We connect as human beings…

Imagine a middle-aged teacher in Australia singing a song together with a group of bubbly kids in an urban slum in Hyderabad, India!

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you’ll know about the SOLE (Self organised learning environment) project and you’ll have read about some of my interactions on Skype with kids in India. There were no sessions for a while due to reasons which remain a mystery to us. Often the cloud mediators will wait online in the hope of an interaction, never knowing whether the reason for a no-show is a holiday or exam time or there’s no internet connection.

But they’re back! It never ceases to amaze me how much fun I can have with a group of kids so very different from the eleven year olds I teach here in Melbourne. Most of them have very limited English. Yesterday’s was a delightfully enthusiastic group of chattering girls, who are regulars at the SOLE, a room with computers, next to their school. This was our second interaction and they were excited to chat with me again. As usual, they vied for the ‘front seats’ at the computer. Neha took control, probably because her English is a little better than the others. There were also Thaseen, Atiya,  Zakiya, Jabeen and a few others who came and went in the background.

They speak little English and their background couldn’t be more different from mine, but we connect as human beings and I love that. We laughed a lot. We made faces. We sang together. I showed them how to fold an origami dog. I’m not sure whether they knew it was supposed to be a dog, but they loved it anyway and it kept reappearing in front of the camera as we chatted. They told me they learn Urdu at school, so I asked to hear what it sounded like and they spontaneously recited a poem in chorus! They also sang a song in Hindi, but the highlight was the English song we could sing together. They finished each presentation with a theatrical series of thank yous. I clapped, they clapped, we laughed some more. They taught me to say thank you in Urdu (shukria) and in Hindi (dhaniyavath).

Every experience I have influences who I am as a teacher. I know I learn as much from these sessions as the kids do. So I find myself imagining such interactions between my own students and these children. I wonder what learning they would take away…  A small attempt last month was very successful. Let’s hope we can get around the time difference and make further connections possible.

8 thoughts on “We connect as human beings…

  1. thanks for the lovely personal story edna – one of the very readable features of your blog. it seems that when we reach out globally we discover common values with others. let’s hope that our students grow into more understanding and tolerant citizens. through the global connections we help them to make.
    which song did you sing together? i once visited a grade 1 class in south korea and taught them ‘three jellyfish’!

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  2. You should teach in a PYP school! It’s all about the things you mentioned!

    The point was that I didn’t teach them a song… they sang a song they had learned (500 Miles) and were surprised that this foreign lady could sing it with them🙂

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  3. Hi Edna

    I love the post. Children constantly amaze me, particually those from less fortunate backgrounds. I so often think, what if……

    Two days ago I was in Ho Chi Min City, Vietman (where I used your ’10 things’ articles as a resource, very useful, you will have more followers now I am certain) and on my way home later in the evening a girl of 8 or 9 yrs old came up to me to sell gum. Such a vibrant little girl with near perfect english. I bought two packs of gum, then gave the gum back to her so she could sell it again. She said she attended a school near by but had to sell gum (at 10pm on a school night) to pay for her school fees. What if…….

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  4. Edna, I`m a huge fan of yours and just want to thank you for being such an inspiration to all teachers -human beings😉 – everywhere!🙂

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  5. What amazing work you are doing, connecting with people all over the world, not only by your day to day work in class but by communicating this in your blog and showing others what can be done. You have inspired me as a parent.

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  6. I have loved following your SOLE interactions. What amazes me is that language isn’t a barrier. You can connect and learn from each other without understanding every word. Incredible model!

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