“Involve the children…We are the future.”

“Involve the children, don’t leave it to the people in authority.  We are the future.” Moseley School Students.

Here is part one of a three-part series, where Sarah Milburn, our Programme Coordinator in the West Midlands, shares her thoughts following a conference at Moseley School and Sixth Form in Birmingham.

On the morning of Saturday, January 7th, I took part in an incredibly stimulating and inspiring conference called ‘Making the connections global to local’ at Moseley School and Sixth Form in Birmingham.  It was an event ‘to shape plans for a new TIDE~Global Learning / BEP (Birmingham Education Partnership) curriculum development programme focusing on learning and global connections’.  It was facilitated by Scott Sinclair (a TIDE trustee), and the key speaker was Colm Regan (author of 80:20, Development in an Unequal World), with additional speeches by Tim Boyes (CEO of BEP), Rita Chowdhury (TIDE trustee), and two students from Moseley School. TIDE is ‘a teachers’ network promoting the idea that young people have an entitlement to global learning through engaging with global perspectives, human rights, sustainability and international development’, but last year was the end of its funding, so this conference was to try and think about the next phase of TIDE going forward.There were about 20 attendees, and in 3 groups we brainstormed the top 3 things to focus on for the 2017 initiative.  We listened to 2 students from Moseley School who had taken part in the Global Stage Project initiative, and had been chosen to go to a Leadership Convention, and we heard how they had implemented their ideas on food waste/recycling, gardening and other environmental work into the school, and how it had had a positive impact on them, their school, and the local community.  The message they had for the adults in the room was, “Involve the children, don’t leave it to the people in authority.  We are the future.”

Colm Regan’s talk was fascinating.  The book he has written (and which I have purchased!) was written to stimulate people and give teachers a tool to use when trying to teach students about development issues.  One of the reviews says it ‘references every quote, fact and figure which helps students to examine the validity of information’ and ‘is good at including a range of perspectives to challenge people’s thinking on global justice issues.’  In these times of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’, it is a book that I think many of our schools should invest in (there is a website www.8020.ie where teachers can find support materials and activities.)  Colm said, “Education is activism.  Our duty as educators is to open up opportunities to engage at a level that is appropriate.  The book is about trying to stimulate people into activism.  Global Citizenship Education appears to focus on ‘them’ and ‘there’, but it’s about us.  Jane Austen spoke about ‘my sense of myself, my place in the world and the duty that places on me.’  We need to encourage students to think about who they are, what they are, where have they come from, what their understanding of their place in the world is and the duty that places on them.”  He made the point that individual action then leads to collective action, and collective action is not so effective without the individual journeys first.  He also recommended a book – We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  A conference member recommended another book – Journey Home, by Jennifer Kavanagh.

Part two coming soon…