Tag Archives: global education

two roads

Here are a few words about the many roads I’ve been walking on for the last 15 years or so. It’s more than a justification of a resume that jumps contexts and continents. It’s my way of reflecting upon and consolidating a personal narrative that sometimes reads like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book. It’s a celebration of the current situation I’ve wandered into as a volunteer at Green School in Bali – a place where, as I say in the poem, “the divergent converges.” And it’s an affirmation of the value inherent in the many roads my generation is walking down.

So to all my fellow travellers: keep walking, keep wandering, keep weaving your way down these many roads, and find your own way to make all the difference.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood”

I gazed down one and then the other

Asked my father and my mother

Google mapped the road ahead

And waited for the answer to load

And while the rainbow pinwheel spun I asked myself:

Why not travel both?  Continue reading


Antflick. Ms Antflick, 007.

My favourite days as a teacher are the days when I am able to make curricular connections to world events. Our calendar is full of special days celebrating, commemorating or raising awareness about social issues, and whenever possible I try to tie these events in to whatever course I’m teaching.

Earlier this year, on World Toilet Day, I had my grade 9 Geography students discuss global sanitation inequities while squatting beside their desks (see: The Big Squat). On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, I screened the “I have a dream” speech to introduce rhetorical devices to my grade 9 English classes, and had the students write their own “I have a dream” reflections.  In my grade 11 Social Science class, we looked at MLK as a social sceintist (the lesson is available on my other blog – SAP on the Web).

This week, I had another opportunity to spend a few minutes opening kids’ eyes to the world outside our classroom walls. The 100th annual International Women’s Day was a couple of days ago (March 8). The evening before, this video of Daniel Craig, the most recent James Bond, appeared on a few of my friends’ Facebook pages:

I showed it in all of my classes and discussed International Women’s Day. We had interesting discussions based on one of the student’s questions, “Why isn’t there International Men’s Day?” My students – both boys and girls – made some great comments and seemed to really be paying attention to the video’s message.

  • In Geography, we discussed why gender is an important measure when studying demographics. We also discussed the status of women in Canada vs. in other societies around the world.
  • In English, the students wrote their daily “Credo” in response to the video and to our discussions. We also linked International Women’s Day to our discussion around the status of Portia and the other female characters in Merchant of Venice. For the media strand, it became a lesson on critical media literacy – unpacking what 007 stands for, if and how the role of the Bond Girl has evolved over the decades, and why Craig dresses as a large breasted blonde.
  • Finally, in my Sociology, Anthropology & Psychology class we tied it in to our Sociology unit and talked about gender norms, zeroing in on the idea that in this video, the man, and not the woman, is “seen, not heard” while Judi Dench in the role of M is heard but not seen.

I was inspired by my students’ questions and comments, and my conviction in these tiny activist measures was reaffirmed when I got home to find an email from one of my student’s mothers, saying that she tried to show her 14 year old son the video at home and he replied,  “Oh, I know, the thing with Daniel Craig wearing a dress.  Ms. Antflick already showed it to us.  She’s a feminist!” She went on to thank me for exposing her son to such progressive ideas (progressive? in 2011?).

It’s the little things that make the hours of lesson planning and marking worthwhile (she writes as she blogs instead of preparing for her third and final teacher eval…)

thoughts on global education

Features of an effective Global Education program

Our educational endeavours should be culturally responsive, embedded in real world events, and mobilized to enable students to act in and upon their worlds. My former boss at PANIM, a non-profit educational organization had a 5-pillar approach to getting teens involved in public issues: inform, empower, inspire, motivate, contextualize. I believe that these can be applied to an effective Global Education program for secondary schools.

First, inform students about world issues. While today’s youth have unprecedented access to information, it is the job of educators to help students see the forest for the trees. By providing them with reliable, age-appropriate information about global issues like climate change, AIDS, child labour, and foreign aid, we can help them understand the big picture and begin to break down the details and make the information relevant to their lives.

Second, empower them to act by pointing out examples of individuals who have brought about change and by giving them the tools to act. This could mean starting a service project in class, giving students access to resources outside of school, or connecting them to organizations already doing the kind of work that students want to get involved in. It also means nurturing the habits of mind that make a good global citizen, including open-mindedness, critical thinking, and inquisitiveness.

Third, inspire them by being an active global citizen and modeling the sort of attitudes and behaviours that students can incorporate into their developing sense of identity.

Fourth, motivate students by making global issues real. For adolescents seeking meaning, this means putting a human face on injustice and promoting empathy and moral outrage. I believe that the intrinsic motivation for global action can best be achieved through experiential education, for example, cleaning up a local riverbank or meeting a Sudanese former child soldier.

Finally, contextualize Global Education within not only curriculum expectations but within the students’ personal value systems, showing them that learning about the world is not about getting good marks but about making a commitment to real change.

Thinking deep global thoughts in Algonquin Park

In practice, the most effective forms of Global Education are cross-curricular and multidimensional. This entails both looking closely at possibilities for global education within curricular objectives and going beyond them to incorporate Global Education wherever possible. Global Education is multidimensional in that it both opens students’ eyes to the realities of the world and opens their minds to the potential inherent in each of us to change the world for the better. A cross-curricular approach to Global Education teaches students about the world they live in and helps them to articulate their views on world issues. It also educates them about their rights and responsibilities as citizens of our globalized world.

In terms of content areas, the goal is to teach students about the Earth and its inhabitants, including education about international development, the promotion of peace and global human rights, intercultural education, and environmental education. As a History and English teacher, it is easy for me to incorporate Global Education into my teaching, for example, through studying texts written by foreign authors or by studying non-western historical events. However, if students come to see Global Education as limited to History or English class, I have not succeeded.

In a classroom that lacks diversity, the Global Education curriculum gives students the opportunity to appreciate the diversity that they will encounter outside of the school. In a multicultural classroom like those I encountered during my practicum placements, Global Education heightens students’ appreciation and understanding of each others’ backgrounds. In Global Education builds character by teaching students that we are all connected and mutually responsible for the well-being of both planet and people. On a micro level, this can translate into greater degrees of mutual respect within the classroom – it helps students understand the ways that they can help or hinder their classmates’ learning. On a broader level, it helps students to articulate their views on their responsibilities to the world around them. Ideally Global Education takes goes this sense of responsibility beyond the “should” and makes it a “must.”

To me, the defining features of an effective Global Education program involve:

· Promotion of an awareness of world events as they unfolde.g. On a rotating basis, each student is responsible for reporting on a newspaper story of the day in every class.

· Reflexivity and situatedness e.g. Students ground their study of global issues by looking at their own origins and the role our society plays in global events.

· Use of technology to create real global connections e.g. Online collaborative learning with a class in another country

· Whole-school initiativese.g. cross curricular Earth Week projects

· Local, national, global connections made across the curriculum e.g. In a History class, studying discriminatory measures perpetrated against Japanese Canadians alongside the study of Japan’s role in WWII

· A school culture that reflects and values global perspectives – e.g. Signage in a variety of languages, celebration of different cultures and recognition of days of significance, staff made up of people from different ethnic and national origins

· An awareness of the importance of ecological sustainability embedded in school culture – e.g. Limit paper use, students work together to retrofit school or plant a community garden

chimps & change & roots & shoots

This weekend I was in the presence of a living legend – Dr. Jane Goodall. My aunt sits on the board of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), so the family had the privilege not only of sitting in the second row at her Convocation Hall lecture on Friday night, but also of spending an afternoon with her at an intimate event at my grandparents’ home. I even had an opportunity to ask her a question – I asked about her choice of words – she always speaks of animals using the words “personality, mind and feelings.” I wondered about her conscious use of these three terms, and she answered that they are her way of pointing out the arrogance of humanity, her way of fighting against what the scientific establishment told her was wrong (use numbers not names for the chimpanzees, don’t attribute “human” emotions to these beasts, etc.).

What amazed me the most about Dr. Jane is how present she is, how she looks every person in the eye and answers their questions – particularly the questions asked by children in the audience – with sincerity and patience. Despite traveling 300 days a year, she never seems distracted or too busy to share a moment. This presence is something I will try to emulate in my interactions with my students.

Another thing I want to do as a teacher is start a Roots & Shoots chapter wherever I end up working next year. Here’s a cute video from explaining what Roots & Shoots does around the world, made by students who are part of a Roots & Shoots group in Delaware.

Last week the Huffington Post had a good interview with Dr. Jane.

I grabbed an autographed copy of her book, Harvest for Hope. Looking forward to reading what the good doctor has to say about food.

copenhagen for kids (take 2)

In a previous post, I promised more on addressing the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in Canadian classrooms. There are so many great environmental education resources out there, I admit I was overwhelmed when I began researching this topic. I have listed and linked to a few of these resources below.

I did, however, also notice that there is not as much critical pedagogy addressing environmental justice as I would have hoped or expected. The field of climate justice (that is, the interconnectedness between social justice and environmental issues) has gained strength and attracted attention in over the last couple of months. One of my classmates at OISE suggested that the galvanization and increased recognition of the climate justice movement is perhaps one of the few positive results of the COP15 conference!

Here is the handout that I gave (digitally…no trees were harmed!) to my class for today’s presentation:

Copenhagen (COP15) in the Classroom

Climate change is an issue that many kids are already aware of, and they care deeply about making the world a cleaner and safer place for their future. But how do we guide students through some of the murkier ‘tar-sands of the mind’ – that is, the economic and political realities – that have bogged down their elders at the Copenhagen conference?

The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference is widely viewed as an outright disaster. Amidst the delays due to procedural objections, arrests by Danish riot police, hoaxes, walkouts, and exclusion of developing countries from inner circle negotiations, it is difficult to find the positive in the COP15 Conference. The talks failed to produce a legally binding agreement, the tentative accord was unambitious and the summit was plagued by economic and political inequities.

As educators, we struggle to find a balance between teaching students about the complex, unpalatable realities of controversial world issues and inspiring a sense of hope and possibility in our students. For Canadian students in particular, COP15 served to make us aware that we are among the worst climate offenders. The “Fossil of the Day” podium is a difficult position from which to inspire hope in young people struggling to define their civic identities.

Key Questions & Issues:

  • How can Canadian educators teach critically about COP15 without creating a sense of cynicism?
  • How were youth and schools involved in the COP15 conference?
  • What are some strategies for empowering youth to take action on climate change?

Components of a critical pedagogy for addressing Copenhagen & climate change

  • Highlight ways that environmental issues are framed, critique the discourse surrounding climate change and other environmental issues
  • Students must examine the broader context of climate change and environmental issues, connecting social justice and eco-justice. The most economically exploited and socially powerless groups are often the most vulnerable to environmental hazards. Some topics to address within this area:
    • Regarding Copenhagen – which countries had more say and why?
    • Social issues around food security, fair trade, monoculture, organic farming etc.
    • Land use, manufacturing and imperialism
    • Mobility in the face of threatening environments (i.e. Small island states, low-income housing near factories & hazardous waste sites)
    • Indigenous cultures and environmental practices
    • Access to green space and relationship with the natural world
  • Motivate students to make responsible decisions about their environmental footprint
  • Students engage in a deep and critical examination of their own situatedness – the intersections of cultural, economic, and environmental factors.
  • Confront unsettling information and allow for discussion and debate
  • Present multiple perspectives and allow students to decide which rings true to their values and experiences
  • Connect issues to action – empower students to use their power to bring about positive change

Youth and School Involvement at COP15

Inspiring Climate Education Conference (www.ice2009.org)

  • Organized by the Danish Minsitry of Education in October, 2009. Attended by 120 education stakeholders from 35 countries (none from Canada).
  • Included speakers from education and industry, workshops on climate education in various settings, interdisciplinary cooperation, partnerships between schools and businesses,
  • Climate Change Education international weblog highlights education and youth related issues surrounding COP15
  • The TeachersCOP website includes lesson plans on climate issues. Two particularly interesting lesson plans for secondary students are “Climate in the Media” and “COP15 – The Political Dimension”

Children’s Climate Forum

  • Organized by UNICEF and the City of Copenhagen, took place the week before the grown-ups’ conference and brought together 160 youth delegates from 40 countries.
  • Delegates wrote a Children’s Climate Forum Declaration holding governments accountable and making recommendations for adaptation and mitigation. The Declaration includes a recommendation that “Climate change education should be a mandatory and substantial area of the school curriculum.

Unite for Climate (www.uniteforclimate.org)

  • Online hub for youth, part of the UN’s official COP15 page, provides opportunities for kids to network and learn about climate change through youth targeted media and resources
  • Hosts links to a number of grassroots campaigns organized for and by young people around the world
  • Publishes news about youth involvement at the conference – profiles of the young Climate Ambassadors, highlights of student participation on panels etc.
  • Interactive – i.e. youth can respond to a climate related question via SMS.
  • Youth Climate Debates where students can upload yes or no statements in response to climate questions like “do you think your political leaders are doing enough for the environment?”

Connecting Classrooms

  • Online curriculum pairs classes from around the world and allows them to dialogue, debate, and work collaboratively to analyze and problem-solve around global issues.
  • The current module focuses on climate change and the COP15 conference.
  • To take part in Connecting Classrooms, all you need is a secondary school classroom supervised by a designated teacher, internet access, and a one hour per week time commitment.

Additional Climate Change Education Resources

EarthCARE is an action-oriented in-school program, currently operating in several Ontario boards. It promotes environmental stewardship by having students learn about waste, energy and water use in their own schools, and involves the school community in retrofitting school buildings and promoting conservationist behaviour.  The site also has a resource section with lesson plans that meet Ontario curriculum expectations.

Environment Canada has grade and subject specific lesson plans and resources for educators, as well as a speaker’s bureau, official publications. The EC youth site includes a footprint calculator, nationwide contests, tips on getting funding for environmental initiatives and “Homework Help” resources.

The New York Times has a list of teaching resources related to COP15 on their ‘The Learning Network’ blog. The Times also has an interactive climate change timeline beginning in 1820.

Climate Change Education is a portal site that gathers internet resources for K-12 and university level environmental education. It’s an ugly site but there are lots of good resources from different sources divided by subject and grade level.

NASA’s climate change website includes the Climate Time Machine with slick graphics showing climate change over time. Similarly, Eduspace is an earth observation site designed for use in schools by the European Space Agency and its partner organizations. The tools on this site allow students to view the world through detailed satellite images, including sections dedicated to monitoring natural disasters, observing patterns and changes in weather cycles, oceanography, land use, and atmospheric gases.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s glossary of terms and acronyms can be used to help students interpret the language of the accord and appreciate how negotiations can hinge on seemingly insignificant linguistic subtleties. The UNFCCC also has fact sheets online  that break down some of the main issues into manageable pieces.

World Savvy Monitor (www.worldsavvy.org) is an American non-profit that to provides background resources, curricular context, and lesson ideas for educators teaching about global issues. Their monthly online publication includes a Classroom Companion, which gives teachers cross-disciplinary tools for integrating global affairs into curriculum. The November 2009 issue is about water.

David Suzuki Foundation (www.davidsuzuki.org) has a list of things individuals can do to help slow climate change, through avenues including lifestyle modification, activism, education, philanthropy, and advocacy.

copenhagen for kids

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is currently taking place in Copenhagen. 192 countries have been hanging out in Denmark since last week, trying to tackle the ambitious agenda of agreeing on a new international framework for climate change mitigation. Add to the overambitious targets the protests, arrests, hoaxes, walkouts, and boycotts, and  it is hard to be hopeful about the outcomes of this conference.

As educators, we try to find a balance between teaching students about the complex, unpalatable realities of controversial world issues, and inspiring a sense of hope and possibility in our students. I will be tackling the teachability of COP15 for one of my courses in January. This is a bit half-assed but I want to get something up here about the conference before the thing ends on Dec. 18.

So…introducing the Unite for Climate campaign. The Unite for Climate website is an online hub for youth, part of the UN’s official COP15 page. It provides opportunities for kids to learn about climate change through various media, get involved in grassroots campaigns organized by young people around the world, and network and participate in the conversation. It also regularly publishes news about youth involvement at the conference – profiles of the young Climate Ambassadors, and highlights from the Children’s Climate Forum that took place in Copenhagen the week before the grown-ups’ conference.

The site also features “Connecting Classrooms” – an online curriculum that pairs classes from around the world and allows them to dialogue, debate, and work collaboratively to analyze and problem-solve around global issues. The current module focuses on climate change and the COP15 conference. From perusing the website, it looks like all you need to take part in Connecting Classrooms is a secondary school classroom supervised by a designated teacher, internet access, and a one hour per week time committment. Sounds pretty cool.

Climate change is an issue that kids care deeply about, and making them aware of how their everyday choices can impact the environment is no great feat. That’s the easy part. I’ll keep thinking about how to guide students through some of the murkier ‘oil-sands of the mind’ – that is, the economic and political realities – that have bogged down their elders at the Copenhagen conference.

Anyone have a good idea? A lesson that has worked in your classroom? A resource that might be of use? Please share!