The World’s Largest Lesson brings the Global Goals to children all over the world, reaching over 130 countries and millions of children since its launch in September 2015.
25th September 2018 marks the 3rd year anniversary since 193 UN Member States came together to agree to work on achieving the 17 SDGs by 2030. While progress has been made, there is much more that can be done.
Globally, there is a sustained cry for educators and governments alike to inspire children and young people to take action to make the goals a reality. This cannot happen without children internalizing the ideas that issues represented by the SDGs affect their own daily lives, and that their actions could affect others across the globe.
While many schools are incorporating the SDGs into their everyday curriculum, could we do more? Values are developed from an early age, and at an early age, it is family that shapes a child’s morals, ideals and visions. Could family education be the key to inculcating in their children the moral courage to take action against the pressing global concerns that threaten to disrupt their future of tomorrow?
Blending the concepts of family-centered education, traditional penpal learning and the wonders of modern communication technology, a group of London-based educators established “GrowAlong”. GrowAlong is a family-centered online global learning programme that allows UK children to develop a global perspective to pertinent international issues through learning and interacting with a like-minded friend from China.
The initiative connects a UK family with a Chinese family for a structured project-based global learning experience, designed to draw upon the diverse cultural perspectives of both families. Through fun-filled learning activities, GrowAlong exposes children to issues of sustainable development and helps parents guide their children in developing empathy for global issues that they might not directly experience.
While interacting with a peer from a vastly different background, children acquire a deeper understanding of real-world global issues through active exploration and are gradually challenged to take on responsible actions.
10-year-old Sarah and her China friend Jingyi documented their daily use of water for a week with their parents’ guidance, from brushing their teeth in the morning to taking a shower before bed. In their interactive video chat meetup, children and their families were amazed to discover that what is a normal routine to them can be done quite differently. While Sarah brushes her teeth using a tumbler, Jingyi, following how her parents have traditionally done it, brushes her teeth under a running tap. They were immediately engaged in a discussion as to which is the better way.
Through an international conversation, GrowAlong challenges children to examine their perception of the status quo and discover new ways of doing things, however small they are, that may build a more sustainable future. Why is the water in some China cities so polluted that people get sick from drinking it? Why is it that when mummy visits the doctor in Bristol she does not have to pay for healthcare? Why are there people living in hunger in the UK, China and all across the world? What can we do to make a difference?
Not only have the children learned about global issues, their blossoming friendship has also helped them learn about their place in the world while developing empathy for a different culture and language. Their efforts to converse in their friend’s language has been fascinating and sparkled a sense of achievement, which in turn sustained their passion to keep learning about the other’s culture.
So far, this programme has taken the World’s Largest Lesson into homes and households in multiple cities across China and the UK. Working in partnership with UK and China schools, organisations and educators, GrowAlong has worked to manifest the power of Goal 17, global partnership for a sustainable future!
Could families be the key? For a child at an early age, the opportunity to build a global mindset through a new language and culture with proper parental guidance will only go on to empower global citizens that will take ownership of international issues that affect us all, grooming future global leaders who will be able to work with others around the world for a better future.
让我们携手共建可持续发展的未来. Hand in hand, we will build a sustainable future.