Guest Speakers

Write a blog post where you comment on the value of having visitors join our class and talk about different subjects, such as you have experinced this spring either via Zoom (refugee Kawthar Sheheda from Syria/psychologist Solfrid Raknes in Washington D.C.) or live (Fulbright Roving Scholar Renee Brekke Ebbot, who talked to about such diverse topics as water and identity). 

What can we learn from such visits that is different than regular learning in the classroom? Would you like the school to invite more guest speakers, and do you have any thoughts on how the learning experience in different school subjects can be broadened and perceived as relevant by the students?

Ingunn

In the news – human rights

Durig the last few weeks the war in Ukraine has been all over the news – rightfully so… but what is getting lost when so much focus is on this conflict? Here a couple of items I don’t think we should miss out on:

One of very few women ever to lead a national football organization, Norwegian Lise Klaveness spoke to the FIFA Congress in Quatar last week about human rights violations. She talked about the importance of helping migrant workers in Qatar, do more to protect LGBTQ+ supporters at the World Cup, and more in general to make the global game welcoming to all. According to The Guardian, 6500 migrant workers have died in Quatar since they were awarded the World Cup in 2010. In the past 10 years, Qatar has put in place a massive building program, preparing for the football tournament in 2022. In addition to seven new stadiums, dozens of major projects have been completed or are under way, including a new airport, roads, public transport systems, hotels as well as a new city, which will host the coming World Cup  final.

See the full speech below:

Another important news item regarding human rights violations came, not unexpectedly, from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. “Following a U-turn over re-opening girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the UN human rights chief shared her “profound frustration and disappointment” that six months after the Taliban seized power, high school girls have yet to return to the classroom.” Read the UN report here:

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/03/1114482


UNICEF Afghanistan

@UNICEFAfg

“Millions of secondary-school girls around Afghanistan woke up hopeful today that they will be able to go back to school and resume their learning. It did not take long for their hopes to be shattered.” statement by @unicefchief

unicef.org

Girls in Afghanistan must go back to school without any further delays

2:58 PM · Mar 23, 2022

At the Brink of War?

Tension has been increasing on the Russia-Ukraine border. Today it has been reported that Russia is pulling back some of its soldiers back: https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-60372815

Take a look at this and the news report below to understand more about the background for the conflict. Then write a blog post where you summarize what you have learned.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/21/ukraine-russia-explain-maps/

Goodbye, 2021 – Welcome, 2022

After having watched the two videos above, write a blog post where you summarize the content briefly. Then explore one of these issues – the most urgent and/or interesting one to you – and explain why you think so.

Ingunn

Here’s an extra video from the Economist if you are more into tech issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlQ_4604Xfg&t=3s

Gun laws – to protect whom?

According to the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

Just last week, there was another school shooting, when 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley shot and killed four schoolmates and wounded seven others at Oxford High School in Michigan. His parents have now been arrested, charged with involuntary manslaughter because they allegedly let their son have unrestricted access to the gun he’s accused of using.

In the Rittenhouse Case, 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was aquitted on charges of killing two people at a demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year (he was 17 at the time). He claimed he acted in self-defense and the jury supported him in this. His trial is dividing the nation over questions about gun rights, violence at racial justice protests and vigilantism.

Study and discuss these two cases and look at gun laws and gun violence in the USA in your groups.

Useful resources: https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

https://www.gunstocarry.com/gun-laws-state/


Support for gun control has hit its lowest rating since 2014 in a Gallup poll, with just 52 percent of Americans saying they support stricter gun control measures, according to a new survey. (https://thehill.com/regulation/other/581908-support-slips-for-stricter-gun-laws-gallup). What do you think are some of the reasons behind this development?

Image
Congressman Thomas Massie (R) and his wife, Rhonda, pose along with their family, all holding weapons in front of a Christmas tree, an image widely shared in social media.

Write a blog post where you comment on what you have worked with today and what you think about the main question here – do guns protect, or do they kill?

Girl Rising

“One girl with courage is a revolution”

Girl Rising is a film about the benefits of educating girls. It introduces nine girls from around the world in their struggle to get an education and achieve their dreams.

The film was released in 2013 and is part of the Girl Rising campaign.

As we watch the film, take notes, as you are to to discuss the film in your groups afterwards. Also, take a note of violations of human rights that you see in the film.

Discussion questions:

  • Which girls’ stories made the greatest impression on you? Why? 
  • “One girl with courage is a revolution”. After watching the film, what does that phrase imply – do you agree or can you think of a better catchphrase?
  • Girl Rising is neither pure journalism, nor fiction. The filmmakers have tried to go beyond the facts into the human experience. Did you find yourself getting lost in the stories in a way that was interesting or effective? Why or why not?
  • The girls of Girl Rising live in very difficult circumstances. Give examples of violations of their human rights as they are portrayed in the film. Despite these violations, they do not consider themselves as victims. Are you able, through the storytelling, to relate to their lives in a way that lets you empathize rather than sympathize? Why or why not?
  • What are the messages from the film that you think will resonate most strongly with people who are not already familiar with this issue?
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Ingunn

September elections

September 2021 has been a month of many elections around the world, amongst them general elections in Canada, Germany, Iceland, Russia and Norway. Write a blog post to publish on your own blog in which you cover who won in these elections and by how much, as well as comparing voter turn-out. In addition, research whether there has been media coverage on election irregularities in any of these elections.

Consider and discuss your sources in all aspects of this task.

Hilde

Human Rights and the UN

The United Nations was founded in 1945, to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and promote social progress, better living standards and human rights. In 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Watch this video:

and then look at the complete declaration here: https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

Discuss in your groups: Which articles do you find the most important or interesting? Are there rights which should be added, do you think? Which one(s) do you think are most often violated? Which ones have you come across being violated in the class work we have done so far?

Then read one of the stories on the violation of human rights here: https://news.un.org/en/news/topic/human-rights

Write a blog post where you answer the following questions:

  • What universal right(s) is/are being violated?
  • How does this affect the population?

Publish the post on your blog by the end of class on Thursday.

Ingunn

The International Day of Democracy

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 September the International Day of Democracy, providing us with “an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world” and arguing that “democracy is as much a process as a goal” (UN). In many countries we can see a deterioration of conditions for democracies, through various forces both internal and external. This has become more noticeable during the ongoing pandemic, but it started long before, which is also indicated by instituting such a day 14 years ago.

Study some of the maps on the Secretary General’s policy brief from April 2020 – in particular the two on school closures and stringency of government containment measures. Also read the concerns and suggested countermeasures on the UN Democracy Day’s website and prepare for a discussion of what threatens a democracy and how we can strengthen it.

Also read the New York Times Learning Network’s editors Schulten and Engle’s introduction to the late Congressman John Lewis’ essay “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation”. Check out thoughts and responses on the hashtag #DemocracyDay and reflect on Schulten and Engle’s questions posed after Lewis’ essay, as published on the New York Times Learning Network exactly a year ago.  

The late civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis argued that “[d]emocracy is not a state. It is an act”. Compare this with UN’s claim that democracy is both a process and a goal. What is democracy to you?


In the news: The situation for women and girls in Afghanistan

Study the two news stories below to find out more about the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is back in power.

Discuss: what do the two stories tell you about the situation for females in Afghanistan, past and present? What do girls and women have to face should they want to study? Do these stories make you more pessimistic or more optimistic on the behalf of Afghanistan’s future? Why?

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/07/asia/afghan-university-male-female-segregation-curtain-intl/index.html

Students attend class at Avicenna University in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 6, 2021, in this picture obtained by Reuters from social media.
Students attend class at Avicenna University in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 6, 2021, in this picture obtained by Reuters from social media.