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RSA Catalyst grant recipient Gitanjali Patel FRSA is looking to speak to teachers, and other educational practitioners to develop her project, Shadow Heroes.

How can we teach students to be self-aware, but also critical? How can we arm them with the ability to think for themselves in a time when unconscious bias and fake news hold political power? How can we do so in a way that is both fun and creative? 

We need look no further than translation!


Translation is an untapped resource for inspiring critical reflection and for encouraging creativity and empathy. It is a powerful process of cultural mediation which teaches students how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. With translation we can train students to be able to express and critically engage with their own bias(es) and to apply this approach to any field or career path. This unique discipline also develops students’ creative skills and enhances their linguistic dexterity.

Shadow Heroes runs series of creative and challenging workshops which use translation to engage students in critical thought. Its three main aims are:


·         To use translation to explore and broaden awareness of unconscious bias(es) and to develop a sensitive, reflective and empathetic approach to translation, languages and other intercultural projects

·         To demonstrate language-learning as something fun, varied and cross-disciplinary

·         To demonstrate the political power of translation as a tool for social change and inclusion


Through tailoring our series to the student group in question, drawing on languages spoken outside the classroom environment, we aim to redress the language hierarchy at schools which creates value for certain languages and not others. We prioritise offering students a variety of languages and perspectives by bringing a range of leading professionals into the classroom. In addition, we introduce students to excellent writers, poets, singers and artists who would not usually be on their radar or on their school curricula. We believe firmly in languages as a tool for social cohesion and in translation as a powerful means to prepare students to be open-minded, yet critical, global citizens. 

Catalyst funding will enable Shadow Heroes to deliver a series of five workshops at two state schools in 2019, without having to rely on cross-funding from private partners. Gitanjali would like to speak to teachers, in both private and state sectors, and other educational practitioners about ways to develop this project further. These workshops can complement Modern Languages, English and Classics curricula, but are also relevant for students studying any subject. Shadow Heroes is currently working in London, Oxfordshire and Surrey, but is keen to expand to other parts of the UK. If you are interested in this project and would be happy to share your knowledge and expertise to support it, please contact Gitanjali directly:


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