"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."

~Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, October 25, 2010

Peace Education Workshop: Day 5

The second day of the second week of the Peace Education Workshop focused on classroom management. The participants discussed the underlying causes of behavior problems within the classroom, reflecting on the role of the teacher and what the teacher can do to provide an appropriate atmosphere in his or her classroom. For the participants, this was beneficial; being able to take the excessive attention on what the student is doing, and instead looking at oneself to see what I am doing or not doing to support all my students.

While not all pressure was taken off the students, the teachers in the workshop were able to consider if their own knowledge of the content they were teaching, classroom environment, and lessons were supportive of a rich learning environment that let students think, create, and ask questions without fear. The participants recognized that it may not always be the students' fault, especially considering the previous days topic of Theory of Mind.

Discussion of motivation, discipline vs. punishment, and ways to encourage positive interaction with students were also included throughout the day.

As mentioned earlier, the weekend before the start of the second week of the workshop, I was able to travel to Ganta, which is in northern Liberia, near the Guinea border. We stayed on the United Methodist Ganta Mission Station, where are schools, vocational training programs, a church, and one of the largest hosp
itals in the country which also is home of a well established nursing school.

We were able to tour the grounds, talk to people working at the station, as well as others who come to the station for church, school, or hospital care. We lived a little rougher than we had been in Monrovia, with little electricity and no running water, but the women who cooked for us made wonderful bread.

You can see more pictures of the trip (as well as other pictures from the 3 weeks) here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Peace Education Workshop: Day 4

The second week of the workshop focused on the development of Theory of Mind in students who are deaf. As discussed in an earlier post, Theory of Mind is the ability to have empathy for another person, understanding that other people may have different opinions than yourself, and being able to "walk in another person's shoes." This ability is delayed in students who are deaf, and is a skill that must be taught.

The fourth day was spent discussing why this occurs (through lack of incidental learning, communication barriers, etc.), exploring specific examples. The participants were able to see the need for teaching specific social skills in the classroom, especially ways to communicate and solve problems in a peaceful manner. This day laid the foundation for the remainder of the workshop-teaching social skills (including human rights issues) through games and hands on activities.

For further information on Theory of Mind, please see the earlier post.

Over the weekend, I was able to travel to
Ganta, which is in the northern part of Liberia, close to the Guinea border. This was an excellent time to see more of the country. Though Liberia
is only about the size of Ohio, it took us about 12 hours to travel from Monrovia to Ganta. Between 2008 and 2010, there has been much improvement with roads. The road between
Monrovia and Kakata was amazing compared to what it was in 2008. Even with this development, there are still areas of Liberia that are not accessible with cars.

Friday, October 8, 2010

2nd Quest for Hope 5K Run/Walk

Just wanted to announce that we will be having our 2nd Annual Quest for Hope 5K Run/Walk (it's actually the 3rd year Quest UMC has sponsored it, with the first year going towards Nothing But Nets-hence it being called Quest for Nets) in Urbana, IL to benefit students in Liberia. Last year, we were able to raise $3,200 to go towards scholarships for students in Liberia. Half of that money went towards the students at Hope for the Deaf School, which provided them with the money to pay for student uniforms, school supplies, and also go towards providing salary for the teachers.

This year, we hope to raise even more, but we can't do it without runners or walkers. Go to www.questforhope5k.com to find out more information and ways to participate.