In my view, empathy is the most important skill we should be teaching students (see Jackie Gerstein’s excellent post).
- In the IB program, doesn’t “internationalism” just boil down to empathy + geography class?
- The increasingly-networked world will require increasingly-sophisticated emotional competences (ie: the opposite of YouTube comments)
- The gap between rich and poor seems to be growing in nearly all countries
Here’s the idea: give each student some seed money to start and run a charity. This can be connected to class content by requiring a business plan, promotional materials, a mission statement, a cash-flow model, etc. It might be best to hold on to the cash until the students have laid all the groundwork.
I started this project with my senior math class, but it looks like we won’t have the time to carry it through to completion with looming exams and conflicts from other demands (university applications, etc). Nonetheless, I was very excited with the progress we made. Here are just a few of the students’ ideas for how they would leverage €100) to create a lasting change in a community they cared about:
- Set up an after-school art program for local kids, and sell their work to tourists during the summer.
- Use the start-up to print t-shirts saying “I love dogs”, then sell the t-shirts at school and use the profits to buy vaccines for a local animal shelter
- Create an activity day to bring together kids from different schools in the local community
- Use kiva.org to make microloans
I think that a bit more time would have streamlined and fleshed out these ideas. Maybe next time.