This lesson will commence with a reading of Dust by Colin Thompson
An extract from the publisher’s description of this text:
“A beautifully illustrated book that sensitively looks at the themes of peace and social justice In a perfect world, this book would not exist. But we do not live in a perfect world. At any given moment of any given day, there are people dying from natural disasters over which we have no control. Beyond natural disasters we add disasters of our making, but even if we all learn to live in peace, there will still be millions of people who need help.”
This video will form the introduction partly because it is very pertinent of itself, but also because one of our Middle Years (Year 6 – 8) classrooms is named after Malala. These students may well be studying in that room in 2018.
It is interesting to stop and think about what we might be modelling to our students beyond actual subject teaching – something the school library needs to consider on a regular basis.
These are the targets that I believe we are working towards:
These three are probably the most obvious.
We are so lucky to belong to our College Community – with a long and proud tradition, a strong focus on health and well-being, dedicated and passionate teachers, and a well-established curriculum and pastoral care system based on Justice. We expose students to a number of world issues where these targets are far from being fully implemented and our opportunities to work towards these goals are provided through fund and consciousness raising.
Next, these two are related to each other:
Last year we had a display based on LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex) Rights. The concept resulted from a member of staff attending a professional learning event at our local hospital. Up to date and relevant material was purchased, and a display space near the public phone, located in the Tower building, has been set up with relevant and medically approved brochures. We also focus displays at New Internationalist topics of note, and refer students regularly to issues relating to refuges and people fleeing war and or natural disasters.
Another set of connected goals which we model as well as teach can be seen in these three target areas:
The subjects we teach that cover these areas include Geography, English and Science. The way in which we live these are as follows:
paper recycling bins
Papercut is now controlling our printing – which allows for jobs to be cancelled if they are no longer required, and prevents students printing to all the printers in the school but only collecting from one. This has had a massive impact on our paper and toner use.
OneNote notebooks which are now ubiquitous across the Senior Campus are also saving us from printing as many work sheets etc.
We also consider the environment when we turn on the air conditioners, and lights – and determine the timing, temperature and duration of use based on necessity rather than just having them running.
Can you think of other ways that we are meeting these goals? If so we would love to hear them.
The logos in this article have been used as laid down in the UN Guidelines for use.
For a long time people have forecast the end of teaching as we know it – but surely we are entering an era where options will morph into something other than the known, something better, something more open and flexible?
In this short film, Christian Long raises a number of questions including:
What are the options tertiary students will face in 2025?
What will it mean to go to school?
He raises some questions that are unanswerable at this present time, but which will affect students currently at school, and for whom we are still providing something more like the experience of our medieval forebears,rather than the agility that the connected world provides.
He reminds us that it is hard to measure the return on investment for attending a tertiary institution now, let alone into the future, even if that is as close as his chosen time frame of eight years.
He challenges tertiary institutions to think about what they are and what they should be; university campus planning should allow for more agile uses, including partnering with other organisations. “Place” will be less bricks and mortar, rather than something that will form part of a fabric of choices ranging from face to face, several days immersion, virtual attendance, flexible spaces and incubators. Just in time learning at scale rather than a set time-frame resulting in a specific degree; adding up to an ongoing and learner driven life long education.
Our schools would do well to be thinking along similar lines.
We are living in an era where information is readily available, easily created, generally unedited or moderated, and widely shared. It is vital that readers have the capacity to appraise the calibre of content they encounter. Yet, it would appear that even students entering renowned universities cannot apply even the most basic of filters to images or documents presented to them (Weinberg, 2016).
Some simple starting points:
Without applying a filter, or lens to what we read we run the risk of spreading misinformation, thereby perpetuating deliberately created and often specifically targeted fabrications which may be destabilising to governments or undermining to individuals. Far from choosing to be part of such a process, many are inadvertently passed on because people aren’t taking the time to evaluate sources (Tiffany, 2016).
Teacher-librarians such as Valenza promote their role as critical in educating more news literate and savvy information consumers. Tiffany states that this is more effective the earlier that students encounter such educators (Tiffany, 2016).
Coupled with the relatively recent rise in the spreading of “untruthiness”, is the concept held by many that free press equates to neutral information (Valenza, 2016). History teachers are adept at demonstrating that the underlying perspective of the creator, or interpretation of the historian affects the way in which the information s viewed. Much harder to teach, however, is the effect our own attitudes and biases affect the way in which we read and often lead us to ignore viewpoints that differ from our own (Valenza, 2016).
Teaching younger students about appraising calibre and authenticating content is made a little easier by using a resource such as the TED talk on “How to choose your own news” (Brown, 2014) – an engaging animation.
There is no doubt that there has been an exponential increase in the publication of extreme, untrue and misleading “fake news” since the rise of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, partly due to the fact that the number of clicks may equate to real income for the posters (Garun, 2016). This poses a real issue for the founders of such sites, such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who has expressed concern at the site being forced into becoming arbiters of truth (Liptak, 2016). The sites on which such “untruthiness” is spread have become known for fostering click bait (Zimdars, 2016).
There have also been allegations that social platforms influenced election results in several countries in 2016 (Garun, 2016). This of itself may not be all bad – but it does indicate the serious need for teaching readers how to negotiate the publications of our time by understanding the underlying purpose of the publications to which they are exposed, and to question the authenticity of what they read, in much the same way that commercial transactions advise that the buyer must be aware. It is critical that leading universities such as Stanford do not continue to find that their students are vulnerable to fake news (Weinberg, 2016).
It is crucial that Australian students are able to learn within their own context about the ways this can be an issue locally, as well as seeing information relating to the United States in particular. We need to be developing Australian resources to support teaching the necessary skills.
As a teacher-librarian and History teacher I am up for the challenge – are you? Join the conversation at #truthinessEDU
A visit to the British Museum provokes the question – why are these sculptures from the Parthenon in London? What are these artefacts? Are people like Mrs Clooney right in saying they are in the right place?
Also worth debating is the explanation of all the friezes and the original state of the building.
Would Greek people feel that the British Museum was the right place for these to be housed?