Teaching younger generations is an incredible opportunity for exchange. If the students come from a different country, it also provides opportunity for cultural exchange. This was the scenario for our contribution for Ithaca’s London, People and Planet course for American undergrads taking a semester in London. The challenge was how to make the course interesting and make the learning last.
We have taught American students before in a similar setting at Birkbeck College. There is a huge gap between American and British education systems. While the first focused on examining hard data, the second focuses on analytical thinking. To bridge this gap, we used United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. Although it seemed overwhelming at first, the key message that we are facing complex issues that cannot be solved with a silver bullet was pretty clear.
We applied the Whole Person Approach (WPA) and the interactive style of the classes, combined with guest speakers and site visits made the class enjoyable and kept students awake and away from their phones. We have also applied the “check-in” and “check-out” method, at the start and at the end of each class. At the beginning of the class, they would say how they were feeling and at the end they wrote their take away from the day. We collected all the statements and gave it back to them at the end of the course. That worked very well. It was amazing to see the student’s development throughout the weeks.