Interview with Solvej Berlau
Board member of Humanity in Action Denmark
Watch or re-watch our webinars – see link below (the webinars are in Danish)
by Katja Buch Madsen
(2022 Copenhagen Fellow)
The crises are queuing up. But how do you teach about the war in Ukraine while it’s going on? And how can we get young people interested in the US mid-term elections and their crucial importance for the future of a divided country? These are just some of the questions the Teaching Academy has been trying to answer over the past years. But what exactly is the Teaching Academy and what impact does it have in schools? In a conversation with Solvej Berlau, a secondary school teacher herself and a driving force behind the Teaching Academy, I learned more.
“Every time we teach one teacher, we reach hundreds of students.” Solvej Berlau, Humanity in Action Board of Directors
What are the ideas behind the Teachers’ Academy?
“The idea behind the Teachers’ Academy originated with former President Anders Jerichow. It stemmed from a course HIA Denmark held back in 2018 to mark the 75th anniversary of October 1943. The course was held in conjunction with a conference on the same topic, and it was a great success. We had a whole room full of teachers listening to the same presenters who later appeared at the conference. In other words, there was a great synergy between the two, and that is the basic idea we are carrying forward in the Teachers’ Academy now.”
What can Humanity in Action offer teachers?
“Teachers teach many of the subjects Humanity in Action is involved in; human rights, democracy, active citizenship – and by targeting courses for them, we actually help to qualify the teaching. Every time we train one teacher, we reach hundreds of students.”
What does the Teachers’ Academy look like in practice?
“With the Teacher Academy, and specifically the webinar series we are working on right now, we take one of the hot topics of the day and invite a researcher or expert to give a half-hour presentation, and then there is time for questions and discussion. It all happens online.”
And here, post-close, is the webinar model still relevant?
“Yes. The concept is that teachers don’t have to travel far or change the schedule. They just have to go home after school, make a cup of coffee, sit in the armchair and turn on the computer – and then they can learn more about a topic they also have to teach.”
What is the impact of the Teachers’ Academy?
“Over the past six months, we’ve held webinars focusing on the invasion of Ukraine, the impact of war in Europe and now, most recently, the US mid-term elections. These are topics that have certainly been addressed in classrooms across the country, and because we have the network and resources, we have contributed to strengthened teaching.”
If you have a topic, but feel like you need more knowledge or inspiration on how to answer your pupils’ questions, we’d love to hear from you. The same applies if you want to teach a topic related to democracy, pluralism, social justice or human rights. Reach out to us today!