ACLE: Emotions Generate Learning
It’s 8.30am on a sunny June morning at Castellaro Golf Resort, Taggia Arma, Italy. I am being herded outside – with a group of seventy young people looking and feeling just as tired and bewildered as I am – by five ACLE blue shirts singing at us to “make, a circle, a big big circle, make it big, and round, a BIG BIG CIRCLE!!!” My tummy growls slightly and I realise I’ll have to be a bit less polite at mealtimes if I’m going to survive the next six weeks.
(A sunny June morning at at Castellaro Golf Resort, Taggia Arma, Italy. Image: www.interhome.co.uk)
What was I doing? I was training to become an ACLE Tutor, to get sent all over Italy and teach children aged 5-18 at immersive English camps. ACLE are a Theatre in Education company with the mission of challenging and updating the Italian scholastic system, through methods that promote ‘REAL’ learning – Rational, Emotional, Affective Learning. If you have concerns with the way the British education system is heading, then I can assure you the Italian one is already there. As a tutor, my job was to deliver immersive learning experiences to Italian children in a way that made them excited about learning English – hence the ACLE tagline ‘emotions generate learning’. Of course, this obvious but often ignored piece of wisdom doesn’t apply solely to the pupils. Learning must be a reciprocal process and along with the fact that travelling is intrinsically educational, working for ACLE makes for one heck of a learner-coaster of a job.
So what did the job entail? A certain amount of teaching, yes, but the emphasis is on fun. We played games, sang songs, held fashion contests, transformed the camp into a multi-cultural hub of activity, made arts and crafts, and then bundled the entire thing into one final show, complete with costumes, sets, lights and a lot of English. Throughout the week the tutors stay with host families whose children are attending camp, and if there are more tutors than there are camps one week, you get placed on hold and are accommodated in the stunning mountain village of Bajardo, in Liguria.