Today was our last day, and it was absolutely incredible. I took 5 full pages of notes! The presentations involved work with vulnerable populations, and all emphasized the importance of establishing trust with those communities and respecting the people there. There is so much I’ve learned… but here are just a few pieces from today’s discussions:
1) True shifts in language patterns tend to occur every several hundred years, so English (as we know it) is due for a change. “Correctness” refers to society’s acceptance of the so-called rules, which don’t always match the standards of the highly educated. Does this mean my students “text talk” might actually become standard?
2) In Belize, almost 50% of the total population is under the age of 18. It also has the highest HIV/AIDS. What kind of access is there to treatment- are people living with HIV/AIDS in Belize or are they dying from it? What are the consequences for this young population?
3) There are several important differences when comparing Autism in Africa to the condition known to the Western world. African children with Autism rarely show stereotypical behaviors (rocking, hand flapping) or self-injurious behavior (biting, scratching, head banging). It is also over-represented in the upper class. There are many challenges in getting true numbers- world statistics did not track Africa in the past. One of major cultural roadblocks is that the treatment of choice is exorcism, reflecting beliefs in witchcraft and madness.
4) Back in 1962, Boris Levinson published a paper on the dog as "co-therapist” in Mental Hygiene. Today, we’re seeing incredible success, including new work using dogs to promote literacy. When children read with dogs, the dogs provide a sense of emotional support to struggling readers.
5) When educating children in Nigeria, a new approach basically uses bilingual education in which children are taught in both their Mother Tongue and English. In expanding to other areas, one challenge will be that many oral languages do not have a written form. Without a written form, how do you create books?
6) Some of the first sponsors of environmental education were companies like Wrigley’s gum, Coca-Cola and Anheuser Busch. These organizations don’t want their company logo to be associated with litter!
Our Round Table closed with some lovely comments from our facilitator, Dr. Judy McConnell-Farmer. She’s promised to send them to me to post at a later date. A summary just won’t do it justice.
I spend the afternoon visiting Christ Church with conference friends. For those who don’t know, Christ Church served as inspiration for the Alice in Wonderland adventures. Much of the filming of the Harry Potter movies took place there too. Perhaps even most amazing, students currently attend the college! The buildings and grounds are stunning, and the Cathedral is gorgeous.
My trip to Oxford concluded with a formal reception, dinner and presentation of certificates. There were so many wonderful moments… some captured in photos. I write this last Oxford blog entry while sitting on the bed in my Oxford dorm wearing my new Oxford T-shirt. The past few days have been so intense, and I am truly grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained. Thank you to Del Val for sponsoring this trip. I should warn you--- I’m coming back with lots of ideas!