Open Mind Africa Curriculum

OMA Teaching and Learning Methodology

The philosophy behind this teaching and learning methodology is to give students the opportunity to construct their own knowledge and skills around a particular topic, ensuring that each concept is explored in relation to students’ own context.  The methodology allows time for students to experience topics through a variety of individual and group activities. 

OMA recognizes that many of the topics and concepts in the curriculum come from perspectives and cultural contexts that may be very different from the perspectives and cultural contexts of its members.  For this reason, the teaching and learning methodology is designed to allow students to critically examine these topics and concepts from their own individual and collective viewpoints in order to accept, modify or reject them. OMA HQ also actively seeks feedback or suggestions from the OMA community, particularly with regard to examples from the cultural contexts of its students.  

1. Introduction and exploration

The purpose of the first meeting in the cycle is to introduce (or reintroduce) an SEL topic for exploration by students.  This topic will remain the focus of the rest of the meetings in the cycle as well, giving members the chance to explore the topic in depth and relate it to the world around them and to their own lives.

This initial meeting will have a clear structure with the material and activities provided by OMA HQ in the form of a detailed lesson plan.  These lesson plans will draw from a variety of teaching and learning strategies, such as group and individual activities, discussions, direct instruction, videos, reading material and more.  Teachers and students are free to adapt this lesson plan to suit the needs of their group but may also choose to follow it exactly.  Accompanying notes or further reading material will also be part of the lesson plan packet where appropriate.

As each campus develops their club and their student leaders, there is also opportunity for students to take up the role of teachers or leaders in this first meeting of the cycle.

2. Socratic Seminar
A Socratic seminar is a discussion method used to foster depth of thought through discussion.   The Greek philosopher Socrates believed that through thoughtful questioning, students could arrive at the truth.  Therefore, the aim is for the discussion to be led by the students, rather than a teacher, and it is the students who pose questions and work together to answer these questions.  

The experience of a Socratic seminar should be collaborative, with discussion group members noticing the contributions of other members and engaging with the ideas put forward by others, as well as making their own contributions.  It is an exercise in collective inquiry, with no one right answer.  Participants work together to understand the topic more deeply and create new knowledge together through their discussions.

3. Sharing and Inquiry

Drawing from principles of Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider) and previous work by OMA in incorporating personal sharing, this third campus meeting gives students the chance to move from a group understanding to a more personal understanding and connection to the topic under exploration.

Students will build on their speaking and listening skills by helping each other inquire more deeply into the topic through conducting interviews in pairs.  All students will have been observing, practicing and journaling about their experiences and this next step is to help students organize their thinking around what the topic means to them and what it is like in their lives.

Each campus is then free to decide how they would like to undertake having students share their experiences with the topic so far.  They may like to choose a few students to share for longer, or a smaller number of students to share for less time.  They may also like to have students share in smaller groups before bringing main ideas shared back to a larger group discussion.

4. Debrief, Reflect and Plan

This final campus meeting includes some time for reflection and also data gathering for OMA HQ to track progress and inform future work. Building on the personal sharing and inquiry of the previous meeting, students are now also invited to develop some concrete ideas about how they could go forward with this topic in their lives.  

Students can choose a format for planning their future learning around this topic.  They should think through a goal or a wish around this topic that they would like to take up going forward.  Planning for their future learning or use of ideas taken from the topic will use either the SMART goal format or WOOP (a tool from Character Lab).

Also, this last meeting before beginning a new topic provides the chance for students to debrief and reflect on the work they have done with the current topic.  The main parts for this are to invite students to consider:

   -  What they have learned through the content of the topic

   -  How they have learned this through the methodology of the learning

    OMA Syllabus

    Open Mind Africa syllabus is rooted in Social Emotional Learning (SEL). These researched-based concepts in our syllabus are proven and accepted by educators worldwide. The syllabus will provide students with essential skills for academic success, career development and meaningful relationships.

    • Self-awareness
      Multiple Intelligences
      Emotional States
      Character Strengths
    • Self-management
      Critical Thinking
      Rep. Systems/ Submodalities
      Framing & Reframing
    • Social awareness
      Appreciating diversity
      Meta Model
      Community building
    • Relationship skills
      Nonviolent Communication
      Perceptual Positions
    • Responsible decision-making
      Analyzing situations
      Solving problems
      Ethical responsibility
      Meta Programs

    Benefits to Students

    • Students learn to identify their interest and align it to their academic, career, and life choices.
    • Students learn how to do Deliberate Practice (DP) towards their academic, career, and life purpose
    • Students learn Self-Management strategies to independently complete tasks and take an active role in creating and controlling their own behavior
    • Students learn concept of S.M.A.R.T outcomes, they practice the steps to turning vague goals into well-formed outcomes.
    • Students learn Nonviolent Communication; they learned about and addressed topics such as needs-based communication, active listening, and general conflict.
    • Students learn the need and skills to endeavor to creating a more hospitable culture of altruism
    • Students learn the importance of community building by creating meaning out of being in relation to others, and developing skills in the complex topic of relation
    • Students learn how to succeed in school, sports, friendships and perform at their best.
    • Students learn to be even more flexible and creative and to reframe setbacks into learning opportunities.
    • Students learn to control the way they think, feel, act and strengthen their ability to connect with others.
    • Students learn how to embrace self-confidence and self-esteem and to give feedback that people will accept and appreciate.
    • Students learn how to communicate more effectively and to better persuade others to see their point of view.
    • Students learn how to change self-limiting beliefs that prevent them from reaching new heights of personal and academic development.