Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014/2015/2016 I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2017 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month we look at the following highly controversial topic “How has poverty affected students in your school experiences? What Can Schools Do to Address Poverty?” – here is my response:
Solving poverty is not the prerogative of educators but equalizing every student’s opportunity for success in the classroom is.
For most of my career, I have worked in affluent communities where money has never been an issue. Most families I have worked with have never experienced poverty and probably never will. In this brief discussion, I take the view of a well of family and how this looks when we discuss the topic of poverty.
Image source: https://gemreportunesco.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/how-to-reduce-poverty%E2%80%99s-impact-on-education/
How has poverty affected students in your school experiences? What Can Schools Do to Address Poverty?
When looking at how poverty has impacted students in my experience of education I tend to think about how we opened up our students’ minds to how lucky they are and how ‘the other half lives’. Now that I live in Asia, the students (and teachers) I work with on a daily basis travel and experience poverty firsthand in some of the world’s poorest countries. They are lucky to be able to experience this and as an educator, I do my best to bring these discussions into the classroom and turn these into learning experiences.
We frequently discuss the ‘WHAT’ and the ‘WHY’ of poverty (from the youngest of learners). I encourage open inquiry and questioning and encourage students to openly communicate these thoughts and ideas with families.
As a school, our ‘camp/field studies‘ program from Grade 6-12 revolves around supporting communities in need and giving back. We support charities that positively impact communities in need both in Singapore and in neighboring countries. Because our students get to experience this, it is meaningful and real and never feels forced. They genuinely have the ability to make a difference and WANT to give back. In this type of environment, I feel empowered.
One of my favorite resources for teaching students about world poverty is here. In summary, it covers the following:
- Informational resources about global poverty, including links to data and analysis of the data suitable for sharing with students and families
- Links to documentaries and videos about poverty to support the introduction to the topic
- Ways to encourage your children to take action
- Activities to help understand poverty
- Some readings for students at a variety of levels
In the digitally savvy, media hungry world that we live in, our students are exposed to negative influences and horrific scenes on a daily basis. Education to help deal with this and ways that we can take action to fight against the negativity is the job of every adult, including educators. It is our job to turn negativity into positivity and light up the world with a kind heart. Make a change and teach your students how to make a difference in the world we live!