Reflecting realities, preparing new professionals

Karen Morris sharing her collection of refugee-themed picturebooks at the AfR conference, 2017

Karen Morris writes

In schools and other settings, our graduates play a significant role in the lives of pupils and encounter personal, ethical and moral dilemmas which are often unconnected with the taught curriculum. They need to be able to draw on a teaching philosophy that is distinctive and personally informed but reflects ethical values and principles. Such a philosophy needs to be responsive to the demands of a changing world where social, political, economic and environmental issues have a significant impact on the lives of children and young people. As a primary English tutor this is a key part of my role in preparing future professionals. Continue reading

Dr Julia Hope: Children’s Literature about Refugees

Visiting from Goldsmiths’ University, last week Dr Julia Hope shared with the faculty her wealth of experience from her PhD research and a decade as a ‘refugee teacher’, working with children from a refugee background in the classroom.

Her paper explored the range of ways in which children’s books can support children with a refugee background to recognise themselves in fiction, as well as the opportunity for children without these experiences to develop empathy and understanding. Her examples demonstrated that even very young children can through discussion and art demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the reasons people leave, and what it might be like to come to a new classroom, a new school, a new country.

 

Feedback from the session was excellent. One delegate stated, ‘Excellent session –   thoroughly enjoyed it. Thankyou!’ Another, who is a trainee teacher commented, ‘We need more talks like this.’ Students and staff plan to read more of the titles Julia included in her presentation, approaching them critically, and seeking to undertake research in the area. Others reflected on the way the session would help in the classroom to work with refugee families and children.