The World’s Largest Lesson

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WholeChildBannerBy Sean Slade

LargestLessonGlobal development goals are big. They are broad, encompassing targets that hopefully all countries and their governments aim to achieve. They touch on areas that affect all of us, from poverty and education to the environment and economy.

But goals are not—or should not be—only about informing policy; they should also be about informing the public. Policy can drive change, but actions on the ground are what make the change happen. Informing the public today in 2015 is important, but so is preparing people for change that may occur in the future. The public might have a role to play in crafting this change—and may even lead the charge. The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development has published a report as a universal call to action to transform our world beyond 2015. The report, titled The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet, states, “We have the means and methods to meet these challenges if we decide to employ them and work together.” Given that the target year for  meeting the report’s goals is 2030, wouldn’t it makes sense for us to let our students—who will all have left school and be active in society by then—be aware of these goals?

Last month, UNICEF and TES (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) had a similar idea: in collaboration with Project Everyone, they launched The World’s Largest Lesson, an effort to spearhead lesson development around the world that is focused on global development goals. The World’s Largest Lesson will coincide with the UN’s release of a set of Sustainable Development Goals later this year. These goals are a follow up to the Millennium Development Goals and are intended to guide global development through to 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals—of which there are currently 17—fall under 7 themes:

  • Poverty
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Education, Skills, and Jobs
  • A Just World
  • Sustainability
  • The Environment
  • The Global Goals

According to the TES website, the goals are designed to “help drive inclusive change for humanity for 15 years, providing a framework of targets to guide policy and promote accountability.” And while we may not be able to have a seat at the table for international or intergovernmental policy discussions, it is important that we help engage in discussion about and raise awareness and understanding of these topics.

So, how would you teach one or more of the goals? Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
    • What is the world’s biggest killer? The mosquito.

What is your lesson idea on the global goal to ensure the health and well-being of all?

  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
    • 58 million children don’t go to primary school.

What is your lesson idea on the global goal to provide educational and learning opportunities for all?

  • Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
    • Tigers are killers and almost extinct. Should we be glad?

What is your lesson idea on the global goal to reduce biodiversity loss and protect our planet?

Take part in this project and share your lesson idea! Check out the guidelines, view examples, and enter now. Submissions close April 17, 2015. Winning lesson ideas will be celebrated throughout the world and published as a global set of learning resources on The World’s Largest Lesson website to enable teachers to craft relevant lessons on the global development goals for the children that they teach. A winning teacher will be invited, along with his or her school, to take part in a filmed lesson event with a visiting celebrity.

“Over a quarter of the world’s population are under the age of 14 years old. It is their future we are committing to improve—and we not only need them to know it, we need their help. You can engage the generation of young people whose choices and creativity, as they grow up over the next 15 years, could make the vision of these goals a reality.”TES website

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