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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 24-Sep-15 15:03:57

Guest post: Teaching children to save the world

As world leaders commit to ambitious Global Goals, teacher Stacey Hirlam looks around the classroom and sees a group of children who could make the extraordinary happen

Stacey Hirlam

Teaching Mum

Posted on: Thu 24-Sep-15 15:03:57

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"Millions of children grow up in a world they can't change...yet."

A little year seven boy walked into my classroom for the first time four weeks ago. He walked in without expectations of his future achievements. He walked in unaware of the successes that could one day be his. One month on, he still can't change the world - but one day, he just might.

I joined my secondary school in an old mining town in West Yorkshire three years ago. It's part of a close-knit community where people are collectively bound by their passion for their local, successful rugby team. And while rugby is the beating heart of the school, our pupils are encouraged to be the best they can possibly be in any subject from the moment they walk through our doors to the moment they leave and beyond. Looking around, I see a vast array of pupils from very different social and economic backgrounds. Yet as teachers, our aspirations for them are always the same.

This week, far away from our school, 193 world leaders are coming together at the United Nations General Assembly to agree to 17 Global Goals to achieve three things in the next 15 years. The goals are to end extreme poverty, to fight inequality and injustice and to fix climate change.

At the same time, in classrooms around the world, teachers are taking part in 'the World's Largest Lesson', which bids to teach children about these goals. This generation could be the one that makes a difference.

At the school where I teach, some pupils struggle to see that a world exists outside their little town. It is up to us as educators to change their perception.


At the school where I teach, some pupils struggle to see that a world exists outside their little town. It is up to us as educators to change their perception.

I am well aware that 'one size does not fit all', but as a classroom teacher, as a form tutor, as a member of the English Department and as an employee of an Academy, I will do everything in my power to help every pupil set out on their journey to become the person they want to be. Yes, they will need guidance along the way, because, who at 11 years old knows that one day, they might want to rule the world?

My pupils and my own children are lucky to live in a society where people are rooting for them to be the best they can be. While I recognise that everyone's best version of themselves will be different, I still believe it's important to nurture their journey towards that goal.

At the Academy where I work, one whole school initiative that we must abide by is that all lessons must include a look at 'the bigger picture'. This is known professionally as 'spiritual, moral, social and cultural development'. It is a way for us to help make the world a smaller place for our (mostly) rugby obsessed teenagers. It allows them to discuss and learn about what is going on in the world around them. I have to admit that when I first started teaching at my current school, I struggled to put SMSC in my lessons as it felt some what forced. I felt I was trying to shoehorn in a Sky News bulletin just so my pupils knew that somewhere far away, and in a place they may never visit, a bomb had gone off and injured innocent people. Over time, through discussions with colleagues and observing how they did things, I learnt how to incorporate it into every single one of my lessons. I am currently teaching 'Romeo and Juliet' to a group of low ability Year 10s. I asked them to imagine a world without books and after a bit of prompting, we had a lovely discussion about the state our planet would be in if we couldn't read and communicate with one another.

Millions of children grow up in a world they can't change...yet. If we all share a common goal in aspiring to help our children to be the best they can be, then perhaps the Global Goals could be achievable by 2030. And, who knows, one of those current world leaders might just pass their baton onto a young man or woman from a working class town in West Yorkshire who just became the best version of themselves.

Resources for The Worlds Largest Lesson and more information on the Global Goals are available here.

By Stacey Hirlam

Twitter: @TeachingMum81

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