Travel to Jozi and Apartheid Museum; Wednesday, 1/9
During our first afternoon in Johannessburg, we were able to travel to Jozi & visit the Apartheid Museum. The history the museum represented made for such a moving and powerful experience. The way the entrance was set up had already portrayed the very harsh reality that people experienced during the apartheid reign, with different entrances for whites and non-whites. As I walked through the different exhibits, the pictures, stories and videos gave life to a past that has shaped South Africa’s current state. I was especially interested in the exhibit that portrayed the role that Albertina Sisulu played as an activist during this time. During class, we spoke about Winnie Mandela and the influence she had as a powerful figure against apartheid. As I learned more about Albertina, it was interesting to see just how important women were during this difficult time of South Africa’s history, as the wives of powerful figures but more importantly as outspoken and significant leaders themselves. However, as much as the apartheid museum represents the past, its effects are still very much present. One of the articles that we read during class, titled “Land was stolen under apartheid. It still hasn’t been given back” is an example of the repercussions of such a system. The fact that people are still fighting to get back their rightful property shows that there is still much work to be done to mend past wrongful actions (McKenzie & Swails, 2018).
McKenzie, D. & Swails, B. (2018). Land was stolen under apartheid. It still hasn’t been given back. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/20/africa/south-africa-land-reform-intl/index.html
Esikhisini School (Observation & Teaching); Thursday & Friday, 1/10-1/11
Our time at Esikhisini Primary School was a profound experience! Interacting and working with the teachers and learners allowed me to truly understand the importance of the preparation work we had been building on before the trip. Through our initial observations, I was able to see many of the strategies we had previously learned about in effect. The teacher in the Grade 4 class combined different type of work settings, from individual to group work, and then class discussions. During my Grade 5 observations, I was able to see that the teacher encouraged student’s to relate their personal experiences with the English lesson of the day, which allowed them to be more invested and interested in their work. Overall, an observation that applied to both grades was the large class sizes, where it was difficult for students to receive personalized instruction.
During our teaching time with the students, the CRSTP allowed us to introduce broad and important topics to the students, ranging from the importance of reading to their future goals. This project that we worked through with the Grade 6 & 7 learners resulted in a tangible product that the teachers and learners themselves can hopefully refer to and build on throughout their time in school. The emphasis on reading was incorporated as a request from the teachers, who asked that we emphasize this component of school to their learners as a way to guide them to realize the importance of it and the role it already plays in their lives.
Harambee – Youth Employment Accelerator; Thursday, 1/10
I appreciated learning about and visiting Harambee, as it allowed us to incorporate the nonprofit sector into our trip and time in South Africa. This organization does a lot of great work in pairing young adults to employment opportunities, by filling the gaps where possible. As South Africa deals with high youth unemployment rates (almost half of the population between 18-35 years old is unemployed), there is a need for assistance in this area. The types of services, amount of outreach and available resources offered by Harambee were abundant and seem to be very successful thus far.
The most impactful part of our visit was the time we were able to take to observe the youth participating in their development programs and activities. This aspect of the organization really showed me that they truly emphasize the learning potential of these young adults, as a way to shift mindsets from a deficit perspective to a more well-rounded approach. Hearing participants speak to their strengths, as well as future goals allowed me to see that students were being shown the language and skills to better prepare themselves for the workforce. While obtaining a job is the short term goal, the assistance Harambee is able to provide people truly enables long term personal and professional growth.
Soweto Bike Tour; Friday, 1/11
The bike tour we took through Soweto was one of the highlights (and also the beginning of many exercise intensive activities) of this trip! The educational component of this experience was eye-opening and allowed me to gain a more in depth perspective of the oldest and largest township in South Africa. The lunch we had right before we began was also amazingly delicious! The country’s food was definitely a positive for me, and if I remember correctly this was the first time we tried pap – a life changer.
Being able to bike through the area while seeing the conditions people are living in first hand was impactful because it was no longer a historical account in a book but rather an experience that I can carry with me. Our tour guides were excellent and were able to provide a lot of detail in regards to the evolution of the township. The reputation that Soweto carries – as a dangerous and uninviting area – was not at all what I experienced. I appreciated that we were able to learn so much from our tour guides in order to appropriately inform ourselves of the realities that lie within the community. This bike tour also brought to life a portion of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. Having read this book before the trip allowed me to have prior knowledge of Soweto and South Africa as a whole, while still leaving room for learning and observation. One of the more surprising elements of the tour was the stark contrast between the apartment complex that had been built right next to the family units. It was frustrating to learn about and see, and I thought it was such a powerful statement that no one had decided to move in.
I was appreciative that we ended the bike tour with a ceremony led by our tour guides, sharing in each other’s company through the attire and beverages that were offered. This definitely contributed to the welcoming and community-oriented environment that we were able to be a part of through the bike tour.
Changemaker Symposium; Saturday, 1/12
The changemaker symposium helped create a powerful space where we came together with South African educators to tackle challenges within our education systems. This profound experience allowed us to realize that our countries have more similarities than differences, and that our role as educators and practitioners is enhanced by participating in events such as these, where we are able to share knowledge, stories and best practices in order to build up our own schools and communities. The group that I was fortunate to be a part of was made up of passionate individuals who realize the importance of education in children’s lives, while recognizing the current gaps in our respective systems. The challenge that my group and I focused on was creating a culture that values & advocates for underrepresented students. A lot of the strategies and examples that we presented, in regards to addressing this challenge, included culturally responsive and inclusive practices. As an example, we included translanguaging as a way to allow students to learn in multiple languages, thus reinforcing each one while tailoring a student’s learning to their background. We made sure to also be realistic about our solutions, while involving as many constituents as possible. When it becomes a group effort, there tends to be more participation and invoked change from within.
I also appreciated the presentations from all the changemaker groups, as we were able to listen to the way others approached their own challenges. Overall, it was an informative and supportive environment where we were able to form goals for improving our educational systems in our individual ways.
Safari; Sunday & Monday, 1/13-1/14
The two part safari (at dusk and at dawn) we were able to experience was absolutely amazing! This was definitely a time during the trip where I was able to reflect on just how fortunate I was to be in such a beautiful country, one that I never imagined I would visit. The range in animals that we were able to see, from afar and up close, was stunning. Our goal was to see the “big 5” which includes lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards and water buffalo. While we were not able to spot water buffalo during either trip, we were able to see the other four which was incredible.
As I reflected on how fortunate I was to be able to partake in such an experience, I was also able to realize my privilege in doing so. As I looked around the caravan, I realized that it was mostly tourists who are able to afford such an excursion. The reality is that there continues to be a huge divide amongst access and affordability with the locals, especially black Africans. While apartheid ended over two decades ago, the very luxuries that South Africa offers its guests cannot be enjoyed by its own people.
Lebone II; Monday, 1/14
Our visit to Lebone II was a huge contrast to the other township schools we visited during our trip. Lebone is a well-resourced school where students are able to receiving housing and aid if required. It was built as a community project, to help elevate the community through the investment of its learners and educational pursuits. Lebone offers its students an array of extracurricular subjects, such as art and film, and requires that all students play a sport. Their focus is on developing the student holistically, which they emphasize through their course and resource offerings. Teachers and administrators are also offered professional development opportunities in order to ensure that they are continuously able to improve their practice. These opportunities are also offered to the community as a whole, in order to share knowledge for the betterment of all learners.
We were able to learn a lot about Lebone’s units of inquiry, which were ways through which students learned necessary habits, values and skills in order to be successful after graduation. These ‘habits of mind’ were posted throughout various classrooms in different ways, through quotes and pictures, in order to emphasize the importance of them at every grade level and in varying subjects. I thought this was a great area of focus, because these skills seem to also be the ones that Harambee was helping its unemployed youth learn and obtain. If learners are able to incorporate these life skills, habits and values into their coursework early on, then they can be better prepared not only for their schooling but also their professional endeavors.
Overall, the campus felt like a supportive and student centered environment, where student success was the priority. We were even able to enter a space where the leadership team meets, where every single student’s picture was hung up on the wall, as a reminder to the team that the ultimate focus and priority were the students.
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT); Tuesday-Thursday, 1/15-/17
“If you don’t know who you are then you won’t know what you want” – Thabo Mofolo
Our work continued once we arrived in Cape Town, through new partnerships with university students. Our work with the CPUT students was definitely a highlight of the trip! Overall, the interactions we were able to have with the local community, through CPUT, changemaking events and school visits, made this trip unforgettable. We were able to not only observe but directly participate in the development of learners and educators while enhancing our own learning and understanding as well.
We took several trips to CPUT. The campus seemed to be very traditional, although the students mentioned that it was a smaller campus compared to other universities in Cape Town. There, we were able to debrief the Culturally Responsive Student Transition Project (CRSTP), a process we had all worked through individually prior to convening. It was interesting to hear how that process went for many of us, and how useful of a tool we found it to be with the range of students we completed it with. In smaller groups, we were also able to modify certain prompts, relating to learning habits, positive thinking and overcoming adversity. Through these modifications, my group and I were able to talk through different strategies we had learned about within our course textbook (Inclusive Instruction). We provided examples within our slides, such as asking for feedback, extra time, or positive reinforcement, in order to allow for more effective discussion of these topics.
It was also great to go on the school visits with the CPUT students because they brought an added level of understanding and knowledge about the country as a whole. They were able to highlight their skills, such as language and culture familiarity, through the interactions we had with learners in each school. During one of our school visits as a group, Thabo shared the above quote with the students (“If you don’t know who you are then you won’t know what you want”). This message does a great way of summarizing the CRSTP, as the focus of this tool is to allow students to reflect on their personal needs and strengths while relating it to their professional pursuits.
I.D. Mkize (High School in Gugulethu); Wednesday, 1/16
In Cape Town, we were able to visit two townships schools, working with Grade 12 learners in each one. Our first visit was to I.D. Mkize, where we had another productive school engagement. Before arriving to the township, we were told that Gugulethu was one of the more dangerous townships that locals would not visit unless necessary. While this could have added to my perception of the school and learners, I made sure to keep an open mind and reserve judgements.
Overall, the learners that I worked with seemed very capable and attentive to their work. There were areas of learning and I hope the CRSTP allowed them to begin thinking more about certain topics they were not already familiar with.
When we got into the classroom, my group and I decided to split our classroom up into smaller groups, so that we each helped lead 10 learners through the CRSTP. Overall, the students that I worked with were a lot more independent and worked through the CRSTP at their own pace. I was there to assist with clarifying prompts and making sure they were staying on task. Students were also at varying stages of understanding and comfortableness with completing the project, so I made sure to provide additional support to those who needed it. The large groups we were each assigned made it difficult to form deeper connections with each learner, but I made an effort to connect with each learner through at least one of the prompts.
After our time with the learners, we were able to spend some downtime with the CPUT students getting to know each other a bit more. We played a game and shared stories that allowed our cultural exchange experiences to continue.
Ned Doman (High School in Athlone); Thursday, 1/17
The second school we were able to partner with in Cape Town was Ned Doman, located in the township of Athlone. When we arrived, we were able to hear more about the school from the principal, who shared with us the challenges he is currently facing. Lack of parental involvement and large class sizes seemed to be his focus, as the students he was serving were ones that had been transferred out of other schools.
When we got into the classroom, we had a much smaller class size, which made it possible to create smaller group sizes, allowing each of us to work more closely with each learner. The learners that I was able to work with at this school were very impressive! They all had a good idea of their future pursuits and what they needed to do in order to achieve them. They were also very willing to answer each prompt in depth, which I hope they can continue to refer to throughout their academic year!
After our work with the learners, we were then able to partner with the teachers as they focused on encouraging and increasing parental involvement within their school. We gave them an overview of the CRSTP we had just completed with the Grade 12 learners, and they asked questions in regards to the topics that were covered and how it was taken up by the class. As they worked through new ways to focus on involving parents more in the education process, I made an effort to ask questions so that I could suggest potential and relevant options to add to their efforts. The biggest area of growth that I saw throughout the discussion was a shift in mindset, in regards to a deficit approach of parent involvement. The teachers did seem motivated to make a change, but it looks like it will require a community approach in order to make it successful.
People in South Africa
We met some amazing people in South Africa throughout our two weeks! The people and the hospitality they provided definitely made this trip an amazing one. We were able to enjoy dinner with different individuals including Nike, Essie, Gadija, Nsovo, Marcia, as well as the CPUT students and faculty. As locals, these individuals were able to provide us with a first-hand perspective of South Africa and the ways in which the country has developed over time. Niki & Essie were kind enough to host a Braai for us, which included a lot of delicious food! It was also interesting to visit Niki’s house, as it was a stark contrast from some of the other neighborhoods we had visited in Johanessbrug, in regards to affluence and security. Dinner with Gadija was also very enjoyable! She was also crucial to our work with the Esikhisini learners because she went out of her way to make sure we were prepared for our visit. Marcia was able to join us on many of our outings and she added great humor and knowledge to our trip! The CPUT students and faculty are also amazing individuals. The passion the students have for education radiates from the work that we did together. Dr. Meda & Dr. Mosito were also such great facilitators and shared great knowledge and wisdom with us.
Looking forward to staying in contact with those we met and continuing to work individually and collectively towards our educational pursuits!
Cape Town Experience
Thank you to Dr. Jez for sharing her knowledge and love for this country because it made the trip so incredible! From the food to the people to the scenery, everything about South Africa was truly life changing. It was also an amazing experience to be able to work so closely with teachers and learners at different schools because I was able to learn so much from them. My personal and professional practice has definitely been enhanced because of this trip. I have been able to expand my knowledge of not only the country and its history, but also about inclusive and culturally responsive education.
I am looking forward to returning to South Africa because it is truly a country that I very much enjoyed learning about and visiting. Until next time, South Africa!
How does the school to prison pipeline and translanguaging fit with what you know of Freire’s work? Explain with a specific example for STPP and translanguaging.
Freire’s work explains the oppression of students and the systemic practices within which the our educational system exists. He encourages transformative reflection and action in order to develop positive educational virtues through which to change our current oppressive state. The school to prison pipeline is a prime example of these oppressive practices, as certain students are targeted at higher rates, based on numerous factors including race, socioeconomic status and ability status. It seems like a narrow-minded approach to the way students are treated and set up (or not) for their futures. Translanguaging as a practice to overcome these systemic problems is a great way to move forward. For example, by allowing students to complete their work in both or all languages that they speak, they are able to strengthen their fluency in each while contributing to the diversity in the classroom. However, schools lack this practice, thus creating an institutional barrier for students who are bilingual or multilingual, by limiting their education.
How do we shift academic mindset (Hammond, 2015) and can we create strategic learners (Brownell et al., 2012)?
In order to shift academic mindsets, student’s lived experiences need to be voiced and validated. By allowing students to complete their learning through their individual lens, they can tie personal narratives to classroom concepts, creating stronger links with both. Effective and encouraging feedback can also work to contribute to personal and academic growth. Strategic learners can be formed by teaching students effective strategies within numerous subject areas, which can then be reinforced through group and individual work. By having students continuously practice these strategies in different contexts, they are able to assess when they are useful and how they can be effective for improving their learning. If students are able to build a strong use of these strategies (such as summarizing, creating visual organizers or proofreading) early on, they will have a useful toolbox from which to draw throughout their educational journey.
What are two things educators need to keep in mind when building intellective capacity (Hammond, 2015)?
Educators need to keep in mind that when building intellective capacity there are two necessary things for thinking through routines, in order to take hold as cognitive habits. First, there needs to be a strong cue that prompts the learning routine, and second the routine needs to be well known and internalized. A routine that directly assists with intellective capacity is igniting, chunking, chewing and reviewing the information. By following these steps, students are able to make better sense and retain the learning more effectively. Different ways to make information digestible and memorable can be through review games and talking through the learning.
What steps will you take to be safe throughout this course?
In order to be safe throughout this course, I will remain with the group at all times. I will also make sure to store my belongings out of sight as to not attract attention to myself. I will also be aware of my surroundings and make sure to have my necessary documentation with me if needed.
What did you learn from current events that you would like to know more about?
The article on incarceration links back to the school to prison pipeline that we learned about in our previous class. It provides the startling numbers as to how this systemic issue affects the US population, especially minoritized individuals. It’s frustrating to read about such high numbers, and our overall percentage of jailed individuals as opposed to other countries. It would be helpful to also know the reasons for these incarcerations and the average sentence length for individuals. I also read the article about the stolen land within apartheid. As South Africa continues to work through the systemic and political issues brought on by apartheid, land redistribution seems like it should be a priority. As the article explains the Besters case and it’s success, similar approaches (including local people in major conversations) should be taken to continue to work through this concern.
Group Presentation - Brownell: Chapters 9 & 10
How can we build trust with learners through care and empowerment? How can teachers use feedback to foster relationships and build skills effectively and culturally responsively? Many South African schools teach using required curriculum, describe two possible changes teachers could do to planning and instruction to support diverse learners?
I believe that building trust with learners is about showing our own understanding of the subject and being fluent in the strategies that we aspire to teach our students. As I continue to read through the inclusive instruction book, there is a lot of new information that I am learning. Because I do not come from a teaching background, it has been a bit overwhelming to try and retain all of the strategies, concepts and information that the book provides. However, I have found it easier to do so by recalling my own experience as a student, and the struggles I have faced myself. If we are able to relate to and understand our student’s own learning and difficulties, we can form stronger connections through empowerment and knowledge while building trust.
Feedback can be used to better ourselves and our practice. Feedback from colleagues can assist in developing effective methods through which to teach students in varying capacities. It can also allow us to share lessons learned, to avoid making the same mistakes. Feedback from students is also very powerful, as they are the recipients of the learning and can speak directly to what is and is not working. As teachers work with a diverse student population, feedback would also be effective in allowing them to be culturally responsive.
As many school systems have required curriculum from which teachers plan their lessons, there might not be too much flexibility in the content that is taught. However, teachers have the ability to tailor their planning and instruction to support their diverse classrooms. For example, one method to do so would be through differentiation. The Inclusive Instruction book explains this method as “based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to diverse student needs” (Brownell et. al., 2012, pg. 78). Through this approach, the content, process, product or learning environment can be tailored to provide accommodations. Another method would be to tailor assignments to be more culturally and personally relevant. For example, basing projects on student’s personal and cultural background could allow for students to feel heard and connected, while applying the strategies they are learning to the work they are completing. This could assist in reinforcing the learning while allowing students to speak on their own experiences, giving voice to the diversity that is in the classroom.
Brownell, M. T., Smith, S. J., Crockett, J. B., & Griffin, C. C. (2012). Inclusive instruction: Evidence-based practices for teaching students with disabilities. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Describe the process of creating a CRSTP with the learner you chose. Explain any changes you make to the CRSTP template (additions, deletions, different prompts or resources). How can teachers use this process to support learners?
As I worked through the CRSTP with my 8-year old nephew, I found it was difficult for him to conceptualize the big ideas that the questions were presenting. It was also interesting to ask these questions, because I realized that it is not something I ask him on a regular basis (ie: what do you want to be when you grow up, where would you like to live?). The only change I made was skipping the Changemaker question, which my nephew did not understand. I also needed to provide additional or clarifying information for several prompts to make it easier for him to answer. Overall, it was an interesting process and I was able to work with my nephew on a different level. Teachers can benefit from using this process to support learners because it provides an avenue through which students can think more broadly and personally about their own education and how they and others can work together to continuously improve the learning process.
Link to Culturally Responsive Student Transition Presentation (CRSTP)
Inclusive instruction: Evidence-based Practices for Teaching Students with Disabilities - Chapters 7 & 8
Chapter 7 - Creating Strategic Learners
Chapter 8 - Building Fluent Skills Use
Describe two barriers to learning. Give examples of how this barrier plays out in society from this week’s module (reading and class discussion) and your own experience.
One barrier to learning is the limited and unequal access to educational institutions. From personal experience, my own social identities could have determined my life’s trajectory. However, I was fortunate enough to have people advocate for me because of my capabilities and potential. The access I had early on to spaces that fostered my academic and personal growth is what has allowed me to be on my current path. Unfortunately, for a lot of individuals, their circumstances and upbringings determine their limited educational opportunities, which should not be the case. This barrier of access is the initial factor that leads to the inequities we see present in our current educational system.
Another significant barrier, as described by Anna Hugo, is the use of language as an excluding factor (Phasha et. al, 2017) in learning. Hugo writes in the context of South Africa, but this issue is universally understood. In South Africa, the majority of students, for varying reasons, are taught in a language other than the one spoken at home. As a result, they end up not mastering their home language or the language they are taught in. By not teaching students in their native tongue, their comprehension and verbal skills are compromised as they move further along in their education. Overall, “language is the vehicle that carries content and knowledge, and well-developed language abilities and language skills are essential for learning to take place” (Phasha et. al, 2017, p. 115). By not accommodating student needs, learners are disadvantaged in their learning and development.
Phasha, N., Mahlo, D., & Dei, G. J. S. (Eds.). (2017). Inclusive Education in African Contexts: A Critical Reader. Springer.
Why is an examination of inclusive education needed in both countries (please connect response to the readings w/APA citations)?
Inclusive education and the way it is defined in both the U.S. and South Africa affects the approach that is taken to serve students. An examination of the definition and approach is necessary in order to understand the educational environment being created as well as the strategies being used to assist students, ultimately leading to a recognition of the strengths and weaknesses present. The two major perspectives on inclusion include a deficit stance and a social constructivist perspective. A deficit approach stresses individual remediation and assumes a more technical solution is necessary and valid. On the other hand, a focus on environment rather than the self allows the social constructivist perspective to focus on structural reform as an adaptive solution to inclusion (Dudley-Marling & Burns, 2014). An examination of the educational context also allows to determine the most appropriate approach, and how educators and students can be better prepared and served to adopt inclusive education practices that fit their needs. As we continue to prepare for our trip to South Africa, it continues to be important to learn about their education systems while thinking through the approaches and strategies that would work best within their context.
What is the “Wicked Problem” and how can we solve it?
The ‘Wicked Problem’ is a concept used by Walton to explore “some of the workings of exclusion in education” (Phasha et. al, 2017, p. 85). These problems are also characterized as complex, dynamic, multi-faceted and intractable. Walton takes an approach that focuses on the exclusion practices in order to better understand the current system and the deeply entrenched values, practices and structures that would benefit from inclusive education.
In order to address this wicked problem, an intentional approach focused on students through collaborative relationships would be beneficial. By allowing students to have input on their assignments, such as choosing which book to read or which topic to write about, they can practice self-authorship while maintaining a culturally relevant stance. Their input on the curriculum could also allow them to be engaged and thus more motivated to complete their work.
Provide the link to your group’s presentation for the next class.
Dudley-Marling, C. & Burns, M. B. (2014). Two perspectives on inclusion in the United States. Global Education Review, 1 (1). 14-31
Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1055208.pdf.
Phasha, N., Mahlo, D., & Dei, G. J. S. (Eds.). (2017). Inclusive Education in African Contexts: A Critical Reader. Springer.
Provide a brief summary of your social location essay- why do you think it is important to establish yourself in this work as we begin a comparison of countries, cultures, and experiences?
What similarities and differences did you learn about inclusive education in SA and USA this week (in presentations and readings)?
What did you learn about in your group textbook chapters? Why is understanding the learner so important? What information is important to learn?
What do you hope to get out of the Changemaking experience?
My background has provided me with the ability and responsibility to work towards access and equity within higher education. I was raised by an immigrant mother who showed me the skill and value of hard work. Her emphasis on the importance of higher education, alongside the assistance of peers, mentors, and programs, are factors that have allowed me to pursue my current path. My professional and personal work is positively influenced by my social location, as I continue to work towards helping other’s with similar identities and experiences. I am not limited but rather motivated by my own experiences and upbringings to improve my social standing and work on behalf of others from similar circumstances. I think it is important to establish ourselves in the work we will be pursuing because it provides the framework for our participation. It is a reminder for why we are engaging in these types of opportunities and the driving force for the development we would like to see both for ourselves and for others. It is also important to recognize our strengths, while realizing that there is a lot to learn from other communities as well.
Through the readings, inclusive education has been defined to encompass educational and societal contexts. I appreciate this definition as it brings attention to the transformation needed at the individual, communal and institutional levels. There were also many similarities in the difficulties that both the U.S. and South Africa face in implementing inclusivity, such as overcoming a segregated & discriminative past (or present) and developing culturally relevant curriculum. While the U.S. is working towards more diverse and inclusive educational environments, there is still much work to be done in both countries.
Chapters 1 and 2 within the Inclusive Instruction book provided very specific and useful strategies to identify and support special-needs learners. The case studies that each chapter provided were also helpful in providing concrete examples through which to apply the concepts and strategies. Chapter 1 focused on defining numerous terms, such as inclusive instruction, disabilities and special education, while also explaining our responsibilities as educators in providing an inclusive education. Chapter 2 outlined the skills that allow for students to be accomplished learners, and also provided the challenges that other students face, thus requiring additional needs and accommodations. Overall, both chapters emphasized the responsibility of educators to know their students, their unique strengths and abilities, while accommodating specific needs and environments to ensure success for all.
I continue to be excited about our changemaking projects! I look forward to collaborating with others and continuing to develop my skills within the educational and South African context. I hope to positively impact the communities we visit while developing myself personally and professionally.
Why did you choose this course? What do you hope to get out of it? Which South African text did you choose (you should have at least half read by now)? What did you learn about SA? How is this related to the USA? Which South African movie did you choose? What did you learn about SA? How is this related to the USA?
I chose to enroll in this course because of the emphasis on changemaking as a way to experience a new environment and culture. South Africa is also a unique location with a long history, which I am interested in learning more about. I hope to gain first hand perspective of the similarities and differences within our educational systems, while reflecting on how both can be improved to better serve diverse student populations. I am also looking forward to participating in the changemaking projects, and forming meaningful and productive connections with the local community.
I am currently reading (and enjoying) Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, titled Long Walk to Freedom. Mandela’s story does an amazing job of providing vibrant imagery and detailed stories, giving life to his personal experience as well as to the country of South Africa. As I continue to read this book, I look forward to learning more about his background and how this shaped his political and social involvement.
I also watched In My Country, a movie set in South Africa after the apartheid period. This movie provided a poignant account of the victim’s stories, and signified the importance of the process through which South Africa decided to deal with the end of apartheid, through truth and reconciliation. The movie’s depiction of an American and South African protagonist also helped to show the differing perspectives of these two countries. It also helped to explain that although the U.S. might not have seen this process as productive or just, South Africans knew this was the best way to go about recovering from this turbulent period, due to their values and beliefs.