2016 has been a year of turmoil, uncertainty and divisiveness. Sometimes it’s difficult to see how we as individuals and communities can make a difference when events seem so overwhelming. Young people and children in particular without a vote or a voice can feel impotent when it comes to tackling the big issues. But now more than ever we need our youth to feel empowered to be the change makers and make the world a better place for everyone, regardless of their background, ethnicity or gender. Development Education has an important role to play in the classroom as it supports students to increase their awareness of local and world problems like poverty, inequality and climate change. Done right it can inspire and encourage students to act for a more just society both nationally and internationally. It can remind them of the power of one – the fact is that change happens when one person decides to act. As we approach Christmas this might be a good time to introduce or revisit this important subject.
Thankfully there are some great resources to help and inspire educators, one of which is the World’s Largest Lesson, an initiative aimed at promoting the Global Goals for Sustainable Development to young people. In September 2015 World Leaders signed up to list of 17 ambitious global goals to achieve “3 extraordinary things” over 15 years:
- End extreme poverty.
- Fight inequality and injustice.
- Fix climate change.
It’s a huge undertaking but organisers understand that if these goals are ever to have a real chance of being achieved they will have to muster the support of young people worldwide. The central idea behind the website is to encourage schools around the world to teach a lesson on the global goals during September each year. Outside of that it provides a range of cross curricular resources to foster global citizenship and bring on the next generation of “Goal Champions” that can be used at any time during the school year.
The site has a series of lesson plans across all 17 goals and educator guides (pdf and video) to help teachers introduce the global goals to students. Children are encouraged to “invent”, “innovate” and “campaign” on a wide range of issues. 2016 saw the focus on Gender Inequality with Harry Potter’s Hermione, Emma Watson, spearheading the campaign worldwide with the #FromWhereIStand project. Sir Ken Robinson is also involved and has written a wonderfully engaging video introducing the Global Goals. Meanwhile Marvel Comics Stan Lee has partnered with an Indian Comic Publisher to produce a series of brilliant comics.
One of my favourite lesson plans is “Children on the Move” – a 60 min lesson that explores the refugee crisis – a subject that is particularly challenging to address with children. The lesson explains the different terms that we hear on news items, “Migrant”, “Refugee”, “Displaced Person” and explores the crisis through the perspective of children who have been forced to leave their home. All lesson plans have great teacher tips which are really very useful particularly when dealing with tricky subjects like this one.