Steps Towards Global Learning: My path to CDEC's board and beyond

Steps Towards Global Learning: My path to CDEC's board and beyond

Nov 15, 2018

To celebrate the contribution CDEC's trustees make to our organisation this #TrusteesWeek, CDEC's Vice Chair Mason Minnitt has put his pen to paper to give us an insight into how his experience has led him to be on CDEC's Board of Trustees, not once but twice!

My first encounter with the influences of Global Learning on the 11-16 curriculum came after being appointed as Second in the English Department at Tuxford Comprehensive School in North Nottinghamshire. Students aged 11-14 followed an Integrated Studies course, drawing from elements of History, Geography, Religious Education and Personal and Social Education.  Issues relating to Ecology, Social Justice and the differences between evidence, opinion and belief could be explored  but these were optional and emphasis depended  on individual teacher interpretation.

In 1981 I moved to Uppingham Community College in Leicestershire – taking with me a growing professional and personal interest in Global Learning. People of my age may remember the iconic Whole Earth Catalog - a handbook for sustainable living  - and also the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales, which was pioneering practical approaches towards a low-carbon future.

Looking for ways to show the value of activities

From a learning perspective my strongest interest lay in finding strategies for students and teachers to develop and apply ways of gathering evidence about the worthwhileness of their activities and then to review and develop changes which improved their insights, outcomes and learning effectiveness.

Leicestershire LEA was a strong, supportive, learning-focused authority at this time and I was lucky enough to be seconded for a year to carry out classroom-based research into ways to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness.

Building Global Learning into humanities

When, in 1989, I moved to the post of Deputy Principal at Impington Village College in Cambridge, I was able to combine core elements of Global Learning, partly through continuing learning and teaching evaluation and research, now in collaboration with Homerton College - and also through involvement with a very forward-looking Humanities department whose curriculum was heavily inspired by David Selby’s highly influential  book, Global Teacher, Global Learner.

Moving to Cumbria

In a somewhat eccentric career move I dropped salary and drifted north to the Headship of Settlebeck High School, Sedbergh. Membership of the Small Secondary Schools development group allowed a further focus on evaluation and research and   senior colleagues in Cumbria LEA  were very supportive of worthwhile and effective innovation.

First stint on CDEC's board!

Arthur Capstick, a colleague I had met through secondary headteacher meetings, had moved to take on the role of Director of CDEC and asked me to join the Trustees  as a secondary representative. This allowed me to renew my interest in the the coherent and cohesive links between providing effective learning strategies which help students and teachers to gather, analyse, evaluate and apply evidence – and the big questions, problems and challenges which we all face when grappling with the major issues, including of climate change, social justice, equity, migration and sustainability which permeate Global Learning and Global Citizenship.

A move to the Barrow Community Learning Partnership (BCLP), in Furness , meant that I had to relinquish membership of CDEC, but could continue to apply the values, principles and practice of effective Global Learning – reconstructed within a new context.

Experiential Learning, often in partnership with Brathay; Philosophy for children/communities; large-scale student – led evaluation and research  projects in collaboration with Lancaster University, whose evaluation guru, Professor Murray Saunders, became Chair of the BCLP Board  - all  were informed by and reflected the core principles of Global Learning.

Delighted to be back on the board!

Having retired from Barrow Excellence Cluster Partnership, the successor to BCLP, in 2010 my interest in Global Learning had grown rather than diminished. The CDEC Director, Katie Carr, had previously been a highly-valued colleague within the BCLP and BECP teams – and both Murray Saunders and I joined the Board of Trustees of CDEC to offer our enthusiasm, experience and expertise in our efforts to support   learners, teachers, businesses and local communities in becoming informed proactive, reflective global citizens within Cumbria.

Our contributions as trustees

Our backgrounds as Trustees mean that we can bring both diversity and focus to our contributions. Our current CDEC team is very capable and hard - working. We all share a clear vision about how Cumbria has the potential to build on its reputation as a Beacon for Global Citizenship.