Teaching Social Responsibility

In the article below, which comments on the lead story in Educational Leadership, Charles Haynes explores the value of students who know how to be good human beings relative to the other qualities and skills we emphasize as a society, something Haynes calls “the moral habits of the heart”. Certainly, learning math, science, English and foreign languages are important, but these skills won’t serve students well if they don’t have emotional and social intelligence to solve their own problems, as well as those of their communities and the world.

Schools can help students develop compassion and a sense of responsibility by emphasizing some of the world’s greatest problems in a project-based learning format.   When students are challenged by understanding the complexities of overfishing, sanitation problems in third world countries or the rise of AIDS, they are given an avenue in which to be involved and are motivated to make a difference.    Research shows that today’s students have a greater sense of social responsibility than the generation that preceded theirs.  So, as educators, we need to tap in to that interest to help teach critical thinking, problem-solving and citizenship—including what it means to be a global citizen.

LifeBound’s new book in print this July, Critical and Creative Thinking for Teenagers, examines some of the greatest problems facing the world right now and provides a framework to help students solve those problems.

by Marge Scherer

The lead story in my newspaper this morning features the upcoming G20 summit in London at which international leaders will discuss whether regulations, bailouts, and stimulus plans will do anything to stem the financial crisis. Another story is about North Dakota, where residents are wearily watching whether the sandbag barriers they’ve built will hold back the Red River. The stories have their similarities—looming disasters, overwhelming forces, demands for people to come together to solve the problem before it is too late. The flood story seems a simpler one. But perhaps it only seems easier to battle a raging river than to battle raging greed.

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