Constructing Learning for Real-Life Experiences

By Patricka Blake-Dennis 

As an educator of History, the subject matter spans vast territories, epochs, and dimensions. Captivating the attention of 14-16-year-olds on topics of historical significance presents a considerable challenge, particularly in a world where historical patterns tend to recur. Amid escalating conflicts and tensions, I deemed it paramount to introduce students to the realm of global diplomacy in a contemporary setting, aiming to illuminate the functions of the United Nations and its relevance in our daily lives. 

Sixteen students embarked on the journey of deepening their comprehension of international diplomatic relations. Together, we engaged in a stimulating  five-week course offered by the University of London. These students, ranging from grades 9 to 11, diligently delved into problem-solving, acquiring a profound insight into global diplomacy, diplomatic protocols, and their intersections with modern politics. This exploration spanned theoretical and empirical viewpoints, spanning historical and current scenarios. Their understanding was further enriched through intimate group sessions with representatives from the British and Canadian embassies, reinforcing the educational objectives. Subsequently, they showcased their newfound knowledge by actively participating in the Global Citizens Model United Nations conference held in New York in March 2024. Their remarkable performance earned them five individual awards for excellence in diplomacy across various committees.

Curt Gabrielson aptly remarked, “If you tell somebody something, you've forever robbed them of the opportunity to discover it for themselves.” Witnessing the profound impact of these lessons on students and observing the transformative shift in their cognitive processes, lifestyle, and learning methodologies has significantly influenced not only their development but also my approach to teaching. This learning experience transcends physical boundaries, surpassing the confines of traditional classroom settings, and resonates beyond temporal and spatial constraints. It has undeniably afforded me a profound opportunity to align more authentically with my purpose.