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BASIC LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COURSE

BLDC, is a significant learning event hosted by ASPBAE for its members.
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BLDC Blog - Growing World Leaders - by Analiese Robertson

ASPBAE’s Basic Leadership Development Course (BLDC) was held in Medan, Indonesia, from 12-17 September 2011. PESADA, an Indonesia-based NGO in Northern Sumatra that works on women’s empowerment, ethnic minorities, and children, hosted the event.

By Analiese Robertson - ACE Aotearoa (Adult and Community Education Aotearoa), New Zealand

Growing World Leaders

I was 28 years old when I attended the BLDC in Dhaka, Bangladesh. That in itself was mind blowing, going from comfort in a western world to an impoverished climate change in a developing country. I learnt quickly how to dodge beggars, direct rickshaw transport, soothe chilli intake, communicate with international colleagues, climatise to extreme weather, and find sensitive ways for me to share (or not share) what seemed in comparison trivial issues of educational injustice.

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In 2005 I was invited to attend a regional South Pacific forum on education in Fiji - presenting my literacy expertise offering awareness and advice on assessment.

2010 I was invited to contribute to the development of "Benchmarking Quality Adult Education", joining a working group with delegated responsibility, to form descriptors of quality for the area of Women's Education for Political Participation and Citizenship.

In 2010, I became a participant in the first group of NeXT - a programme designed to build and nurture regional trainer-facilitators as part of an 18-month learning process, gaining in-depth knowledge at the regional, sub-regional, and national levels through a mentoring process. It was the NeXT that led to my opportunity to be a member of the facilitation team for BLDC 2011.

I won't lie - it has been a frightening experience for me. I was somewhat doubtful that I could contribute. Firstly, because of the fear of being compared to the high calibre and experienced facilitators such as Robbie, Dina, Anita, and Idos, and more so because my way of dealing with new learning is to instill fear from not wanting to "screw it up". I guess you could say I am too serious and that comes from my upbringing and experience of working with learners who have come from a deficit model of education in a system that has failed them. It is also my commitment and sincerity to give only the best and nothing less as a minimum standard of quality. Personally, I have been on the receiving end of 'newbies' and it wasn't a nice experience - but in retrospect I understand that everyone has to start somewhere and for me, this was mine. I was comforted to know that I was not alone. My colleague from the NeXT programme - Idos, would also be joining me. For both of us, I'm sure it was a shared anxiety.

One of the key learning moments for me in this journey, has been the context. Although feeling confident in my own expertise and ability to deliver in a New Zealand context - I was certainly challenged to rethink that confidence and to focus on lifting my understanding with practice, up and across global diversity.

As we worked through thematic areas: adult learning principles; rights-based approaches to education; gender mainstreaming and lifelong learning; education for sustainable development; educators as leaders; networking and policy advocacy, my notepad and pencil became a permanent attachment to my hand. I did not want to miss out on anything while simultaneously and quietly stressing about my next facilitation session! There was so much to learn and unlearn in the one process.

As a process of reflection, the question I kept close was - "How do I know what I am doing is working or making a difference, taking into account ethical and ethnic considerations? Part of my work in New Zealand has been in collaboration with Ako Aotearoa, a national centre for tertiary teaching excellence. We have been working together with educators to discuss how we collect evidence of learner benefit as a reflective practice for improvement (http://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/ako-aotearoa/ako-aotearoa/news/collecting-evide...). I used this same framework to determine how effective my own practice has been as a BLDC facilitator over this past week.

I read self-introductions from participants before we met, I observed participation in mine and other sessions, I listened to language that was not my own and I heard expressions that became familiar. I talked with participants who asked me to "slow down" when I spoke. I observed for feedback through body language. And in evaluation I read what they wrote about me, to me on my photo card - "Island girl, keep thinking ahead", "Dangerously sexy intelligent", "Good voice", "Energetic", "Friendly, humble and a able leader", "Don't stop your smile for me".

BLDC is such a powerful pedagogy! The last nine days have been non-stop reflection for me. - consistently testing my confidence, knowledge, skills and attitudes in so many ways. My goal now - use this learning to improve my practice.

Would I do it again? Without a doubt!

As we say in my native, Meitaki ma'ata - thank you ASPBAE and ACE Aotearoa for allowing me to grow in this worldly way.

And to all my readers who have followed, I have been blessed to have you along for the journey.

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