Transformative Education


While preparing students for an international experience there may be times that traditional classroom—often referred to as the “banking model” of education, in which the teacher deposits information into the students’ heads—knowledge transference from teacher to student is appropriate, but for the most part, this traditional model assumes that the faculty member is keeper of knowledge and experience and their job is to disseminate.

To adopt an ethical process of engagement in ISL at the early stages of course development, the shift from traditional education models to a Transformative Education model demands the teacher relinquish the control and, ultimately, power that comes with the role of lecturer. Edmund O’Sullivan (2003) succinctly describes Transformative Education processes as involving the experience of:

…a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and irreversibly alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race and gender; our body awarenesses, our visions of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of possibilities for social justice and peace and personal joy.

Transformative Education suggests that maximizing human potential and building human relationships are the goals of educational processes. Within transformative education is the incorporation of contextual diversity into the learning process, which can include work outside of the classroom and experiences that create conflict and tension in a student. Moments of conflict contain the potential for transformation to occur.