Thinking about my final piece of assessment for one of my units in my degree upgrade this semester – designing a learning space for refugee children in a current refugee facility.
I have spent many, many hours researching, reading, and watching, viewing images and videos of refugee camps, and the children who occupy them. It is hard not to feel….well- it’s hard not to feel, full stop. It has been difficult to bring into focus my thoughts and ideas for the learning space I want to develop, as I keep holding my head in my hands saying Good God, Where Do I Even START??!!
With all the needs and priorities the people in these camps have, my task is to look at the children, their needs and their right to receive an education, and base my development of a learning space on that – all the while being ever mindful of the trauma they have suffered, and quite possibly, continue to suffer, and their absolute need for both healing, and learning.
My focus for the Future Learning Space is on using Art Therapy for children in the Calais Jungle Refugee Camp. However, with recent news just this last week, that the facility is to be dismantled (what an awful term) in the very near future, a learning space in “no set space” is quite challenging.
My idea is to develop a safe learning space – drawing on, and utilising the principals of some of the 6 Learning Spaces I have developed knowledge and understanding of during this Unit – a space where children can explore, express and nurture their innate creativity and intrinsic empathy.
In an environment of uncertainty, despair and displacement I believe it is crucial for children to be given the opportunity to create and develop artistic expression – at a time when many of them may find that words fail to express what is going on in their minds. Evidence of the power of Art Therapy can be see in this video by the Art Therapy Institute.
Providing refugee children with the necessary materials, and safe physical space for them to engage in expressing their deepest thoughts, is something I hope to explore further, and, in some way, hopefully initiate thinking, conversation and actions in other educators. This emotive, and powerful account of one Syrian man’s desire to help the kids in his refugee camp, through creative therapies demonstrates just how essential it is for children living with trauma to have opportunities for expression through art. Its confronting, yet compelling, and had me in tears, and hit by a wall of different emotions.
Using Art Therapy in my Future Learning Space is just one component. Incorporating this with Teachers Without Borders, and one of their initiatives – Child-Friendly Spaces- is the crux of my FLS. Teachers Without Borders (TWB from now on) is an international non-profit organisation, which serves to connect teachers worldwide to each other, to information, and to enact change by providing support to communities in need of developing, and/or reinstating education.
Child-Friendly Spaces need to be able to be established quickly, and are there to offer support, care and protection of children in emergency settings and areas of conflict. They are spaces that build positivity, avoid causing harm, are highly inclusive and non-discriminatory. They are stimulating, participatory and secure and supportive. (Based on Guidelines for Child-Friendly-Spaces-in-Emergencies, retrieved from: https://www.scribd.com/document/269780134/Guidelines-for-Child-Friendly-Spaces#download
My Future Learning Space will draw upon TWB, UNESCO, World Vision, Art Therapy research and current practices, Resources including articles, videos and links, and incorporate a number or the 6 Learning Spaces I have discussed in this PLN in earlier posts. At this point I have no idea where this journey will take me, or whether I will hit dead ends, or find cracks to slip through and find surprising new pathways. Watch this space!