Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Impact of Cross Cultural Education

It was obvious by the sense of accomplishment in the eyes of the teachers, both from Muncie and Malawi, that our three day workshop exceeded the professional and cultural expectations. The English 311 class brought Bloom’s Taxonomy, a lesson plan format, and unit plan ideas to the teachers of Mtendere Village. We were surprised by the enthusiasm of the teachers and their willingness to soak in all we had to share.

From the experiences of last year's BSU students, they found that the children at the orphanage inconsistently challenged by high level questioning during their time at school. By introducing Bloom’s Taxonomy and all of its implications, we felt that the teachers would begin to understand the different levels of questioning and the benefits of challenging their students. After spending weeks studying this theory, many of us thought that the concept would be too difficult to understand in three days. However, to our surprise, the teachers were very receptive and grasped the concept quickly. Even after challenging the teachers to apply the six levels of thinking to the phrase, “Malawi is the Warm Heart of Africa,” they did not lose confidence. Not only did the teaching of this theory benefit the teachers of Malawi, it allowed us to take part in our first professional development.

We were also given the opportunity to reinforce our understanding of the engagement, exploration, explanation, and evaluation lesson plan format. It was interesting to find the cross cultural similarities found between most Malawian lesson plans. We sensed that the teachers at Mtendere were surprised at the lack of differences across the lesson plan formats. Along with the layout we were able to model and practice activities that could be applied to each aspect of the plan.

From here we were able to introduce one of our thirty day unit plans. These were designed to meet the educational needs of the children at Mtendere Village. Due to the shortage of time, we chose to implement the language arts unit focusing on story elements. In order to reinforce the six elements, we applied them to the story, “Anansi the Spider.” At first, the teachers were very hesitant to engage in the activity. After a little encouragement, they were making connections to several different aspects of the lesson. After traveling to Malawi last year, the BSU groups noticed that the Malawian culture was not well represented in their own library. The teachers collaborated to use the story elements to write a book that would educate their students on cultural relevant topics. It was incredible to see how excited the teachers were to write a book that reflected their own culture. Although time was short, we were able to brainstorm, write a draft, edit, and complete a final product. The teachers were unbelievably proud of the work they completed. Knowing that we added a significant piece of their culture to their educational resources reassured us that we are making a positive impact on Mtendere.

One of the vital components of immersive learning is sustainability. An amazing feeling of accomplishment was felt by all parties after finishing the professional development workshop knowing that this BSU-created unit would impact future minds of Mtendere. It is hard to describe the fusion of educational ideas being shared in this partnership, though the pride all of us felt during this cultural exchange was immense.


  1. Wow, great work !!!!! What a wonderful sense of accomplishment for all parties. You will never forget these moments. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Rhea, Sorry it took me so long to write. Looks like you are having an awesome time. Take in everything you can. I know this will be an experience you will never forget. I am very proud of you!

    Mrs. Nevils

  3. You are all doing wonderful work - you will carry this with you the rest of your life. There is nothing better them immersing yourself into a field study. Hanna - hope you are have the time of your life - take it all in and I can't wait to hear about everything.

  4. Loving the pictures...thanks for sharing so much with us!

    Reba Ervin