Introduction: Being aware of what is happening all over the globe is quite hard and sometimes exhausting emotionally and mentally. However, as a trainer to integrate socio-political elements in programs, there must be a limited amount of knowledge of most socio-political events relevant to the program, learners and/or the topic. It is a hard task, but one that is essential to have an inclusive educational approach. The article discusses this task and needed attitudes of trainers towards it.
I chose this tool because it is practical knowledge. It can help you in your work or personal life. It adds more connection to strangers and it deepens our global perspective as humans and consequently as trainers.
As I am coming from the Mediterranean area, I know very well how socio-political aspects contribute to any experiences, even more, if it is a learning experience. When you are a learner you need to be attentive to every detail regardless of what’s going in the back of your mind. Sometimes it is unconscious to relate what we are learning to what we have been learned before or what that means to our reality. And when these two forces contradict each other, it put the learners in a vulnerable position that is not fair for them among their peers. I have been a subject of that and as a trainer, I feel responsible not to allow that to happen to any of my participants.
Learning is complex most of the time. It encompasses many elements and variables. Just to list a few: Setting of the learning environment, Motivation of learners, communication between learners and trainers, etc. Each of these encompasses many other elements. It is spiral and intersecting. Looking at this specific competence Integrating the learners’ socio-political backgrounds into the educational program, two specific elements relate directly to these competencies. They are :
1- Mental and emotional state of the learner
2- Relevance of what is being learned to learners.
These two elements weigh a lot in any learner’s experience and thus must be considered in building educational programs. An irrelevant program will be repelling to learners, while distracted learners will never be able to reach their potential.
The definition of sociopolitical is something that involves both social and political factors. More about what does that mean, we can describe the Social context of learners like access to services, housing, social norms, income, social participation, inequalities, and use of leisure time. These indicators must be considered when designing a learning experience for each learner. The political context is also essential here like measures of political participation, limitation by-laws, civil liberties, and human rights. These things are intersectional in many ways and can vary widely from individual to individual. To create an educational program that is suitable for all individual socio-political conditions, an incomprehensive amount of data has to be collected, compiled and concluded. That would be very hard and not practical.
However, we can all relate or at least understand different socio-political conditions. This is reasonable compensation in building programs. The responsibility then falls on the developer of educational programs to try to prepare a program that creates this connection and understanding. For that Trainers/developers of programs must be aware of social and political issues existing in the area of practice, or among target groups that can be addressed and contextualized by learners themselves during the program. Thus an overall awareness is needed as a competence. Facts and figures are not needed as much as identifying issues and understanding its dynamics and involved parties. With this minimal knowledge, trainers can create an atmosphere where learners can share, teach each other (and teach the trainer), and help each other to understand the socio-political issues that exist in the group.
How to apply it in everyday life:
- Think about your socio-political situation. What defines it? What makes it individual and unique to you? What needs did it raise? What emotions did it trigger to you?
Then imagine someone else’s socio-political situation and how all these answers can be translated and transformed into his/her situation. That is an exercise to understand different socio-political situations.
- Subscribe to different news providers with a particular interest in social and political issues in specific geographical areas of interest.
- Talk to friends and families living in different places than you about social life and political discourse there.
- Follow social media influences from other countries and regions on your most used social media channels.
- Always challenge your knowledge about certain topics in different parts of the world, there must be something more to know that is affecting the lives of young people there.
- Do I know about living conditions in this country, region, town or neighborhood?
- When was the last time I heard about this country, region, town or neighborhood on the news?
- Do I know someone who can give me an insight into this country, region, town or neighborhood?
- Have I ever been in this country, region, town or neighborhood? What did I observe?