I just had to share this wonderful article which speaks to a very important quality of the best teaching that is often overlooked – compassion and care.
Give The Kid A Pencil, by Chad Donohue, published at Teaching Tolerance
I recently taught a university course in Seattle for graduate students seeking master’s degrees in teaching. In one lesson, our focus was on creating a psychologically safe learning environment for students. It was an issue of managing students and supplies. I posed a question:
If a student shows up to class without a pencil, how should the teacher respond?
Small groups collaborated for a few minutes. Ultimately, they came up with plans involving taking something (a shoe?) from the student as collateral to remind the student about the importance of having supplies, notifying parents and even assigning classroom cleanup duty or lunch detention.
“I would give the kid a pencil,” I said.
“You mean the first time?” someone asked.
“Every time,” I said.
This evidently had not occurred to them. There must be some punishment, subtle humiliation or a response that makes the kid pay for the error, right? They were concerned that my action would reinforce and reward poor behavior, possibly even help develop bad habits.
What they failed to see is that the teacher is not the cause of the problem. Likely, the student has been doing this for years. The teacher can respond by criticizing the child in front of the class, reminding him that pencils are required at school, making her give up something as collateral or inflicting some punishment as a power move.
Or the instructor can simply provide the pencil and say, “There will always be a pencil here for you. Don’t ever worry about asking me for a pencil. I have hundreds of them.”
By eliminating the anxiety that comes when students worry about being called out or humiliated in front of their peers, teachers reduce the chance that students will skip class, give up, become defiant or develop mysterious “illnesses” that cause them to stay home….
Read more here: Give The Kid A Pencil
The most valuable skills we can give our children are those that help them care for, understand, and be tolerant of others. How good we are at reading, running, experimenting, calculating, writing and all that other great stuff is important. But the value of being a positive global citizen is immeasurable.
What is a global citizen?
There are many definitions, but in essence it boils down to:
If you are a social media junkie, like myself, you might want to go look at the NZ Global Citizen Facebook page and learn more there.
You might also want to talk to other schools, such as Auckland Girls’ Grammar School or Tairua Primary School, that have already invested in explicitly exploring and promoting global citizenship, incorporating it into their learning “to develop Global Citizens of the Future, citizens that will contribute to society in diverse and creative ways.” Look here for information on what Tairua School are doing and how – it’s very inspiring.
FUN WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
I love the idea of Purple Cake Day. It’s a charity event that supports children worldwide to receive the education they need to break the poverty cycle and create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. It’s about ‘kids helping kids’. The activities celebrate and connect children around the world, helping them learn about their role in the global community, and grow their sense of compassion, respect and leadership. This year’s global Purple Cake Day is Friday March 7th, but if this doesn’t suit you can still get involved – just choose a day and GO PURPLE! You can find out all about it here.
World Vision run the Kids for Kids annual choir event, with thousands of children singing together. The Kids for Kids event “encourages young people, their whanau and school communities to make a difference in the lives of children around the globe, through the work of World Vision” and helps “schools introduce the concept of global citizenship” to students. World Vision provides schools with resources that teachers can use to help students understand and discuss the causes and consequences of global poverty, in order to develop compassion for others and build a desire to take appropriate action.
There are NZ curriculum resources that look at New Zealand citizenship, but is very much focused on being an NZ citizen rather than a global one. Nevertheless, it might be a good unit with which to introduce the wider topic, especially given the diverse make up of Aotearoa.
World Vision has a heap of teacher resources on global citizenship, including online games, web links to other students, videos, photo sets, FREE photo posters, student textbooks and teacher resource folders, so there is plenty there for any school to use to start to look at global citizenship
Oxfam has some good resources on its site, much of which are aimed at Britain but that can be used as a good starting point for teachers anywhere.
UN Youth Aotearoa New Zealand has good information for schools and teachers to review, in order to look at the issues and consider how global citizenship can be included in the school’s vision and/or planning. UN Youth’s goal in this is:
The promotion of attitudes that reflect an openness, interest, and positive attitude towards cultural differences. This will empower students who do not have the opportunity to develop such attitudes at home, and will also engage students for whom cross-cultural navigation is a more frequent experience.
NOT JUST SCHOOLS
Tertiary education institutions also support and promote global citizenship. For example, Auckland University is part of AIESEC New Zealand, which “runs the Global Citizen programme for students of New Zealand tertiary institutes to go abroad and create a positive impact in society while connecting to the local realities of different communities”. It challenges students to:
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A DIFFERENT CULTURE AND LEARN HOW TO SEE THE WORLD THROUGH DIFFERENT EYES.
And there it is in a nutshell, what it is all about. Being more able to see things through other people’s eyes. That can only ever be a good thing.
Further reading and sources: