Geopolitics in the Adult Literacy Classroom

In facilitating most of our classes we start with a check in. It is a chance for the students to express how they are feeling about the learning today or perhaps talk about what we covered last week. This week the topic of Ukraine came up and led to a very good discussion – why it is happening, what we had heard in the news, where do we get our information. Some of our students in DALC are from Poland and Romania and had heard that those countries are taking in refugees and shared what they had heard from family and friends living there or from Polish and Romanian news sources.

We showed a map of the world and discussed where Ukraine was in relation to Europe. It was also a chance to talk about the other places in the world that our students had originally come from but are now settled in Ireland. One man from Eritrea showed us the map of his country and told us from his perspective about the conflict there and also in neighbouring countries like Yemen and Somalia. We learned that many of the wars are about power and outside forces wishing to claim the Gulf of Aden.

We talked about the idea of people leaving their homeland for many reasons. We talked about stories within our own families even in Ireland of those who are living all over the world. One student from Romania asked why there was so many Irish people all over the world. We spoke about the reasons such as the famine, or for economic reasons or simply the search for a better life.

The personal stories gave us a window in which to understand the world. It gave us more ways of thinking about the reasons for why things are the way they are. It encouraged us to talk and think about media messages and how critical reading and the ability to ask questions are at the core of what we do in adult education.

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