education

A FEW BUSY WEEKS IN ALL THINGS PEACE-BUILDING

My team of visiting professors from Shihezi University, P.R.China - ‘thinkers’ at Monash University

My team of visiting professors from Shihezi University, P.R.China - ‘thinkers’ at Monash University

The last few weeks have been an extremely busy, yet productive and rewarding time for me.

I have:

  • Headed up an education program running out of Melbourne University for 16 Chinese professors from Shihezi University;

  • MCd the Afghan Komak Awards and danced my way into the night, Afghan style;

The Team organising the KOMAK Awards, celebrating achievements in our Afghan Community.

The Team organising the KOMAK Awards, celebrating achievements in our Afghan Community.

  • Facilitated workshops on Global Citizenship and Leadership Within at the Wyndham Community and Education Centre's inspiring multi-faith camp;

“I really enjoyed the part where we got to learn about conflict resolution, which helped me a lot.”

“I really enjoyed the part where we got to learn about conflict resolution, which helped me a lot.”

  • Run a Positive Thinking workshop for African women through African Family Services.

And in between all this, I have met other pretty extraordinary people.

Phew! 


So I needed time to stop and smell the roses! I was lucky enough to do so at my friends' house up in the Melbourne hills, at Sassafrass.

IMG_7337.jpg

Stop and smell the roses

This one smells like peachy heaven!

My own learning has been deep.

"For me, the special moment came, when in our final workshop, 'Almost Impossible Thoughts', each Shihezi University professor, all from science backgrounds, stood up to share what they would be taking home. They spoke of how they had come to a sense of a shared global humanity, giving very specific examples of how they would develop their own research projects to help shape a more positive future for all." 

SHOULD WE CHANGE THE DATE OF AUSTRALIA DAY? A QUESTION THAT SPEAKS TO NATIONS ACROSS OUR GLOBE.

Should we change the date of Australia Day?

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

 

A question that speaks to the heart of who we are as Australians. A question that is relevant to all nations across the globe.

 

Are we an inclusive nation?

 

Many, many years ago as a teenager in secondary school, I learnt in our History class, that the Protestant Irish celebrated a holiday, parading through the streets, on a day that marked an Irish Catholic massacre. Even as a young girl at that time, I could feel the lack of empathy. I wondered why they did this and couldn’t they simply celebrate their special day on another date? There appeared to be a lack of willingness to understand and resolve. The ‘victors’ dancing on a day of sorrow for the ‘other.’

 

I am a teacher of some 30 years now, having taught English, Humanities and Indigenous Studies throughout that lengthy time. Interestingly, one of the main focuses for our pre-service teachers, i.e. our next generation of teachers in Australia, is to learn to teach the value of inclusivity and to model this through their teaching methodologies.

 

Inclusivity is highlighted in our National Curriculum as being of primary importance for our young people to grow as healthy, well-adjusted individuals. Then surely we also need to look to celebrating this value as an Australian nation.

 

I recently went on a tour of so called ‘orphanages’ that held aboriginal children of the Stolen Generations, a period of time that ran (approximately) from 1910-to early 1970s. I am sure I do not need to tell you these children were not orphans. I was horrified by the tour; the horror came from the ‘what was still being said now’. It felt like we were back in the 1930s and that the prevailing attitude of that time was still being carried by this tour guide. I was deeply concerned and I don’t even want to refer to the words she used to describe Aborigines. She also presented some of the stories that were told to Aboriginal children to stop them looking for their mothers as though they were truths.

 

I want people to know that in certain places in our country, this is how our history is still being told.

 

I spoke privately with the tour guide afterwards, inviting her to listen to another way that this story could be told; inviting her into a narrative that needs to be shared and deeply understood if real change is to occur. Finally, I added, “You have an amazing opportunity here for real learning, education and for healing to occur, if you can open to a different perspective.”

 

It is my belief that we have this same opportunity for learning and healing by changing the date of Australia Day.

 

Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, recently declared that local councils will be forced to hold Australia Day ceremonies on January 26, even if the councillors personally believe this should not be happening.  Many see this as an unusual and authoritarian stance. In my own experience as a teacher of many years, we would be better to apply critical thinking and utilise Collaborative Debating to open up the topic to exploration. In this way, we do not tell people what to think, yet we invite them to think.

 

Let’s be very clear, Australia Day falls on January 26. This is the day that Captain Arthur Phillip stabbed a flag in the soil of, what they had named, Sydney Cove. If we want to be pedantic, on that day they claimed the colony of New South Wales, and a penal colony at that. Not a nation, not Australia!

 

There is nothing pedantic in stating and understanding that this was the beginning of a genocide for the peoples of the British Government’s “Terra Nullius.”

 

If we continue to celebrate on a day that many of the First Peoples and others regard as a day of mourning but as a nation, we can’t see or understand or empathise – then that is an ongoing tragedy. Where is the inclusivity we are teaching, put into practice? It is time to change.

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

 

I have been running Collaborative Debating workshops over the past couple of years in schools in Melbourne. This topic: “Should we change the date for Australia Day?” is a popular choice. The responses from secondary students have been nothing short of extraordinary and I wish more adults were in these workshops to hear these young people talk.

 

I want to be very clear here – I don’t tell these kids what to think. We set up a Collaborative Debate, which has a framework that invites respect, listening and participation from all involved, including the audience. Speakers may even acknowledge that they have changed their mind throughout the debate. They may even apologise to the other side! And halfway through what are always very active, robust debates, we have a mindful moment of stilled silence, allowing new wisdoms and insights to enter the debate. Can you imagine politicians doing this?

 

Students have told me: “Saying sorry doesn’t mean we are ever going to change.”

What these young people understand is it is all about what the date represents and it will take a change in attitude for real change to occur. For most, they want to see the date changed as a mark of respect and so it allows them to freely celebrate all the wonderful positives about our country, together. Australians all let us rejoice.

“because of the damage it represents that none of us can ignore”

16 year old participant in a school Collaborative Debate

 

Some students have suggested, “Not changing the date yet changing our attitude.” They say we should keep this date but not to be celebrated, instead to “have it like ANZAC day”, as a commemorative day. Then to have a separate day of celebration, inclusive for all. At one school, after this same decision had been made, one boy put up his hand. He spoke vehemently, from the heart. He said that he could understand a commemorative day, and yet, with what had occurred through our history, the biggest way we could show we were taking action in regards to commemorating, was to change the date, “because of the damage it represents that none of us can ignore.” He received thunderous applause.

 

In all cases, the final decision from the majority of these secondary students was to change the date of Australia Day.

 

This year I want to walk the Songlines in Western Australia. I want to learn. One truth that we commonly forget in this country is that the Aborigines actually aided many white ‘settlers’ and early explorers. It is thanks to local tribes, that many of these people survived.

 

I am hoping they will now include me, teach me, and that in doing so I will not only survive, I will thrive.

Do we need to change the date of Australia Day? 

I believe it is a question that speaks to the hearts and minds not just of our country, but reaches out to hearts and minds across the globe, to any country who claims to value inclusivity, empathy and equality as values that pillar their nation. After centuries of colonisation / invasion, the ‘victors’ across the world are still unable to empathize or listen deeply. Perhaps this shows they are still carrying the hallmarks of colonialism, even whilst proclaiming we have progressed into a 'modern world.'

Inclusivity is a value that could change the world. I believe Australia has an amazing opportunity to be an exemplar to other nations with similar histories who continue to undermine their First Peoples or other marginalized groups.

I am not telling you what to think. Yet I am inviting you to think.

 

Margaret Hepworth

Founder The Gandhi Experiment

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth


Speaker / Author / Educator Margaret Hepworth is an expert in teenage motivations & behaviours; a thought leader in peace education; the founder of The Gandhi Experiment;  an English and Humanities teacher of 30 years; author of The Gandhi Experiment – teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens; recipient of the 2016 Sir John Monash Award for Inspirational Women's Leadership; creator of Collaborative Debating ©. www.thegandhiexperiment.com

Margaret@margarethepworth.com  

The Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens Purchase here

Maragret is the ‘go to’ for Collaborative Debating. For workshops you can contact her on Margaret@margarethepworth.com

'SCENE ONE; SCENE TWO' - A ROLE PLAY TEACHING HOW TO MAKE BETTER CHOICES

‘Scene One; Scene Two’  - a role play about making better choices.

‘Scene One; Scene Two’ - a role play about making better choices.

These young students, Yr 4-6 (age 10-13yrs old) are completely rocking my role play on anger management and the choices we can make when we are upset, frustrated and angry. 
The role play intentionally utilises the learning preferences for audio, visual and kinesthetic learners, so that everyone is readily engaged and learns the messages. 
I crafted this role play to follow a pattern that works:

1. To ‘take them out beyond themselves’ 
2. To bring it back 'to me', to 'my school' and 'my home' environments
3. To understand I might get angry, yet I can calm down and choose a different response
4. To see that both violence and kindness have a ripple effect- and I can be a part of either one.

5. It is a choice. My response is important not just to me but to others around me as well. 

These kids are amazing improvisers, acting completely off the cuff, acting out one scenario and then going into 'rewind' to act out a different response- and having a ball doing so! My heartfelt thanks to them. 

‘Global Citizenship - It starts with us!’ is one of The Gandhi Experiment’s signature student workshops

Feeling great after our workshop

Feeling great after our workshop

COLLABORATIVE DEBATING THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION

Students workshop the topic prior to the Collaborative Debate

Students workshop the topic prior to the Collaborative Debate

Last Friday, I was very excited to be back at Preshil, running a Collaborative Debate with all their Yr 10s. Having studied ethical questions around the Fourth Industrial Revolution - digital revolution - social credit, advanced surveillance technology, facial recognition and more, the topic of our Collaborative Debate was ‘That we need more surveillance strategies.’ Oh yes, it was challenging!

I was impressed at how quickly these Yr 10s learnt to shift to this new framework of collaborative conversation, not trying to point score or denigrate, but to open the topic up to further examination. 

In Collaborative Debating we learn that we may need to pose new questions - create a question chain that will then take us closer to the answers we are seeking. One such question raised by one of the Preshil Yr 10s in relation to new surveillance strategies was ‘What are the outcomes we would be seeking?’ It helped to clarify the purpose and intent of our debate. 

And as much as we were talking about 'screens' here we were fully engaged in face-to-face conversations, in deep learning. Love it!

HOW ARE WE GOING TO TEACH OUR TEENAGERS TO BECOME GLOBAL CITIZENS?

ONE AUSTRALIAN TEACHER'S GLOBAL RESPONSE

Every young person knows the world needs to change. Let’s help them do it!

 

Travelling across India in 2015, running my Global Participation – It starts with us! student workshops, I was asked several times: ‘What are you going to do next? What are your next steps moving forward? Where do you see this growing?’ My answer: ‘I’m going to write a book that includes activities from the workshops; that allows other teachers and parents to take these lessons forward. So that the messages move beyond me.’

 

Having made that declaration, on returning home to Melbourne, Australia, I found an email that had been sitting in my inbox for ten days. It was from Dharini Bhaskar, Editor at Rupa publications. ‘I have read about your work. Would you like to write a book?’ I nearly deleted it; surely this was spam? Then I read it again…and again. It was obvious Dharini actually did know about my work through The Gandhi Experiment; it was obvious she was writing personally, to me. Ah, the synchronicity I had come to understand that is somehow magically embedded in India was manifesting action. Dharini’s email was returned with a resounding ‘Yes.’

 

The book, The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens has now taken shape and a life of its own. It is due to be published on July 1, this year, only a few short weeks away. Am I excited? Absolutely. I can see the power of the messages already moving well beyond me as the author, as teachers in Mumbai and Nagaland have run The Best Forgiveness Role Play Ever, a secular and lateral approach to forgiveness and inclusivity; as other teachers, parents and youth leaders prepare to hold The Dinner Party to Save the World in their student forums or at home at their own dinner tables, hosting courageous conversations, provocations and mindful activities; as more teachers are taking on ‘Almost Impossible Thoughts’, teaching young people how to take their skills, their passions, their expertise and combine it with ‘What does the world need me to do right now?’ The Utopian Scale is designed to shift attitudes, whilst the Conundrum of Inner Listening helps us all find that ‘still, small voice’ of guidance within.

 

With my 30 years teaching experience, I know it is all about ensuring the lessons ‘stick,’ – that they move both inwards, then outwards, beyond the classroom walls. Underpinned by critical thinking, multiple intelligences, parallel thinking and positive education, these lessons are designed to do precisely that. 

 

Nelson Mandela requested us all ‘To rise beyond our own expectations of ourselves.’ Yet Mandela wasn’t just speaking to the young people of this world – he was speaking to us all. If for two seconds you are wondering about the importance of this kind of teaching, then just look at the world around you.

 

How are we going to teach our teenagers how to become global citizens? Be inspired yourself by reading the chapter, ‘Almost Impossible Thoughts’. You will come to understand how to use your expertise, your passions, your visions –whatever they may be -  to help our teens find expression in theirs.

 

Change really does begin with ‘me’. Ah, yes, that does mean you.

Let’s go for it!

Cheery blessings,

Margaret

 

The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens will be available through Amazon.com and Rupa publications on July 1. Go to www.thegandhiexperiment.com to be notified of publication and learn more about the student workshops.

 

Author / Educator Margaret Hepworth is an expert in teenage motivations & behaviours; a thought leader in peace education; the founder of The Gandhi Experiment;  an English and Humanities teacher of 30 years; author of The Gandhi Experiment – teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens; recipient of the 2016 Sir John Monash Award for Inspirational Women's Leadership; creator of Collaborative Debating ©. www.thegandhiexperiment.com

Margaret@margarethepworth.com   +61422154875

The Gandhi Experiment - the freshest ideas in mindful education

Collaborative Debating comes to Timbertop, Geelong Grammar

Timbertop - Geelong Grammar's remote Year 9 campus.

Timbertop - Geelong Grammar's remote Year 9 campus.

 

Yr 9 students, and their teachers, learn a new methodology in debating.

It was the last week of Term One and a bunch of Year 9 students were learning new skills – how not to be sarcastic; how not to tear each other down; how not to let that ego prance and dance all over a perceived opponent.

 

Instead, they were learning to debate with respect. A novel idea, in the throes of a world that opens them up to the Clinton / Trump debates, online bullying and a media that so often names and shames.

 

In fact, they no longer even had a perceived opponent! Instead they were coming face to face with people who had alternative beliefs and opinions to theirs, yet who now approached debate with the intent to look for points of agreeance and to solve the problem at hand.

 

Before beginning the debate, we examined language and how it shapes our thoughts. It was generally agreed that a debate that began with an Affirmative team and a Negative team was setting up adversarial positioning, just as our politics are framed by the Government and the Opposition. Look what happens when we begin the debate with an Affirmative Team and a Cooperative team. Can we ever move to a point where we have the Government and the Cooperative Party? Politicians who seek to build on each other’s ideas for the betterment of the country?

 

We examined the notion that just because ‘this is the way it has always been done’, doesn’t mean we cannot re-imagine it, and therefore change structures to create a more solution-driven outcome.

 

Then we set up the debate and away we went. The audience soon discovered that they couldn’t just sit and listen (or not even listen!). That they were indeed part of the whole debate; that their opinions would be recognised. In fact, one member of the audience told me afterwards: ‘It wasn’t like a normal debate where I would just think who is going to win this debate? Instead I kept thinking what is my opinion on this issue? What should we really do about this?’

The Cooperative team prepares their debate. A member of the audience also researches her stance on the topic.

The Cooperative team prepares their debate. A member of the audience also researches her stance on the topic.

 

The debaters soon discovered that they could think for themselves – that they didn’t have to tow a party line. That when the Mentor asked ‘Does anyone want to cross the floor right now’, they could. With no detrimental effect from their team – because the team was not seeking to win against the other team. They were seeking to make things better for the entire community. To find the best outcomes even through disagreeance.

 

One student wrote afterwards: ‘Collaborative Debating is an amazing technique to discuss two different sides of a topic without fighting or being completely stubborn.

 

For myself, as the creator of Collaborative Debating, I could not have been happier with the outcome. The teachers soon successfully ran their own Collaborative Debates, and scored PD through the learning! The key role of the Mentor, formerly the adjudicator, who no longer ranks, judges or scores, was modelled in each debate, by myself, to a Year 9 student – an assistant Mentor. And every time, without fail, that student had grasped the role and was on their feet invoking Guidances through each debate. I was struck by how rapidly they were able to take this on.

A happy teacher's message scrawled on the 'What's Happening' board outside the library.

A happy teacher's message scrawled on the 'What's Happening' board outside the library.

 

It was rigorous academic learning at its finest. Values education sunk deeply into the English classroom, both overtly and covertly being learnt by 15 year olds. Respectful learning that can be taken into the playground, homes and future workplaces.

 

Vanessa Hewson, Director of Learning at Timbertop said: “Students are empowered to be collaborative problem solvers rather than adversarial opponents. The discussion that unfolds is far richer and delves deeper into issues of local and global importance.”

 

It has affirmed my own belief that every school should be teaching Collaborative Debating.

Collaborative Debating manual now available for purchase. For a happy discount, just ask!

Collaborative Debating manual now available for purchase. For a happy discount, just ask!

 

If you wish to know more about Collaborative Debating  – how to purchase the Collaborative Debating manual or how to book a workshop – for students, teachers or even into the corporate world – go to www.thegandhiexperiment.com or simply email Margaret – margaret@margarethepworth.com   or call 0422 154 875.

 

More stories coming soon and look out for our Facebook Live when Collaborative Debating comes to the steps of Parliament House!