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!