Young school children are no less than other citizens, deserving information about global issues. We have also seen how children are victims of global issues, such as climate change, school shootings, war, and disease outbreaks.
Although they may be young in age, it doesn't change the fact that young school children are legal members of society and can drive positive changes. Hence, educators and the entire school community must create awareness of these global issues and help students learn how to contribute to providing solutions.
This article will provide insights on how to enlighten children about global issues. You will also learn how to adopt school-based and classroom-based approaches to creating this awareness. We understand that this is a delicate topic, considering recent activities globally. Hence, we urge teachers, educators, and school administrators to prioritize every piece of information in this article. Let's get right into it.
What are Global Issues?
Global issues are matters of public concern worldwide. In other words, global issues can be anything affecting people around the world, including children and adults. They include but are not limited to social, economic, security, health, and environmental issues. However, global issues are not always negative situations. Whatever spikes public interest on intercontinental levels is a global issue.
Events celebrating specific subjects such as World Peace Day and the likes are global issues. So, creating awareness about already-existing and potential global issues helps students understand, participate, and offer solutions when necessary. Creating awareness of global concerns could also mean promoting global education in the classroom.
Why Does It Matter?
Awareness of global issues matters because it helps inform children about worldwide challenges and events. They learn about the causes, origin, attributes, effects, and possible solutions of these events. In addition, awareness of global issues matters because it helps children develop long-term skills needed to thrive as adults, such as communication, research, media skills, problem-solving, and critical thinking. When students are aware of global events, they learn to brainstorm and seek solutions to existing problems through research and questioning. And by doing so, they gain media literacy.
Besides, information is key. Being informed or aware also enables students to communicate effectively and express their ideas and opinions about different topics without bias. They can develop values from participating in conversations around poverty, climate change, religious and cultural differences, world trade, and politics. Furthermore, creating awareness of global issues in the classroom promotes global citizenship. Students get to understand their place in society and their rights and obligations across different countries.
Why Should Children Know About Global Issues?
We always chant that children are the leaders of tomorrow. To prepare them for the future, they must learn about global issues while they are young. As an educator, one way to build responsible students for the future is by teaching them about their country, continent, and the world. Research also shows that students who learn about global issues are more likely to become socially proactive and independent thinkers. They understand international situations and learn to think by themselves as they grow.
Why are Schools The Best Place for Children To Learn About Global Issues?
A school is the primary place of instruction for every young child. It is the place where they learn and develop lifelong values, skills, and habits. Moreover, children spend most of their time in school while growing up. From childhood through teenage-hood, they spend more time in school than anywhere else to gain essential, preliminary education. Hence, school is the best place for them to learn about global issues. They learn from educators and still get to interact and share ideas with their peers. Learning about world events also allows them to study the past and contribute to changing the future as the "leaders of tomorrow."
Furthermore, a school has more comprehensive facilities to engage children while learning about global issues. There are digital gadgets, vast libraries, art tools, qualified educators, a conducive learning environment, and more to help students gain the correct information about diverse global issues. A school is also the best place for children to learn about global issues because it creates children-friendly curriculums that appeal to their age and learning mode.
Ways to Create Awareness About Global Issues in Class/school
Creating awareness about global issues in your classroom and school is often complex because you will be highlighting different broad topics. On that note, we have developed practical strategies for creating awareness in your classroom and school. You can utilize these strategies separately or combine them to achieve one goal: enlighten students on global issues. We'll start with the school-wide approach followed by the classroom approach.
School-Wide Approach: How Schools Can Create Awareness On Global Issues
The school-wide approach involves strategies that appeal to the entire school community, including children of different ages.
Organize Seminars and Invite Seasoned Speakers
Seminars are one of the proven ways to create awareness in your school. They are interactive and informative. You can designate one day every week for workshops centering on different global issues. To simplify the process, count the number of weeks in a term and select a day for each week. Then create a list of different global issues and assign these topics to that day in each week. You can repeat topics for emphasis.
Afterward, create another list of seasoned speakers with qualifications or experience in each topic. Send them an invite with the school's letter-headed paper to signify authenticity. If there are financial commitments to having them in your school, you could reach an agreement within your budget. Getting qualified or experienced speakers ensures students get the correct information about each topic. In the end, you create awareness of a wide range of global issues within a few months.
Create a School Blog
Young children who can read and write have certain levels of exposure to the internet. You can use this to drive awareness of different global issues. A school blog also promotes reading culture and increases students' interest in global issues, be it news, informative articles, or fiction stories. However, the blog must accommodate all classes in the school. That is, whatever you post on the blog must be relevant to all students who are your target readers.
Regularly post evergreen and news articles on different global issues, keeping the comment section open for interactions. To increase reach, you can also share these blog posts across social media platforms, especially one that connects parents and guardians. Moreover, the blog could be handled by the IT department of your school, making it part of the school's e-library where students can visit for information.
For a school-wide approach, try setting up club/s focused on discussing global issues and creating an impact on those issues in the school and their environment. The school can set up its own Life on Land club that leads projects like recycling, paperless classrooms, etc., in the school and surrounding community. The club can also be responsible for reminding the school of Global events through assembly announcements or posters.
To create the clubs, you can develop an open membership form for different groups, including the environment, health, safety, etc. Ensure that there's no class limit for membership. Anyone from any class can be part of any club. Then assign teachers to oversee the club activities. Each club could educate the school about their area of interest, ensuring that everybody learns about everything together. This promotes inclusivity, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, awareness, and maximum participation in matters of global concern.
Recognize Specific Events
One way to create awareness of global issues is to practice what you preach. In other words, teach by examples. Celebrating specific events is a form of awareness. As people join in the merriments such days come with, they learn about the topic of discussion and find ways to participate. You can do the same for your school by using colors or other event elements to show solidarity.
For example, students can flaunt the green color on the World Environment Day because it signifies life and healthy vegetation. Students can also plant trees within and outside the school environment (under the supervision of teachers) to create awareness for World Environment Day. The same applies to every other remarkable global celebration. In the end, you will create awareness of global issues and still attract different levels of recognition that would benefit the school.
Classroom-based Approach: How Teachers can Create Awareness of Global Issues in Their Classrooms
Classrooms are closely knitted parts of a school. It is where students learn and grow together in smaller units. However, no one class is the same, considering age, curriculum, number of students, etc. So, we have outlined strategies you can adopt as a teacher to drive awareness of global issues in your classroom.
The first step to instilling global awareness is acknowledging them in the class. Acknowledging children gives them a sense of belonging and sparks their interest in things. You can put up posters in class, create a global events calendar or announce international events in class. For example, "Good Morning, class! Tomorrow is World Arts Day, and it's important because we get to recognize and celebrate diverse art forms. You will also get to showcase your artistic abilities in any form you choose to, so get ready!" Doing this helps them prepare their minds and look forward to the day.
After acknowledging them, it's time to engage them in the day's activities. The primary purposes of engaging them are to increase participation, promote collaboration, and drive awareness of the specific topic. They can work in pairs to ensure effective collaboration or work individually. Once you have decided on the working mode, introduce any global issue, such as World Peace, Child Labour, etc. For example, if the theme of the day is World Environment Day, assign roles to students, capitalizing on their strengths.
Some students could create posters with images and texts that convey the theme's message. Then they go around the school to post them in strategic places, such as the playground, assembly ground, restroom, ICT room, etc. Other students could also oversee the recycling of class waste and the surrounding environment. Afterward, they can all come together to write short essays about their experience, ask questions, and interact with their peers on the subject matter. This will get the children more involved and give them a sense of responsibility.
Integrate a Variety of Global Issues Into your Lessons
Creating awareness of global issues doesn't end with the activities of a particular day. You must integrate them into your lessons and make them a part of education for students. For example, you can have them write essays on a global topic to improve their writing skills. However, this should happen only when you have introduced them to the said topic, so they know what they are writing. It could be part of any subject, such as English language, Civic Education, Social Studies, etc.
Furthermore, you can build word problems around global issues to sharpen their math skills. You can also have them create a glossary of words connected to a particular global subject. This could be classwork or homework. Adding bits of these topics here and there is a secure way to create awareness of global issues in your classroom.
Recommend Resources Centered on Global Issues
To ensure that all they learn in the classroom stays with them, you can recommend resources about global issues to your students. It could be a magazine, storybook, textbook, or e-book. You can also recommend movies, documentaries, or TV shows (suitable for their age) that talk about a particular global issue. Moreover, you can send these recommendations to their parents or guardians weekly. They can binge on these resources instead of watching regular TV shows for more information.
Creating awareness of global issues in our schools and classrooms is a step towards building an informed society. Gone are the days when we underestimated the ability of children to understand global events. With the proper education, we can help them develop skills for tackling global issues. And in the coming years, the world we are working so hard to preserve will be handed over to these children. Therefore, they must understand and learn ways they can contribute to its preservation.