Self-Evaluation in the Global Classroom

By John MacBeath; Hidenori Sugimine | Go to book overview

22

Postscript

John MacBeath

In June 2002 eighteen students arrived in Cambridge to report on the further adventures of Learning School 3. They arrived from Japan late on Wednesday evening and having presented their findings, left on Thursday afternoon for Zlin in the Czech Republic for the final international meeting of the Global Classroom and the Learning School.

Those who were present at the Cambridge seminar described it variously as 'astonishing', 'ground breaking' and 'deeply moving'. It would have been impossible to have been unmoved by the students' graphic descriptions of life in a South African township, the warmth and generosity of people defined not by what they had (nothing) but what they were (everything). It would have been impossible to be unmoved by their accounts of the juxtaposition of corrugated shacks with the grandeur of the Olympic stadia, travelling daily between the extreme poverty of township people and the affluence of the white and 'coloured' South Africans. They discovered how unique their insights were into these two worlds when they were told by white South Africans that, despite living in Cape Town all their lives, they had never ventured into the townships. As one student said: 'It took us, students, from Shetland and Sweden and Germany to tell them what life was like in their own back yard.'

They found themselves doing an educational job with white and 'coloured' South Africans whose knowledge vacuum was filled with racist stereotypes but often had to admit defeat because, as one student said: 'They still only see what they want to see.'

A German girl spoke powerfully of living with a Korean family who spoke not a word of English or German but, nonetheless, they came to be so close to one another that language and cultural barriers were dissolved. Like LS1 and LS2 students before them, they spoke of how deeply their lives and thinking had been changed by the experience of different cultures, different mores, different expectations, different schools. A Korean student told us how, for the first time in his life, at the age of 17, he had learned how to discuss. In all his school life no teacher had ever promoted discussion and it took him months of living with the Learning School to learn how to express his own view and listen to the views of others. He also described eight hours every day of intensive after-school study, as passionate commitment to achievement with the reflective, critical

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