Grade 6 teacher and Head of Curriculum for Lower School, Hudson College
In the first week of September 2012, the Grade 3 students at Hudson College were read One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference (by Katie Milway). This story, inspired by true events, is about a boy named Kojo who bought a hen with a small loan. The hen’s eggs were sold at market and over time Kojo was able to pay his school fees and eventually open a thriving egg business that employed many people in his poor village in Ghana.
Kojo’s story inspired the Grade 3s to talk about the different experiences children around the world have in how they live. Together, they created a list of the “things” that all children need to be healthy and happy. We agreed that these needs were the basic “rights” of children. The students were pleased to know that they had come up with many of the same rights for children as the United Nations: that children all over the world should have enough food to eat, clean water to drink, a home to live in, doctors and medicine when they are sick, and the opportunity to go to school.
Through different texts the Grade 3 students came to understand that many children around the world did not have their basic needs met. Kojo’s story inspired them to take action – to raise money for loans for families in developing countries so that they could meet the basic needs of their children. A lesson was taught on the use of small loans (provided by organizations like KIVA) to help families in developing countries achieve economic independence.
And so the Grade 3 Hudson College KIVA (www.kiva.org) micro-loan project was launched.
For the rest of the academic year, the Grade 3 students were immersed in a curriculum that focused on the fundamental belief that children as young as 7 and 8 years of age are capable of understanding, and engaging in critical literacy as a foundation for social action – or as the academics call it – critical pedagogy.
The KIVA project provided students with learning experiences that involved them in collaborative work intended to facilitate positive social change. The ideas of democratic responsibility were integrated into social studies, science and language arts through a variety of texts that promoted discussions related to the needs and rights of children.
The culminating task for this yearlong project took place in May 2013. The students turned their classroom into an art gallery by displaying the artwork they had worked on throughout the year. They sent formal invitations to their parents and family friends to attend an after school potluck buffet. At the buffet, guests were told about the benefits of micro-loans as a charitable contribution and encouraged to purchase their children’s artwork to create funds for our KIVA project.
Fifteen Grade 3 students raised $430 for KIVA micro-loans and have also learned a great deal about international issues, setting and achieving goals, collaboration, and that they can change the world one step at a time.