On September, 29 the Education Department at the American University of Beirut hosted Ahliah through a forum, which was facilitated by Ahliah community members Rabih Murr and Lara Abou Faysal, that shed light on how graduate students, researchers, and teachers can collaborate to rethink educational practices and explore new avenues to make learning more relevant to students and school communities.
The forum was attended by researchers, practitioners, and graduate students from AUB and other educational institutions. By introducing and presenting two collaborative projects, the facilitators explored how schools and universities can best facilitate collaborative research. The projects presented in the forum emerged from the disconnect between the written mandated curricula and the realities of students’ daily lives and challenges specifically within the current Lebanese crisis. They stem from the belief that our curriculum should speak to the problems and daily challenges of our students and provide them with the space to critically understand and take action towards the proliferating social issues that are affecting their daily lives and jeopardizing their future and that of their communities.
Since the return to in-person learning after the COVID pandemic and amidst the Lebanese crisis, the school community has been reviewing and rethinking pedagogy and curricula with the main intention of contextualizing curricula and connecting students’ learning and school experiences with their lives and realities. We have been striving at Ahliah to create a space for teachers, support staff, and students to explore new pedagogical approaches and experiment with non-traditional methods. A space that will also provide the school community with opportunities to connect research with practice, generate new pedagogical knowledge, and explore practices that encourage partnerships between teachers and students as critical inquirers in a mutual relationship of discovery for bettering our communities.
The work is also rooted in Ahliah’s aim to encourage research grounded in the local context of schools in Lebanon. These aims can be targeted by promoting research collaboration between practitioners and university researchers and exploring new avenues for knowledge dissemination. Practitioner engagement in research and collaboration between schools and universities provides better identification of urgent issues of practice and a deeper understanding of problems emerging from our local context. We believe creating such spaces for research collaboration will increase the capability of schools to explore new pedagogy and meet current challenges.