Reflections on Teaching and Learning: Ghana (Part One)

What is the purpose of education in the 21st century? I have been kicking around my essential question for the TGC fellowship for quite sometime. Im not sure that there is, or even can be, one definitive answer to my equestion, but I am discovering there are certain perspectives and ideas leading the way in addressing this question.

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The front gate of Mfantsipim, my host school. Cape Coast, Ghana

So far on my journey through Ghana, I have had the opportunity to pose this question to everyone from the adults tuning the system at the national level and now to the students. What I have gathered so far is that students are looking for a more pratical education that they know will help enface and further their home country. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many practices in place imposed by the Ghanian government are still focused on a classic “British/American” education. What I mean by this is that the classics are read and dates are studied and memorized because that has been traditional practice. However, the boys spoke with an urgency about this question, which leads me to believe there is a lot more behind this question. They spoke with an insistence of being able to learn foreign languages in order to be able to interact within the global marketplace. They spoke about the few benefits and major pitfalls of relying on the Internet for the primary tool for learning. They spoke about the need for a holistic education that includes discussions about morals and values in the context of religion. They spoke about owing the world and not the world owing them. The conversation gave me hope as a teacher that students are critically thinking about their own education, but also what talents are they sharing with society that previous generations have helped to nurture, either formally or informally.

Upon my return arrival at work in the US, I plan on asking this same question and sharing responses to my classes to gather information from multiple perspectives. I am not sure what to expect from my students’ responses because, in my opinion, the students at the school I currently teach at have educational and enrichment opportunities handed to them and oftentimes do not put in the brunt of the work required to complete the learning process. I am curious.

This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the grantee’s own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State.

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