A colleague recently argued that the principles taught in antibullying courses—understanding difference, encouraging dialogue over difficult issues, examining what it means to make positive contributions to a community—are also fundamental elements of civic literacy. While social studies and government struggle to gain instructional time in schools, antibullying measures are growing, though often in the form of assemblies, which my colleague considers terribly ineffective. Instead, he saw the important discussion of how to ensure healthy communities in our schools as an opportunity to advocate for the value of social studies education in creating more thoughtful, informed young people.
So, I wondered, are any of you (and your schools) seeing this connection? What antibullying measures, if any, have been taken in your area, and have they connected at all with civic education? Has anyone, for example, tried the Mix it Up at Lunch program from Teaching Tolerance? If so, did you connect it with any larger initiatives at the school?
Also, for those who are interested, here are a few more civic education/antibullying resources below:
Stop Bullying Now! From the Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/
A Contract on Bullying (Lesson plan from Teaching Tolerance): http://www.tolerance.org/activity/contract-bullying
Antibullying Resources from the Boston Public Schools: http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/files/BPS_Antibullying_Violence_Prevention_School_Climate_Curriculum%20FINAL.pdf
Civics Online: http://www.matrix.msu.edu/~civics/teachers/standard3.html
Looking forward to hearing your comments!
EDSITEment has a lesson that may assist teachers of youger students with this discussion.
As we all know younger students often do well discussing ethical issues indirectly through analogies in a story or film or in this case the fairytale characters of Hans Christian Andersen. The message and story within the Ugly Duckling as well as Andersen's own life experience discussed in this lesson illustrate the experience of bullying in a way our young students can relate to. One of my favorite lines from literature is from this story. I have often recited it to reassure students over the years who may be inclined to think of themselves as victims or otherwise deficient: "It doesn't matter being born in a barnyard as long as you are hatched from a swan's egg."
Lesson Plan Grades 3- 5
Like many of his beloved fictional characters, Hans Christian Andersen
came from humble origins. Born in a one-room house to a shoemaker and
a washerwoman, Andersen lost his father when he was 11 and left home
at age 14 determined to become famous. Teased by school mates for his
awkward appearance and bullied by a teacher who told him his writings
were fit only for the trash can, Andersen persevered with devotion to
his art and ultimately became known throughout the world as a genius
of the literary fairy tale genre.
One application can be found in this lesson's Activity 1:
Ask students to reflect on how the story, The Ugly Duckling, might be
similar or dissimilar to Andersen's own life. Use a Venn diagram to
note the students' observations, with similarities noted in the
overlapping portions of the two circles and differences noted on
opposite non-overlapping sections of the circles.