My general perception of the current state of primary education was that we were teaching to tests and encouraging bullies. A month ago I was asked to come to a local elementary school to participate in a program they’re doing where each month a different grade takes on a different moral characteristic, learns about it, and presents it to the rest of the school. Wow.
So talk about intimidating, I was asked to present a little something to second graders on responsibility. And come back each month to do another trait. Right. No worries. Just … you know … responsibility.
First off, I had a lot of trouble defining responsibility, as far as how to choose a story to tell. There are so many ways to apply that principle, and second graders are going to want a bit of an analogy to make it work.
Finally, I realized that I could narrow the connotation of the word down to something that fit. I decided to go with eco-terrorism.
Kidding! I decided that I wanted to show them the responsibility we have for our communities. I chose the book The Lorax (read it here), and as we read the story, we talked about the Once-ler’s actions, and if he should maybe have been taking more responsibility for the flora and fauna that had been flourishing.
At the end, the Once-ler gives John Everyman the last truffula tree seed. I didn’t even have to prompt them. They were all like “he needs to plant that seed aaaaand then put a basket under the tree and collect more seeds aaaaaand then plant a bunch more trees”.
I asked them what kind of responsibility the Once-ler had for his community there, and they decided that the whole debacle would have been avoided if the Once-ler would have planted new truffula trees as he cut others down.
They totally and completely got it. They got the eco theme, they got the responsibility theme, and they were still with me at the end, when I told them that I think we all have a responsibility to our community and my favorite way to be responsible is to pick up a piece of trash at the park. If everyone in the class did that, 19 pieces of trash would be in the trash can. I followed that up by saying that we can’t be responsible for everyone, but if we do a small part along with everyone else, we are all responsible together.
I’m totally blissed out. I can’t wait to find out what next month’s theme is.