We have learned a lot in the past 9 years. There is still a lot to learn. Not that it is any special kind of milestone, yet the date (16th May 2018), and the passing of another year marks the opportunity to take stock and consider where we are headed.
The Granny Cloud has always been an evolving initiative. From its very inception – even in the very first week! The trial sessions, before launch day, focused on reading or telling a story. But even the first few Granny sessions threw up a plethora of activities from puzzles, and games, and song, and craft. [Check out the links ahead for some related taleshttps://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/fairy-tales-with-a-twist/ & https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/observant-a-new-word-for-the-day/ ]. Cooking demonstrations soon followed – accompanied by animated conversation. Photographs and little questions were used to stimulate questioning, search and exploration. A few years down the line, we began to see projects with groups that Grannies met on a regular basis spanning several weeks, sometimes even a couple of months. [Just a couple of examples, https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/going-the-extra-mile-actually-light-years-bringing-the-stars-down-to-earth/ or https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/games-alarm-clocks-and-a-chatbot/]. These and many other activities have been what Granny sessions incorporated.
The relatively immediate impact was there for all to see and provided the encouragement we needed to keep on with our efforts. The soaring confidence; the ‘being ok’ with ‘not knowing’ combined with an eagerness to find out; the increasing vocabulary in a foreign language; a gradually increasing wider world vision; changing ideas and aspirations related to their own lives; and an acceptance of different lifestyles…. All that and much more…. [You can find a few related tales here: https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/the-information-flow-goes-both-ways-of-bhakris-and-ajjis/ & https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/what-i-want-for-my-birthday/ ].
But there was also the reality that the children were still far away from acquiring mastery or even an adequate fluency over the English language. This is something which has kept them from expressing their thoughts and ideas with any elaboration. And we have always been attentive to the need to encourage a respect for all languages ad all cultures. And so this year we have decided to explore the potential of regional language training sessions. https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/in-english-we-say-canada/ As I have mentioned in previous blogs; SOLE sessions on the ground, in the physical presence of the children, are very different from having SOLE sessions over Skype with a Granny. Check out http://thegrannycloud.org/all-kinds-of-sessions/ & https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/as-many-questions-as-answers/ We hope that this new initiative will make it more feasible to have SOLE sessions with Grannies as facilitators, at least occasionally, in some locations.
But there are other questions we are faced with as well. We know we cannot meet the demand for Grannies in all the locations that want them. We know only too well that as a relatively small volunteer group we cannot guarantee that Grannies will be available for every single session posted by the Centres we commit to work with. We know that most people still find it hard to understand the real essence of Self Organised Learning Environments and the ethos of The Granny Cloud. We know that there are many activities and tasks (including research) that we cannot take on as a volunteer group using only personal resources to keep this initiative going.
We are always likely to remain a small group. We know that there is ‘burn out’ and even the most committed Grannies either need to ‘drop out’ or at the very least go on a LONG BREAK! We know that the support (formal and informal) provided to the Grannies through the website, through Facebook, as well as a host of other means is what creates and allows for the environment in which it is possible for us to be truly effective. We are clear that we do not want to recruit Grannies ‘en masse’, without screening, orientation or ongoing support.
But what we also know is that what we have learnt over the last 9 years puts us in a prime position to help other organisations, people, and initiatives setup their own ‘small’ cohesive clouds. Perhaps we can be ‘THE LAB’. We can share our insights. We can help in the setting up of other satellite Granny Clouds. Perhaps THAT is the way forward….
Another unknown – another adventure…