Reflection on Praxis Summer School 2023 Day 1

Praxis Summer School 2023 Day 1


A Reflection by Edel Whelton, Chemistry Department UCC

I applied to help as a support staff for the Praxis Summer School 2023.  I was interested in the themes but didn’t expect to be so interested in the content and approach of global citizenship and development education (GCDE)!

Day 1 took place at UCC.  It began with participants working in pairs to introduce themselves to one another and to the wider group.  An immediate buzz started in the room, one which would continue throughout the three days with this great group of people.  It struck me from the start that the methodologies used in GCDE teaching are really engaging. You are definitely not being lectured ‘at’, you are a participant in your own learning, along with others.

The introductory session on GCDE was given by Gertrude Cotter.  I particularly enjoyed a timeline activity where we explored the history of Development Education in Ireland and internationally.  In a short time we learned about the history, policy and theory of GCDE in Ireland and internationally.  I saw too in the end of Summer School survey of participants, that others enjoyed this too.  For instance once person said:

“Time lines to make you think of history and decades past and changes”.


I think people appreciated too that the survey which had been sent out to us before the Summer School, was acknowledged and taken seriously.  Our survey responses were posted on the wall even before we got there!  One participant said in the post SS survey:

“Thanks so much to Gertrude and all the facilitators.  UCC is a great place sure!   I think language is important and I have learned how to name things I felt welcomed I really liked how our pre SS survey answers were put on wall, I think that shows a caring, listening facilitator.  There was a lovely warm feeling throughout where everyone felt valued”.

This quote reminds me too of what a mindful, diverse group of people I was privileged to meet at the SS.

Some of the things that struck me as we did this timeline activity:

  • Development Education grew up around Development Theory.
  • Modernisation theory and human development and major shifts each decade.
  • Issues being approached over the decades; however, we are still picking at them.
  • The GCDE landscape is about action, policy, activism, academia, community, schools. They are all part of the story in Ireland and internationally.
  • “Paedology of Hope” – this is an education rooted in the idea that positive change is possible, that change does happen and that we have the power to make it happen.
  • Trocaire- Development education is not about aid, it’s about educating and bringing awareness to people.
  • A lot has change and a lot has not.
  • Time, patience to stick with the changes.

In the afternoon I enjoyed the freeze frames as facilitated by Charlotte Bishop from SUAS.  It is great to see so many organisations working in this field of GCE.  We had to work in groups to freeze frame certain words (I won’t give it away in case this is used again in the future) but words like ‘privilege’ or ‘solidarity’ were in there.  As one group created a dramatic statue like effect, the others in the room had to guess.  It really helped us to embody these concepts and a great ‘way in’ to the conversation after each one.  I was really impressed!

We also got some really helpful critical feedback from one of the participants in the post-SS survey:

“The ‘freeze frame’ moment of capturing a story was challenging but well worth it. I liked the input from speakers but would have liked more time to absorb what they had to say. Perhaps build in some small group work and then more informal chat time with the facilitator? I also liked the self reflective time of figuring out what we bring to a discussion. Are we ideas people? I got to know the group a bit better”.


We were then introduced to Fionnuala O’ Connell, Youth Coordinator at the Cork Migrant Centre.  What an amazing and inspiration person, and extraordinary storyteller. Her family’s story and how she moved to an activism and now works with young people in Cork, is a story which I would love her to write up on a blog here.  One of the participants put it like this:

“Hearing Fionnulas (from migrant centre) personal story was both inspiring and hope filled”.

At the end of the day participants were asked to use one word to express their experience of the day.  What strong, well-deserved words they are!

Words at the End

Powerful Compelling
Action Touching
Thought provoking Heart-warming
Integration Interactive
Open Emotional
Empowering Awakening
Collaborative Sharing
Emotive Accommodating
Awareness Rewarding
Convincing Reflective
Invigorating Informative
Emotive Encouraging
Hopeful Inspirational


Part of the Timeline!