Friday, June 3, 2011

Transformative methods in the school environment

I will prefer having transformative methods implemented in a school-wide initiative. This is because the school, being a micro reflection of the larger community will offer a more realistic opportunity for transformation than an individual classroom.

Firstly, there will be a need to put in place appropriate structures for transparent information exchange between all members of the school community – the students, the educators, the administrators, and parents. There must be adequate avenues for sharing views, ideas and perspectives in an atmosphere that is built on mutual respect and understanding with a singular aim of achieving peaceful coexistence.

There is then the need for a sincere willingness on the part of all concerned t initiate a process of critical examination of reality coupled with an open-mindedness to carry out sober reflection on the perceived reality with a view to effecting positively transforming the reality.

On the school level, the staff (both academic and non-academic) need to put in place structures that will enable them critically examine the reality of the community. (It should be noted that at this point that everyone must be convinced of the sincerity of purpose of the initiative and be made aware of the benefits of the ultimate goal – Peace, to themselves as individuals, the school community and the larger world)  This first stage will require a comprehensive enlightenment and re-orientation initiative to ensure everyone is engaged.

Once the commitment of everyone is achieved, and they are able to see the value of joining hands to transform their reality to something better; sincere positive inputs will certainly start coming in form of individual and collective critical examination of the reality.
The committee system will do well in such an initiative with various committees set up to coordinate the inputs and organize brainstorming dialogue events. Though it is very important that everyone is allowed to air their views however extreme or trivial they may seem. There must be no ridiculing of anyone’s views. (There are always many ways of incorporating different views into the final course of action and getting everyone satisfied; what matters is that everyone gets a feeling of being heard). And this will ensure everyone has a sense of collective responsibility towards ensuring the success of the final decision when taken.

In class with students from multicultural backgrounds, the transformative method will firstly require the teacher carrying out extensive research to find out the views and outlooks of the various cultures to the reality in the society.
If for example, the problem is that of ethno-religious misconceptions and misrepresentations, it will require the teacher carrying out extensive research to find out about the teachings of the different religions and cultures on the concept of peace; and then ensure that in designing the learning activities, he incorporates practical examples of peaceful ethno-religious coexistence from history and from his immediate environment if any can be found.

The first stage will be to define the concept of peace as it relates to their community in particular, and the larger world in general.
It would be necessary to let them understand the value of peaceful coexistence with emphasis on the interwoven relationship that binds people in the world.
The teacher must ensure he lets the students understand that all cultures and faiths actually promote peaceful coexistence and that they should not look at the problem of being one set of people hating the other. He should try letting them understand that what they have is a problem of lack of peace, and everyone should be willing to work together to solve it.
It would them be necessary for the teacher to facilitate a discussion in classroom where the students can air discuss their perspectives to peace in their immediate community; how they perceive they perceive the present reality and what they think could be done to improve on that reality. (It should be noted that the teacher, as a facilitator, should subtly guide the direction of the discussions to ensure the right manner of words are used. An introductory speech to emphasize that abusive or derisive words and direct accusations are disallowed in the discussions.)

At the end of the discussion sessions, students could be given homework, to write out their general perspectives on peace, their perception of the present reality and possible means of effecting a positive transformation. (They should be instructed to ensure their submissions contain practical suggestions especially as it relates to their relations with their peers and the teacher in the class). Another method will be to get all the students to print out their suggestions, and submit them without printing their names on them. This will offer them more freedom to express their views.
After going through the submitted homework, the teacher should note down the various points raised and organize another round of discussion sessions where the points raised and possible transformative steps suggested will be discussed. This round of discussions should be designed to allow the students collectively ratify some of the practical steps suggested.
At this point, students could also be asked to make submissions about how this process could be extended to the larger community around them.
This method could also work at the individual level to effect settlement between two disputing students. The teacher, as a mediator in this instance, first explains the concept of peace at the interpersonal level to the two of them and lets them understand the value of peaceful coexistence among them. Each party should them explain his/her perspective and mention how he/she feels the dispute could be resolved for the relationship to assume its normalcy. If well guided, most petty disputes among students will be settled amicably by guiding them through this process of transforming a strained relationship into peaceful one. This process will teach them to critically examine situations when they occur, reflect on the causes of the situations, consider the effects of the situation on them (Positive or negative), learn to work together to proffer solutions that could effect transformation of their situations.


  1. Sounds like a good plan. Making the students part of the process as much as possible is important. It will put the democratic process in action.

    Setting some guidelines for discussion is also important. This will insure that everyone takes part and that there is an expectation that everyone listen to the other.

    Hopefully, what happens in the classroom will have a ripple effect and students will extend their learning to the community. The classroom is a good place to start, I think.

  2. Yes, I have come to realize that active student participation is absolutely essential in guiding learners to an all round development.
    Setting the theme and allowing them to bring in their experiences and perspectives, makes learning a convincing reality for them.
    It also allows the teacher to observe their outlooks to issues and be able to act as a subtle guide if there be need.


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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.