Ethco and learning something new

27 03 2010

Yesterday I was at the first Ethco conference at Jordanhill.  Taken from their website Ethco:

“sets out to provide a task-based framework to allow young people to explore the concept of ethics in business and to contextualise that within Scotland’s place in the world economy. The UN’s Millennium Development Goals impact on world poverty and growth, and a key function of EthCo is to promote those Goals.”

Basically there are three inter-disciplinary topics (first, second and third level) based on the issues outlined above.  I was involved in writing lessons for the second level topic two years ago and all topics and lessons are available on the website.  They are definitely worth a look.  Incidentally the lessons are not meant to be prescriptive but just there if people want some more guidance or ideas.

The day was really useful and inspiring with among others Mick Jackson who founded Wild Hearts being his usual passionate and motivating self talking about ethics in business.  His website is well worth a look at, particularly if you are going to look at the Ethco topics and he is working towards doing a lot more with education in the future.  If you use office supplies then considering ordering them from his social enterprise company, Wild Hearts in Action where all of the profits go to helping people who need it, particularly using micro financing to help women in developing countries start up/develop their businesses and become more independant, be able to feed their children, send them to school and for themselves; be able to stand up and have a voice!

We also heard from someone at Kibble School who has developed ethics in school brilliantly, HMIE on inter-disciplinary working and someone from the IDEAS network on the Millenium Development Goals.

One of the teachers at my table, whose school are heavily involved with Fairtrade was talking about how her pupils were shocked when they watched the Panorama programme Chocolate; the Bitter Truth the other night.  This reminded me I had not seen it and so watched it on iplayer last night and it tied in nicely with the day, although shocked and upset me in the same way it had the pupils.

It really made me wonder how much of a difference we are really making when there was an $80 billion profit from chocolate last year but some of the cocoa beans being exported to the US, UK, China and Europe (some under the umbrella of Fairtrade) are coming from child labour including children who have been trafficked from other countries/places to Ghana and the Ivory Coast to work for nothing and have no opportunity to attend school.  It is estimated that there are 100,000 children in the Ivory Coast being used for child labour.  I wrote on Twitter yesterday during the conference that it looked as those the MDG that was most likely to be met was universal primary education, clearly there is still some way to go, as I could have said from various countries I have been to in the last 4 years.

I still have not done much about my volunteering New Years resolution but Friday got me thinking about how raising awareness of these issues, both with adults and children is really important too.  As long as I am allowed to I will definitely be doing some of the Ethco work in my class next session and will continue to find out more about these issues.

On a different note I was at Xscape tonight for my second snowboarding lesson.  I snowboarded for a season while living in Vancouver about 8 years ago but it’s so long ago I had nearly forgotten everything and wanted to start again.  Plus I was using the board given to me by a male of about six foot five which was never going to be great for a shortie like me.  I have been told tonight to move my board size down again!  Anyway it taught me/reminded me of some lessons in teaching!  There were seven of us which was really too many and we spent too long waiting about while the instructor demonstrated with us individually toe edge and had to spend a long time with 2 of the people.  This left the rest of us frustrated while we waited and meant we did not get everything done we were supposed to in the second lesson.  Obviously the instructor cannot do anything about the number of people but should maybe have thought about how he ordered how he helped us so that those who could do it could carry on and get more practice. 

Also it was not until the end of the session that he gave us any individual feedback whereas the instructor last time gave us peronsalised feedback throughout. My friend (not a teacher!) and I both commented during the lesson that we would have liked an indication of how we were doing as the lesson went on so that we knew we were doing okay.  We could guess that we were doing okay as he did not spend time with us that he spent with 2 other people that were struggling but it would have been good to have this affirmed and have any comments about what we were doing right/not right.   At the end of the lessonwas too late really and I must remember this when back in class as it totally highlights AIFL principles about immediate, verbal feedback being the most helpful. 

Going for the next lesson on Thursday and really looking forward to it…as well as when the lessons are done and it’s a lot cheaper just to get out on the slope yourself!

Quality v Quantity?

23 03 2010

I spent an enjoyable morning at LTS talking with and being filmed by Con Morris and Anne McGhee about my Malawi CPD, it’s the first time I’ve ever managed to forget about the camera being there, probably because I could talk about that all day long!

I was then up in Castlefield to do a lesson on rights and responsibilities with P5/6 and P6.  This was part of our link school programme, LCD run a yearly event at this time that all link schools in both countries have the opportunity to take part and swap their work.

I spent an enjoyable evening on Sunday planning the lesson.  I was really excited about it, it felt like a while since I spent time preparing a lesson as much as this (LCD did send a lot of guidance if we wanted it from UNICEF to do with the rights respectings schools award).  I had asked the HT who was interested in this and two classes wanted to do it.  Once I started planning it I realised there was no way I could fit two lessons into the afternoon so I suggested that we put both classes together.

Although technically this did work I am not sure that it was for the best.  More of the pupils got to work on the lesson and learn about their (and all children’s) rights and responsibilities and then make some posters for their link school but I did not get to do all of the questioning and deeper discussion that I would have liked.  Time was a bit pushed and as we were out in the open area, as were others, it was pretty noisy.  There was lots of group work and we did get some good discussions, just not as much as if I had only taken the one class and/or over two sessions.  I have just barely had time in my diary to get into the school to spend more time on our link projects.

Below is a short version of what we did:

Rights and Responsibilities lesson

Introduction – most important cards

  • Set of cards and need to pick what the group think are the 6 most important.  There were 20 cards, 10 of which were needs from the UN Convention of the Human Rights of the Child and 10 cards of wants like mobile phone, TV holiday trips, fast food.
  • Discussion of what some picked

Needs and wants

  • Now separate into needs and wants
  • Discussion of how they divided them
  • Explain the correct answers.  Explain that these are some of the 42 articles within the Convention for the Rights of the Child.  These are rights that were decided all children should have and have been signed by 191 out of 193 countries.  So these countries have committed to fulfilling these for every child.  Children’s needs should be met for them as they can mostly not provide them for themselves but rely on adults.  There are things that every child can do though to make sure they are not denying other children their rights.


  • Unicef suggests some responsibilities that go with the rights:
    1. Right to be protected from conflict, cruelty and neglect then they have a responsibility not to bully or harm each other
    2. If they have a right to a clean environment then they have a responsibility to do what they can to look after their environment
    3. if right to be educated then have a responsibility to learn as much as they can, to share their knowledge with others and not to stop others from learning
    4. if they have a right to a full life then responsibility to help the needy, disadvantaged and victims of discrimination
    5. if have right to freedom of thought  and religion then have responsibility to respect others thoughts and religions.
  • Discussion of these, getting the pupils to think about their responsibilities


  • In pairs going to get a card with either a right or a responsibility on it and make a poster for me to send to partner school to explain to them what their rights and responsibilities

The pupils picked very similar cards for the 6 most important things with the two they most agreed on being decent shelter, clean water and clean air.  They did not all pick education!  I would have liked more time to discuss those but there just wasn’t!  With needs and wants they mostly got it correct with some groups just not sure about which category a mobile phone was in and play so we got to have a good discussion about play and why that that was a need.

I asked them what they thought their responsiblities were in relation to their rights above and with a little teasing it out of them in some cases they came up with the ideas themselves which I was very impressed with.  They had just about enough time to do the task, could have done with a bit more but if they were focused it was enough time and sometimes with more time they don’t actually get it done any better.

Part of the idea from LINK was for these posters etc to be sent to the school in Malawi.  I will do this but I am not sure about it as these children are getting all of their needs met and I’m just not sure if it is the right thing to do.  In saying that I could pinpoint pupils I was working with today who were not getting all of their needs met; clean air (pupils mentioned smoking), nutritious food and being free from neglect are a few that came to mind.

If I had my own class I would have spent much longer on this over a number of days and it could be such deep learning.  In fact looking forward to doing it (and going further, possibly with UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School Award) when I do have a class again.

On a different note I wanted to have a check over the things I said I would do this year and how I was getting on with them:

  • Post graduate certificate in Leaderhip and Management in Education.  I have handed in a further two assignments and am just about to start the module which will start me on the diploma plus next term I will do my final 1/2 module of the certificate.
  • Build up my use of this blog, Glow and twitter and attend the Perth teachmeet.  I have blogged a little more now than I had done the first half of the session and see that improving more as I return to school in August.  I do obviously use Glow all the time but had not built much from scratch in a while.  This changed with the Fairtrade SLC glow group that I have set up with consulation of a Fairtade group within the council.  I have really enjoyed this and have an International Education one to do now as well for the authority which I am want to do in a similar way having learnt a lot about what teachers want from the group from the input of the group.  I read Twitter all of the time but am not so good at posting stuff up, still working on this one!  I did attend the Perth Teachmeet and really enjoyed it.
  • Extend my reading again.  I am keeping a page on this blog with the non-fiction I am reading.  It’s not exactly deep reading all of it but it’s good not be reading the chick lit trash that I tend to gravitate towards durng term time as I am generally too tired for anything else.
  • Still not running and just saw a podiatrist today who says I have Plantar Fasciatis in both feet so I’m still not going to be running for a while.  Was keeping my weight down, although not managing to lose any more, but went off the rails the last week or so as I have been really run down and leathargic after having my wisdom teeth out and the gums getting infected etc etc etc.  As well as the Caley Challenge I now have a plan for the summer, although not booked it yet, which would give me something to look forward to.  I would like to fly to Southern India and have a week or so travelling a bit down there, then fly to Kathmandu and do a group tour with Imaginative Traveller through Nepal and the northern/Golden Triangle area of India.  The next day I would fly to Leh in the Indian Himlayas (highest airport in the world I think) and spend 10 days trekking/climbing Stock Rhangi, which at 6,153 metres and over 20,000 feet is the highest peak in India.  It is also about 250 metres higher than Kiliminjaro, ideal as I was looking for a bigger challenge than last year!  Although the bigger challenge would be that I would be going myself!  Walking the Great Glen Way in 3 days in the Easter hols in prep for the Caley Challenge and the trek.
  • Volunteering – I have got as far as looking up some info (in fact I was stunned there was so much) on the web about volunteering in my area but not done anything about it yet.

Bit of a mammoth post this one but I was in a reflective mood!