Developing Campus Buy-In to a Global Mission, by Peter Merrill from Phillips Andover. Arrived late, after speaking with Pat Basset about the blog. Peter is speaking in a mellow, soft spoken manner, keying off a comprehensive powerpoint. He is offering “RESPONSES to curricular objection,” and has many good thoughts. For instance, are globalization issues too developmentally complex for high school students? This is a concern, Peter says, that cannot be dismissed. In Peter’s conclusion, he emphasizes flexibility, seeing the global in the local, trying things small and large, being sensitive to concerns. Helpful. After jump, Andover’s Mumbai service learning program…
Peter’s colleague Raj Mundra steps to the podium to talk about a collaborative service learning program with a school in Mumbai, a project he calls Niswarth. He says it is important to distinguish– it is not a cultural tourism experience, it is not a language immersion program, but it is true service-learning. These students do not execute another person’s scheme for community service, but they develop it themselves, while experiencing cultural immersion and in collaboration with students from the local school, and in partnership with a local NGO. Goodness, Knowledge, and Action are his key concepts for the experience, an analogy, he says, to Heart, Head, Hands. Sounds like a great program; the work of studying issue and developing sustainable solutions to real-world problems is the most powerful form of learning, I would say. The students blog the project too, this blogger is excited to hear– http://www.niswarthandover.blogspot.com. He also advertises a video on vimeo, search Niswarth. My new school, St. Gregory, in Tucson, has a similar three week service learning program in Kenya, and I would love to be able to compare the two programs and see what could be learned from the comparison. Niswarth seems an excellent program; delighted to learn about. As colleague Rick Fitzgerald expresses to me, this Mumbai program is truly next-generation student learning: students partner with students at a local school, they go in seeking to understand the environment and generate their own solutions for it, and implement them; this is a significant step above previous generation programs, good but not great programs, where students partner with a local NGO and go into the country to do what the adults tell them will be good to do.
Peter returns to conclude, and tell us his view that evolution is better than revolution, that globalization initiatives need moderation, not religious fervor, to be grown into school cultures rather than foisted upon it. Nice.
Raj also makes a pitch for his program: “educators for teaching India.”