I sat with my wife and 20 year old daughter last night watching a television documentary about Darfur and the crisis that exists there. The images were compelling, as was the commentary and interviews with those involved. It made me think of a recent entry I made on my blog about the interactive game, Darfur is Dying, and wonder just how effective playing this game is in really helping children understand the situation that the people in this country are facing.
My 20 year old daughter has just returned from a six month stint in central America as part of a Global Volunteer Network scheme – spending three months in Honduras helping build a house for a family, and a further three months in El Salvador working in an orphanage. Her experiences were nowhere near as extreme as what we watched together on TV last night, but they have left her just as troubled about how she as a single individual might work to alleviate the suffering of others. She has spoken to me at length about the plight of the young girls she worked with in the orphanage, plucked from a life of poverty, but destined to a life of prostitution or roadside begging once they are too old to remain in the orphanage – how terrible the cycle is.
She has returned to NZ with thoughts of training as a teacher (focusing on her interest in science, particularly chemistry) – but is currently wondering just where she might best put her energies. Understandably, she wants to act now – but is also discerning enough to understand that there may be a lot more she can achieve with some sort of training or qualification behind her.
It’s a dilemma – How might our education system better prepare our young people for facing this sort of world? When in our education process is it appropriate to expose students to this sort of situation? Can it be done without appearing tokenistic? How do we best prepare our students to develop the right attitudes of mind and dispositions to cope when they are exposed? What sort of qualification does it take to prepare one for work in this area?
I can’t help but find myself contemplating the message in the letter that Will Richardson wrote recently to his kids, titled Dear Kids, You Don???t Have to Go to College. What advice should I give my daughter?