Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Transition Year Challenges: Mapping the Journey

Continuing from the last post . . . .

I spoke to an arts organization in London's East End, and they are interested in working with CAGSE on a mapping project for transition-year children we work with in our storytelling program. This program I've designed and implement with a professional storyteller called Sarah Mooney.

The Program

The Storytelling program does a number of things, all at once:

1. Raising children's awareness of how they think, how they feel, and the relationship between the two. This allows them to be responsible for the choices they make -- once they understand how they make them.

2. Offering children ownership over creative efforts that are often prescribed.

3. Giving children practice being more observant. Most people get lost in the process of analytic work somewhere between observation and drawing conclusions. Heighten sensitivity to the world around you, understand the importance of looking closely at detail, and you're less likely to take short cuts. This alone develops habits for more rigorous analysis of problems and makes it more likely we'll solve them in a satisfying way.

3. Offering teachers ways to enhance their own good work through somatic learning strategies. If we learn best by understanding concepts in different contexts, why not get the information in to the body as well as through the ears into the head?

4. Offering teachers ways new ways to approach subjects that are hardest to teach -- critical thinking, grammar, and writing, citizenship, and self-esteem.

We offer this program to schools to put in a literacy slot within the curriculum. It both develops literacy skills and works towards the requirements of the SEAL program currently being rolled out for the good of children's emotional development.

Getting the Program on a Map

It's likely that in January CAGSE will be working with Chris Nold to do emotional mapping of neighborhoods around a school through intergenerational walks -- within the school as well.

If Chris's and our past work is anything to go by, the project will give children and parents (or grandparents) a bigger context in which to see themselves as individuals, their relationship with school, and their place in the physical environment at home and in and around academic work.

Sarah and I will then build the storytelling work around negotiating identity within families, within schools structure, and as children move on to secondary school from the comfort of a familiar primary school environment.

More in the next post . . .

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