Friday, October 21, 2011

Integrated Unit: Wrapup

Well, it's the end of the week.

I wouldn't say we're "done." I mean, educators are never DONE. There's always another way we could extend the lesson, another application, a list of "oh, we should have done it that way" suggestions for next time. But we're "done" in the scheduling sense." 'But I think our students have gained a much more nuanced understanding of the issues facing churches, charities, and governments. And they're excited about biting off a tiny bit of the problem to tackle in our area.

This morning we sat around and discussed at length an article in the Columbia Free Times about 4 responses to the issues of poverty in SC, especially in the area of government action.
"Four Views on Poverty"

Is a flat tax detrimental to the poor?
Does improved access to education really make the difference for people trying to get out of poverty?
Does SC tax the poor too much, or throw away resources by offering huge incentives to giant corporations like BMW to move here while taxing small businesses?
How do we live out the Gospel among the poor without exacerbating the problem, shoveling it off onto the government, or condescending in our attitudes toward those who need help?
What balance should we strike between government support for ending poverty and nongovernment charity action?

Nobody has easy answers to these questions, but the first step toward being able to do something about it must be wrestling with the problem.

Our culminating activity for the unit requires the "family groups" of students (see Monday's post) to organize some kind of service project. Specifically, we have asked them to target one church in the area and try to connect that church with a local charity -- to provoke people toward some specific action or change of behavior which will help support the charity or alleviate suffering.

At first, the students wanted to do school-ish things: "We're going to make a poster about hunger in the area."  That's well and good ... except we don't need to reinvent the wheel here. This isn't "school" in the negative sense where the most "important" tasks usually require writing an essay on the same topic that was handed out to the class last year.  We don't need a poster when charities usually have their own promotional materials. We don't need to make a video about child abuse; YouTube has 1000 great PSA videos already.

What we need are connectors: for students to choose an action as their goal, recognize the road blocks that keep people in their target audience from doing something about the goal, and removing those barriers. 

Sounds like Kingdom work to me. ;-)

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