Helping young people make sense of world

STEWART HAY reflects on a successful week for the Global Classroom after it hosted students and staff from around the world for a conference on living, learning and leading.

The vision, encouragement and invaluable funding support of the Shetland Islands Council schools service and the Anderson High School head teach er and staff to ensure the Global Classroom enables as many young Shetlanders as possible to live locally and learn globally, brought the third Global Classroom Conference to Shetland.

Sharing Shetland for the past 10 days with young people from Aus­tralia, New Zealand, South Africa, New Jersey (USA), the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden as part of the Global Classroom Con­fer­ence has given new insights and perspectives to all of the local team of students and teachers involved.

It is fascinating “to see ourselves as others see us”. As part of the conference young people from each of the eight countries represented in Global Classroom visited Fair Isle, Foula, Yell, Unst and Northmavine. Meeting people and establishing contact with people from throughout Shetland was a very important aim of the conference.

Midsummer sun, calm seas and simmer dim helped all the visitors enjoy their “island adventures” to the full. Spending a morning in Fair Isle Primary School, setting scenes of Macbeth in Muness Castle, swim­ming from Brecken beach, trekking the hills to Uyea and tasting excellent local produce are some memories global visitors may take home.

As well as the many memories of Shetland will hopefully also be many experiences, activities and a great deal of learning from being among each other. Learning to share ideas, aims and ambitions for a fut­ure not yet known was at the core of many of the discussions and debates undertaken to address the conference themes of living, learn­ing and leading. The conference also was a forum for a small team of students – one from each of the participating countries – to present the findings of their 10 month research of leadership and learning undertaken in each of the participating schools.

Led by two Shetland co-ordin­ators, Eliza Brush and Lewie Peter­son, The Learning School gave an outstanding multi-media present­a­tion of their findings. Conor Dickson from Dunrossness along with staff members Gena Samson and Rachel Bell shared with every­one leadership and learning in action in a fascinating piece of shared learn­ing between pupils at Dunrossness and students of Mont­gomery Middle School in West Windsor, New Jersey, on their res­pective communities in a global society.

Claire Flynn from Sandwick School captivated the global audience with her presentation of her role in also visiting Mont­gomery Middle School to in turn lead learning with her fellow stu­dents and social subjects teacher on aspects of both com-munities in a global society.

Claire Reid and the Anderson High School’s student representative council put on a wonderful evening of entertainment, another example of Shetland hospitality at its best.

Helping young people make sense of their place in the world is the aim of Global Classroom. The many host families from throughout the Shetland community who open­ed their homes to global visitors have helped hugely in realising this aim.

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The Czech group from Gymnasium Zlin wrote a short poem:

In the middle of nowhere,
Eight pieces formed one big whole
full of strong feelings and friendship.
We are proud and grateful that we could be
one of the pieces.
Now our big temporary family has to be divided
but our hearts will be full of memories
for the rest of our lives.
And this is the purpose of Global Classroom.

The Germans chose a different style

S tudents prepared for life after school by thinking about learning living
and joining cultures in Shetland.
H osts are very important for well being and in Shetland they were
E shaness and the cliffs was one of the experiences that brought us together.
T alking to many people from different cultures helped us understand
L earning by doing brought students together without introductions.
A ctivities brings people together across cultures.
N ative speakers helped non natives express thoughts and ideas.
D enis Goldberg shared a life and conviction inspired us all.

G reatest piece of nature in Shetland was Uyea after a long hard trek.
C reativity was clear in presentations.
C haracter developed and flourished in all.

Sweden had a slogan:

Shetland became our world for 10 days – and it is one we really do not want to leave.

Ridgewood New Jersey:

The people of Shetland opened not only their doors but their hearts to 70 strangers. This is a true testimony to the character and spirit of the islands which offered us the world.

From Shirley Boys High Christchurch NZ:

Spending the past 10 days in Shetland Islands has been one of the most invigorating experiences of our lives. The stark isolation makes Shetland one of the most powerful places in the world. The environment rigged nature of the exposed coastline leave the first time visitor breathless. It is a moment not worth trading for anything. “We will return – this place is a treasure!”

From Lake Ginnderra College, Canberra, Australia

From the land down under to the island up there has been for us all a journey of excellence – the people places and all of the conference activities and events have impressed inspired and moved all of us.

South Peninsula High Cape Town SA

This conference made for us what was so much of an idea for 10 months planning saving and preparing – an amazing reality. The education department of Shetland council truly “raised the bar”.


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