Archives For Education

YMCA George Williams College along with Y Care International have introduced a new Certificate in Global Youth Work. The aim is to “take youth and community practitioners on a journey to bring a global dimension to their practice with young people”.

The interest in Global Youth Work has been a growing for a while. A while back the NYA published a resource pack on the subject, and earlier this year Youth Specialties published a book on Global Youth Ministry. A short course therefore sounds really useful and will no doubt pique some people’s interest. From the info:

This course will help you to explore global issues and their connection with your own community and young people you work with. It opens up debates about Global Youth Work, inviting you to question theory and practice and critically reflect on the benefits and expected outcomes for young people.

There are four units on the course:

Unit One: Globalisation

To enable youth workers to increase their understanding of globalisation, global issues and how these impact on people and communities.

Unit Two: Glocal

To help learners explore how globalisation and global issues impact on their own local communities and the young people they work with.

Unit 3: Global Youth Work

To explore and help you to understand the concept of Global Youth Work.

Unit 4: Issues for Global Youth Work 

To critically reflect on global youth work and explore some of the key issues and problems with current global youth work practice.

Who is it for?

This new course is an excellent introduction for youth workers and managers, community development workers, staff in international NGOs and anyone leading informal education with young people.

What is the certificate worth?

The Certificate in Global Youth Work is validated by Canterbury Christ Church University and is a 20 credit Level 5 qualification.

How much does it cost?

The course fee is £530. This includes all reading materials and accreditation fees.

How does it work?

The programme is offered UK-wide on a part-time, distance learning basis. The next cohort will study from January to June 2012. Each student is required to complete the mandatory course reading, attend three study days in London and submit two written assignments (2,500 words each).

How do I apply?

You can download the application pack at www.ymca.ac.uk. For further details of this course contact Kate Reed at k.reed@ymca.ac.uk or phone 020 7540 4913.

Being Victor

15 October 2010 — Leave a comment

Launched in September, ‘Being Victor’ is a live action teen drama shown online at MTV.co.uk. Interestingly it is the first mainstream online drama to offer curricular support for teachers to unpack the topical themes within the classroom.

The content is pretty hard hitting and aimed firmly at young people. Through 20 episodes following the life of Vinnie Dupe, his friends and his online alter-ego Victor Sage, teachers are able to engage students in PSHE and Citizenship matters, tackling critical issues such as relationships, identity, sex and promiscuity, depression and being a young carer. Here is the explanation:

Vinnie Dupe’s life feels like a bad sitcom.

He is in love with his best friend Eva, who just started dating Danny – who still keeps seeing Vinnie’s sister, Lesley, on the side.

Vinnie’s best friend Doyle is struggling with his responsibilities as a student and carer for his dad – and his promiscuous lifestyle is getting out of hand. It’s no wonder Vinnie decides to create a supercool online alter ego called Victor so he can put the world to rights on his blog – but then things start to get out of control…

The way it works is that each online episode will be accompanied by a lesson plan on the TrueTube website which explores one of the PSHE mapped themes in that episode, or the series as a whole. Lesson plans accompanying the series will generally fit into a 45 minute lesson structure, but are also broken down into 15 and 20 minute modules, and can be adapted or extended to suit your schedule.

Being Victor is also supported by an online blog – www.victorsblog.co.uk – which forms part of the storylines, as well as a forum where teachers can encourage young people to discuss the key themes at the heart of the show.

Of course, it could also be a useful resource in youth work environments for raising issues around sex, relationships, cyber-bullying, etc. Have a look and see what you think.

God in the classroom

20 July 2010 — 1 Comment

Mark over at The Grove Is On Fire posted about this article on the Guardian website.

It’s a thoughtful post from a school physics teacher about religious students in his classroom struggling to reconcile science and faith – what they see as contradictory approaches to understanding the world. He concludes:

I can’t help but feel that a proper science education should equip young people to arrive at their own decisions about what to believe, and ensure that if they do conclude there is a god, it is a god who doesn’t stop them from fully appreciating the truth and beauty of scientific knowledge.

I find that I can’t help agreeing with him! It’s a great read so go take a look.

Image Credit: Advanced Theoretical Physics by Marvin (PA) on Flickr

Playgrounds and Risk

5 July 2010 — 3 Comments


Following on from my previous post about the Tinkering School and how creating meaningful experiences for children allows better learning, is this article about the Kolle 37 playpark in Berlin, Germany.

Here at the playground the children have the opportunity to build their own huts, make fire, work in the garden, watch and work with animals or just play. There are different projects in which the children can develop their creativity. They also learn about the work with different materials and tools, for this purpose the playground provides a pottery, a workshop for wood and felt, a smith and a rehearsal room to play music.

The tower in the picture above (and about 10 others) was built solely by children aged from six through to sixteen!

Parents technically aren’t allowed in the building area and the staff only checks in on the kids intermittently. So how is it so safe? Well, there are numerous studies that point to the tendency for children to adjust their actions given the relative danger of a situation. If the perceived risk is high, children will naturally be more careful or wary of their actions and movements.

The rationale for this type of free play is documented here, here and here (thanks again to the Public Workshop article).

This amazing approach to play brings into stark contrast a letter written to our local paper this week, complaining about the recent extension to the children’s play park on the beach:

From around 6pm each day, groups of youths aged between 16 and 20 muck about, deliberately attempting to break the equipment. This is the sole object of their play…
In London, where such items of play equipment have been installed, proper management of the site, with high fences, a man patrolling, careful division of age groups, etc., ensures no one is hurt or intimidated or vandalises the equipment.

This kind of attitude really frustrates me. We use that park regularly, and while there are a number of teens there in the evenings, they’re generally pretty respectful. But then, there’s no other play provision for them nearby so I’m not surprised they want to go on the zip wire.

I would love to see more spaces like Kolle 37 developed here in the UK. The only similar idea I know of is Somerford Grove adventure Playground, Haringley, London, which was featured in Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire in 2009. Let me know if you’re aware of any more.

What is your experience of play areas for children? Do they learn more through higher risk experiences? Leave me a comment below!


Gever Tulley, is the founder of Tinkering School and author of the book ‘Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).’ He is also a self-taught computer scientist who holds multiple technology patents.

The tinkering school offers an exploratory curriculum designed to help kids – ages 8 to 17 – learn how to build things. By providing a collaborative environment in which to explore basic and advanced building techniques and principles, we strive to create a school where we all learn by fooling around. All activities are hands-on, supervised, and at least partly improvisational.

The process usually starts with a quick sketch of a big idea, then they get to work! Often this involves using ‘dangerous’ tools and equipment. As they encounter problems, they work them out together, learning as they do.

The video below is from Gever Tulley’s presentation at Big Ideas Fest 2009.

Although the movie is a little slow in explaining the educational concepts, there is some real gems in there that apply to all forms of education.

“The best engagement we got was when they were forced to deviate from the materials list.”

Essentially Tulley found that the kids were more engaged and active when they didn’t know the outcome of a project. He articulates it like this:

The opportunities for engaged learning are inversely proportional to the knowability of the outcome

Another point he makes is about the experience of education:

Create a meaningful experience and the learning will follow.
“Our best outcomes were from projects where we focused on the quality of the experience first… and looked for learning inside those experiences.”

Personally, I love this engaging and lively approach to education. Some parents have even started a blog on their experiences of allowing their kids to do the fifty dangerous things in Tulley’s book! Maybe we all need to be a little bit more dangerous in our learning…

Thanks to Boing Boing for this one.

Time To Know

2 February 2010 — Leave a comment


Techcrunch ran an interesting article today about ‘Time to Know‘, an Israeli technology company trying to revolutionise classroom based teaching.

The basic thesis Time To Know is operating under is that today’s current classroom is following a teaching paradigm designed in the industrial age, i.e., a teacher standing in front of a class, a blackboard on the wall and students at their desks. Think of it this way… Imagine time warping a teacher from the 1800’s and implanting her in a classroom in 2010. She could basically hit the ground running with little to no adjustment in teaching style. Quite scary when you think about it.

Time To Know believes there are three main reasons why today’s classroom is ineffective: First, relevancy—or rather, irrelevancy. Kids are living in a digital world with a tremendous amount of stimulus. Expecting them to happily and effectively embrace ‘passive learning’ that requires them to just sit, listen and provide output in exams is simply unrealistic. Second, variance. There no such thing as a homogeneous level of learning and comprehension in a classroom of students. Third, assessment—aka, the feedback loop. In today’s classroom a student could have gotten lost with the material three weeks back, but the teacher would be oblivious to it.

It’s an interesting concept that I tend to agree with. I see so many young people that are uninspired with school and disengaging from their education. I’m not sure if Time To Know is the solution to this problem, but it is certainly refreshing to see someone trying to tackle the issue.

This (slightly too long) video is their sales pitch about the product, but it gives the general idea:

T2K: a Paradigm Shift in K-12 Education from Time To Know on Vimeo.

Click through to their website to see the full product and adaptable curriculum.