In this blog, Director and Founder of Imani Academy, Imani Clough, reflects on the MA Character Education, the work of Imani Academy and what she will be doing next now that she has completed her studies! Imani explains how her studies have helped her to develop the holistic well-being and character of the young people she works with.
Why did I decide to study on the MA Character Education?
Prior to applying for the MA Character Education, my passion for social and educational justice led me to work and volunteer in the UK and overseas, in the third sector, working with children around social care and education. Within all of these roles, I was responsible for acknowledging and supporting the holistic well-being and character development of the young people I worked with, supporting them through the cycle of change. Often my work has been with the young people who have perceived barriers to learning and my approach has always been around enabling young people to use their voice.
Character education has been fundamental in the way in which it underpins my work and it has become a key piece in my learning journey as a practitioner. I have been able to influence the relationship we all have with learning, encouraging colleagues and mentees to think about societal problems through a critical lens and think about how we address these, taking morality, citizenship and well-being into account. Studying the distance learning MA Character Education has provided me with the flexibility I need to work and study at the same time. The nature and style of the course has allowed me to integrate my learning into my work and ultimately put theory into practice.
I am the Director and Founder of a social enterprise called Imani Academy. I use philosophy and character development to empower young people, socially and culturally, through delivering personal development sessions, courses and offering 1–1 support. I work to equip young people with the tools to make healthy and considered choices, and to raise aspirations in the hope that young people will feel empowered to be their best self. Imani Academy has completely changed the way I am able to interact and engage with people, using technology and different spaces to optimise learning, especially during the global pandemic. I have been able to bring creativity and innovation to a new space, to empower the individuals I work with to reflect on the global situation and how they feel as young people in a society that is evolving and changing by the day, week and month.
The 21st century presents several challenges for young people that will inevitably contribute to the direction that humanity will choose to take. Having young people on decision making tables will be key. More importantly, their ability to critically use the skills of oracy will influence the degree to which they are heard, which was the focus of my dissertation. Character education remains central to my practice with the young people I engage and work with. Character education cannot be seen as an appendix to the educational journey but must be nurtured and developed right at the very beginning, when the skills of speech and language are emerging.
Through Imani Academy’s new programme ‘The Being Human Experience’ I have been mentoring a group of young adults aged 16–30 in 1:1 and group sessions. Its goal is to help young women to learn how to trust themselves enough to step into new chapters of their lives confidently, equipped with a renewed mind-set, letting go of the things that are no longer positively serving them and shaking off self-limiting beliefs, to begin a new way of living. The 30 day online learning experience takes participants, who are stepping into a new phase of their adulthood, on a reflective journey. It allows them to pause and reflect on where they are now, where they would like to be and how they are going to get there. All of the modules are housed on an online platform and use philosophy and character development to inspire, uplift and empower participants to think big and not be defined by their current situations, it additionally encourages them to amplify their voices in the different spaces they will go on to occupy.
Education for liberation, rather than indoctrination
Next year I will be hosting a learning marathon with Enrol Yourself, inviting individuals with learning questions that relate to reimagining the education system, different styles of education, teaching and learning communities! Over a period of 6 months participants will learn and grow together, whilst exploring their chosen question.
A peer-led learning accelerator, that fits nicely into work and life. Following a blended learning approach!
If having the opportunity to think deeply about how you might radically change the curriculum or the education system speaks to you, then this learning marathon might just be for you. You will journey with a group of visionaries and disruptors who will help you move forward with your ideas! If you want to be kept in the loop, drop your e-mail address here!
A version of this post was first published on the Jubilee Centre’s Virtue Insights blog.