'Because you're children and you can understand it ...' Atticus to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird
Last Wednesday our Year 8 girls were engaged in the High Resolves Global Citizens and Leaders programme. The interactive, discussion-based format was interspersed with bursts of frenetic activity that tapped into a range of learning styles. The presenter drew forth a broad range of student views on notions such as ‘fairness’ and the difference between ‘equity and equality.’
As the workshop progressed, the students' responses reflected their dawning awareness of the complex problems faced by those tasked with implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, our girls felt strongly that a girl in Bangladesh should have the right to pursue an education rather than labour in a textile factory; but when it was explained what the impact of reduced income for a poor household would be, they understood more clearly the challenges faced by bodies such as the United Nations in tackling poverty and injustice.
After competing in teams to earn income for their allocated countries, the students were appalled to discover that equal labour did not translate to equal income - simply because of a roll of the geographical dice. Interestingly, the girls in ‘wealthier’ countries offered to donate their excess wealth to ‘poorer’ countries, reflecting a rather touching sense of altruism.
The workshop closed with the girls reflecting upon their own small-scale resolves; the steps they wished to take on the journey towards a more caring, inclusive and equitable world.
‘It made us think about what is fair and helped us appreciate more deeply what we have here in Australia.’ Cynthia H, Year 8.
‘High Resolves was an opportunity to realise how fortunate we are. In groups, we completed challenges in order to buy items such as food, transport and shelter. At the end of the lesson, we all made pledges and wrote them on the red cards.’ Natasha H and Tess Y, Year 8.
Opportunities to implement their goals in tangible ways are offered through the Ruyton Student Council, the Sustainability Committee and the Community Service Committee, in addition to the many youth leadership initiatives within the School.
Those who accuse our youth of self-centredness, apathy and passivity would do well to sit in on sessions such as these, as they would soon have their faith in the future of humanity restored.
Mr Paul Upperton
Year 8 Wellbeing Leader, Leadership Co-ordinator