Interactive group leader training in Pakistan
The Open Theological Seminary (OTS) in Pakistan has an innovative ten course Curriculum of Christian Education for Teenagers, ages 11-17, which is interactive, student-centred and contextually relevant.
Teachers, church leaders, youth leaders and young people identified what Pakistani Christian teenagers need to know, feel, and be able to do. OTS created the curriculum based on these outcomes. It is very popular in Christian schools and hostels as well as church youth groups.
Youth leaders and teachers who want to use the material, are required to attend tutor training because the effectiveness and success of the courses depend very much on the tutor. The Teenage Curriculum Tutor Training workshops are different from the Group Leader Training for the OTS adult curriculum. There are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, many of the Teenage Curriculum tutors are school teachers who are not familiar with the OTS methodology and educational ethos. This is different from many of the adult curriculum trainee tutors. They are already familiar with the methodology and use of TEE because they went through the programme as students.
Secondly, the teenagers’ courses include many more activities, games, quizzes and handwork as well as discussion questions for the group meeting. This student-centred, interactive educational approach is very different from the traditional method of schooling in Pakistan, which is still very much teacher-centred, using rote learning and largely discouraging initiative and critical thinking in the students. During the training workshops, the trainees not only learn the theory behind the methodology but participate in several of the activities themselves.
For example, two of the courses, Me and My Identity and Me and My Family, come with sets of cards for a contextualized version of the Happy Families card game. Trainees practice this game in groups. After playing the game, the facilitators then help the trainees to draw learning points from the activity, e.g. testing memory (who asked for what card in the previous round), testing powers of logic and deduction (if she asked for such-and-such a card she will have another member of that family), family unity and harmony (all the members on the family cards are taking part in the family business), family planning (a small family is a happy and prosperous family – this is a government slogan) etc.
The trainees enjoy the training, because it is interactive, and they are then able to lead their students in the same activities. The games or activities are not only to create interest and excitement in the students, but contribute to the learning outcomes. Such learning points are usually highlighted in the Tutor’s Guide to help the teachers. But the teachers may add other lessons themselves based on the needs of their particular group of teenagers.