Odblog: Invisible places?
Categories:s1 and s2Following on from last night's post, some observations. When the s1 class were asked about the Haiti earthquake, it was quite an eye opener. I questioned first of all what they knew about Haiti as a place, forgetting the events of the last week. The knowledge was extremely limited. A couple of students knew it was in the Caribbean, but were not too sure where this was, another said it was on an island, and one of the girls had heard on the news that the capital was Port-au-Prince. Most of the class, however, had heard of the Dominican Republic, and knew where to find it. From this, I was really struck by how invisible Haiti is and has been to most people, including adults. There are all sorts of reports doing the rounds just now, which give background to Haiti in terms of Voodoo and the Duvaliers, but little else.
In terms of the earthquake, the knowledge stream was quite impressive, with a couple of misgivings. It confirmed to me that, actually, kids do watch the news and absorb a lot of what they hear. However, they also absorb the misinformation, the rumour and are pretty willing to accept what the media presents without questioning it. In terms of whether we should be reaching out to Haiti, I got the sense that, although every single member of the class thought it important that we do, their actions and language suggested that this was because they thought this was what they were expected to say, rather than really having any connection to the issue. I'm not sure this is developing a sense of right or wrong, fairness, responsibility rather than conditioned response, and I don't get the feeling that anyone in the class was really hard on their conscience with this issue. This isn't a criticism of the students, as I've already talked previously about how and why I disconnected from the same issue, but maybe I am not giving the students enough credit?
Towards the end of the period, and having decided that this was important, we started to talk about three of the questions from last night's blog about raising awareness- who should we target, what should we tell them and how should we communicate that message? I have been trying to temper the 'big' ideas, as some of them are unrealistic (maybe I shouldn't?), but there has already been a lot of talk about charities. This, I found interesting, as Caroline Gibson had mentioned on twitter that it might be a good idea to look at what the different charities were doing, and Neil Winton had mentioned shelterbox. At a glance, they are numerous, there are some which cover similar briefs and others which are entirely questionable and seem like platforms for phishing scams, another issue in itself. Tomorrow, we'll have a look at these, a great way for the students to make reasoned choices and evaluate using the information available on the web. I will blog back on the three questions with a summary of the responses later in the week.