We are pleased to point you in the direction of A Journey Shared, an article co-authored by Out of Eden Learn co-directors Liz Dawes Duraisingh and Carrie James, which was posted on the National Geographic’s Out of Eden Walk website earlier today. In it, we share some highlights from our December trip to visit Paul in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, using our description of that trip to introduce broader audiences to some of the underlying principles and key activities of Out of Eden Learn.
A couple of the “footsteps” we highlight in the piece come from Learning Journey 2: The Past and the Global. For example, Connecting Everyday Objects to Everyday Systems asks students to choose a familiar object, look at it slowly and carefully, and generate a list of questions about it. They are then asked to explore the different systems of which it is a part and to create a diagram that shows how the object fits into that system. This footstep is designed to encourage students to explore the complexity and inter-connectedness of modern life and to see how features of their everyday environments are inextricably linked to systems that extend far beyond their immediate, local context. This video shows examples of diagrams that Out of Eden Learn participants have previously created.
Another Learning Journey 2 footstep featured in the article is Global Forces in the Everyday, which invites students to explore the influence of often distant cultures and economies on life in a particular place. We are currently in the process of redesigning this footstep so that students focus on their own environments rather than on ones which are not familiar to them. While we were excited to encourage students to broaden their horizons by asking them to select and comment on photos from Instagram accounts such as Everyday Africa, we now feel that in many cases they weren’t being provided with enough context to ask informed questions or to make nuanced observations. As we have written in a previous blog post, we are keen to promote thoughtful cross-cultural inquiry and exchange:
…we aspire to support students to be respectfully curious about unfamiliar cultures and aware of their own particular vantage point on the world; we would also like to see them actively and sensitively listening to other students when they engage in cross-cultural dialogue. Conversely, we are keen to nudge students away from, for example, over-generalizing about cultures from a very limited knowledge base, rushing to pity people in cultures who might not have the same assets, traditions, or fashions as themselves, or viewing their own culture as the default by which to compare or measure others.
For our part, we need to make sure that our curriculum does not inadvertently encourage the kinds of pitfalls we are seeking to avoid: stay tuned for the new iteration of this footstep.
In the meantime, we are thrilled that 1500 students from many different locations recently embarked on Learning Journey 2, building on their prior experiences from Learning Journey 1. We wish them bon voyage and look forward to learning from their work – as we do the 2500 students who recently began one of our other learning journeys.