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.

Global Education-what IS it?

from NGV exhibition

from NGV exhibition

 

Global education is a concept with a diverse number of understandings.  Even the term ‘global education’ has different viewing platforms from global learning to global competencies from global citizenship to education for sustainable development. Continue reading

Education for Sustainable Development Part two

India tile

How can sustainability enhance the learning areas in curricula?

My favourite picture storybook is The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley  (Thank you Nuella.) You MUST read it.  The message I took away was live simply so others can simple live. (Thank you Gandhi.)

A curriculum that has sustainable futures at its core will be a dynamic and value enriched program of learning. The ways in which we can meet our current needs without diminishing the environment or reducing the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs is what a sustainable future is about.

So as a learner and facilitator, I brainstormed all the concepts of a global curriculum centred around the functions of sustainability – cultural sustainability, economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social sustainability …..so here goes…….needs and wants, human rights, politics, Millenium Development Goals, belief systems, value systems,  gender equity, poverty reduction, global cooperation, interconnection, human well being, peace, resolving conflict, partnerships, trade, water, forests, natural hazards and disasters, biodiversity, food security, endangered species, energy, desertification, effects of climate and its change, trading fairly, education,  identity, child Rights, Agriculture, ethical consumerism, migration, immigration,  refugees, population, intercultural understanding, cultural diversity, connections to the past, indigenous culture, global health…… phwew!! And that’s just for starters.

Write down these learning areas- Civics and Citizenship, Geography, Science, History, Technologies, Maths, The Arts, English, Health and Phys Ed, Languages and  Economics.

Now try and fit any one of the concepts above under just one learning area.  Can’t choose? That’s because sustainability and global learning cross all areas of the curriculum. A rich curriculum has interconnected learning.

The best way to work out where you can work with these concepts in your curriculum is to do a concept map.

Take a look at your existing curriculum. Could you enhance it and open the eyes of your learners a little wider by including a concept around sustainability?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education for Sustainable Development Part one

Have you asked yourself, “What REALLY IS sustainability?”

A greenhouse nightmare

Since the late 1960’s, sustainability, which initially had an environmental focus, expanded to include economy and later social and cultural considerations.

In 1987 the approach to conservation brought together environmental conservation and development and so came the term ‘sustainable development’. This represented the first formal recognition that “development should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, suggesting development, progress and growth had to take account of their environmental impacts.

So wider ethical issues such as human rights, in support of values, justice and fairness are integral to education for sustainable development.  Intercultural understanding strengthens respect for equality.  Peace and resolving conflict foster the values of empathy and cooperation.  A rights based education encompasses the concept of education for sustainable development and reinforces the awareness that we share a common destiny with others. (OHCHR 2006).

Sustainability has become a vast social, political, economic and educational concern. The UN has devoted a decade to Education for Sustainability. The Australian Curriculum considers sustainability important enough to be delivered across the curriculum.

Watch out for more posts on this topic.

Part 2 “In what ways could sustainability enhance the learning areas in my curriculum?”

Part 3 “How could I amplify sustainability throughout my school?”

Cartoon by Nicholson from “The Australian” newspaper: www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au – See more at: http://nicholsoncartoons.com.au/reproduce-a-cartoon#sthash.eni7rgBN.dpuf

Sustainable development of culture

I have been reminded of the variation and importance of culture during a film festival I have been attending over the last 12 days.  Some aspects of the cultures and values of others have been entirely new to me.

Cultures among people have developed over millenia in every corner of the world.  The distinctions and nuances between people as they form groups to live, to work and to create have been the means by which we form values, understand the human form, learn from the past and inform the future. The diversity of a myriad of cultures underpins how individuals and groups and communities develop, grow and flourish.

Whilst I know and cherish the values and cultural influences on my life, why should I  learn about the cultures of others? Cultural upbringing is an inherently important aspect of my identity; it is part of who I am.  When I am proud and confident of who I am, I can understand why others might feel the same about themselves.  The more we delve into intercultural understanding, the richer and stronger are the groups that make up our society.

Recognizing the importance of building human solidarity, our rich diversity, which is our collective strength should be used for constructive partnership for change and for the achievement of the common goal of sustainable development.  (Johannesburg Declaration, 2002)