The power of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure inquiry and problem based learning truly foster global-mindedness in learners

The power of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure inquiry and problem based learning truly foster global-mindedness in learners

Schools world-wide are utilising inquiry, problem-based, design thinking approaches to learning in order to grow empathetic understanding and international mindedness.

Students are taking action through collaborative initiatives locally or globally focused on issues such as climate change and in the process, are developing a global mindset. That is, developing skill sets in problem-solving, creative thinking, innovation and collaboration to name a few.

The challenge is – are students only developing a shallow topic-based knowledge culminating in collaborative action that has the feel-good factor? Rather, we want students to develop a deep understanding about the global issues threatening humanity and true empathy towards those most affected leading to meaningful action.

The solution is – aligning unit of inquiry or problem based investigation with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The students not only have the opportunity to unpack all 17 goals, thereby having a full picture of all global issues facing humanity but also, they provide students with a chance to impact a global blueprint for dignity, peace and prosperity for the planet, now and in the future. 

The Sustainable Development Goals, which are sometimes referred to as the SDGs or the ‘Global Goals’ are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. 

Including the SDGs in the design of our curriculum will enable students to become positive and action participants in findings solutions to these problems, while lifting the level of challenge and relevance they experience.

So, how do we align our planning with the Sustainable Development Goals?

What follows is one school’s approach to aligning the goals with a year 8 inquiry-based Passion Project and a year 6 IB PYP Exhibition. The tactic chosen to unpack the SDGs was – what makes your heart break and what makes your heart sing?

What makes your heart break is directly connected to one of the SDGs that deeply resonates with the students. They then consider what makes their heart sing which is linked to their passions and interests. Their inquiry/investigation then becomes a merging of the two leading to sustainable, deep action.

Below is an example of some students ideas and how they were linked to the SDGs and their passions:

 

The culminating actions taken by the students were powerful and deep. For example, a year 8 student wrote haiku poems focused on refugees (SDG #4 Quality Education), screen printed the poems onto tea towels and raised $1500 for UNICEF.

Crammed boat,

Woken seas

Dance in the full moon.

Haiku by Evie

The impact of her haiku poems will be lasting and a constant reminder to many people of the need to:

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Utilising the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is a powerful way to ensure students are developing a deep sense of global-mindedness. If you would like some more tips for teaching using the SDGs, check out this post.

Dr Lyn Bird

Principal

Selwyn House School

Christchurch

New Zealand

l.bird@selhouse.school.nz

www.selwynhouse.school.nz

Teaching using the Sustainable Development Goals

Teaching using the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, sometimes referred to as the Global Goals, or the SDGs for short, provide many wonderful teaching opportunities. This post is in response to a colleague on the NZ Primary Teachers’ Facebook group who asked:

The 17 SDGs are quite overwhelming. We cannot cover them all. Can you suggest a ranked list for the SDGs by importance, relevance, or engagement for our NZ students? (Ours specifically are high academic year 8 students). Or if we were going to pick out 4, which 4 would you suggest?

Here are some suggestions for how you might approach this problem and involve your students in meaningful ways as you explore the SDGs with them – if you have other ideas, we’d love to hear in the comments.

Start with student passions

To do list for the planetStarting with student passions and local needs is one of the most effective ways to teach with and through the SDGs. This will enable you to easily contextualise the issues and your students will be more likely to see them as relevant and pressing (which they are).

Here are some pointers to help get you started:

  1. Which of the SDGs are your students most passionate about, and
  2. Which of the SDGs are most relevant to your students and their community, or…
  3. What they are most interested in and then link this to an SDG…

…what other ideas do you have?

Get students to justify their reasoning by explaining why/etc. If you involve the students in identifying which SDG(s) they feel are most important – for whatever reason – that will lead you to the ones to focus on.

The SDGs are aimed at addressing really big global issues, which some would term ‘wicked problems‘, so let’s help our learners design local actions and solutions that collectively lead to making the world a better place!

Useful websites to start with

UNwebquests

unwebquestsOur very own project designed to engage students across NZ and their teachers and communities – check out over 100 resources developed for Kiwi students at unwebquests.nz

Students can even submit their own learning outcomes to showcase on this site…

Comic - The Planet And The 17 Goals

The Planet & the 17 GoalsThe Planet and the 17 Goals is an amazing comic book for students to use about the 17 goals created by Margreet de Heer.

It includes an online interactive website, a downloadable PDF and a slideshow which is showcased on our site here…

SDG Tracker

The SDG Tracker presents data across all available indicators from the Our World in Data database, using official statistics from the UN and other international organizations. It is the first publication that tracks global progress towards the SDGs and allows people around the world to hold their governments accountable to achieving the agreed goals.

Podcast - The global goals we've made progress on -- and the ones we haven't

TEDtalk SDG progress“We are living in a world that is tantalizingly close to ensuring that no one need die of hunger or malaria or diarrhea,” says economist Michael Green.

To help spur progress, back in 2015 the United Nations drew up a set of 17 goals around important factors like health, education and equality. In this data-packed talk, Green shares his analysis on the steps each country has (or hasn’t) made toward these Sustainable Development Goals — and offers new ideas on what needs to change so we can achieve them.

More resources

These resources are just a sampling of what is available online. Over time we will curate more and keep them in our searchable database in the Resources section on this website.

We would welcome your ideas and suggestions in the comments on this post below…

Comic – The Planet and the 17 Goals

Comic – The Planet and the 17 Goals

To do list for the planetThe Planet and the 17 Goals is an amazing comic book for students to use about the 17 goals created by Margreet de Heer. It includes an online interactive website, a downloadable PDF and this slideshow below.

Background to this resource:

In September 2015, the 193 countries of The United Nations launched The Global Goals of Sustainable Development, a commitment to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years: end extreme povertyfight inequality & injustice and fix climate change

In order to get this done, 17 Goals have been set.

In April 2015, I was asked by organization Reading with Pictures to join their initiative Comics Uniting Nations, which aims to spread the word about the 17 Goals in the form of comics.

A girl’s view of the 17 sustainable development goals – in pictures

A girl’s view of the 17 sustainable development goals – in pictures

A girl standing where her house used to be, which was washed away due to heavy floods in Chawhara, Bangladesh, illustrating goal 13 – climate action. Photograph: Josh Estey/Care International.

If you don’t know where to start with the SDGs, start with women and girls everything else will fall into place,’ said UN Women head Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka recently. These photographs of women and girls all over the world illustrate each of the 17 SDGs. The exhibition was part of last year’s European Week of Action for Girls

Goal 1 – no poverty

Eti is a domestic worker, the most common form of child labour in Bangladesh. She illustrates goal 1 – no poverty. Poverty is multidimensional and goes beyond income poverty. Girls bear the brunt of poverty in many societies: they are often the first in a household to drop out of school, or miss out on food.

Photograph: Ken Hermann/Save the Children

Goal 2 – zero hunger

Eleven-year-old schoolgirl Djeneba peels the corn harvested by her familyEleven-year-old schoolgirl Djeneba peels the corn harvested by her family. She illustrates goal 2 – zero hunger. Women and girls are often excluded from decision making on land and resources critical to their livelihoods and food security. Work on this goal must ensure that women and girls – who are frequently responsible for their family’s smallholdings – benefit equally from all targets, especially from access to land and financial services.

Photograph: World Vision

Goal 3 – good health and wellbeing

A midwife examines a heavily pregnant woman in Myanmar’s Chin State, illustrating goal 3 – good health and wellbeing. A midwife examines a heavily pregnant woman in Myanmar’s Chin StateThis goal has a wide range of areas including: reducing maternal mortality, ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five, ending and combating diseases such as HIV and malaria, reducing non-communicable diseases, improving treatment of substance abuse, reducing deaths and injuries from traffic accidents, ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights services and universal health coverage for all.

Photograph: Peter Biro/International Rescue Committee

Goal 4 – quality education

goal 4 – quality educationGirls at school in Bihar state, India, illustrating goal 4 – quality education, which recognises the transformative power of inclusive education. It aims to ensure access to free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education for girls and boys and to technical vocational and tertiary education and relevant skills for sustainable development, including literacy and numeracy, for youth and adults. Photograph: Ehtisham Husain/European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development

Goal 5 – gender equality

Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation

Goal 7 – affordable and clean energy

Goal 8 – decent work and economic growth

 
 
 
 

Goal 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure

Goal 10 – reduced inequalities

Goal 11 – sustainable cities and communities

Young volunteers at the Family Planning Association of Albania gather at their university residence in Tirana illustrating goal 11 – sustainable cities and communities. This goal is key for girls and women as many face the risk of gender-based violence in and around the cities and settlements they live in on a daily basis. This threat is exacerbated by disasters, lack of safe public transport and street lighting.

Goal 12 – responsible consumption and production

Goal 13 – climate action

Goal 14 – life below water

 

A woman fishes for tilapia in El Salvador as part of a youth economic empowerment programme, illustrating goal 14 – life below water.

Reductions in pollution and controls on overfishing will help girls and women living in the poorest small-scale fishing communities.

There is often a misconception that women do not fish, yet their livelihoods are often linked to small-scale fishing, through coastal fishing and in fish markets.

Goal 15 – life on land

Goal 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions

Goal 17 – partnerships for the goals

 
 

This excellent slideshow is cross-posted from the Guardian in the UK site. If you have photos to contribute please get in touch with us.

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