Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pilot Project Begins!

After two years of research and development, the Lhomon Education pilot project has begun in eastern Bhutan. The goal is to develop new methods and materials for the Bhutanese classroom. LME is fortunate to have hired a wonderful young teacher, Dawa, from Dagana central Bhutan.

Dawa voluntarily participated in the 2012 LME Curriculum Design Workshop and we were so impressed by his enthusiasm and understanding, as well as the easy manner in which he collaborated with our monastic participants, that we offered him the job on the spot. He has already moved to the shedra in Dewathang to begin teaching the 20 monks who were selected for the program. Every day these lucky boys will receive 3 hours of integrated, place based, project based holistic instruction.

We are taking extensive notes on the strategies we are using and all outcomes so that we can share the findings with others institutions.

The internet is very slow here so it will be difficult to write regular reports, much as we would love to. Every day offers exciting new discoveries and it's so gratifying to finally be able to put into practice all the methodologies we have been promoting for the past few years.

For example, on the first day, after a mindfulness exercise and introductory class building activities, we launched right into a project that required the boys to think critically while developing their English and math skills. We had 9 meters of fabric and 18 cushion that needed to be covered. What do we know and what do we need to know to design a cover? How much fabric do we need for each cushion? We taught them the old proverb "measure twice cut once" and they set about measuring and troubleshooting.

There are many different levels of education represented in our one class so we have been employing some differentiated instruction and co-learning strategies, partnering the more advanced students with those who have had little formal education. They are such a lovely group of boys, there is no sign of rivalry or cliques. They are eager to help each other out, eager to learn, happy to sweep the room after class.

So far we have no furniture, no computers, no textbooks (I'm hoping to order a set of 20 Wordly Wise books which served me so well at Santa Fe Prep decades ago, feel free to fulfill our wish list!) and yet we are able to conduct class. Eventually we will equip the room as needed. The Bhutan Foundation has offered us a projector and we will be purchasing a computer for Dawa to do his lesson plans and action research data collecting.

We will be inviting a select group of master teachers to join Dawa from time to time over the next two years to co-teach for periods of 2-6 weeks and in turn Dawa will be visiting alternative schools in the region and abroad to experience the best practices available. We hope that eventually Dawa will be able   benefit a greater number of Bhutanese students through this experience and professional development. We think he will be an amazing asset for the country.