“The point is not to pay back kindness, but to pass it on.”
The message of making a difference by paying it forward resonated with Grade 5 2014 students as they took up the baton of service learning to pass on the gift of learning they have been blessed with.
Students took ownership of the entire process, from generating ideas to contacting their beneficiaries, from fund raising to gift making.
Equipped with their personal devices, students research on organisations as a target audience to spread their kindness to, and collaborate for ideas with their sister class on an Edmodo online classroom.
Students led their own discussions to brainstorm ideas, developing not only ideas for fund raising and activities, but even more so criteria to select and finalise ideas for implementation: feasibility, impact and participation. Things got tough, but with grit, students persevered on to see the planning through!
Employing their awesome handicraft talents for the cause, students held a garage sale fund raising with loom bands, origami products and a photo booth. In just a massively hectic 2 hours, students raised more than $400 for their Values In Action efforts for their beneficiaries!
With the funds raised, mini-terrariums were made by the students, to allow children who are neglected to have a learning experience through the mini-ecological system. As students reflected on the their gifts, they hope that the children who receive the terrariums and accompanying resources will be edified by the learning, and that education will empower their beneficiaries to dream big!
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – M. Gandhi
This phrase took on a whole new meaning for our Grade 4 students.
In Singapore, we pride ourselves to be expert problem-solvers, equipped with the skills, rigour and values required to delve into the depths of a problem to search for the luminescence at the end of the tunnel. And we get there.
We are definitely problem-solvers. But are we problem-finders?
We will definitely be capable of solving the problems of the future, but we would have to depend on others to identify the problems first. As such, in the larger picture of things, we will always be followers, never leaders.
Change starts from seeing areas that need change in the first place. The lens of purposeful observation is often given up for the sake of skills-based mastery. How many times have students just stopped to look for themselves at the lingering issues within our society, instead of being told about them from books and newspapers?
“But looking for problems is not part of the curriculum, learning about them is.”
So let’s make looking part of the curriculum as much as learning is.
Students were inspired by the story of Craig Keilburger, just 12 years old when he saw the problem of international child labour through the murder of Pakistani child labour victim and activist Iqbal Masih, and decided to make a difference by setting up “Free the Children”, a charity organisation that seeks to end global child labour:
Seeing the problem. That’s the first step in the changemaker’s journey.
Armed with the thinking lens of “See, Think, Wonder” (See Harvard Project Zero’s “Thinking Routines” – http://www.visiblethinkingpz.com), caps and clipboards, students ventured forth into their neighbourhood at Tampines West, seeing areas where change is needed which they will formulate a research question around.
These areas of changes are not just limited to tangible aspects such as litter, as students soon found out, but abstract, unseen ones as well. One adventurous student began to conduct her own interviews with residents on their level of happiness living in their neighbourhood.
Once students caught on to this change in paradigm, there was no stopping them! They flocked to passers-by, eager to inquire into areas that change is needed: first two or three, then like bees to honey, they swarmed.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Follow us in our quest to ignite change in our community through social research, as we bloom for others where we are planted!