The Teachers Without Borders network was founded eight years ago by Dr Fred Mebnick. His idea was radical in its simplicity, audacious in its intended range. How was it possible to utilise the energy, wit and imagination of teachers working, not only in the developed world but in all kinds of situations, war-zones, deprived inner cities, in rural areas decimated by famine or disaster, and provide them with the means to interact, to pool their collective experiences and knowledge? If such expertise, historically atomised, could be joined-up via the social networking systems that are available in today’s digital environments, their sum would surely be incalculably greater than their individual parts.
Mebnick, like many people, sensed that our world is at crisis point, teetering on the brink of potential catastrophes, ecologically and ideologically driven. What distinguishes him from the rest of us is that he had the energy and commitment to act upon these intuitions, and the primary driver for his actions was the conviction that human dignity, economic development, and the quality of life on the planet…is an educational endeavor. (http://www.teacherswithoutborders.org/pages/74 )
The advantages to teachers who opt to belong to this network are, by default, reciprocal. Not everyone can make a commitment to working at local level in areas that may be geographically removed from their usual workplace, promoting the education of girls in Pakistan for example, but it is possible to share knowledge and pool educational resources from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world that has access to the Internet.
The philosophy behind Teachers Without Borders is one that affirms the role of the teacher as a vital one within communities globally. The teacher, working at grass-roots level, is uniquely placed to witness the consequences that political decision-making, at national and international levels, have on the individual. Teachers Without Borders provides an opportunity for the insight of its individual members to be made visible, to be communicated, shared, commented on and supported by a diverse network of professional educators.
The impact of this network is limited only by the creative imaginations and energy of its members. In a very practical sense, teachers, working in isolation in remoter areas, for example, can be mentored and feel connected to a wider community of like-minded individuals. Teachers working with few or limited resources can access materials to enhance their own professional development, in places where training opportunities are too expensive, or simply non-existent.
In the developed world, we are bombarded, on a daily basis, by images of deprivation in areas of the world ravaged by war and natural disaster, and it is difficult to respond with anything other than a feeling of impotent grief, that we can do nothing that will affect any kind of positive change or make any real difference. Belonging to the Teachers Without Borders network provides an opportunity to be part of a massively scaled system that has a consequentially larger voice. Through working collaboratively, and non-hierarchically, this network can help us to define and articulate our core values and then to challenge other systems that are too large and complex to challenge on our own.