It is nearing the end of October and that traditionally means pumpkins, black cats, sweets or candy, and a bunch of superstitious nonsense that if it wasn’t for the whole “sweets and candy” component, would probably have disappeared a long time ago.
So this year, I have lobbied for United Nations Day to be the focus of our end of October activities instead! And apparently I was convincing enough that my colleagues agreed with me…. Ooops.
So I thought I’d take a look to see what teaching resources are out there to help students understand what the United Nations is – and how you and your school can help promote awareness of our primary global institution.
What I found…..
The UN itself, appears to be living in a pre-technological age. Their website is woeful, but if you want to look at it – it is here.
The UN Cyberschool bus, on the other hand, at least acknowledges that children might be looking at their webpage and has a number of games and activities that emulate functions of the UN. The best known is probably the Stop Disasters game, which is quite good. The other games look like they were coded by an eight year old and then got hacked or something. Nonetheless, the UN Cyberschool bus is worth checking out, just for the sheer range of information if nothing else, and it is at least aimed at kids, which is more than you can say for the rest of the UN….
The Global Dimension has a range of teaching resources that appear to promote critical thinking and active engagement with the processes and work of the UN, amongst other things. Their “UN Matters teaching pack” looks like it has loads of good stuff for the secondary age range. Some of the stuff is labelled as free, which would suggest other bits need to be paid for. I haven’t used any of this stuff, so if you do, please let us know how good it is in the comments!
The Guardian, who can usually be relied upon for socially responsible journalism / information, wrote a piece just over a year ago on “How to teach… the UN“. This was apparently produced in the context of the crisis in Syria, but has wider applicability. It was developed as part of the Guardian Teachers’ Network and so does have an educational focus, even in the materials will almost certainly need adapting for an ELT context.
The UNA resources: I can’t vouch for these at the time of writing, but these activities and background notes are at least designed for education and I suspect will probably prove more useful than the official UN resources! Teachers’ notes and background information is combined with a range of activities for primary and secondary classes. While I’ve focused here on the United Nations Day resources, there are additional resources on other aspects of the UN available from the UNA in the their “teaching section“.
UNESCO, as the UN’s cultural and educational wing, should be expected to provide some form of educational resource, but their website is somewhat inaccessible – at least in terms of finding resources to use with language learners. Or learners of any kind really. There is a lot of stuff there, but you really have to dig through it to find anything useful. They do however, have a primary school activity based on UN Day. It probably wasn’t written by someone who actually teaches primary. It is adaptable though, so it’s worth taking a look.
Finally, the Scottish Education sector has put together a range of resources for UN day. The first four are simple links back to the UN website and all that this entails. The last two are links to downloadables for both primary (Human Rights) and secondary (Global Security) that even if they aren’t directly connected to UN day, should prove useful for the classroom.
Have fun! And happy UN Day!