AISFM’s Pioneering Teacher Training Workshops Launched

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“How did you learn to learn?” A thought-provoking question that sets you to ponder deeply about the teacher-learner relationship. This was just one of the many questions and thoughts that set out the attendees to deliberate upon. Various pedagogical strategies like Experiential and Reflective learning, and Critical Pedagogy among others were explored at the ‘International Teachers Training Workshop’ conducted by AISFM in collaboration with Critical Education Academy, USA. Select school teachers from various International Schools from twin cities participated in the daylong intensive teaching methodology workshop brainstorming on ‘why we teach the way we teach and how to teach the next generation.’

Launching the workshop, AISFM director Amala Akkineni said, “We have been in the Film & Media education for the past five years and we take pride in ourselves as a holistic educational institution, and one of our missions is to improve the quality of education around us by actively participating in and advocating educational research in India. Hyderabad education scene is currently as vibrant as ever before with the advent of numerous international schools, institutions and work spaces.”

Workshop directors, US based Educational Experts Dr. Ambika Gopal Raj, Ph.D. and Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D., took the participants on a rigorous daylong journey through various educational methodologies that are changing the face of education in the United States & other Western Countries today.

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Dr. Ambika Gopal Raj, Ph.D. (USA), is a Professor at the Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles. In her 16 years of teaching career, she launched various M.Ed. & MA programs, developed new methodologies in education with a synthesis of experiential learning, critical pedagogy, creative pedagogy and “storying”(as opposed to ‘storytelling’) as a novel way of looking into one’s own learning process. She has also authored a book titled ‘Multicultural Children’s Literature: A Critical Issues Approach’, a SAGE Publication, which is readily implemented as an official text book for M.Ed. programs in various US universities.

Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D. (USA), Professor, Secondary Education, Western Washington University, Seattle specializes in using Film & Media as a way into formal education to enhance the learning experience covering multiple intelligences as well as critical thinking and creative thinking in secondary level students.

Amala Akkineni, Honorary Director of AISFM, speaking about this pioneering effort and the thought behind launching these workshops, said “These two reputed educationalists from the United States – who are known for such transformational workshops for educators encouraged the participants to pause and take a look at various new approaches in education the world today. Learning cannot be forced or commanded. It is a complex process. The mounting pressure on students to get higher scores does not help. We hope our efforts will bring in breakthroughs of pedogogical research for teachers in Hyderabad and across the country.”

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Elaborating further, she said, “One cannot live in isolation or expect to succeed standing alone. Our students come from across the country, and to enter their worlds to let them know about the career options they could have is certainly our responsibility. But before that we need to lay the foundation in the education system itself that each student is unique with his/her own learning style and  yet, they are the products of a combination of social, geographical, cultural convergence of all he or she has been exposed to during the growing up years. Providing a space for teachers to take time to re-discover themselves as learners, helps their renewed understanding of their own teaching processes and styles.”

Bala Rajasekharuni, Dean of Academics and Faculty of Direction & Screenwriting, speaking about this initiative said that, “this is just the beginning of an ongoing outreach program that AISFM has launched. In future we will introduce workshops for school children also. This will bring awareness among them about other educational opportunities beyond the existing conventional choices. This can result in helping them chose a career path of their own choice that utilizes their innate talents to the fullest.”

Participating teachers lauded AISFM’s efforts in launching such a program for the benefit of local educational system. They were from various schools of the city, and received a Certificate of Participation, from Amala Akkineni. They also received a membership in AISFM International Education Network to attend such future events, and an ongoing mentorship by AISFM’s Academic Advisory experts from United States.

American Education Experts share their Views on Changing Face of Education

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AISFM always setting a path for the future, making a difference and transforming lives, launched a series of International Teacher Training Workshops in collaboration with US based Educational Experts, Dr. AmbikaGopal Raj, Ph.D. and Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D., to help the quality of education in India.

Dr. AmbikaGopal Raj, Ph.D. (USA), is a Professor at the Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles. In her 16 years of teaching and research career, she has launched various new generation M.Ed. & M.A. programs. Dr. Raj has also developed new methodologies in education which are a synthesis of experiential learning, critical pedagogy, creative pedagogy and “storying” (as opposed to ‘story telling’) as a novel way of looking into our learning process. She has also authored a book titled ‘Multicultural Children’s Literature: A Critical Issues Approach’ which is readily implemented as an official text book in M.Ed. programs in various US universities.

Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D. (USA), Professor, Secondary Education, Western Washington University, Seattle specializes in using Film & Media as a way into formal education to enhance the learning experience covering multiple intelligences as well as critical thinking and creative thinking in secondary level students.

Speaking to us, both Dr. Ambika and Dr. Lauren shared their views on the challenges that teachers face, types of learning and more. Read on to find out more:
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Dr. AmbikaGopal Raj, Ph.D. (USA), is a Professor of Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles.

She feels both methods of cognitive approach to learning and experiential learning are relevant for today’s classroom.

Today’s teachers are faced with challenges of this age of instantinformation which is bombarding students by online sources, and increasingly shorter attention span of this generation being a concern, what’s your advice to the worried teacher?
Use it to our advantage – students nowadays are more media savvy than our generation – engage them with hands-on experiential activities.

Are you familiar with Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf method, which is slowly gaining popularity now? If so, what are your views on that?
It is not new. Storytelling, storying and narrative theories have been there for as long as people have been teaching. I like it a lot.

Your inputs about today’s workshop and how it can start to make a difference.
I am happy for the opportunity – I hope I can give back to my city more in the future visits.

You have taken a tour of AISFM during your visit. We’re a rare film school that is situated in a working studio. And, we have a ‘liberal arts’ approach to our education. What are your observations and views on our school, the facilities, ambience etc.?
It is fantastic! I would love to be part of this institution! Liberal Arts approach is the way to go in today’s changing times.

AISFM has hosted your workshop with an intent of impacting the local education system itself. Being a film & media school, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to our core specialty – and our core team is trying to expand beyond. What are your views on that?
I think it is great! We live in a very interactive and connected world – so why not embrace it in our education? I think “trying to expand beyond” is the key. I commend the efforts of Ms. Amala Akkineni and the Dean Bala Raj for making AISFM a true center for educational research. Pretty soon this mission is going to take off in a big way, and I’m confident that we’ll see its impact on the schools around.
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Dr. Lauren G. McClanahan, Ph.D. (USA), Professor, Secondary Education, Western Washington University, Seattle.

Your thoughts on methods of cognitive approach to learning and experiential learning? Which one do you think is relevant for today’s classroom?
I prefer experiential.  We learn best by doing!

Today’s teachers are faced with challenges of this age of instant information which is bombarding students by online sources, and increasingly shorter attention span of this generation being a concern, what’s your advice to the worried teacher?
Students must learn to be critical consumers of media–don’t believe everything you read/see/hear.

Your inputs about today’s workshop and how it can start to make a difference.
Today’s workshop can make a difference by working directly with teachers.  With the knowledge gained today, these teachers can return to their schools and share with their colleagues.

You have taken a tour of AISFM during your visit. We’re a rare film school that is situated in a working studio. And, we have a ‘liberal arts’ approach to our education. What are your observations and views on our school, the facilities, ambience etc.?
I love that the film school is located on-site at a working studio! Similarly, I no longer teach my pedagogy classes on my university campus.  All of my classes are taught within local schools. Here is a short film I created explaining why it’s better to be immersed in the location you ultimately want to be a part of:  https://vimeo.com/147556678

AISFM has hosted your workshop with an intent of impacting the local education system itself. Being a film & media school, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to our core specialty – and our core team is trying to expand beyond. What are your views on that?
I think the smartest thing you (or any organization) can do is work in partnership with local schools.  That’s what my non-profit organization has done in the United States: https://www.bellinghamyouthmediaproject.org/

You have conducted a workshop for our Faculty. AISFM facilitates their ongoing learning by conducting workshops like yours. What are your views on our faculty in general? Any observations?
The faculty I have met have all been friendly and professional.  They all participated in the workshop with full enthusiasm.

You have touched upon many methodologies & theories of education in your workshop. What’s your personal educational philosophy as a teacher?
I believe very strongly in experiential education. Provide students real-world problems to solve, in collaboration with one another, just as they will later in life. Gone are the days of long lectures followed by a test. That’s not how the world works.  🙂