Australians have had a long battle coming to terms with difference. I have been thinking about peace…not the peace that occurs in non-war zones, but the peace that comes from within and towards each other. I’d like to refer to the recent Invictus Games, held in Sydney, Australia.
Each competitor had incurred physical and mental injuries as part of their role in a zone of conflict. These people have reason to be stained with negative feelings, with disappointment of being robbed of a usual life, with difficulty in connecting with others.
What I saw in the media and on television was celebration of their achievements, compassion and love for their fellow competitors and a fierce national pride at representing their country in their chosen sport, if not in conflict for their country. We often neglect to recognise those who fought to save our freedom, but somehow sport gives us the opportunity to cheer, to wonder at achievement, to honour those same men and women.
An unconditional acceptance of the uniqueness of all people is fundamental to living in harmony with others. The Invictus Games gives us the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made on our behalf by the courageous human beings who have found some peace within themselves. Their differences in ability have been overshadowed by their determination and effort to challenge stereotypical attitudes to people with disability.
It seems that until we know who we are and can cope with the fact that individuals have differences in ability we will wallow in a shallow existence with the people we live with. Peace reigns with acceptance of each other.
Marilyn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Creating global projects got me thinking about the groundwork that should be covered before the connections with strangers can become a viable means to exploring global perspective. Finding global projects to explore the world through experiences that spark curiosity and intercultural opportunities is not difficult. The challenging part is building inter and intrapersonal skills beforehand; the skills to ensure mutual kindness, empathy, and deep learning. If trust and respect are not formed, collaborations are destined to be somewhat superficial and shallow attempts to build global competency. This requires considered preparation. I found a website that is designed to foster meaningful connections among students, by doing just that-attending to the soft skills that are essential for successful global collaboration.
Given the current issue in the USA, of border crossing and of children being separated from families, I thought it timely to look at the Convention.
Article 9 states children should not be separated from their parents unless harm or safety is an issue.
In child friendly terms it says, “You have the right to be with your parents unless it is bad for you.
You have the right to live with a family that cares for you.”
Every five years Australia reports to the United Nations on how Australia is meeting its international obligations to children-how Australia is progressing or not progressing in terms of meeting its obligations to children in Australia under international law.
This year, the Australian Human Rights Commission, led by National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchells, will report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about Australia’s progress in meeting its child rights obligations by 1 November 2018. The Committee monitors Australia’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its optional protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
Are your students Plate PioneerZ who make food choices to positively impact on the Goals? From healthy eating to reducing wastage, eliminating plastic packaging, sourcing closer to home and checking on the practices of food producers, children can roll up their sleeves and dig into Goals 2, 3, 13, 14, and 15. And not forgetting a call to them to fearlessly stand up for the children that are hungry right now and need our help.
Delving into sustainable agricultural practices, the impact on health, well being and having livelihood that enables choice, social interaction, economic independence, cultural longevity, all come from and provide healthy eating.
Bethink Global offers more about global citizenship. If you would like further information about the use of the SDG’s to enhance global citizenship contact Marilyn or should you like to receive the Bethink Global newsletter let me know by filling out your details below.
Rapid improvements in wind, solar and energy storage are not only transforming the energy system, they are key to decarbonising the transport system too.
In January 2017, the Victorian government announced Melbourne’s iconic trams will soon be solar powered, with construction of two new solar farms near Shepparton and Robinvale in the state’s north now underway. Once complete, every tram trip will be cutting greenhouse gas emissions and creating regional jobs.
Now that the city’s trams will be solar powered, the next logical step is to power the trains with renewable energy too.
Melbourne’s train network is the second largest energy user in the state, after Alcoa’s aluminium smelter in Portland. It’s no wonder – moving over 400,000 people everyday requires a significant amount of energy. This is energy that should be coming from clean renewable sources, not polluting fossil fuels like coal and gas.
Renewable energy can form the foundation for good regional jobs, and a clean, efficient 21st Century transport system that is good for the climate and human health.
While Melbourne snatched global headlines with the solar trams announcement, we’re certainly not alone. Cities, states and even entire countries are now looking to power their transport systems with renewable energy.
The Dutch national railway company NS announced last year that the Netherlands’ entire train network is now running on wind energy.
News that Victoria’s Laverton Steelworks will source electricity from the Numurkah solar farm proves that renewable energy can power large energy users.
Transport is the second largest and fastest growing contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. We can use the technological improvements in renewable energy and in the rail network to cut emissions in both, and make trains and trams the most sustainable transport mode.
While the federal government has turned it’s back on action on climate change, states like Victoria can show the leadership the community wants to see. Melbourne can be a world leader in renewable powered transport.
Melbourne’s solar trams are proving that renewable energy can power mass transit – it’s time to power our trains with renewable energy too.
In 2015, 193 countries committed to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The extent to which that vision becomes a reality will in no small way depend on what is happening in today’s classrooms. Indeed, it is educators who hold the key to ensuring that the SDGs become a real social contract with citizens.
Today my discussion is about plastics. The topic is enormous as is the issue for our planet. It’s too big for any one country to tackle and requires a global partnership.
There’s plastics and the ocean. Plastic pollution poses a threat to human health, kills and harms marine life, damages and alters habitats, and can have substantial negative impacts on local economies. Check out plastic pollution resources from World Ocean’s Day.
Then there’s microplastics. Another useful resource is the UN Environment’s comprehensive six-minute video about the problem, including microplastics, and the role of global partnership efforts can play in the solution.
Students could pose questions from a viewing of this video and discuss actions they and their families could take. Could they create a community awareness program for their school?
Students might find this challenge from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation an exciting opportunity posed to scientists, designers and other innovators. Perhaps they could look at the award winners and discuss the results. Could they see themselves in the position of the those who took on the challenge?
Most parent I know want their children to grow up kind, caring, honest, generous and respectful of differences. It’s good for them and for our world. Fortunately, solutions are not complicated.
This article stems from the US scene but its relevance is global. It has some simple steps for parents to take to grow empathy in their children whilst combatting the negative influences that seem to hover over our shoulders on a daily basis.
Take Action to Step Outside Our Bubbles – And Grow Good Kids
Among the big lessons the U.S. election of 2016 taught the world, it’s that Americans don’t understand each other. Polls and pundits hadn’t figured out what was under our noses all along: that we have been living in separate bubbles, with little or no experiential overlap.
Within each bubble, one side is deemed ignorant, irrationally religious, or racist; while the “other side” is viewed as elitist, too soft, or morally lax. You know who you are – or who you aren’t.
When we fail to get to know those who look, dress, speak, cook, worship, work, have fun, see the world, spend money or consume media differently than ourselves, it’s hard to build empathy for them. They become a statistic, a member of a confounding group, objectified. Our treatment of others is more likely to be informed by generalizations, not personal experience.
Separateness even affects us neurologically, as parts of our brains fail to light up when someone we don’t relate to suffers. The result might be apathy, as well as fear, anxiety and loneliness, just to name a few side effects.
This isn’t how I want to raise my children. Despite the antagonism, divisiveness, and greed that seems to dominate the headlines, I want them to grow up kind, caring, honest, generous and respectful of differences. It’s good for them and for our world. Fortunately, solutions are not complicated.
Small Steps Toward Empathy Make a Big Difference
I’ve been researching the most effective means for thriving in a global economy and how to raise global citizens for almost two decades.
Despite the complexity of the big picture, time and time again, the solution seems to lie in the little things: How we treat the cashier at the grocery store and the types of stories we choose to read at bedtime spill over into how we see the whole world.
Since our children are watching us, these small gestures become their model of behavior, shaping our kids’ wider social environments. Indeed, a pro-social, empathy-rich environment doesn’t just feel safer to be in, it’s been shown to enhance children’s cognitive ability.
With years of exposure to acts of kindness and images of diversity, the ability to think creatively, communicate more effectively, analyze, and empathize beyond a limited bubble is enhanced significantly. This is how “soft” skills become the sought-after skills of 21st-Century learning and global problem solving.
5 Ways to Step Outside Our Bubbles and Grow Good Kids
Approaches for stepping outside our bubbles might be as diverse as a family’s daily routine, so I offer these ideas as a simple beginning.
1. Start with stories.The fact that a great story can transport us to a new adventure or a far-off locale points to the power of stories for breaking out of our shell.
President Obama recently told the New York Times: “At a time when so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.”
Consider posting a world map on a wall, or keep a quality World Atlas handy, and mark all the places you’ve read stories from. Conscious of the travels of your imagination, you might not only stretch your curiosity, but also your geography.
2. Gain a sense of being part of the larger human family. It’s difficult to imagine beyond our confines if we never think about it or “see” what it looks like.
3. Gently peek into the practices and teachings of diverse faiths. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, you don’t need to attend a long or unfamiliar religious service to start to appreciate a different faith.
4. Enrich libraries near or far. When my friend Maggie saw The Barefoot Book of Children for the first time, she decided to donate copies to area libraries around her rural hometown in central Pennsylvania, an area where few residents travel outside the United States or get exposure to global cultures.
Reading a beautiful book shouldn’t be just for privileged children, and it might have the power to start bursting some bubbles. Helping “seed” a school or public library with diverse and multicultural books is powerful; involving our children in the project can also get them excited about choosing titles to donate.
5. Show moral courage/Be an upstander. With the rise in anxiety and tension within schools and public places since the 2016 U.S. election, there is a critical need to show moral courage, to stand up for those who may be targeted for their differences. How can we and our children have empathy for and stand up for those who might be different from ourselves?
You might ask this at the dinner table or in morning meeting at school. This short video recounts what it might look like for an adult to use one’s privilege in a daily experience. Good stories, like The Boy Who Grew Flowers, also can illuminate moral courage. This literature list for all grades includes additional helpful titles.
As we embark on a journey of growing our understanding about diverse cultures and ways of thinking, we’ll discover many more creative steps for breaking out of our bubbles, at any age. It’s good for our kids and it’s good for our world.
The projects include a selection from by Flat Connections, iEARN, Microsoft Education, Global Education, Deforest Action, Natural Disaster Youth Summit, and Kids Can Make a Difference. Thank you to all these organisations for laying the groundwork for teachers and students to become global citizens by communicating, collaborating, and creating new ideas and concepts using digital technology.
“If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years later we’re in trouble.”
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, questions the knowledge based education system of the last 200 years. With the onset of robots, he says humans cannot compete when it comes to knowledge output. He wants to see an education direction that allows humans to be smarter, by teaching sport, art and music to hone the soft skills- values, believing, independent thinking, teamwork and caring for each other.
In the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Competencies, Citizenship, Collaboration and Character correspond to Ma’s call and in the International Bacclaureatte Primary Years ProgramLearner Profile, Caring, being Principled and Open Mindedness answer the same call. Both of these programs pay attention to the personal attributes that enable learners to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people-skills that robots cannot emulate. In the Victorian and Australian Curricula, the Personal and Social Capability emphasises these soft skills.
I become excited when I read of young global citizens coming up with inovative solutions to a global issue affecting people. Here’s an example fg a positive outcome driven by the inspiration of a student barely out of primary school.
HIGHLANDS RANCH, COLO. — In many ways, Gitanjali Rao is a typical 11-year-old: energetic and chatty, with a smile that lights up her face. She can also talk easily about carbon nanotubes, Arduino processors, the reactions between lead acetate and chloride, and how to think through a long-term design process – from concept to experimentation and building. Plus, she’s driven to come up with real solutions to big problems.
Last month, Gitanjali earned the top prize at the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. She invented a portable device that can test for lead in water, which she presented to a panel of scientists and school administrators from around the country.
Project Sparked By Water Crisis In Michigan
The city of Flint, Michigan, has been facing a water emergency because there was too much lead in its water. This story inspired her work.
Kathleen Shafer is a researcher in plastics technologies at 3M, a company that makes thousands of different products, from post-it notes and scotch tape to medical devices and software. Shafer was paired with Gitanjali over the summer as a mentor. She says that Gitanjali has a “passion for making a difference through her innovation.”
Inspired To Solve “Real-World Problems”
For Gitanjali, coming up with an innovative solution is the reason science is her favorite subject. “Science allows me to look at approaches to solve the real-world problems out there,” she says.
Gitanjali focused on water testing as she learned more about the situation in Flint, Michigan. She heard about how limited the options were for people to determine if their water was contaminated.
“I hadn’t thought about creating a device until I saw my parents try to test for lead in our water,” Gitanjali says. “I realized it wasn’t a very reliable process, since they were using test strips.” Some strips labeled their water as safe and others showed that lead was present. The more accurate option was both expensive and time-consuming. It involved collecting samples and sending them to be looked at by professionals.
“I wanted to do something to change this not only for my parents, but for the residents of Flint and places like Flint around the world,” says Gitanjali.
Brainstorming The Best Solution To Problem
She started with brainstorming. She quickly realized that her initial idea – coming up with a way to remove lead from water, possibly by finding a bacterium that could remove it – wasn’t very practical and might introduce other hazardous chemicals into water.
She stumbled onto the idea of carbon nanotube sensors – chemical sensors at the atomic scale – after reading about them on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) website. She discovered an article about how useful the sensors are for detecting hazardous gases. When an atom loses or gains an electron, it becomes an ion. This means it has a positive or negative electric charge. These ions are put into the tiny nanotubes with certain gases in them. The ions and the gases then interact, combining together to form compounds, which can be tested.
A Work In Progress For Girl
The article got Gitanjali thinking. Why couldn’t she use the same idea to test for lead in water? She started researching carbon nanotubes as well as the properties of lead and what sort of chemical would react with it. She also considered options to receive and transmit the data before settling on an Arduino processor, a programmable computer chip.
Gitanjali then moved from brainstorming to experimentation. She decided on lead acetate as the most common compound of lead found in water and chloride as the ion she would introduce to react with the lead acetate. Also, she chose to work with “buckypaper,” a thin sheet made from carbon nanotubes that she could fold and cut. Gitanjali then started making the first model for her project.
Device Named After A Greek Goddess
The result: Tethys, named for the Greek goddess of fresh water. It’s a small blue housing that Gitanjali built using her school’s 3-D printer. It has computer chips and a battery inside, a disposable cartridge that can be dipped in water, and a Bluetooth device that transmits the data to a phone. A free app, which Gitanjali designed with support from her computer science teacher, gives instant results.
The process wasn’t always easy, though, and that’s what Gitanjali says she emphasizes most to other children who might want to invent or innovate. Failure is part of the process. “Failure is just another step to success,”she says.
A Few Roadblocks Along The Way
In the course of developing Tethys, Gitanjali hit numerous roadblocks. But Shafer, her 3M mentor, helped with developing the device and cutting her presentation down to five minutes, which Gitanjali says was a challenge.
Shafer notes that she’s a big fan of competitions like this one, because they make connections between children and working scientists. It allows students to envision what a career could look like and see that scientists aren’t one-dimensional.
11-Year-Old Also Awarded $25,000 cheque
Gitanjali is quick to credit not only her teachers with helping her, but also her parents, who she says have constantly supported and encouraged her “crazy ideas.”
Along with the honor of winning the competition, which is open to fifth- to eighth-graders, Gitanjali received a check for $25,000, which she plans to use to further develop her device and get production started (her goal is for it to be commercially available within a year). She also wants to donate to the Children’s Kindness Network and save for college.
She already has big plans for the future, studying diseases and genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
For now, she’s already thought of the next challenge she wants to try to solve: the growing problem of adolescent depression. And she has a working concept for what she wants to create. She calls it a “happiness detector.”