Seminar for pre-service teachers: Inquiry-based education and enthnomathematics

The first week of January, SESIM received two international experts to help us present a week-long seminar on inquiry-based education and ethnomathematics.  With support from a small-grant program through UNESCO, we invited Anne Lejuene and Pedro Palhares to give SESIM a 3 day ‘training of trainers’, and then SESIM led the seminar for around 120 university students nearly finished with their programs in mathematics and science education.

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It was refreshing to work with pre-service teachers, not yet jaded by the difficulties in schools.

Anne is from from La main à la pâte, a French institute with a long history of facilitating effective inquiry education among teachers around the world. The name is brilliant: it means ‘hands in the dough’, as in, you can’t learn to bake until you get your hands messy. She elaborated and articulated many of the processes that SESIM uses, enabling us to better understand steps that can help students approach new material through their own questions and curiosity, backed up by the scientific method.

Pedro is a mathematics professor from the University of do Minho in Portugal, where he specializes in ethnomathematics from around the world.  He presented many examples from various cultures that have developed their own mathematical solutions to various challenges including weaving, games, handicraft construction, agriculture, and architecture.

SESIM has come to realize over the past few years that visiting experts are more effective when our trainers can get trained first, and then translate their expertise into local realities and local language as we give the actual training of local teachers.  From SESIM, nine science trainers and six mathematics trainers attended the TOT, and during the actual seminar, Anne and Pedro were just back-up for our teaching.  In fact they returned home after three days after which SESIM finished out the seminar.  Anne, who has much global experience doing teacher development,  whole-heartedly agreed with our strategy, and said it is unfortunately rare to see such an effective reception and utilization of international assistance.

We in SESIM gained enormously from this partnership, and foresee similar partnerships with other relevant international experts. Here are some photos from our time with the pre-service teachers:

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