What makes a good life?-eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world

I’ve been reading about education as a tool of democracy and a conduit to connect learners to broader social issues. It made me think about how to learners in their world of sufficiency, could have a better and more empathic understanding of people who live in poverty. 
What could a lesson look like in the classroom?

Background

$1.90 per person per day is the standard adopted by the World Bank and other international organizations to reflect the minimum consumption and income level needed to meet a person’s basic needs.

That means that people who fall under that poverty line—that’s 1/8 of the world’s population, or 767 million people—lack the ability to fulfill basic needs, whether it means eating only one bowl of rice a day or forgoing health care when it’s needed most.

The purpose of this activity is for students to raise questions and clarify their own thoughts about what things are most important to having a good life. They may also begin to see that although people living in poverty are lacking many material things, their lives may also include some aspects that the students value. This thinking will be important as students learn more about experiences of poverty.

Activity – The Good Life Road

Tell students that they will be considering what makes a good life. First, watch or read a stimulus resource as a class (such as Herbert and Harry by Pamela Allen, The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley by Colin Thompson, or the TEAR video, Working Together in an Indian Village

Divide students into groups of four or five and give each group a set of cards with the following phrases on them. (They are available to print at the Global Education website ) It is helpful if each card can be printed in a different colour.

Having clean water and toilets

Having jobs for adults

Having friends and family who love and help you

Being able to make choices about what happens in your life

Having a safe place to live

Having TVs, computers and other electronic stuff

A government that helps if you need it

Getting an education

Having lots of money

Being healthy

Having great toys

Having fashionable clothes

Being famous

In their groups, students read through the cards and make a decision about how necessary each item is for a person to have a good life. They should place each card along the Good Life Road, a line marked on the ground with ends marked ‘Very important’ and ‘Not important at all’. The cards should be positioned according to how important students think the item on the card is to having a good life. For example, if the group thinks the item on the card is vital to having a good life they should place it at the ‘Very important’ end, or if they think it is not important they should place it at the ‘Not important at all’ end. They can also place cards at any point in between

Discussion

When the groups have finished, the whole class should look at the continuum. The different coloured cards will help them to notice any trends across the cards from different groups. Students can comment on why they agree or disagree with the placement of particular items.

Is there general agreement within the class about particular items?

Are there differences between the class’s answers and what they think other people may say about a good life?

Do students’ lives actually reflect the things they say are important?

Are there any connections between the thinking in this activity and the people/characters in the book or video they viewed previously?

Do they think that people living in poverty are able to have a good life?

Can students think of anything they have in common with people living in poverty?

 

With thanks to the One World Centre.

Switched on Schools

Being the change you wish to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhil.

Two schools across the country are showing leadership in environmental ansd sustainable change. Agents of societal change, students from Freemantle Senior High School and Melbourne Girls College are partnering with local community, influencing policy makers and through change leadership, are intrinsically motivated to make a difference. Pedagogical transformation to an otherwise outdated and uninspiring curriculum has led these students to deeper learning and more ambitious expectations about their own future.

In 2012, Freemantle SHS became the first Carbon Neutral High School in Australia by reducing their fossil fuel use, implementing renewable energy projects and capturing carbon emissions through tree planting and using a ‘whole-school’ approach and with the help of community partnerships, Freemantle SCS, cut their carbon emissions by over 15% in the first three years of the Carbon Neutral Project.

Watch their video: Champion, audit, partner, action, repeat 

With the aim of making their school carbon neutral

Melbourne Girls’ College is an award winning sustainable school, proudly partnering with the City of Yarra with the ambition to be Carbon Neutral by 2020. MGC is the 2015 recipient of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, receiving funding to put plans into action and now boasts an interactive PV solar array, pedal and ergo generators, a microhydroturbine and solar powered seal fountain with a strategy to reduce energy use to achieve their goal.

I had the pleasure of visiting Melbourne Girls’ College during a student led sustainability conference late last year. The passion, co-learning and collaborative culture among students from a number of schools involved in the conference was inspiring.

The MGC students also held an action to celebrate their school’s pledge and send a message to decision makers to follow their lead and power all schools and Australia with 100% renewable energy !

Huge congratulations to the MGC environment team, students, staff and parents for leading the way and adopting the pledge !

Victorian schools are encouraged to adopt renewable energy practices with the help of Sustainability Victoria, but so far none have achieved carbon neutral status.

The Victorian Department of Education and Training said two-thirds of schools’ total energy use was consumed outside of school hours. It also estimated that as much as 40 per cent of all energy use in schools is not essential.

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What is most impressive is that both schools have leadership teams that enable student led deep learning.  The students experience the CNP at South Fremantle SHS in all learning areas. It is embedded deeply in the school curriculum, for example in sustainability themes in Science, Marine and Ocean, and Earth and Environment studies. It is embedded in qualifications such as our students’ achievements and hands on experience in conservation through endorsed community programs such as the Rio Tinto Earth Assist Program. It is equally embedded in community service; since 2008 South FreemantleSCS students have propagated and planted over 29,000 trees in the school grounds, in the Wheatbelt and in bush-fire affected Toodyay via our ‘Seed to Tree’ project.

Tree planting in the wheatbelt

Tree planting in the wheatbelt

By involving students in deep learning they become active in caring for our planet’s future, applying their learning in meaningful ways inside the school and outside in the community. South Fremantle SHS is one of only two schools in WA nominated to participate in STELR, a national initiative that encourages students’ participation in Maths and Sciences with a particular focus on renewable energy. Twenty one students attended the 2013 Australian Youth Climate Coalition Event – ‘Start the Switch’ workshops, mentoring and training in sustainability leadership.

It makes me so proud to know that young people are doing great things to make positive change in their schools and communities. These are the global citizens of tomorrow, TODAY.

Me, me, me

The recent call for hunkering down, closing borders, keeping out the other is contrary to the global citizen’s position on collaboration, understanding the other and how to disagree with another person’s view. In a world of over 7 billion people the requirement to establish a harmonious and workable relationship with the other at a time of extreme stress on world resources is paramount to well being, productivity, and even survival. From a global perspective this is about interconnection, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, empathy, the value of diversity and peaceful outcomes to conflicting ideas.

Continue reading

The A in STEAM and climate change. 

We are hearing much about STEM but I’m advocating for the rightful inclusion of the Arts and a place for STEAM.

I am wanting to hear from schools where leadership and educators have supported their learners to respond artistically to the issues surrounding climate change.  This may be in the form of the visual arts, music, theatre, dance, literature and or cinema.

Hoping to be proven wrong, it is my feeling that educators do not highlight climate change in the curriculum.  It’s not a hot topic (pardon the pun).  Traditionally slotted into the curriculum under Science and Geography, many educators are insufficiently informed, too fearful of tackling what they see as a controversial topic or both.  The links to many issues of global significance can be traced to the warming of the planet.

In the sphere beyond the classroom I’ve come across a group called CLIMARTE and a theatre troupe called ClimActs.

CLIMARTE’S mission is to harness the creative power of the arts to inform, engage and inspire action on climate change.  Climarte will present their ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 festival which will run from 19 April to 14 May 2017. 

ClimActs is an Australian theatre troupe playing a role of peaceful protest to support demands for social justice and human rights.  Using striking spectacle as well as satire to communicate and educate on the urgency of climate change, each act has been carefully created to address an aspect of the climate debate. For instance, the Climate Guardians represent selfless and fearless care and guardianship, the Coal Diggers epitomise the recklessness and insatiable greed of vested interests.

The Climate Guardian Angels in peaceful protest at the COP21 talks in Paris 2015

 

School leaders and educators, don’t forget the A in STEAM and broaden the opportunities for young people to find their voice and respond to the concerns of their generation.

Don’t forget to contact me if your school is already taking this approach.

 

Marilyn Snider is an Australian global education activist who promotes a dynamic, self-directed approach where learners explore real world issues and challenges whilst delving into deeper and more satisfying conceptual understandings. Creativity, critical analysis and action are hallmarks of her work. www.bethinkglobal.com.au

 

 

Doing, Sharing and Learning

I’m heading down a different path today.

kogo

KOGO which stands for Knit One, Give One, started out as a small group who wanted to knit for others. In the first year, 180 scarves were knitted and distributed to those experiencing homelessness. Enabling others to be protected from the cold and to experience the self worth that comes from being valued, the group has grown over  to over 5000 knitters and crocheters in 12 years.  They come from all walks of life and they vary in age – the youngest being an 11 year old girl and our oldest being over 100.  In 2015, the not-for-profit organisation distributed 65,500 hand knitted winter woollies to the most vulnerable in our community through 250 community partner organisations.
What’s the point of ALL this?

Let me give some background…

Caritas Australia calls upon Catholic Social Teaching to guide its work.  No human being should have their dignity or freedom compromised.  The common good is reached when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world. 

The Global Perspectives Framework highlights global values and attitudes and mentions a commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all people and maintaining a sense of personal identity and self esteem.

Partnerships for action work best when those whose skill base can be shared, find those who will gain value from that skill.  Generosity of effort can make an immeasurable difference to someone else.  The benefits are mutual.

In KOGO’s work, the principles of ‘the dignity of the person’ and  ‘the common good’ apply. KOGO’s values are global values and action starts right at their own front door.

 

 

 

 

 

Should we apply the system of Gacaca to bullies in schools?

An experiment in justice

The national court system was unable to handle the aftermath of trialling perpetrators following the genocide in Rwanda.

Another system hand to be found to supplement the overcrowded justice system.  Rwanda embarked on an ambitious justice and reconciliation process at grassroots level with the ultimate aim of all Rwandans once again living side by side in peace.

The Rwandan government in 2005 re-established the traditional community court system called “Gacaca” (pronounced GA-CHA-CHA).

Watch this video and decide whether the principles of Gacaca could be applied to handling bullying in schools.

Gacaca: the people’s court

 

 

 

 

3rd entry – No ticket necessary

A free cello concert is a draw card.  There’s one held on Saturday nights in Siem Reap.  At intervals during his concert, the famous Swiss paediatric doctor and philanthropist, Beat Richner, unashamedly tells his story of the five Cambodian Children’s Hospitals that he built and now maintains through the Kantha Bopha Foundation. Continue reading

2nd entry: One man’s story

My daughter once said to me, “Cambodia is about the people” and I know now what she means.
With a genocide in the collective living memory of a people, Cambodians have a remarkable outlook.  Forgiveness can be explained by this definition illustrated in a well-known Tibetan Buddhist story about two monks who encounter each other some years after being released from prison where they had been tortured by their captors. “Have you forgiven them?” asks the first. “I will never forgive them! Never!” replies the second. “Well, I guess they still have you in prison, don’t they?” the first says.
In Cambodia there are families who live on less than $1 a day, who live from meal to meal. There are families who grow some rice and during productive seasons, will have enough rice to eat without surplus to trade for money or goods. The Government offers free medical assistance to the poorest families and a discount of 50%  to those who have a little rice.
I met a man from the village of Peak Sneng, who had been shot in the spine during the Khmer Rouge slaughter. The stillness of the night and the gentle breeze under the trees were the backdrop to his story.  He spent three years in hospital undergoing operations to save his life. He later married, had three children and then looked after a fourth child when his daughter became pregnant after a rape attack. His wife left him and went to Thailand. He now looks after three of those chn, one of whom has cerebral palsy. His oldest boy is at Siem Reap at University. Through the love of sport he has become skilled at soccer. Although confined to a wheelchair, in part held together by some rope, has represented his country in a number of overseas competitions. and is the sport teacher at the local junior high school, which by the way, has no soccer field.  We took some soccer balls to the school- a request that came directly from this gentleman.

 

Buddhist Teachings

Advancing Global Citizenship Education

UNESCO Asia Society partnership

UNESCO/Asian Society “We must educate a generation of global citizens — versed in human rights, culturally literate, skilled for intercultural dialogue, compassionate and committed to building a better world for all.

Global Perspectives: A Framework for Global Education in Australia 2008.
“Enabling young people to participate in shaping a better shared future for the world. It emphasises the unity and interdependence of human society, cultural diversity, social justice and human rights, building peace and actions for a sustainable future …. global citizens who can contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

The Global Education Project was delivered for 15 years, assisting tens of thousands of Australian teachers to embed global perspectives in their curricula. Funding to the Project ceased in 2014. In 2015, UNESCO and the Asia Society deemed Global Citizenship education a framework of priority importance.

www.globaleducation.edu.au

http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/-2081442.htm

Taking Action 2015

Two critical United Nations summits will take place this year. The first in September, where the world must agree new goals to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle inequality and ensure a more sustainable planet. The second is the climate summit in December where we must ensure the wellbeing of people today does not come at the expense of our children’s futures.

Taking action

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