Rahul Karavadra portrait

Written by Rahul Karavadra

Engagement manager at Lyfta, and has been working in the education sector for a number of years. His background is in Philosophy with a Masters degree in Global Citizenship, Identities and Human Rights.

We recently had the pleasure of taking part in the Big Virtual Conversation III as part of the series of #DiverseEd events organised by Diverse Educators, organised by the brilliant duo, Hannah Wilson and Bennie Kara. The session was a chance for us to hear from a range of amazing speakers in the diverse education sphere, including from our own Rahul Karavadra, Engagement Manager at Lyfta.  The key themes of Rahul’s session, about bringing a diverse curriculum to life through human stories, are outlined in this blog.

Growing up, I was always on the edge of my seat when family members told stories of their lives in Uganda and Kenya, and what it was like living in the 70s and 80s as first generation migrants. Hearing their stories allowed me to see them as multifaceted individuals, with passions and interests of which I was previously unaware. 

As I grew up, this inquisitiveness developed into an urge to find out more about people from other communities and cultures. This eventually led me to do a masters degree in Global Citizenship, Identities and Human Rights, specialising in diaspora identity construction in relation to host nation experiences and long-distance nationalism. In essence, I was, and still am, trying to understand how my human story is shaped, influenced and connected to the stories of others.

And as a species, we have always been drawn to stories – from paintings on cave walls to the blockbusters we see on our screens.

If we look at western Africa, we can see how important human stories were to society through the ‘griot’; the repositories of oral traditions and history. People would tell their stories to the griot and it was their responsibility to remember them, and recount them to others, passing down lessons that could be retold and learnt from. It was said that when a griot passed away, it was like a library had been burnt down – that’s how important they were.

In this age of postmodern globalism, where identities are negotiated and stretched across permeable borders and interconnected histories, it’s important that a diverse range of stories are told. 

It is through the acquiring and exchange of cultural capital that the division between self and the ‘other’ can be dissolved. We are then able to build bridges and lay the foundations of understanding and empathy, as well as an awareness of connectivity, both on a micro and a macro level  – ‘we are each others environment’.

As educators, we find ourselves in a similar role to that of the griot – but with ever more relevance.  We are responsible for sharing human stories and perspectives from all across the world, and these stories have become more urgent for us to tell. In the past few years alone, we have seen a rise in neo-nationalism, xenophobia and global temperatures, not to mention the physical and mental scarring of Brexit, the death of George Floyd and more recently the storming of the Capitol in the USA.

We must remember to harness the power of humanity for the common good, and human stories allow us to do just this.

At Lyfta, we capture human stories in the form of short documentaries. These are presented through immersive and interactive 360° spaces where teachers and students can experience new perspectives and build vital skills and values. At a time when school trips are on pause, and the ability to travel and have close human interactions are severely restricted, Lyfta invites students to explore the world from the comfort of school or home, and meet the likes of Qwensley in the Caribbean, Kootyin in Hong Kong or Enaney in Ethiopia.

Teaching and learning through human stories can be a useful and powerful way to ensure that students have experiences of the world as part of their entitlement to cultural capital. Lyfta can be used as a tool to develop an understanding of the protected characteristics, and show how equality and diversity can be promoted and reflected within our schools. 

We have seen that teaching through immersive human stories can bring a depth, breadth and meaning to complex concepts for children, moving learning from information to knowledge. 

Our vision at Lyfta is that by the time a child completes their education, they will have visited every country in the world and will have met at least one person from each of these countries; experienced different cultures, different languages, different jobs, roles and perspectives. They will have seen, and formed a connection with hundreds of positive human stories that model resilience, problem-solving, teamwork, and many other critical skills, values and competencies. They will be able to understand for themselves how interconnected and interdependent we are, and will have gained a deep awareness of their power and role in the world.

You can watch the Diverse Curriculum panel session in full here.

If you would like to explore using the human stories on the Lyfta platform as part of your diverse curriculum, please sign up to our training here. State schools in the UK can enjoy free training and access to the full platform and resources for 12 weeks of term time.

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