Monday, July 16, 2012

CDW Part 3: Royal Education Council

Thimphu group's final presentation.
The Royal Education Council sent the largest group of all the partner organizations: 12 teachers from its seed schools in Thimphu and Paro for the entire workshop, plus four Master Teachers for the first week.

This was a challenging group because 1) they are the most bound by existing structures imposed by the ministry of labor and therefore the least flexible when it comes to making institutional wide changes and 2) they are the most "workshopped" bunch of them all. After working long hours for long weeks for long months, their only vacation time is workshops. At these workshops they are given mountains of good ideas but then they must move those mountains into their little classrooms. So they had our sympathies.

Thimphu group hard at work.
All that said, they also worked very hard on imagining a different way of teaching. Pawan Gupta explained to them that textbooks are a means not an end and encouraged them to extract only what is relevant and meaningful from textbooks but then to use the local and natural environment as the text. "Be Brave!" was our motto throughout the workshop and of all the groups, the REC gents and madams had to be the most brave.

The Thimphu group did a great job presenting their "take aways" including many of the active learning strategies we had modeled and some of the methods we illustrated including: Multiple Intelligence, Brain Based Learning, Listening Skills, Theater in the Classroom, Subject Integration, Project Based Learning, The Four Noble Truths for Lesson Planning, and, importantly, the KUD (Know Understand Do) method of unit planning, or block planning as they call it. They said that they were committed to using these in their classrooms as well as continuing with their meditation instruction with their new deeper understanding after Nima, Jackie, and Lama Shenphen's meditation sessions.

Madam Kuenzang and
Madam Tshewang
helping out on day one. 
Specifically they want to incorporate Community Based Culture into their existing curriculum and they developed a set of essential questions around that theme with an outline of a field trip that could help answer those questions. They ended their presentation with a song that they was lovely!

The Paro Group created a special unit based on vegetables so students can make informed decisions about what to buy and what not to buy or what is best for an individual or community. They created two lesson plans around their KUDs and essential questions.

The group of master teachers lead by Madam Tshewang and Am Dechen Tshomo, Gep Tshering and Kuenzang Dema were super fantastic, sharing all kinds of brain boosters, active learning strategies, and class building activities that kept the workshop feeling very alive. Our favorite was Madam Tshewang's Charo Charo brain booster, lifted from Mrs. Das's workshop but "Bhutanized". In the original game, we would sing My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean and every time there was a B word we had to stand if we were sitting or sit if we were standing. In this version we sang Charo Charo (Friend Friend) and used the C words to sit or stand. Here's a rough clip:

One great outcome, and something several REC teachers mentioned in their assessments was that they got to interact with teachers and instructors from many different kinds of institutions and they seemed to really appreciate sharing experiences. Here's a picture of Phuntsho Rabgay horsing around with Dawa and a few of the NFE instructors.

Thanks to all the REC teachers for spending their break with us and to Mr. Lhundup Dukpa from REC for arranging everything. It was a real pleasure working with all of you!

Still to come: Bhutan Nuns Foundation, and Tarayana Foundation.

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