The Final Countdown

I’m excited about the possibilities of this project. It is one that my colleague and I have been discussing, planning and re-working since the beginning of the year.

Working in an international school is a fantastic opportunity for many reasons. For me, the most important of these is the place in which we work. Schools are great for learning, but the world around us is even better. I feel sometimes that our students, and even some teachers, miss out on the learning that comes from the place where we live. It is easy to live within the bubble of the ex-pat world and miss learning from the people and places around us. That’s what this project is about.

We hope to encourage our students to listen to the stories around them and find out a little bit more about the communities within which they exist . Not just their expat community, but their neighbourhoods, their families, and the people who work for and around them. Students will be asked to listen and re-tell stories from their friends, family and locals as they work their way through the project.

We recently had one of the founders of Accra[dot]Alt come in and talk about their project and the importance of recording history and sharing the thriving culture of Ghana to dispel the myth of a continent that only suffers.  We are trying to line up a few more guest speakers as well including Daniel from the Troski Journal who will talk about the social activism aspect of his own cultural history project.

The activities will include students collecting and telling their own personal history across a couple of days based on their use of social media and texting.  We hope that this will lead to a good discussion about how history is told and what is included as well as left out.

The project is scheduled to start after spring break and last most of the rest of the school year.  Even though we have a solid plan, we fully expect it to change and develop as we go.  We are hoping to make this a yearly project that students will look forward to, tweak and develop into their own passionate learning experiences.


  1. Cate Jarvis says:

    This sounds very exciting. I too think that at international schools the pupils can live in a bubble and the retelling of stories is an exciting opportunity to connect with our won personal history. Storytelling is a wonderful skill and was often undertaken in face-to-face environments. With the development of technology this has changed as you can tell the same stories in a multitude of ways. I was wondering how will the pupils present the finished pieces, written blogs, videos, prezis? Or will the method be chosen by the pupils – will they need to explain why they chose a certain method? It sounds a very exciting project. Good luck?


    1. Ryan Harwood says:

      I am pretty excited about it. The final presentation will consist of a short film of the student retelling one of their interviews as the interviewee. The second part that requires students to work in groups, will be completely up to the groups. They will have to explain their choices. I always try to encourage students to think about why and how their style of presentation relates or enhances their subject matter.


  2. Cory Milone says:

    I think this is a fantastic project. Having lived in West Africa, I understand the importance of oral traditions and people like griots. Ghana is the perfect place to implement this type of project and as a humanities teacher, you can use this to talk about types of sources and how oral histories are often overlooked by Western scholars. It also might be worth encouraging students to create podcasts to present their work– it’s a medium that lends itself perfectly to oral histories.


    1. Ryan Harwood says:

      Yes, our location certainly lends itself to this project. The kids are excited about it and it has already presented a lot of opportunities to discuss primary sources, how history is written and especially what is left out. We’re still adjusting and negotiating what the final product will be, but a podcast is certainly a good idea. Thanks!


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