From South Africa to Sierra Leone – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

From South Africa to Sierra Leone

Professor of Education Charles Temple started the month of September in Polokwane, South Africa, presenting a workshop at the First Biennial Conference of the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY). His workshop was titled, “Using Storytelling and Read-Alouds to Promote Critical Thinking.” The trip was jointly sponsored by the HWS Provost’s Office and by CODE-Canada, a literacy and children’s book publishing group.

During the last week of September, he was in Freetown, Sierra Leone, leading a workshop for writers and illustrators, under the auspices of PEN-Sierra Leone. The group’s goal is to prepare these professionals to produce children’s books-contemporary realistic fiction-for use in the schools of Sierra Leone, especially in upper primary and junior secondary schools. A grant from an anonymous donor will enable PEN-Sierra Leone to publish eight titles next year, a total of 100,000 books. The writing project is part of a larger initiative called Le We Ol Len, which is a partnership of the International Rescue Committee, CODE-Canada, and PEN-Sierra Leone.

Temple notes the group’s efforts are reaching out to junior and senior secondary student writers, too. They have created a solicitation for students, and training materials for coaches of writing clubs. Writers and illustrators whose works are published will be paid by the project.

Temple will return to Freetown before the semester starts at the Colleges in January, and plans to make at least two more trips there in 2012. Some of those trips will be devoted to working with a teacher training project out in Kenema Province.

“Sierra Leone is recovering from a devastating civil war, which was featured in the film Blood Diamonds, and in the autobiographical work, Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah,” explains Temple. “We are hoping that the books produced in the project can be used as part of the healing and peace-building process in that country.”

In addition to his work in South Africa and Sierra Leone last month, Temple learned he has also been invited by USAID to serve as a part-time senior consultant on a five-year literacy, curriculum development, and teacher training project in the Republic of Georgia.

“We are particularly excited about this project, because it will serve as a large scale demonstration of the approaches we developed in the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking project, which blend literacy instruction with critical thinking,” says Temple.