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Senses

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Senses

The workshop is related to regaining and re-stressing the role and use of the senses in the learning process. It is based on the premise that the problem, and thus the solution, often lies not so much with what is offered as much as with what is ignored, marginalized, or made invisible. This is true, whether we are talking about formal education, human rights, democracy, gender issues, or ecology and the environment. One outcome of this marginalization/ invisibility is limiting the options in our imagination and thus restricting our ability to learn.

The format of the meeting was to gather 12 people for two days; people who consciously use the senses in their work, and to present how they embody such use, especially as it relates to learning. The meeting took place in Jordan at the Dead Sea Movenpick resort where nature is appealing to the senses.


Target groups:

Teachers and educators from the Arab world who consciously use the senses in their work.

Duration of the workshop:

3 days (25 ? 27 January 2001).


IMPLEMENTATION:

The workshop was first planned to be held in October 2000. However, due to the turbulent political situation in Palestine at the time, and the closure of the bridge crossing from Palestine to Jordan one week prior to the workshop, forced us to postpone until January 25 ? 27, 2001. Four participants who were planned to come in October could not make it in January for various reasons. They were: Magdi Gmayel (Egypt ? Salama Moussa foundation), Emad Tharwat (Egypt ? Salama Moussa foundation), Margo Malatjelian (Jordan) and Nabeel Habboub (Lebanon). Instead we invited three additional teachers from Jordan who enriched the meeting with their unique experiences inside and outside the classroom.


The participants were the following:

Palestine:

Rifaat Sabbah: Director of the teacher?s creativity center. Rifaat gave a live presentation of some of the methods that he uses in training teachers on issues of democracy and civil rights.

Ra?eda Shuaibi: teacher of the Arabic language, Raeda explained some of the creative and sense-oriented methods that she uses in teaching language.

Majdi Zamel: head of the slow learner?s center in Nablus where he deals with children in the first three grades who have learning difficulties.

Laila Atshan: a counselor by profession, Laila has worked extensively with children and youth in difficult conditions both in Palestine and abroad. She spoke about the way in which she helps children and youth handle psychological stress.

Sonia Nimr: Oral historian and actress, Dr. Nimr presented her experience with developing museums that are child-friendly and how to foster the sense of ?curiosity? amongst children and youth.

Jordan:

Khalida Qattash: teacher of literature and religion, Khalida presented a number of concepts that she works with to develop the use of senses in the classroom.

Sylvia Hairabedian: drama teacher, Sylvia works with young girls to develop their sense of drama and understanding of themselves and life.

Yoanna Abu Rahmeh: music teacher, she composes and writes songs for children and links music and lyrics to the world around them.

Nelly Lama: artist and art teacher, Nelly develops projects for youth and children and teachers on discovering the world around them (nature, life) through the medium of art.

Rania Deraniyeh: Biology teacher, Rania turns the classroom into a space bustling with activity as the students try out things for themselves to have hands-on experience of concepts in biology and nature.

Lebanon:

Moataz Dajani: Director of ?Al Jana? center for popular arts, Moataz presented a video produced by children from Shatilla refugee camp which was part of a video and photography project for children which they have been working on over two years.


Syria:

Dr. Fouad Fouad: A physician by profession, Dr. Fouad heads the ?healthy villages? project in northern Syria (Aleppo region) where they run an integrated community health program through the village clinics and health workers.

The format of the workshop was very simple. Each participant was given 40 minutes for presentation and discussion, and many participants opted for a hands-on presentation where they actually implemented what they would do in the classroom or a training setting. The discussion was extremely enriching since participants could easily relate to each other?s experiences and they each came from a different background.

The last hour of the last day was dedicated for final comments and ideas for follow up. All the sessions were recorded.


ASSESSMENT:

The most notable aspect of this workshop was that it managed to ?heighten the senses? of all the participants who developed a strong affinity to each other and to the work that they are doing. The discussions were very positive and candid, yet the atmosphere was filled with mutual respect and love that the participants said they have never experienced previously. The setting (the Dead Sea, the hotel itself, and the warm weather in mid-winter) helped the participants feel at ease and relaxed, especially the group coming from Palestine where the contrast between the Intifada there and the serenity of the Dead Sea was very strong.

The second outcome of the workshop is that many participants are currently developing joint projects. Laila Atshan is to visit Al Jana in Beirut in March, the Teacher?s Creativity Center is using some of the materials developed by Khalida Qattash, Sylvia Hairabedian used Rifaat?s methods in her classroom already, Nelly Lama was transformed by what she heard and saw and is working with a new momentum, as is Yoanna Abu Rahmeh who did not feel, prior to the workshop, that her work was of particular importance or even appreciated.


PROPOSED FOLLOW UP:

A number of ideas have been proposed to the participants for follow up of this workshop, and they were also discussed between the Arab Education Forum and the Teacher?s Creativity Center. One immediate follow up activity is the documentation of the workshop using the material we have on tape and reflections of the participants on the workshop. These presentations will be published in a special issue of the magazine that the Teacher?s Creativity Center produces in Palestine. The second follow up activity proposed is to hold a similar workshop that will include people from other parts of the Arab world (Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algiers, amongst others) in order to expand the discussion of this topic to other countries and to become acquainted with other experiences which might be similar or different.

 
 
 

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