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Understanding the Global Refugee Crisis

Secondary

Description

This lesson asks students to consider how a refugee crisis in the 1930s might help us think about how we respond to today’s refugee crisis. In the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of European Jews were refugees, fleeing persecution from Nazi Germany. One challenge facing these refugees was that very few nations would protect them or take them in. 

The resource helps students

  • gain a better understanding of the refugee crisis and what it means to be a refugee
  • reflect on the implications of the historical episode involving the St. Louis in 1939, particularly in relation to responses to the current refugee crisis
  • consider the importance of “humanizing” those who otherwise seem distant and different from us.
  • recognize the power of taking a “small step” when faced with a problem that seems too large to tackle.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students may strengthen those skills related to

  • critical analysis of video and print media
  • formulating and defending a position on an issue 

Strengths

The mass movement of peoples is a critical global issue and will become increasingly more challenging as climate change forces people from their homes. The debate over how we should respond to the crisis is having a polarizing effect in many countries. This resource helps to introduce students to the issue by providing critical background information using teaching strategies that will engage the students

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The refugee crisis may/should be addressed in those curriculum units that deal with current global challenges, population issues, human rights and social justice, global citizenship, geopolitics, and the UN sustainability goals.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Human Geography 12: Demographic patterns and population distribution are influenced by physical features and natural resources
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Themes Addressed

  • Governance (1)

    • International Relations
  • Human Rights (1)

    • Refugees and Immigration

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

The aim of the lesson is help students gain a better understanding of the refugee crisis and what it means to be a refugee. It further aims to 'humanize' the refugees and to encourage students to take "small steps" on their behalf. What is not addressed is the concerns that many people have about current refugee policies, concerns that are creating a deep divide in some countries.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The lesson explores the difference between migrants and refugees and notes that refugees are those that have a deep fear of being persecuted. That persecution may be caused by a number of social factors such as religious or political beliefs, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. This distinguishes the refugee from economic migrants who may be moving in order to seek a better life or environmental migrants who may be fleeing the consequences of climate change or other environmental disasters.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

The lesson touches upon a number of relevant issues that are crucial to an understanding of the refugee crisis. The depth of the crisis is examined, the causes of the crisis are identified, the difference between current and past refugee movements is recognized, and the fear that is the source of our failure both then and now to welcome refugees is explored.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

The resource notes that many people feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the refugee crisis and feel a sense of helplessness. The problem is just to big. The lesson responds to this feeling by suggesting small steps that individuals may take to help refugees. This may include helping refugees who have arrived in the student's community or partnering with local organizations that are supporting refugees.

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

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

Our  response to the migrant crisis raises questions regarding human rights, individual responsibility, and the obligations of global citizenship.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

The lesson recognizes that it is necessary to "humanize" refugees in order to promote a more empathetic and supportive response to their plight. It does that by including short profiles of individual refugees that help us better identify our common humanity.

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 Poor/Not considered
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

The refugee crisis is a global event, often involving "distant" countries but the arrival of refugees in our country and communities makes it real and raises the question as to how we should respond.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Very Good

A series of videos included with the resource helps students understand the difference between the migrant crisis precipitated by Nazi Germany and today's migrant crisis. It also uses the story of the St. Louis to illustrate the common elements in our fear of the "other". 

The future of today's migrants is dependent on our response.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students are asked to consider two questions.  What responsibility do individuals have to respond to the needs of refugees? What can an individual do to help?  How can closely examining a troubling moment in history inform our choices today?

The answer to the first question according to the lesson is to suggest that we do have a responsibility but that only small steps are available to the student. 

The second question has students examine the story of the St. Louis in order to better understand why we respond to refugees in the way that we do and also to recognize the consequences of our fears or indifference towards refugees.

While not exploring the multiple/complex answers that may be considered, the resource does serve to begin that discussion by introducing students to the issue and the underlying elements at play. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good

The refugee crisis has relevance for a number of subject areas. The wars and mass violence that are in part the cause of the crisis may be addressed within the Social Studies/History curriculum. The responsibilities of nation states to meet the challenges created by this mass migration are issues that may be explored as the subject matter of Political Science, while the response of the individual touches upon course dealing with global citizenship and social justice. Environmental Science may contribute to our understanding of the impact global warming will have on vulnerable populations.  Approached from a larger context, the refugee crisis touches upon many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The resource is an examples of guided inquiry.  Students are asked to consider two questions. 

  • What responsibility do individuals have to respond to the needs of refugees? What can an individual do to help?
  • How can closely examining a troubling moment in history inform our choices today?

Students address these questions by engaging in a number of interesting and effective activities that has them respond to videos and readings.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Very Good

The resource has students respond to videos and readings and engage in a number of activities, including, Think, Pair, Share; K-W-L Charts; and Learn to Listen/Listen to Learn.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Poor/Not considered

The refugee experience is difficult to replicate in the classroom but teachers might attempt a simulation in which students role play the situation of refugees in various settings. The learning extension suggestions include stories of refugee children that might be used for  such role playing.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

The lesson makes use of both Think-Pair -Share and Learn to Listen/Listen to Learn. In the Think, Pair, Share strategy, students write and discuss their ideas with a partner before sharing them with the larger group. In The Learn to Listen, Listen to Learn strategy, students reflect on a topic in their journals, share their reflections in a small group, and then present their ideas to the whole class. 

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Although there are no summative assessment tools included in the resource, the various activities generate data that allow teachers to take the measure of student understanding as does the in class discussions and presentations.

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.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Incidental teaching arises from cooperative learning and presentations. The lesson makes use of both Think-Pair -Share and Learn to Listen/Listen to Learn.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The story of the St. Louis and the experience of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany is used to illustrate the "reasons" for and the consequences of failing to respond to the refugees need for safe haven.

Case Studies:

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 Good

The teaching strategy is based on the approach used in guided learning. Questions are set out for students to explore and teaching strategies guide their exploration. A number of extension activities allow students and teachers to "dig deeper" by investigating relevant concepts, listening to the stories of immigrant children, and joining a webinar that discusses how they might promote a more humane and just world.  

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.