On the Margins is an exciting resource for ALL teachers, everywhere. After reading this short blog you will probably think “He was part of its creation! Of course he would think that”. Let me try and convince you that it really is!
Designed in collaboration with teachers, On the Margins contains 28 lesson plans that introduce students to social justice and related themes of fairness, inequality, what’s just, human rights and poverty. We want the resource to help students learn by understanding and then doing so we included lots of information around developing action plans. The resource was developed for teachers in Ireland, but much of the material is relevant to everywhere in the world and can be adapted to your own individual context.
I think there has been a real revival in wanting to respond to injustices in the world, to act justly. For me it is the (Pope) ‘Francis Effect’, a true champion of those experiencing poverty and marginalisation. Could you imagine the Pope coming to your school and washing the feet of the students? That’s what he did in a youth detention centre. The impact has been that more and more people are now talking about justice issues and challenging discrimination and inequality. There has been a renewed commitment to stand, speak and act for justice. Francis reminds us that it is our humanity that connects us and it is inequality that divides us.
Teachers in the Jesuit Schools in Ireland have started introducing this resource to their schools. Some have selected lesson plans that stand out and appeal to their interests and inserted them into their curriculum. Others have followed the suggested guide and have run right through the resource from start to finish. While others have dipped in and out when needed.
What’s great about On the Margins is that we involved a specialist in curriculum development in its creation. So the resource has a very strong pedagogical foundation. The module of lessons encourages active and reflective learning in keeping with the best traditions of Ignatian pedagogy. The lessons all have clear learning goals, key skills being used by students and, importantly, they are workable. What do I mean by ‘workable’? Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, I’m not a teacher, but I followed the instructions and successfully taught two lessons with teachers as my students.
The teachers enjoyed the lessons and were very supportive of the resource and the benefit it would have for their own teaching. They had fun interacting with each other and the material, and they too benefited from how the material challenged their own perspectives.
The idea to produce the resource was proposed by Brian Flannery, the Jesuit Education Delegate of the Irish Province. Brian wanted a shared resource that teachers in all the Jesuit schools could use, to have a shared learning experience. A resource that introduces students to difficult and challenging issues; to paraphrase Greg Boyle SJ, to fulfil our duty as Christians and move towards the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased and everybody feels a part of the human family.
With this in mind, the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice set about compiling resource material and working with curriculum development specialists to develop On the Margins. A real desire for us was to produce a resource that would help students increase their capacity for empathy, ethical reasoning, critical thinking and skilful analysis of social justice issues. Without these capabilities their eyes cannot be opened to injustice nor can they affect change in their communities and societies.
I would invite you all to take a look at the resource, try some of the lessons and let us know what you think. Your thoughts and feedback will also be helpful for other teachers who have not yet had a chance to look at the lessons. Please log in to Educate Magis and leave a comment in the conversation below.
Conversation: What do you think about the On the Margins lesson plans? To participate on this conversation click here. We would love to know your thoughts about the On the Margins teaching materials. Thank you!