Yvonne Luce (Global Education Derby)
We are now in the reporting phase of the Thinking Otherwise project. The project closed on 31 August 2021 after 33 months, riding an unpredictable roller coaster. Thankfully, our project had well grounded foundations, built on a rock of trust and understanding. Strong relationships were in place from two years of collaboration through Erasmus+ funding on In Others' Shoes This allowed us to plunge straight into project meetings and face to face training sessions around the project themes in Estonia (March 2019).
It was an amazing week with the team at the school house in Põlva. So much to see, learn and absorb. How many head teachers do you know who can reach any area of the campus at lightning speed on a scooter?
It was an eye opener and a great pleasure to be hosted by Võru Gümnaasium and discover how former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was held in high regard in the languages department. There are surprises around every corner.
Come October 2019 we were in Derby sharpening our Philosophy for Children skills with our ever resourceful Philosopher's Backpack colleague Jane Yates .
Another great few days shared together, not without some uncomfortable discussions, as we planned the road ahead. As a respite, we pulled in a cream tea or two to sit back, relax and reflect.
All was going to plan, what can go wrong with great communication, committed project partners, inspirational students and detailed planning?
Of course, little did we know about the upcoming threat on the horizon or how devastating a worldwide pandemic can be. WhatsApp messages became frantic in February and early March 2020 with the realisation that the closing down of society was a necessity for everyone. Our TPM in Turkey cancelled, we watched lockdown and travel restrictions ravage through Europe. Projects seemed unimportant as caring for ourselves and protecting others took centre stage.
The energy and vibrancy of our engagement ebbed away and it took some time to accept that we needed to work differently, if our project was to succeed and be revived. We had to learn to unlearn, be open to new ways of doing, and build the confidence to think otherwise for ourselves.
March 2021 was the time a new butterfly emerged from the chrysalis in the shape of our virtual student conference. How good it was to try new things together, utilize new and latent skills and ultimately open a door for student ambassadors to collaborate, lead, co-create, reflect and review.
From this point on working to complete the Thinking Otherwise website was not a duty but a joy. How could we integrate our resources successfully? How could we make messaging coherent, consistent and clear? How could we ensure relevance, utility and rigour, yet maintain simplicity and accessibility? Many questions to answer and many times we ripped up the web page and started afresh.
As usual, we were on the edge of our comfort zone until the task was complete and the publish button pressed for the final time.
There were many twists and turns along the way, beyond our wildest imaginations. Thanks to everyone who has been on this journey with us. Your contributions have been invaluable. Let us continue, as best we can, to control the controllables, let go of the things that hinder and envision a brighter future - by thinking otherwise.