As news of the terrible tragedy in Bangladesh reaches us we pay attention for a few minutes to the dreadful work and living conditions of so many people in developing countries. We think for a while about how we can influence companies’ ethics. Perhaps even for a while some improvements are made… but the dust settles, literally, and we go back to buying our bargains and ignoring the real costs inflicted by our consumer society. Then the conditions in which others are forced to live fade from our minds. Modern day slavery is one, among many, of the issues that exercise the minds of students in schools throughout the country when they engage with Development Education projects in their schools.
Students in Presentation College Bray are among those taking up these difficult themes in their school and doing some pretty impressive work as a result. Elaine Brennan, a graduate of the Education Department NUI Maynooth, is currently teaching there and contacted me recently about the project she participated in this year with the boys and their Art teacher, Clifton Rooney.
The students have combined their skills in Art and English to create a mural in their school and to write a writing a poingnant and heart felt essay about modern day slavery with a view to raising awareness about this issue in their school and across a network of schools. The essay was published on the Development Education.ie website and has also appeared on SpunOut.ie
It is clear that these boys have an interest in making things change, and not just for a while. The initiative in Presentation College Bray is sustained over the course of the year and is repeated each year with different groups and on different themes. Clifton has also written a reflection on the project and its impact on him and on the students.
I wanted to post this to say that hearing from Elaine has prompted me to try to find out more about the ways schools are “doing Dev Ed”, how they are engaging with issues of global social justice and human rights and more importantly how they work out ways to address these issues.
I am aware that many schools do many interesting things but too often this is not widely known. Too often also teachers are castigated in various ways by various pundits while those of us familiar with schools know the reality to be quite different especially when it comes to supporting young people to explore ideas and action they feel passionate about.
Let me know if you are in a school where there are interesting Development Education projects taking place. They don’t have to be elaborate and they don’t have to already have been publicised on the internet. As a start I would like to use this Dev Ed week blog to showcase such projects, to publicise what you are doing and to consider the ways we may be able to work toegther to make sure what is happening is communicated more widely: especially to student teachers!
The Education Department is also willing and able to support schools in this work and we have a number of ideas about how to supoprt your efforts.
Contact me soon: ideally before the end of May 2013.