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Educational Activism
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Danielle Dominick, Anita Dhawan, Denise Edwards, and Heather Reid

Workshop Titles:

Education for Development (Global Education): Helping Your Students Make Real Change in the World AND Beyond the Walls of the Classroom: Educational Activism Opportunities

Session presenters: Danielle Dominick (UNICEF), (Educational Activism workshop) Anita Dhawan (TDSB), Denise Edwards (TDSB), and Heather Reid (TDSB) (PJ/JI/IS)

Organization: UNICEF Canada

Contact information: Danielle Dominick, ddominick@unicef.ca

Brief Description of Workshops:

Education for Development (Global Education): Helping your Students Make Real Change in the World

This workshop will introduce teachers to global education (or education for development) and will provide hands-on activities and best practices for engaging students in social justice and activism.  Activities related to topics like conflict and peace resolution, child rights, and poverty will be highlighted.  Participants will gain practical ideas they can use to empower young people, challenge them to explore the causes of global poverty and inequity, and encourage them to envision the possibility of a better world.  

Beyond the Walls of the Classroom: Educational Activism Opportunities

This workshop will be structured in a panel-format, where you will get the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of educators who have had experiences volunteering abroad with Project Overseas (ETFO) and working within the Canadian NGO sector in an educational capacity. Speakers will share obstacles, lessons learned and suggestions for those considering volunteer and work outside of the school system in order to effect change and cultivate careers as social justice educators.

Workshop goals:

  • Engage in a critical dialogue about the sorts of politics that arise when teachers engage in “global education.”
  • Generate ideas for how to address the “us/them”, “local/global”, “western/non-western”, “privilege/in need” dichotomies that prevent students from appreciating the complexity of various global identities.
  • Share resources and best practices for how to teach about issues like global poverty and exclusion.
  • Advocate for children’s rights and explain how children’s rights are violated all over the world.
  • Share the work of UNICEF and the intent and aim of our education program.


Strategies used:

  • “Stepping Out” role play activity from Kids Inclusive that addresses the issue of exclusion, prejudice and stereotype.
  • “Grouping” drama activity and real life stories of children who have been excluded based on their experiences with HIV/AIDS, poverty, war and homelessness.
  • Power point presentation that shares images from the field and UNICEF’s work.

Two key resources that support our work:

UNICEF Canada, Kids Inclusive: a toolkit promoting children’s participation and inclusive action against discrimination.  The Kids Inclusive toolkit is structured around the key theme of exclusion. Simulation exercises and stories from children who have faced exclusion help young people to empathize with others who may have lived lives very different from their own. It has been designed for a target group of children aged between 10 – 17 years.  Units offer young people guidance on basic research methods; tips on how to become involved with the media and how to pursue innovative actions that may draw public attention to the plight of excluded children world-wide. It is available for free at www.unicef.ca).

Fountain, Susan. (1995). Education for Development: A Teacher’s Resource Guide for Global Learning. Hodder & Stoughton: UNICEF.   Provides teachers of all subjects and all age groups with exciting and practical classroom activities which can be integrated into existing curriculum. The handbook is divided into five sections: interdependence; images and perceptions; social justice; conflict and conflict resolution; and change and the future. It provides a conceptual framework for global learning, yet leaves the teacher free to select activities appropriate to the student’s age and interests. This resource is also available at www.unicef.ca as a free downloadable.

Issues which we continue to struggle with in our own pursuits of educational activist goals:

  • Helping teachers work on controversial issues without experiencing isolation in schools.
  • Bringing a level of expertise to a broad range of topics (child rights, HIV/AIDS, poverty, global environmental issues, water and sanitation, etc).

Next steps (E.g., Supports [theoretical or practical] that may enhance our ongoing or future practice):

  • More staff to broaden capacity;
  • Continued learning through literature and conferences and presentations/workshops with colleagues.

“Big idea” that we want people to walk away with:

Teaching about social justice cannot happen without discussing rights, in particular children’s rights- Canadian teachers are legally obligated to teach about and within a child rights framework and more work needs to be done to expose how our classrooms and schools may not be “child-friendly” spaces.


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