Monday, January 3, 2005
Current Events 101
Tsunami disaster. Catastrophe. Utter devastation. I find these phrases to be sorely inadequate. I still have a home, clothing, food, drinkable water, and my family. I live in the most prosperous nation in the world. I have no true needs. I will give from this abundance.
School is not always history; sometimes the best learning starts from things happening in our own world at our own time. The current headlines can be used to give your students an awareness of world events outside their safe and cozy environment. On September 11, 2001, my son's curriculum changed dramatically to include Current Events 101: using TV news reports, newspapers, and the internet as our resources, we developed our own course, day by day. While that event was much closer to the American heart, this most recent event has much more far-reaching effects.
This website has been visited by readers from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, East Africa, and many of the European countries whose citizens were in the South Asian area at the time of the earthquake and resulting tsunami. My husband's co-workers made trips recently to the same region. Another has financially adopted several children in Thailand and has traveled there several times to do what he can for them. My daughter has an online friend who returned from a visit to Thailand's beaches only weeks before this tragedy hit. We have dear friends who have recently moved from Iowa to Hawaii, joking that the weather is much more favorable there -- no tornadoes, only tsunamis to worry about. They are no longer in a joking mood. That former missionary had bouts of recurring malaria while staying at my home -- but she also had the proper medication with her. Without anti-malarial medicine to kill the parasite, the patient will die. I can see both the current tragedies from the tsunami's path and the future peril of disease that will inundate these regions.
Perhaps I am seeing this tragedy more clearly through newly-opened eyes, but I feel this should be shared with our children. In words appropriate to their ages, talk with your students about what has happened and what will happen. Discuss it with them in ways suited to their level of comprehension, being careful not to frighten the small ones. Children can understand more than we usually give them credit for, and they will inevitably see and hear things that relate to the tsunami tragedy. If you make the subject available for discussion, you can be sure your children will get the proper perspective and understanding of the situation. Death does not need to be the primary focus, especially for younger children, even though record numbers of innocent victims have lost their lives or their family members. Your older students can be allowed to delve more deeply into the news reports, but caution them to use discretion when discussing the subject around their younger siblings. As the teacher, you can center your study on weather phenomena, map-reading, cultural differences, animal instincts, even why electronic funds transfers are an efficient form of giving -- whatever is age-appropriate for your children.
Some children may want to do some type of fund-raising for the international relief effort, and I would encourage that -- as long as it is on a scale that fits in with your family's needs and priorities. Giving should begin at home, and teaching our children to be generous is best done by example. Careful discussions can bring an awareness of others and their needs to our children, helping to eliminate the self-centered focus that often accompanies childhood. Do not be afraid to talk to your children about tragedies such as this, just approach it from a perspective that they will understand and limit your discussions to what their ages can handle.
Posted by Carolyn M @ 2:42 PM |