Spring came to Warsaw quite early this year. Even if the weather outside was freezing, almost 100 participants of Global Inispirations delved into very hot issues – global issues.
This revolutionary event took place on the 21st June in Warsaw University of Technology and was coorganised by Warszawskie Centrum Innowacji Edukacyjno-Społecznych i Szkoleń.
Organisers, Dorota Choromińska – Warsaw region representative and Marcin Stanowski – Global Issues SIG coordinator, succeeded in inviting a very diverse body of experts on global issues. Not only did we have pleasure to hear experienced teachers, telling about their ideas on teaching about values, tolerance and stereotypes (Kasia Wiącek, Kasia Łaziuk and Daniel Starski), but also a teacher trainer – Aleksandra Zaparucha who convinced us that plastic is not fantastic.
Taking into account the theme of this year Global Inspirations – “Through English to understanding of the world”, our conference wouldn’t be complete without the representative of economics sciences. Mr. Marek Seretny, PHD introduced us to the set of paradigms which may make business ethical and marketing sustainable.
To balance the view on the world and add up some first hand experiences with the handling the difficulties the world faces we learned about problems of Global South. That was provided to the audience by Paula Langnerowicz from Polish Humanitan Action (Polska Akcja Humanitarna) Paula encouraged to raise these topics with students through participation in various projects carried out by PAH and using the educational resources compiled at their website.
Another organisation which we invited to our conference was Institue for Global Responsibility (Instytut Globalnej Odpowiedzialności). This highly influential nongov was represented by Magda Bodzan who stirred our minds with her thought-provoking presentation on why and how we should teach about global responsibility.
What’s more, we were so happy to host Julie Pratten Kacmaz, a trainer, publisher and a founder of Heart ELT, a charity organisation supporting teacher and students in working on citizenship skills. Our special guest was also Jen MacArthur – a Regional English Language Officer who gave a brilliant talk on teaching geography and CLIL.
The event started with with a warm welcome message from Dorota Choromińska and without much ado Katarzyna Wiącek presented her ideas on teaching values through communicative activities. Her talk, packed with practical tasks proved it is possible to combine teaching students positive attitudes towards other cultures, critical thinking skills and empathy through short but enjoyable and motivating activities. It was the most compelling to see that the simplest tasks may make the most profound change in students’ minds.
As soon as Kasia left the stage, there emerged another Kate. Katarzyna Łaziuk’s talk led us from testimonies of the Visual History Archive to empathy. Her presentation showed that video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of Shoah genocide may be incorporated into teaching English while meeting educational standards. Kasia provided us with practical ideas on how to work with such resources which are invaluable for humanity. Nearly every testimony encompasses a complete personal history of life before, during and after the subject’s firsthand experience with genocide. Survivors stories can serve as a great opportunity to make students more sensitive and empathetic.
Next, Alexandra Zaparucha scared us a lot saying that trash floating in the oceans is well over 5 trillion pieces. In fact, plastic is all around us but the most burning issue is plastic packaging and single-use items we throw away in staggering quantities. In this workshop Ola discussed the need for changing consumer habits.
Later on, we were happy to meet Jen MacArthur who is the Regional English Language Officer (RELO) based at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia and covering the East and Central European countries. Jen started with CLIL and CBT and went on about Geography being an ideal area for integrating language learning, content, and cultural competencies of students.
Julie Pratten inspired us with tye ways we can approach kindness and compassion in the classroom. She gave some examples acts of kindness campaigns for different age groups and examined some of the resources available for teaching global citizenship skills. She also talked how she set up Heart ELT, a charitable publishing initiative that produces crowdsourced books and explained how teachers can get involved in the ELT for Social Change movement.
Julie Pratten is the founder of Heart ELT, a non-profit organisation incorporated in the UK that provides resources and support to children who cannot access education. Julie has taught for over three decades specialising in BE and soft skills and is the leading author of banking and financial English publications include ‘Absolute Banking English’ and ‘Absolute Financial English’ by Delta Publishing. She also developed the app Brighton Study Kit, a social initiative for the University of Brighton and Academic Flipwords, a free app which focuses on vocabulary from the Academic Word List.
In autumn 2015 Julie set up a safe learning space for Syrian refugees in Domiz refugee camp in Dohuk, Iraq. Julie is also a keen advocate of collaborative writing projects and has just started ‘Create and Collaborate’ Writing Retreats in Antalya, Turkey.
In the end, Daniel Starski tackled the issues of racial discrimination and abuse and the power of stereotypes. As Daniel said globalization triggered processes that created and/or solidified stereotypes from areas other than merely race, which used to be the only area that most of us associated it with. Since there is more and more prejudice and discrimination, why don’t we discuss these difficult subjects with our youth?
Frankly speaking, we were shocked at the volume of interest Global Inspirations attracted. Furthermore, the post-conference feedback we received inspired us to mae it an annual event and we hope that every year in January we will be able to inspire crowds o ELT professionals who are not afraid of tackling difficult issues in their classes.
We strongly believe that Global Inspirations’ participants are not only teachers.
They are changemakers.