Difference makers

It’s nice to have some good news coming out of the Middle East these days. In a low-key way, this video, Fark Yaratanlar – ÇABA-ÇAM (Difference Makers), shows what people can do to help build a better world. It’s from Ebru Aktan Acar, a colleague in Turkey.

The ÇABA Multi-Objective Early Childhood Education Center makes a difference for the lives of young children, for their parents, and for future teachers. It especially addresses the needs of low-income families, including refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Students in the university education program volunteer to work with the children, many of whom have suffered greatly from poverty and war. Most of those children would otherwise have little access to early education.

The Center is affiliated with Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. Preschool teacher candidates conducted neighborhood-based surveys and co-designed a model to expand early childhood education while transforming their own training into practice.  The first class opened in 2008. The program now offers a model that anyone could use and values that ought to remind all of us of how we could better interact with one another.

I was fortunate to interact with the children and teachers at ÇABA on several trips to Turkey. I also wrote a chapter for Ebru’s forthcoming book, Early Childhood Education: Major Themes: Ideas, Models, and Approaches. My contribution is about the work of Jane Addams. Although Addams is not generally listed among early childhood educators, such as Montessori or Froebel, Ebru recognized that Addams’s social justice agenda was key to a project like this, which conceives early childhood as holistic and community-based.

Discoveries

forest visitors' centerDiscoveries (1995) was a series of four interactive CD-ROM programs for Grades 3-6 (ages 8-12), with accompanying teacher’s guides. Each CD-ROM takes you on a virtual field trip where you can discover a new environment by scrolling through a 360-degree panorama filled with images, motion video, animation, voices, and music. Students write in an e-journal and “photograph” images on the CD.

The series won the National Educational Media Award (1996), the New England Book Show Award (1996), the Bookbuilder’s Award (1995), and was selected for the Gallery at the Fifth Annual Macromedia Conference (1994). It was originally published by D. C. Heath, then Houghton Mifflin, later Sunburst.  The technology appears primitive now, but was state-of-the-art in 1995.

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