This year a very keen intern teacher has started a global justice club at my school. I love the idea because it gives the students an opportunity to build the important 21st century competency of Cultural, Global and Environmental Awareness, which I have blogged about earlier. The thought of my students developing a better perspective on global issues makes me down right proud. And when nearly 40 grade 3-6 students showed up at the first gathering I was reminded how young people today are more globally connected than ever. My thoughts were that maybe they’d come up with some really good elementary school projects such as recycling plastics or raising money for a 3rd world foster child. Perhaps they could even write letters to peace keepers or maybe explore global warming. Yea right. Not a chance.
Many of them had already been following the Kony 2012 story and discussion quickly turned to how they could get involved. By the end of the meeting a powerful wave of concern had formed and the students were ready to make a difference. The next day they started hanging posters and distributing bracelets, bringing awareness to other students. They also asked permission to fundraise (which I gave them), selling various trinkets and small bags of candy. Many club members have even shared their thoughts by blogging and here’s Taila’s post and Jessica’s post. The most impressive part of all this is that the students are taking the lead in everything, with the teacher simply guiding them and supporting their efforts.Their big event is scheduled for this coming Friday, April 20th. On that day the actual Kony 2012 campaign is planning an event called “Cover the Night” and our global justice club has decided to “Cover the School.” Club members will meet after school on Thursday and plaster our school with posters. They want to bring awareness to our entire school community about what Kony is doing. Reluctantly, I have even agreed to them inviting the local press. Have I allowed this to get out of control? Is this something that is better left to junior high and high school students. Maybe it’s not the best idea for an elementary school to get involved at all. Or perhaps I should be limiting the type of content that can be explored by clubs in my school.
But maybe these are the experiences we should be exposing our students to. After all, they researched Kony themselves, developed opinions, and then were moved to action. They are inquiring, leading in their learning, collaborating, practicing digital citizenship, and becoming more culturally and globally aware. Am I off base here? What do you think?