as outlined in this post). Yet it has been their reality due to their constant moving and accommodation in temporary refugee camps (or any shelter they can find on their journey).
These families have slipped through the cracks and without the concerted effort and intervention of global-minded educators (such as teachers linked with Teachers Without Borders), it is this their reality.
My FLS project is, therefore, aptly named:
Mission and Vision Statement:
To furnish a future learning space for refugee families with primary-aged children who are constantly on the move, providing them with an extremely mobile education which focuses on basic literacy and numeracy and foundational learning which will, therefore, develop their personal learning space. This FLS will also utilize the narrative as an avenue for giving the children “a voice” and the ability to process their liminal space.
The Future + Hope FLS can be simply be administered and accessed using the internet and smartphones, but also has incredible possibilities for integration with the Teachers Without Borders’ ICT initiative and existing programs.
The vision of this educational project is to give both a personal and collective/national future and a hope – a platform where students (and ultimately nations) can develop and thrive in spite of adversity.
Future + Hope FLS: Details
Simplicity is a fundamental premise for this FLS. The learning space needs to be accessible by mobile phones as there is no guarantee of computer access in temporary camps and locations. One of the hallmarks of utilizing the e-space is its flexibility and mobility – it can be accessed anytime from anywhere and there is no need for a fixed physical address.
The learning will be foundational and basic in nature as the realities of moving from place to place and the lack of supervision by a physical teacher demands that it is not overly complex.
The premise of this FLS is for the students to access a single Google Doc which contains a year’s worth of activities which further develop basic literacy, numeracy, and foundational studies. Each day’s undertakings will also include a fun way to use the arts (in its many forms) as a vehicle for the narrative/ personal expression as they process their existence in a liminal space as well as the traumatic and sometimes horrific realities which they may have (sadly) experienced. This will further help to fortify their development of self-efficacy and psychological progress as they deal with their incredibly challenging circumstances and experience the satisfaction of overcoming adversity.
The Google Doc will contain links to sites such as the Khan Academy where students will progress at their own rate, gaining mastery of basic and fundamental maths and language concepts and competencies.
Provision will be made for students to upload their written work via the Google Doc; their narrative/artistic expression can be photographed or videoed using the smartphone and shared via Twitter.
Please watch this brief instructional video I have made which expounds on my FLS idea:
Below are sample pages from the Google Doc:
Please feel free to download the PDF version by clicking below.
One of the key premises of this FLS is that it is cost efficient since it is largely digital/virtual and simply requires a mobile phone and internet connection. The only actual outlay needed is the time and effort spent by the teacher(s) to write the initial Google Doc as resources accessed within the learning space would all consist of free web-based sources such as Khan Academy. (Note: Google Docs, Google Drive, the Khan Academy, SpellingCity.com etc all have apps for Android and iOS platforms).
Future + Hope FLS: Teachers are the Key to the Success
This FLS will not be possible without the global collaboration and engagement of teachers as catalysts of change and hope. The initial Google Doc would need to be written in a language with which the students are fluent. (In the case of ex-Calais Jungle residents which consisted largely of refugees from Syria, Eritrea, and Somalia, the common language would be Arabic.) It is also important that the Google Doc is written by a teacher who is familiar with the student(s)’ culture, heritage, and traditions so that their sense of cultural identity can be perpetuated simultaneously with their identity as a student.
The point of contact to initiate this FLS would be educators on-the-ground (in this example, local teachers in France) as they make the FLS known to potential families. Orientation and training for the use of the Google Doc and the setting up of a Twitter account could realistically be completed within a single one-hour session, although on-going help and support would obviously be highly desirable.
Alternatively, a portal could be included on the Refugeeinfo.eu website, which is the first thing people see when they connect to the Wi-Fi hotspots many humanitarian organizations host throughout Europe (Mercy Corps, 2016).
Future + Hope FLS: Potential and Possibilities
Ideally, the student would be supervised by a virtual teacher from their country or culture of origin. All learning activities and responses to lessons would be uploaded via the Google Doc for perusal, comment, correction and feedback by the supervising teacher.
The idea could be further developed with the establishment of a virtual classroom using a platform such a Google Classroom. This would open up amazing possibilities for collaboration and group learning as well as social and emotional support from other students and the teacher. It would also foster a sense of belonging that a classroom (albeit a virtual classroom) ultimately promotes.
Other activities for further learning in subjects such as history, geography, and science could also be included as the “classroom concept” is expanded. Continuing developments could also include certification and the establishment of accredited courses and record keeping in order to assist in the transition either back into their country of origin (this is the hope!) or their future country of permanent residence.
This idea could also be further developed and used as a vehicle for “the dissemination of key messages regarding health, environment, conflict resolution, and citizenship”. (UNHCR, 2001, p. vii) by adding extra information and activities to the original Google Doc.
This FLS also has the potential to be tied in with other current ICT initiatives such Connect to Learn, Learn Lab, Learn Syria, and other existing Open Educational Resources (OERs) which are rapidly developing locally specific content and material at low costs. The incredible potential of projects such these is prodigious and encouraging! The ultimate goal of these enterprises is increasing virtual education’s sustainability and scale.
However, in its most simplistic form, the student(s)’ progress when interacting with FLS I have outlined could be easily managed by a parent, relative, or anyone in the camp who is passionate about education, acting as a facilitator, mentor, and guide for the student(s)’ learning using the basic Google Doc.
Ultimately, it is my hope that this FLS will give both the students and their parents a sense of agency and empowerment, help to resume a feeling of normalcy, and as they believe in themselves, they will indeed have a future and a hope.
Future + Hope: A Poem of Promise (By Judy Huf)