What should we teach?
Start with the history or the literature or any other content. Teach them about those people who have made our world what it is. The heroes, the activists, the ground-breakers. And then teach them their place in the world, and how they are responsible for making it a different place than it is today.
- Lead students to identify their areas of interest.
- Discuss with students the wrongs of the past.
- Identify the problems of today.
- Ask students what they can do to make a difference.
- Challenge students to change the status-quo.
- Encourage students to stand up for their beliefs.
- Allow students to be individuals and to think for themselves.
- Teach them that they are responsible for their world, and that by-standers are never positively significant.
Some of my suggested topics or activities to spur discussion:
- Review Important People and identify what made them important. What could they have done differently? How could they have changed the world or the future? What lessons do they teach us about the world we live in now?
- Talk about the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon. Ask your students what they would have done? Would they have run from the scene? Run to help the injured? Are they angry at the bombers? How can we prevent these events in the future?
- Discuss the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. What would prompt someone to do this type of thing? How would they deal with a situation like this in our community? Do they understand how someone could do something like this? Is there any explanation?
- Refer to the Theater Shooting. How would they respond in such a situation? What about their friends or family with them? Are they sympathetic/empathetic to the shooter? Can they explain why these things happen? What would they change to prevent these shootings?
- Examine the Events of 9/11. Is this really a battle over religion? Were the terrorists bad people? Were they following the tenants of their religion or acting as individuals? How should individuals or nations respond to an attack such as this one? Should we have gone to war? Against who? Are the people of the nations where the terrorists are from responsible for these attacks?
And then, ask your students to evaluate. What type of person am I now? What do I do on a small scale that impacts others? How can I help my community? How can I influence the people around me in a positive way EVERY day? What can they do to make positive change?
- A fun way to allow students to self-evaluate is to have them Create Paper Dolls of themselves. Just as they would evaluate a character from a book or an historic figure, they can detail the characteristics of their own personality and identify their own contributions.