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Created in partnership with Schools for Sanctuary, “ Message in a Book: People Forced to Flee” enables learners to think about our fundamental human rights, why refugees leave their homes, what challenges they face and how welcoming counties (in this case the UK) are to those seeking asylum. The resource includes a slide show that provides information on the refugee crisis and a ‘workshop’ designed to help students reflect on what they have learned and formulate their own values and perspectives on the issue. Students are then given the option of taking action to stand in solidarity with people forced to flee their homes.
Message in a Book helps students develop those skills related to creative thinking, communicating and advocating on an issue, and the ability to take informed and appropriate action.
The strength of the resource is that it introduces students to a critical issue of our day and one that will continue to demand our attention. It is of particular importance because the issue has become a source of division and polarization in debating our response. It has also become an issue that politicians have exploited to win popular support among some elements of society. Any effort to promote a more informed debate is to be welcomed.
The action component of the resource would seem to trump the knowledge requirement. More attention needs to be given to student understanding of the causes of the refugee crisis and the mixed response we are witnessing in those countries that are asked to admit the refugees.
The resource has particular relevance for those Social Studies units that have student examine current conflicts, their cause and their consequences. It also may be used to have students discuss such issues as globalization, the concept of global citizenship, and social justice. The resource is a useful beginning for such discussion but needs to be supplemented by additional resources.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives
The underlying assumption of Message in a Book is that as global citizens, we should be concerned with and take what action we might to help the more than 1 million people who are making the dangerous sea journey to Europe from Turkey and North Africa. It further assumes that these refugees are driven to escape the horrors of war, persecution and impossible living conditions.
The motives for this exodus and our obligation to respond are not debated. This perspective may not be universally accepted and teachers would have to look to other resources to offer other perspectives.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions
While those fleeing may be classed as economic refugees, environmental refugees, or political refugees, the responsibility for helping students recognize the connection between these elements is left to the teacher. Recognition of the interplay among these causes should also shape any discussion of the solutions proposed.
Message in a Book limits itself to developing student knowledge of the refugee crisis and to helping them build a sense of solidarity with people forced to flee. This may be a necessary starting point and prerequisite to a deeper investigation of the issue.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
Teacher/student investigation of the refugee crisis may be expected to lead to a consideration of a number of related issues such as social justice and equity, identity and diversity, globalization and interdependence, peace and conflict, rights and responsibilities, and power and governance.
The issue is obviously a complex one but, again, this resource relies upon the teacher to help students place the specific issue within the larger context.
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning
The resource includes a workshop, Head, Hearts and Hands in which learners discuss what they know (head), what they feel (heart), and what they can do (Hands and Feet). The latter directs students to draft a letter in which they discuss the facts related to the refugee crisis, their feelings about the issue, and what actions they would like to see. The letters are then included with books they donate to the Oxfam shop and read by those who purchase the books. To further promote interest in and understanding of the issue, students are encouraged to contact their MP and issue a press release to get the story out.
|Acting on Learning:
Learning moves from understanding issues to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, or for the planet
Teachers may exploit the opportunities presented in investigating the refugee crisis to have students reflect on our responsibility to respond to the suffering of others and the larger issue of social justice.
The activity Heart, Head and Hand, which is one of the components in the resource helps teachers in this regard by asking students to discuss how they feel about the refugee issue and what they think is right and fair and encourages them to move beyond merely feeling sad.
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans
The resource includes a slideshow intended to focus discussion on the reasons for and the suffering of the great migration of peoples in the Mediterranean world and online resources that outline Oxfam's efforts to alleviate the suffering. As they learn of the plight of the refugees, one may expect the students to develop a greater sense of empathy for their condition.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
|Personal Affinity with Earth
The focus is on raising awareness of the struggles of fellow humans rather than affinity with the natural world.
|Personal Affinity with Earth:
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
The resource has been developed by UK Oxfam but the refugee issue is a global one and of particular concern for Canadians who have reached out to Syrian refugees. Students can explore what their communities are doing with respect to the Syrian refugees, have refugees tell their personal stories, and investigate the difficulties and
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future
Student investigation of the refugee crisis may be expected to lead to a consideration of the factors that are contributing to the current and earlier migrations and to policies that may promote or reduce future migration.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.
Student discussion of the causes of the refugee crisis should lead to an understanding of the combination of push and pull factors that are at play - war, persecution, living conditions, environmental degradation.
Discussion of the solution to the crisis may lead to a recognition of the various perspectives, including those who would argue for a humanitarian response, those who suggests that the conditions that produce the refugees must be addressed, those who are concerned with the capacity of the host country to accommodate the refugees, and those who are afraid that terrorists may take advantage of the situation.
The resource however does not direct this latter type of discussion but focuses on the humanitarian obligations.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
The refugee issue is one that is most like to be discussed in Social Studies classes as students consider the causes and possible response to the issue. The topic has particular relevance for those courses or units concerned with citizen education and the implications of global citizenship.
The slide show that is part of the resource may be part of a Media Studies class that examines how pictures can be used to shape both understanding and emotions and the letter writing campaign advocated by Oxfam has relevance for Language arts classes.
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
Since this resource was developed by Oxfam, which is very much involved in helping refugees around the world, one will not be surprised that the direction of the resource is to encourage students to act on behalf of the refugees. Teachers may wish to use this fact as a way of having students discuss the larger issue of perspectives versus bias and encourage students to suggest and evaluate other solutions.
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
Message in a Book includes a number of components - a slide show illustrating the plight of refugees; a workshop activity Hearts, Heads,Hands and Feet; a letter writing campaign, and a media campaign.
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The refugee crisis is a serious issue and one that students should explore. The resource moves from classroom activity intended to enlarge student understanding of the issue and engage their support to taking action in the real world.
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Opportunities for cooperative learning are to be found in the Head, Heart, Hands and Feet activity and in the classes efforts to draw the attention of politicians and the public to the plight of refugees.
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation
The resource does not include provisions for summative evaluation. Teachers may observe the success of student efforts to influence politicians and the public as part of a formative evaluation process.
|Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
Teachers and students may take advantage of the Oxfam website to investigate any number of refugee stories and the efforts of Oxfam to lend support to the people involved.
Relevant case studies are included. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore concepts in an authentic context.
|Locus of Control
The resource title, Message in a Book, refers to the action component of the lesson wherein students are asked to contribute a book for sale in an Oxfam store and to include in the book a letter intended to raise the reader's awareness of the refugee crisis. Students are also asked to contact their local MP and to show them that they stand with the refugees and to issue a press release about the Message in a Book project. While each of these activities originate with the resource, students can implement them according to their own talents and ideas.
|Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.