Predicting is a skill a teacher should possess. Whenever we plan for an engagement, I always think how my kids would possible react to it, would it be fun, what to do when a group of kids find it difficult and the list of predictions goes on. But there are always things that would surprise us about what they say, what they think, what they do. I’m really happy that the students and I are part of a program where we are highly encouraged they speak their minds, to inquire, to be challenged, and most of all to act upon their learning.
We are currently having a unit on government systems and to learn about what governance is and its importance, we had ‘The Island’ engagement. Students needed to imagine that they were stuck in an island and was given the chance to randomly pick characters to play. And so there it was, five characters- children, grandparents, business people, priests and farmers- stuck in an island. They had to put themselves in the position of the characters they picked and had to think of ways to a) survive, b) allocate resources, c) live happily for at least 10 years. It was quite a challenge because they needed to apply dialectical thinking and at the same time, think of ways to achieve the goals given that there are challenges in the island. As expected, we had an interesting discussion as there were different plans but there were two things in common: they all came up with a certain system and they all thought of assigning roles. After the engagement, the students shared their realizations: without a sense of governance, it would be disorganized and that we need systems and cooperation to survive…which is by the way, so true. It was a great start to learn about government systems.
Based on ‘The Island’ engagement, I asked the students to write what they think the top three powers or responsibilities a government should have in order to keep the country organized (this was just a way for us to introduce the three powers or branches of the government). They came up with rather funny, radical answers like ‘the government should kill people who kill trees’…but most of the answers really impressed me. Here are some of them…
With all the political and economical issues happening around the world- protests in Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand, wars within and across countries, child labour, prostitution, human trafficking, TRAFFIC…I wonder: Did my kids say those things because they’re kids and they don’t know how complicated life can get? Well if they said it, then it means they’ve thought of it. And if kids can think of such bright ideas, I wonder why many of the smartest leaders in different societies couldn’t act upon such thoughts. Or maybe I was impressed with the answers because a lot of people in governments and politics (and adults in general) don’t seem to show that they’ve thought about those ideas. I’m sure politics, governments systems and all, in reality, are more complicated than what they seem. The point is, it is helpful to be confronted and challenged by thoughts coming from young children, who we probably don’t expect to express such interesting points. I just realized that it is such a mistake to think that young children would have no logical opinions about politics and governance. Maybe it’s true that young people are idealistic, but they’re inspiring. And we don’t want them to lose such because it’s beautiful, because it’s hopeful. Because it is also their idealism that helps our world become a better place.
Let’s keep on helping our students express their views and expose them to what’s really happening around world because one day, they would experience for themselves how corruption works, what it really means to be discriminated, what kind of war we have out there and they’ll be ready for it. But let’s also not forget that they can start to fight the worst issues our societies have as early as…now.