I want to preface sharing the resource I’ll be talking about here with a few comments about my belief in the idea of “Thinking Globally, Acting Locally” — one that I developed during my nineteen years as a community organizer.
I think it’s very important for teachers, students, and just about everybody else to have a broad perspective on big issues. At the same time, I think it’s equally important to connect that analysis to local action.
For example, in one of my classes last year we studied many of the major problems facing immigrants to the United States — both historically and today. Students then had conversations with other students and adults to identify which of their concerns they felt strongly about. They identified jobs as the biggest issues and, as a result, organized a school-wide forum where they brought government and job agency leaders to answer questions and provide resources.
I feel that it’s also important for us to help students understand that their writing about problems facing our world and our communities — and about their hopes — is good, but that it really won’t change anything unless it’s connected to concrete action. It seems to me that if we don’t make that a key part of our teaching and learning, we might very well be legitimizing what many callers to talk shows believe– that by speaking or complaining they feel like they’re actually doing something.
Given all that, I’d still like to suggest that a feature of the brand-new website of The Office of The President-Elect, called Change.Gov — might offer a good learning opportunity for English Language Learner and mainstream students alike.
It has a Share Your Vision section where people can….share their vision for America. It’s unclear what they will do with what they receive, and I certainly wouldn’t have high expectations for it, but it could be a part of a series of lessons around making our world a better place — especially if those lessons were given in the context of the comments I made during the first part of this post.
What do you think?