Piia Pelimanni, Education Coordinator at RISC, outlines the thinking behind their new publication.
How do you know if international school linking is enhancing pupils’ open-mindedness and helping them to form a balanced view of the world? How about human rights: do young people see human rights violations as only a problem in other countries? Do they consider themselves active citizens, able to tackle these issues?
RISC, the Development Education Centre for Oxfordshire and Berkshire, were interested in answering these questions. We wanted to establish whether global learning in schools was having any impact on students’ attitudes and values. Teachers who we work with agreed that while it was incredibly important to find out about children’s attitudes and their willingness to take action, there were hardly any resources for teaching or evaluation. “If we want to influence attitudes positively and develop children as citizens, we need to know their starting point, and their end point”, sums up an early years teacher from Hampshire.
Finding out what pupils think about local and global issues
The starting point of our EC funded project, Quality or Quantity, was the existing practical toolkit, How do We Know It’s Working?, developed by RISC and our networks of Global Schools in Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The intention of the resource, published in 2008, was to assess the impact of Global Citizenship teaching on pupils’ attitudes and values. Aware that there were gaps, and that the resource was very UK focussed, RISC worked with partners in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland and Ethiopia, as well as Development Education Centres in London and the South East to devise new innovative activities to use in any classroom. To ensure their relevance across countries and across curricula, the work was led by networks of teachers who evaluated existing activities and developed new ones relating to diversity, human rights, sustainability, interdependence and peace and conflict.
“You wouldn’t plan numeracy work without knowing what your students were capable of, so we should do the same with Global Citizenship. You need to know where your students are coming from.”
To respond to the need of practical tools, the main aim of the project was to publish a book and an online toolkit. Thanks to the dedication of our participants, the new resource includes 45 participant-led activities and 60 case studies, a small selection of all the activities generated. The activities are a measuring tool providing teachers with a snapshot of their pupils’ thinking about the world around them and advice on how to measure change. Doing an audit as a baseline activity, teachers can better plan future work and address the issues that have arisen from the children’s discussions. Repeating a similar activity at the end of the term or a project will show how both understanding and attitudes have changed.
Every activity is accompanied by at least one case study to answer the “what next?” question. In the case studies teachers describe the attitudes unearthed with the audits and how they tailored their teaching to broaden their pupils’ thinking. When inviting discussion and debate in a safe environment, the outcomes were sometimes surprising: for example this activity using pictures of children from different backgrounds and asking “Who will have which job and why?”, was designed to determine prejudices towards different ethnicities, but most commonly teachers reported back strong gender stereotypes in children’s responses.
Similarly, the project has had some additional unexpected outcomes. The activities introduced fresh ideas to challenge teacher-centred classroom culture in Czech Republic and Slovakia. Participant teachers in the UK report enhanced pupil participation and confidence in sharing individual views, as well as greater staff empowerment through evidencing the impact you can have on pupils. The toolkit is a great resource if you are struggling to evidence SMSC skills development, or work on values. It is designed to be flexible, simple and adaptable to any age group, curriculum area or context.
Visit http://toolkit.risc.org.uk/ to order your free copy of the toolkit.