Tag Archives: Thursdays

Thursday October 2nd

On Thursday we aim to get students exploring the issue of democratic learning and students’ rights to education. By watching a video from a youth activist, Malala Yousafzai, students will engage with concepts related to gaining stake in their education. We will be facilitating a discussion about the nature of education rights, and whether students have stake in deciding what they’re learning and how.

We hope that by encouraging students to articulate what it is they think is valuable to learn, and whether that is what they are actually learning in the classroom, they will grow more conscious of the limits of education in the classroom. We hope it will give our students a critical perspective on their own education so they can begin to further grapple with and challenge other issues that may arise later.

Malala Yousafzai’s biography: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai first came to public attention in 2009 when she wrote an affecting BBC diary about life under the Taliban.

But three years later, in October 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman because of her campaign for girls’ education. She was already well known in Pakistan, but that one shocking act catapulted her to international fame.

She survived the dramatic assault, in which a militant boarded her school bus in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley and opened fire.

She has been named one of TIME magazine’s most influential people in 2013, put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize and has reportedly secured a $3m (£2m) book contract for her life story.

Background Video on Malala

Malala Yousafzai’s Speech

Thursday, September 26: Global Issues, Connected

Today (see thursday lesson plan),  we will connect the global issues we learned about yesterday – child labor/mining in Tanzania, forced relocation of Tibetans in China, land grabs in Mozambique, sweatshops in Bangladesh, and enforced disappearances in Mexico – to other issues in places in different times and places.

We will begin by reviewing yesterday’s activity. In order to remind ourselves of all the issues we discussed yesterday, everyone will fill out a worksheet to get us thinking about the root causes of the issues.

Then, we will use our tablets to find information about our topics in another time and place. Child labor is not unique to Tanzania, and sweatshops exist in places other than Bangladesh. Discover where and when else these issues occurred. Are they a problem closer to home, in the United States, or have they ever been? Use this time to explore – find out what is out there, and see what surprises you!

As we gather information, we will record our finds in Venn diagrams in our journal and share with our classmates. Then, we will use the graphic organizer on the back of the first worksheet to further our understanding of the connections between these different issues.

To wrap up, we will hold a class discussion about the different issues in the different places, how they all connect, and how they relate to us, sitting in this classroom.

Thursday, September 19: What are the different types of Rights?

Earlier this week we have learned the history of the United Nations and why the world felt it was so important to create a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” However, a declaration does not guarantee anything, so the United Nations created treaties or covenants. These treaties would then become actual law in the countries that ratified them. There was a small problem though. The democratic western countries strongly supported civil and political rights like the right to vote, own property, and to a fair trial. The authoritarian countries of the east were not as comfortable with civil and political rights so they focused more on social, economic, and cultural rights. Thus, two separate covenants were created.

Today in class we will be discussing the differences between the two covenants and the many problems, consequences, and difficulties that arise.

  • We will start by splitting into groups and writing down what the group thinks are the five most important rights that every person should have.
  • We will then watch videos describing the two covenants to understand the situation and differences. After we watch, we will split into groups to discuss the following questions ( Video 1 and Video 2)
  1. Look at your five rights that you said were the most important. Which type of right would each of them be- Civil, Political, Social, Economic, or Cultural right? Do the rights that you specified as most important line up with the UN’s?
  2. Why do you think that Western countries felt that it was so important to specify our political and civil rights, while Eastern countries wanted more ESC rights?
  3. Which type of rights do you feel are the most important?
  4. What is the best way to secure and protect these rights? Is the UN the solution?
  5. Do you think these rights are really universal? Can rights be different in different countries?
  6. Is protecting these rights for every single citizen in the world attainable?

For some additional reading or insight:

-Recent articles about Human Rights around the world!

Thursday, September 12 — Cultural Norms.

As a way to follow-up on the idea of ascribed identity and explore a little more about what this means for us, today we will talk about cultural norms with a lesson plan inspired by the novel Americanah. This novel brought home to me the idea that my cultural identity really influences the types of things I take for granted and how strange these things might seem to someone with a different cultural identity, so I decided to build this lesson plan around that idea of cultural norms. On June 27, 2013, interviewer Terry Gross hosted Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on her NPR show Fresh Air. Adichie is a novelist who grew up in Nigeria before moving to America to attend college. Her most recent novel is called Americanah, and in the interview she reads an excerpt  based on events from her own life. We will listen to the first 12 minutes or so of this interview, found here, then we will talk about how people learn “norms” — acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for or society. (Here is a link to the transcript, in case you want to follow along.) These vary widely depending on cultural traditions and cultural identities and history. As a way to explore this idea further, students will meet in groups and create a list (using pictures or words) of norms for a particular place. Then the group will come back together, check out each others’ work, and discuss whether we all agree with the norms represented, or if there are different norms even within this classroom.

The take-away for today is to remember that norms are very specific to a time, place, and society or group.  As Adichie says, “Race is a social construct.” The implications of that statement can be quite broad, so I’m really interested to see what comes out in this conversation and to see what comments you have about this idea.