There are some people like me who do not like to solely demonstrate affection on birthdays, because if we truly love somebody we show our love as often as possible, not only on one day. For this, I am happy to have Facebook to remind me about my friends’ birthday, because I never make it a point to remember dates.
I had no idea my reflection in my post ‘Don’t waste thinking, don’t waster skills’ would sensitize me so deeply about apprenticeship and understanding local contexts.
Opportunities for action and service as action in schools are now stirred by very specific
days like Earth Day, International Book Day, Peace Day and many other commemorations that inspire teachers to organize activities in which students do good deeds for one day. Is this the message we are sending as educators? That caring for others and the planet is something that can only last a day? This is what I have begun to call the wedding dress syndrome: things that are used one, and remembered through pictures taken, but never truly wondering whether its purchase has had an impact on us and the way we see life.
If service as action, community service or engagement in the community is not an inherent part our planning and does not add another layer of depth to the quality teaching and learning we should promote, then it is just decoration, a tick box, as event that is part of a cool global trend. Hence, with this reflection, my invitation is not to let what looks globally cool to blind us for what is locally right.
Why waiting until Earth Day to be good to earth? I am sure that if we looked around in our contexts, we would find problems that Mother Earth would be very happy if we attempted to solve them. Some common ones that I have observed in my journey as a teacher include and are not limited to: food waste; paper waste (how many times dozens of papers are printed without caution and then just stranded); energy use (some teacher leave their classroom’s lights or projectors on, etc); paper cups use for water fountains (something that can easily be solved by bringing a bottle!), among others.
The point is that while it is a fantastic idea to engage in global issues, it is not a good idea to oversee and ignore the opportunity take action and make a difference in a context that influences students’ everyday life; the extent to which they can collaborate and learn from one another. When students’ local context should is recognized as a significant part of their educational space, the connections they make with their local environment will last a lifetime and inform their outlook on many other areas of their lives.
Contextualized learning is effective because a context informs where is the place of the information we are handling is. Likewise, contextualized action enables us to employ the skills we posses in the improvements of the social, material, and cultural dimensions of daily life in the learning process in the place we call ‘our community.’
Then again, as I wondered in my post about the power of local contexts, ‘how blind can many International schools be?
A narrative for a service-led unit planner example can be found via this link.