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What are some of the things you see emerging from the Maker labs?

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What are some of the things you see emerging from the Maker labs? We were asked this question yesterday in a meeting with our Maker labs partners Tony and Christie from the Metabolic foundation.

The Maker labs is hosted at Di ISL on Wednesday and Thursday from 3-7pm. We develop project ideas together and guided by Tony and Christie we learn how to make things, fix things or come up with cool recycling ideas. An important part of the Maker labs now is our engagement with children.  On any given day at the maker labs we have on average 15 children and young adults age 6 to 20.  Some of these children know each other from the community or from school. What we make is sometimes determined by the materials we have available, we have made things from pallet boards, cardboard and newspaper.

Earlier when we started we were asked what were some of the projects we imagined building a solar dehydrator, a window farm, a tech corner for kids, chalkboard paint and a roof top garden. We also wanted to do some projects with the Arduino board and the Rasberry pi. 

So far these are the things we have observed:

  • It is not always easy for kids to work together and to learn to share things
  • The labs offer the opportunity to learn to work together
  • The labs makes learning fun and interesting
  • Kids feel proud when they can complete a fun task or project
  • The labs allow kids and adults to be use their imagination and to be creative
  • The labs helps us to focus on problem solving in creative ways
  • Kids feel a sense of responsibility working on projects
  • Kids look forward to coming to the maker labs
  • Some kids demonstrate an increase in discipline since coming to the maker labs
  • The labs help us to see kids who have a natural interest in making and fixing things
  • The labs give adults a chance to see they could develop a livelihood around the knowledge and skills they may be developing in recycling and making things
  • The labs is a social space. Kids and adults spend constructive time together
  • The labs helps us to experiment with alternative models for learning
  • The labs help us create awareness around the environment and materials in the environment
  • The labs helps us re-imagine our world and feel capable of making the things we imagine.

 

CXCs and the poverty trap. Some thoughts on Critical Pedagogy for African communities

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This week we are doing registrations for learners for a CXC Mathematics, English and Reading Programme at the Institute for Social Leadership. CXC or the Caribbean Examination Council is the certifying body for Regional examinations. It is the most basic requirement for acquiring a a job and gaining admission into colleges or Universities locally.  

Many students graduate from High School without any CXCs and often struggle to get some after or end up having much more limited options for employment because of this lack. 

At Di Institute we thought that if we were able to provide them with an opportunity to do CXC subjects, at a minimum Maths and English we would be helping them to open opportunities for employment and further studies. 

As we began registration I became more puzzled by the situation and began to question our decision to offer Maths and English or even my view that CXC provided a solution.

We have been talking to youth 14-22yrs and this is what we have been understanding;

  • The Youth we work with come from low-income households, typically inner-city communities with adverse living conditions. 
  • There is a lack of money and this makes them think about education specifically as a way to get a job and a job that will give them a steady income. Jobs like fireman, soldier, police, nurse, teacher, accountant, are commonly what i have heard as career options.
  • These jobs are not the best paid in Jamaica. Even though there is scope to be promoted to higher positions over time, these are civil service jobs. Currently the civil service is experiencing a wage freeze and there is much talk about rationalization of the sector which could mean job loss. The service though seemingly representing a stable income, is also at the same time very unstable.

    Are we trapping youths like these in a cycle of poverty with CXC preparation and qualification for these jobs?

  • At the same time, pursuing higher education in Jamaica is becoming increasingly expensive. Many of them don’t see their parents being able to find the money to do this. Even though it is one route for increasing your career options and removing and making you more marketable and therefore likely to earn high salaries.  More and more the University is taking a strict position on payment of tuition fees and the student loan bureau is reporting that it has received an increase in applications but has not yet been able to find all the money need to grant these loans. The student loan bureau has also suffered over the years from students defaulting on the repayment of their loans. 

So as early as 16yrs old youth are prepared to go and find a job.

  • How are new institutions to address education to provide opportunities to youth beyond the “middle level poverty trap” in Jamaica?
  • What should a curriculum and programme for youth look like ?
  • How can we use the value of current certification such as CXC ?
  • How can we support youths in re-imagine their life and circumstances?

Reading List

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the oppressed. [New York]: Herder and Herder, 1970.

Freire, Paulo. Cultural action for freedom The Harvard educational review. Monograph series, no. 1. [Cambridge]: Harvard educational review, 1970.

Freire, Paulo. Cultural action for freedom Penguin education. Harmondsworth,: Penguin, 1972.

Freire, Paulo. Education for critical consciousness. [1st American ] ed. A Continuum book. New York,: Seabury Press, 1973.

Freire, Paulo. Education, the practice of freedom. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative, 1976.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy in process: the letters to Guinea-Bissau A Continuum book. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.

Freire, Paulo. A day with Paulo Freire . Delhi: I.S.P.C.K., 1980.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy in process : the letters to Guinea-Bissau. New York: Continuum, 1983.

Freire, Paulo. The politics of education : culture, power, and liberation. South Hadley, Mass.: Bergin & Garvey, 1985.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1986.

Freire, Paulo, and Donaldo P. Macedo. Literacy : reading the word & the worldCritical studies in education series. South Hadley, Mass.: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, 1987.

Freire, Paulo, and Antonio Faundez. Learning to question : a pedagogy of liberation. New York: Continuum, 1989.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the city. New York: Continuum, 1993.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New rev. 20th-Anniversary ed. New York: Continuum, 1993.

Freire, Paulo, and Ana Maria Araújo Freire. Pedagogy of hope : reliving Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1994.

Freire, Paulo, and Donaldo P. Macedo. Letters to Cristina: reflections on my life and work. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Freire, Paulo. Mentoring the mentor: a critical dialogue with Paulo

FreireCounterpoints, vol. 60. New York: P. Lang, 1997.

Freire, Paulo, and Ana Maria Araújo Freire. Pedagogy of the heart. New York: Continuum, 1997.

Freire, Paulo. Teachers as cultural workers: letters to those who dare teach The edge, critical studies in educational theory. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1998.

Freire, Paulo. Politics and education UCLA Latin American studies; v. 83. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications, 1998.

Freire, Paulo, Ana Maria Araújo Freire, and Donaldo P. Macedo. The Paulo Freire reader. New York: Continuum, 1998.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of freedom: ethics, democracy, and civic courage Critical perspectives series. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1998.

 

The importance of dance and movement in youth learning activities

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Our facilitator Umoja comes to the ISL on Wednesdays. He uses drama to work with the youth.

Today I observed a Dance/movement routine he ask the youth to do at the beginning of the class.

I was playing Need by Brookly Funk Essentials before he started. He asked me to continue because he liked the rhythm of the song.

When he finished the routine i asked him to explain why he had chosen dance/movement.

He told me he was trying to achieve the following;

  • Unifying the group. because they are coming from different locations different homes. helping them to move together- synchronizing
  • Fostering peer learning. Learning from each other. If someone is shy they can she themselves through another persons movement
  • The repetition of the steps gave them the idea that you can keep trying until you succeed.  Even if you don’t get it perfect the more you try it becomes perfect.
  • The rhythm of the  music gave a mood of exploring what was given . The sound might not have been familiar and so it encouraged them to feel more and experiment with the movement.

One person said” mi like the movement because it give me a energy, mi just feel something from mi foot come straight up di whole a mi body”