Global perspectives on primary education
Global perspectives on primary education

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4.5 Learning in different context: forest school and refugee camp

In the next activity you will see two contrasting examples of primary education.

Activity 11

Read the introductions about the two interviewees before watching the slideshows and listening to their comments about teaching and the learning in their schools. As you read, watch and listen, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you think what each school offers to the children is appropriate? Why or why not?
  • Thinking back to the activities on quality education and learner-centered education, what would you identify as elements of ‘quality’ and ‘learner centeredness’ in each of these schools?

British headteacher Rory Fox runs a small charity called Edlumino, which raises funds to set up emergency schools in refugee camps around the world. In 2015 he set up a school in Faneromeni refugee camp in central Greece. First, watch the slideshow of images from Faneromeni camp and its primary school. Then listen to the interview with Rory Fox.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 5: Faneromeni Refugee Camp, Greece
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Video 5: Faneromeni Refugee Camp, Greece
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Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 4: Interview with Rory Fox, Edlumino
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Audio 4: Interview with Rory Fox, Edlumino
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Jane Williams-Siegfredsen trained as a teacher in England and went on to become a teacher educator. In 1990 she went on a study trip to Denmark, where she visited a ‘nature kindergarten’. Since then, Jane has become a leading figure in the Forest School movement. First, watch the slide show of a variety of forest schools in Denmark. Then listen to the interview with Jane Williams-Siegfredsen.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 6: Danish Forest Schools
Video 6: Danish Forest Schools
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Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 5: Interview with: Jane Williams-Siegfredsen, Forest School Pedagogue
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Audio 5: Interview with: Jane Williams-Siegfredsen, Forest School Pedagogue
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Discussion

The two types of school described in these interviews could not be more different. One is extremely challenging and chaotic, where children are traumatised and teachers work with few – and sometimes inappropriate – resources. The other is highly resourced and child-led, where teachers have considerable freedom to plan and support children’s exploratory play and learning. The activities in the Danish forest school are familiar to all the participants and are based on the country’s cultural and educational heritage. The activities in the refugee camp school in Greece may be very unfamiliar to the children, and in a language they do not use.

But notice how, in both schools, the teachers are agile and adaptive to the needs of the children. And in both schools there is the same dedication of teachers to the children in their care, and the commitment of teachers to creating educational experiences that sustain children to grow and develop in a positive direction. In both schools teachers strive to provide quality, learner-centered education.

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