Book Bus

The Creative Educator's Program

Seeking to build a community for young educators and creative professionals who value critical engagement, CEP recruited 15 cohorts through an online application and interview process in March 2021.

Shefali Upreti

The Creative Educator’s Program (CEP) 2021 is a year-long program by the U.S. Embassy’s Book Bus, enrolling cohorts with a strong interest in creative arts and education to participate in rigorous training sessions on educational philosophies, classroom pedagogy and practices, and the process of coordinating and implementing Book Bus’s various educational programs. The training sessions will be followed by a phase of project development, where participants will research, conceptualize, lead and implement Book Bus projects. 

Seeking to build a community for young educators and creative professionals who value critical engagement, CEP recruited 15 cohorts through an online application and interview process in March 2021. So far, CEP has engaged cohorts in five workshops: Philosophy of Education, In Our Times, Classroom Pedagogy, The Classroom as a Safe Space, and Nepal Reads. Over the months, CEP has created a close-knit virtual community of young educators with the tools to create safe, creative spaces that are centered on learning. 

The trainings kicked off at the end of March with Amina Singh’s Philosophy of Education workshops. The workshops served as an exercise in reflecting on the participants’ own educational journeys, which they would come to do in a variety of exercise throughout the program. Introducing participants to key philosophies of education and how they shape pedagogical practices in the classroom, these sessions encouraged participants to examine their existing assumptions about education, and how these assumptions might inform their practice as educators and instructors. Participants were able to reflect on the educational system they were instructed in, in the context of pedagogical practices that have taken root in classrooms over the decades.  

The In Our Times sessions, facilitated by Pranab Man Singh, that took place in April and May, further contextualized Nepal’s system of education with a series of selected readings on Nepal’s history and its educational practices. These sessions were an exploration of the modes of learning and knowledge creation, which also gave participants insight into Book Bus’ values of inclusivity and diverse practices. Participants discussed the nature of critical thinking and reflected on education at the intersection of gender, caste and class. Together, they drew a conclusion that learning isn’t limited to formal institutions, but is rather an ongoing process within online spaces, experiences, families and friendships, and the individual’s willingness to learn and create.  

With this intention of creating spaces that are most suited to the learning process in mind, cohorts also partook in the Classrooms as a Safe Space training sessions, facilitated by Prathama Raghavan in April. In three intimate and enjoyable sessions, participants discussed what they were able to do to create safer spaces for diverse students. Reflecting on their own educational journeys, the trainees illustrated the roles of mentors and educators in their own lives, and the variety of situations and circumstances that caused them to feel safe or unsafe in learning environments. 

While learning about and reflecting on the caste, class, sexual orientation and gender diversities that exist in society as well as the classroom, including physical and mental health disabilities, the trainees also reflected on how they could create a safe, welcoming environment among themselves. They tackled how to best recognize their own and their students’ triggers, as well as states of hyper and hypo arousal while experiencing stress or reliving trauma.  

Bringing trauma-informed teaching and learning processes to the forefront, the Classroom Pedagogy sessions, facilitated by Ujjwala Maharjan in April and May, engaged the trainees in creating lesson plans for trauma-impacted students. Trainees discussed ways in which they could address ‘challenging behaviors’ for trauma-impacted students in the classroom, while also learning a variety of pedagogical ideas, techniques and methodologies.

The prevalence of casteism, classism and racism, as well as the intentional or unwitting use of derogatory terms that can cause minorities to feel unsafe and unwelcome in learning spaces was also discussed during the Nepal Reads training sessions, facilitated by Tenzin Dulal in May. Based on the critical reading of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, participants discussed the power of language, belonging and identity. 

Though Nepal Reads is a program by Book Bus geared to create a reading culture and critical reading skills in Nepal, all the training sessions encouraged participants to analyze the texts they were assigned and practice creative modes of thinking, learning and teaching. Under the facilitators’ guidance, participants were also able to create a safe and inclusive environment among themselves. At the end of the Classroom Pedagogy workshop, participants shared notes of appreciation with each other. Their closeness and their desire to work together has been heartwarming, and the participants have expressed joy and enthusiasm to be engaged in such a community during such unprecedented times, looking forward eventually work on their own Book Bus projects.

Shefali Upreti is a writer and a part of the Book Bus team.

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