The Summer School should be fun. But also achieve interpersonal growth and fire up passion for higher education. Still further, amidst the busy lives of young people, it should bring about such outcomes with speed and panache; most certainly, it should be a substantive variation on information available via Wiki, FB, Twitter, et cetera. So, what is it like to teach faced with such challenges?
I teach Politics and International Relations and my experience has shown that the humanities encourage creativity. I still want students to read without worry they’d be called nerds if they do so also over the summer. A vital tool of Summer School teaching is the practice of the subject. My students partake in daily strategy games, such as negotiations and simulations, like the United Nations Security Council Reform Group; international trade games; smart city building exercises, and the rest.
My own expertise is key to inspiring and supporting creativity. It comes from constantly researching the subject matter of political science. A great enabler of this is seeing students as a lively focus group that literally takes the pulse of the course through their seminal comments and feedback. Because I teach international students in London and then also take Politics and IR ‘on the road’ to India, my students cover between them a substantive portion of the globe and bring together a myriad of views and expectations. Making sense of the world is about acquiring a key skill, which is the ability to separate information from knowledge. One of the most memorable sayings I heard, whilst lecturing in India, was: “Google cannot find your slippers in the Temple” (which in Hindi translates into something like: Google Apni Chappal Mandir Se Nahi Dhoond sakta.) Indeed, my students often find that social media is a phenomenal way to exchange beacons, whilst the Summer School enables the connection of a great series of these to create a whole and gain a different (critical!) understanding of the world altogether.
In my next entry, I will offer a practical example of this, focusing on the forthcoming UK in/out EU referendum, now only weeks away!