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Educating Global Citizens

Published Jun 06, 2019 • Last Updated 12:05 pm, June 07, 2019

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What do 160 school children in Middlefield have in common with school children in Pakistan, Peru, and Haiti?  Students and teachers at The Independent Day School (IDS) in Middlefield recently set out to explore this question during a day of activities designed to promote engaged learning about K-12 education worldwide as part of the school's Year of Global Citizenship and Cultural Studies.

The team began their day in a schoolwide meeting to learn more about why 350 million children, an estimated 20 percent of the world's school age population, do not go to school. IDS students stood up in groups to represent children who experience barriers to schooling such as living in a nation at war, working to support one's family, or experiencing a natural disaster, giving the students a global snapshot of the children left out of education worldwide.

"We reflected on who would be missing if one-fifth of our students could not attend school," says Head of School Marijke Kehrhahn. "And we discussed the positive impact each year of schooling has on a person's health and future earnings, and a nation's peace and financial security."

Eighth grade students who read the book

I Am Malala, a memoir by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai about her fight for girls' education, designed and taught lessons in each grade from pre-K through 7 to help students understand Malala's quest for freedom and the right to education for all children. Students read books such as Free as a Bird and Malala's Magic Pencil and did projects to show the concepts of freedom, bravery, and advocacy. IDS students who recently traveled to Ecuador and met with a women's collective in a small village in the Amazon rainforest taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders about the ways in which women's income improves family and village life. Students wove bracelets, practicing one of the crafts employed by the Ecuadorian women's collective to create goods for sale.

Middle school students in grades 6, 7, and 8 finished the day in a think tank activity in which teams of students used the

Girl Rising curriculum and multi-media to learn about the education stories of young women in Nepal, Peru, India, and Haiti and create bulletin boards to share what they learned about the issues and challenges the young women faced to obtain an education. The teams researched and generated ideas for resolving the issues and made displays that showed the true spirit of each girl and her desire to learn.

"As a learning community, everyone ended the day realizing that the world is indeed a small place," says Kehrhahn. "As global citizens, we felt connected to students around the world in our universal desire to learn, to grow, and to make a difference. Beyond knowledge of history, geography, and culture, schools must educate students as 21st century global citizens, cultivating their capacity to communicate and collaborate in diverse teams, to respect and appreciate cultural differences, and to use their creativity to tackle and resolve real world problems using technology as a resource."

This story was provided by The Independent Day School, located at 115 Laurel Brook Road, Middlefield. For more information, call 860-347-7235 or visit

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