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Making Connections Through a Crisis

This year, like almost every year, I’ve been asked to teach a different course. And though it’s been taught before, we have no good way of handing over curriculum, so teachers end up making it up as they go along.

This is pretty frustrating, to say the least.

There is no continuity. And one is constantly having to reinvent the wheel.

But there is a good side to this.

Many of the former refugee students at our school are students with interrupted or limited formal education (SLIFE). And how could you not be one of these students, living in a camp that doesn’t necessarily have running water, reliable resources and progressive attitudes about education? Camps are really awful, no matter how good they are.

So this year, I’m teaching intermediate readers. And one of the cardinal rules of teaching SLIFErs is that what they are learning must be relevant to the students’ lives. It must somehow connect to their own sense of self in order for it to matter. I mean, if you just spent half your life learning via a language that is not your own and then suddenly get thrown into a culture/language with norms that don’t make much sense to you, wouldn’t you react the same way?

So now there is a crisis with refugees in Europe. Lots of people are displaced. And my students can relate to being displaced.

I just found a great site that will help start that conversation. It’s a beautiful watercolor comic that lays out the whole conflict and its origins, in language that intermediate students can grasp.

I can’t wait to give this to my students next week.


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Beth Evans

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