Exploring teacher agency and identity through the Tree of Life approach

*This project was funded by The British Council as part of their Widening Participation programme.

Exploring teacher agency and identity through the Tree of Life approach

Led by Maria Grazia Imperiale, Lecturer in Adult Education at the University of Glasgow, and previously CUSP Academic Coordinator, Stephen Mander, and Damian Ross conducted a participatory research project as part of The British Councils Widening Participation programme.

The Project

Working with ten early career researchers across five countries, (Armenia, Brazil, Morocco, Nigeria, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories) and using participatory research and decolonising methodologies, the project used a  tree to explore the participants roots, strengths and capabilities as well as their hopes and dreams for the future.

Credit: The British Council

The Findings

The project focussed on four main findings namely:

  • Participants perceive identity as a transformative process, strictly intertwined with agency, (by agency we mean what they are capable of being and doing to change their reality according to their values and aspirations);
  • Participants believe in education for hope and social change, where students can flourish and have a positive impact on their communities and society;
  • In order to achieve change, participants feel they need to work both within and outside the system, since the education system itself may limit teachers’ freedom in constructing the education they aspire to be part of
  • While teachers may experience isolation and even despair, participants raised the need to keep their motivation alive and that one way of doing this is through peer-to-peer collaboration.

Watch the Animation

You can watch a short animation explaining the project’s aims and findings here on The British Council’s YouTube channel.

The Full Report

You can download a copy of the full report and watch a short video about the project here via the TeachingEnglish website.

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Conflict Transformation Workshop - Loch Tay Retreat

Loch Tay Winter Retreat

Back in a snowy February 2020 a group of young people from Ignite Theatre Group spent three days at Loch Tay, Scotland.

The focus of the retreat was to examine issues around conflict transformation and how the arts can help survivors cope with past traumas. The retreat centred around four different workshops, each looking at a different element of the arts: Words, Music, Adinkra and Improvisation.

The retreat was documented by photographer Robin Mitchell. Robin’s photographs have been turned into a video (below) and the music that features was composed by the young people of Ignite at Loch Tay.

Please click on the video to view.

Arts Workshops

Words workshop. Credit: Robin Mitchell
Cerdit: Robin Mitchell
Adrinka symbols. Credit: Robin Mitchell
Drums. Credit Robin Mitchell.

Words

The Words workshop encouraged small groups to identify a theme that resonated with them. The team then weaved these themes together to create a story.

Hosted by Giovanna Fassetta (CUSP DA Principal Investigator) and Tawona Sithole (UNESCO RILA Artist in Residence) this session encouraged participants to actively listen and communicate with each other.

Music

Hosted by Gameli Todzro (UNESCO RILA Artist in Residence) the group explored African drumming and the Kora and were encouraged to find confidence through elements of music such as rhythm.

The group were set musical tasks that will help them to deal with conflict in the future.

Adinkra

Lead by Naa Densua Todzro (UNESCO RILA Researcher & Artist) the group used Adinkra symbols to celebrate their journey so far.

Adinkra symbols are from the west coast of Africa, particularly Ghana where they have great significance and are widely used throughout Ghanaian society.

Improvisation

Using what they had learned during the retreat’s workshops their own lived experiences the group began to process past traumatic events.

This exercise led to “Papercuts”, which was Ignite’s last show before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Photo Gallery

All photo credits: Robin Mitchell

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).