Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Teaching Human Rights: A UN Day Lesson

Tomorrow is UN Day, so today I shared with my class one of the UN's most accessible documents: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UDHR - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
It's tough for 9 and 10 year olds to internalize these rights and prioritize them. Enter STHGIR, an alien that communicates through the internet. I open a web browser to show the children a cartoon, but instead there is only this:

When "click me" is finally clicked, this video booms over the classroom:

After this, I click on several bookmarks that take me to a page where there is the same alien head, waiting for me to click on it. No matter what bookmark I choose, the same alien head pops up. When I click on the alien head finally, STHGIR presents this challenge:

It's important to take the science fiction element out of this lesson. Kids will want to find rights that can help them fight the aliens. So I make it clear that everything will be exactly the same- we'll never see our alien overlords. But if the class can't agree on five rights, then the world will be destroyed. There are some very interesting and powerful debates that come from this, and everyone now is able to internalize and prioritize the rights that are important to them.

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