In retrospective, these events gave a perfect opening to our meeting. Orchestrated by Robin Hutchinson et.al., during both events people from Surbiton (and elsewhere) came together and celebrated in funny, lovely, silly, active and always very communicative ways for charity. This is, how communities build and become strong and supportive - this is, what - in the end - social and emotional learning is about, when it comes to using those skills in and for your local (and wider) community!
Welcoming, relaxed, fun and a sense of community were some of the terms the SELVET partners used to describe their experience of Surbiton Ski Sunday and the King’s Soup. They loved the craziness and topsy-turvy nature of Ski Sunday and the way that simple things such as cooking soup, sharing it and washing-up could create such togetherness. Adults and children played and worked together and adults could let go and feel like children. The humour, creativity and team effort involved contributed to the success of the day. Learning can be fun and the question that arose was ‘Can SEL learn from community engagement?’.
On the first day, we were being presented with an overview of the U.K. educational system and the part of Vocational Education in it. An immensely informative visit to the Kingston College (of VET) followed, where we learnt about the award-winning methods used in this college to offer student (and employer) services at highest levels. Our profound host was Ben Rowe, Director of Student Services.
Some remarks and discoveries on these activities were collected as follows:
- The facilitators observed that their primary goal was an artistic one and that social goals emerged as a by-product.
- It was important to create a safe space for the group and play helped in this.
- Sometimes the role of teacher and the expectations of the system are unhelpful. Teachers are asked to participate or leave which isn’t always received very well. On the other hand, young people don’t like teachers to be present as observers – they may disengage if they feel they are being watched or judged.
- In the UK, there is more scope for innovation and for this kind of work in primary then in secondary schools. Secondary schools are more ‘shut down’.
- Another challenge is that the participants are often those who are considered a problem or who misbehave – it looks like rewarding bad behaviour with fun workshops rather than make them available for all.
- There may be learning for SEL in considering how teachers and students interact in the school setting and their respective roles and expectations of those roles.
See you all there and then! :)