Society and Change
'If we want the world to change its ways then we can’t wait around for someone else to do it, we need to do it our selves.'
'Charity isn’t all about you being better than those in need, it's more that you have the ability to help so do.'
'We should be cautious about making others feel less when doing charitable work and instead helping them become independent.'
'We only have one planet and we should do our best to protect it while we can.'
'Even small changes can make a big difference together.'
'There is never a single story. We have been focusing on it a lot and it has completely changed my perspective of things.'
These are just a few takeaway messages from pupils of the new course named 'Society and Change' that we've trialled for year 7 pupils this term. The purpose of this course is to enable pupils to engage in service education from the start of their school career, learning about our local and global societies, and considering how our actions can lead to change, for ourselves, and others.
We started by exploring the notion of social leadership and being an effective advocate for a cause more widely, with older pupils sharing details of their service projects with the year 7, also describing the challenges that they had overcome in the process.
One of the topics pupils asked to explore first was climate change; we started with Mr Harris guiding us through the scientific facts. After calculating our own carbon footprints, pupils discussed possible solutions to rising global emissions before debating who they felt was responsible for making change on a global scale, looking at the roles of politicians, large cooperations and individuals. We then turned to explore plastic pollution, looking at the rise of plastic usage, and the advantages and disadvantages of using plastic as a material. During Green Week we looked at the impact of plastic in the oceans in particular, examining the current global recycling situation. The teachers were asked to collect their own plastics for week - pupils wrote them a letter advising them on how they might alter their habits.
The final topic of the term focused upon the notion of 'charity'. We considered the history of the notion of 'charity', with an understanding of its religious and philosophical connections offered by Ms Power. We then turned to reflection on the power imbalances that can be caused through charitable giving, and asked pupils to consider what was important to think about it the course of giving or fundraising. Following this, linking to the recent school-wide food and toiletries collection for local food banks and homeless shelters, we looked at the short-term and long-term causes of local food and hygiene poverty, asking pupils to think about the nexus of issues resulting in challenging situations, before examining different solutions.
As a group of teachers, we've been incredibly impressed with the year group's thoughtfulness in reflecting on both the lives of others, and their own contributions to society. As teachers, we are certainly also on a journey on reflection about how we relate to society, and changes we want to see in it. We are also continuing to get input fro pupils as we develop the course moving forwards.
These are some statements about how pupils feel the course has changed their actions:
'I now think about any waste food left on my plate before just putting it in the bin.'
'I believe that this course has made me act differently by making me look into charities more deeply. I believe this will make me make better choices with the charities I donate to.'
'It makes me think about before I use a plastic bottle, or sometimes in science I know a little bit more about something than before.'
'I was aware of global warming before we learnt in depth about it, but I never thought of actually cutting down on my emissions or doing the little things. I believed that it was true and we neede to stop it, but now I am much better at actually doing something to help.'
'It made me think less about myself and more about others. It has made me want to help rather than stand by and watch.'