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Teachers’ thoughts on practice

A short video from teachers sharing their experiences of global education practice.
So our youngest children in the school, reception and year 1 children, were learning about healthy bodies and nutritious foods in science. So we decided to match the SDG 2, which is zero hunger, to the curriculum requirements and base almost their entire learning around that. Initially, that meant we’d analyse the ingredients of their favourite pizza, checking where all the ingredients are grown. For instance, where does the flour come from, or how do we get flour? How long does it take from seed until you get the finished product, the shelved packet? And then what time or actions are involved in producing cheese or tomatoes? And so the children would get a more immersed experience, we started growing our own food.
So we grew corn, tomatoes, beans, lots of different variety of vegetables. Now the children had to go and plant the food. They had to water it. And then the hardest test was waiting, waiting for the food to grow. Once the attention had been brought to this topic, it began to take its own course. So we had regular class discussions in which the children started sharing their experiences around food, and it became particularly interesting when the children in class began to share how much food was being wasted every day in their homes, at school. And so as a year group, we decided to investigate further and started weighing the amounts of wasted food every day in the lunch hall.
The results were absolutely shocking to the children and to the adults alike. In an attempt to raise awareness among other year groups, the children decided to start a campaign to reduce food waste. So they created posters all around the dinner hall, placards, they held assemblies, all in an effort to educate others. Through further research, we started collecting the surplus food from local supermarkets and then distributed that food in a weekly stall that we held in our school to distribute the food among families in the school. And with the money being raised through this, we extended our school garden. And then that wasn’t enough to the children, so they really wanted to take action for stopping this wastage of food.
And they started a food forum. So within this food forum, we met on a regular basis to discuss ways of reducing the food wastage in the school and also to find creative solutions to involve the local community. In the food forum, we had teachers, we had the school chef, children of all ages, but especially the children who had been investigating, so six-year-olds, parents. They all came together and shared their ideas and found creative solutions.
So in terms of further planning, in the following year, we kept the same stimulus, so the Sustainable Development Goal, which was zero hunger. And then we also kept the same recorded learning points, the early learning points of this topic. But then we had to keep an open mind as to where the learning journey could take us. So eventually, we involved our school’s Rights Respecting Ambassadors to then choose five Sustainable Development Goals around which our curriculum, the whole entire school curriculum, was based. And we then built each year group’s curriculum around those. So one activity I did when I was looking at deforestation in Brazil was to get my students to share their existing ideas on deforestation.
I listed a variety of different views. All of them were broadly around how damaging it was to the environment and how those involved in it were contributing to environmental destruction. Then I gave them handouts that had interviews with people working on the deforestation projects and living in the areas most affected by deforestation in Brazil. And students didn’t expect to find some of the views that the interviewees shared. And many of the interviewees spoke about how thankful they were for the deforestation projects for giving them work and financial income, and without the projects, they wouldn’t have been able to feed their families.
Some of the interviewees even mentioned how they disliked how maybe the world, or outsiders, would judge them for taking part in these projects. wanted them to consider what it would be like to be in their situation with very little other choice. So I think these interviews really showed the students the position from which they approach the issue was completely removed from the reality of that situation. We then spoke about how deforestation is still a huge environmental issue and global concern.
But having reflected on the situation in Brazil and the stories and perspectives of those involved, the students were then able to reflect on their original attitudes towards deforestation and come up with more inclusive, empathetic solutions that looked at the wider structures of social injustice around things like housing, access to health care, financial aid, and even preserving things like indigenous traditions. I think this process showed students that they do not have all the answers, but by working with others and valuing and appreciating others’ views, they might be able to make real, practical, beneficial change for local communities and global communities as well. It was focused on the Sustainable Development Goals, and particularly Sustainable Development Goal 12.
And the children in school were very, very passionate about the reduction of plastics because they recognise the impact that plastics were having on our world, particularly in the oceans. They talked about it a lot. They wanted to do something about it. And that’s part of the culture in my school where children bring their thoughts and their ideas to us. As part of this project, I engaged with local schools. So we had six local schools. In England, each local school– each primary school, particularly– has what they call a school council where children are elected to this body where they discuss issues and they drive the ideas of children forward and into action.
And this is a living democracy that children are experiencing. So we brought together the school councils of all six primary schools to discuss this idea of what we can do to reduce plastics. One of the things that the children began to realise was as children, they can take action in their daily lives. But it has to be much more than that and at a higher level. So after many discussions and research and going away and thinking about it in individual schools and coming back together, the children decided they wanted to challenge the local community. So they asked the town mayor for a meeting. So we met with the mayor at the council offices.
They presented him with a very compelling argument using the facts around plastics globally and locally in our community. And they wanted his backing to launch a sustainability award to local businesses where local businesses were asked to choose three aspects of their business that they would change to reduce plastic use and one that they would work towards changing. And they had to submit their applications for this award by the end of March. And I engaged with a local advertising and marketing company, which was an ex-parent at my school. And they were very eager to take part. We had a certificate designed and printed with all of the school logos on and also the Sustainable Development Goals. And this competition was launched.
It was full press coverage locally, and many businesses showed a high level of interest. And this is where children use global learning to take action. They became very excited and enthusiastic. They had a clear purpose. They knew they could make a difference by engaging with business. And the head teachers of those local schools now are very interested in looking at embedding an approach to global learning in their own schools, and they’ve asked me to go in and do some training. So this project has touched many people in many ways, and all of it positive. And it’s something we can be extremely proud of.

To begin this activity, we’re going to hear from some teachers about their own experiences of global education practice within the school setting. As you watch the videos, you might like to consider the following questions:

  1. What are the key themes or approaches that these teachers are using?
  2. Is there anything familiar to you about what they are saying?
  3. Is anything they say unfamiliar to you?

Note down your responses to these questions and consider sharing them in the Comments area. Do other learners differ in their interpretation of what the teachers have said?

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