1. A Body of Knowledge
I didn’t know how much I knew!
|| Discrimination, Education and leisure, Health and welfare
| Level of complexity
|| Level 1
|| 7-13 years
|| 2 x 60-minute sessions
| Group size
|| 4 – 30 children
| Type of activity
|| Making a collage, discussion
|| Children fill a body outline with knowledge and skills related to the different parts of the body. They discuss how to gain this knowledge, and what happens if you lack the opportunity or right, or if parts of your body are not developed as they should be.
||• To discover one’s own and others’ abilities and knowledge
• To raise awareness of ways and places of learning
• To discuss the right to education
• To become aware of differently-abled people
||• Collect magazines.
||• Large sheets of paper
• Magazines for cutting out pictures
• Scissors, glue and other materials for making a collage
- Introduce the topic by reminding the children that they have a human right to be able to learn and develop as much as possible. Observe that they already have a lot of knowledge and skills that they probably don’t think about. Ask them, for example, to name some things that they know how to do that they didn’t know when they were five or six years old (e.g. read, write, count money, tell time). Explain that this activity will look at the right to learn and develop.
- Divide the children into groups of four and give each group a sheet of paper large enough to draw the outline of one of the children on it, and materials for making a collage. Explain the activity.
Let the children work on this task until their figure is more or less completely covered with drawings / pictures / slogans, etc.
Bring the children together and ask each group to ‘introduce’ their ‘child’ to the others, explaining some of the skills and knowledge they have included. If possible leave these figures on the wall until the next session.
- Each group will draw a life-size outline of a child.
- Then think about what you know and what you can do best. For each thing you know or can do, think of which part of your body you need for that. Include physical (e.g. singing, riding a bicycle), mental (e.g. doing maths, remembering jokes) and personality skills (e.g. being a friend, keeping a secret).
- Then make this knowledge or ability visible: draw, paint, write or paste representations of these things on a part of the body you would use. For example, if you are good at soccer, you might draw a soccer ball on the figure’s foot (or head?); if you read well, you might cut out a book and place it near the eyes or head of the figure; if you are a good singer, you might show musical notes coming from the figure’s mouth).
- Also think of other things you know and can do, not just what you do best.
- Ask the children to collect their figures and return to their original small groups. Give these instructions:
Bring the children together again and ask them to present their results to the whole group. List the sources of learning as they are mentioned, checking items each time they are mentioned.
- Think again about the knowledge and abilities you illustrated on your child. How did you get that knowledge and ability? What place or person, institution or situation helped you learn those things? For example, you might have learnt to knit or play cards from a grandparent, you might have learnt a game from children in your neighbourhood, or you might have learnt about the history of your country in school.
- When you can identify where you got certain knowledge or skills, draw an arrow from the representation of that skill out to the margin of the paper and write down the name of the source of learning.
Debriefing and Evaluation
- Debrief the activity by asking question such as these:
Relate the activity to human rights by asking questions such as these:
- Was it easy to find things you are able to do?
- Are there big differences between the collages?
- Did you forget any important ability on the collage?
- Do you always remember where you learnt the skills / abilities?
- Was it always only one place / person who taught you this?
- Why do you think you were asked to remember how you gained your knowledge or skills?
- Do you think that all children can learn the things you have mentioned? Why or why not?
- What people and institutions do children need to be able to learn these things?
- Are certain people and institutions more important than others (e.g. is a school more important than a sports club)?
- What happens if some of these sources of learning are missing?
- For example, what if there were no school? How can children learn to write and read? What happens if they don’t learn these skills? Is it important? How will it affect the rest of their lives?
- For example, if there were no other children to play with, no family members to learn from, or no youth groups or clubs?
- For example, if a child is disabled and cannot participate in schools and clubs or play with other children?
- You related different part of your body to different knowledge and skills. What happens if a child has a disability and cannot use this part of the body? Are there alternative ways to do things and learn things? How could a child with a disability develop other abilities?
- Do you know someone who has limited possibilities to learn? How do you think this person copes? Do you support this person?
- Why do you think children have a human right to learn and develop?
Suggestions for follow-up
- Pin the collages to a wall so that the children and others can see them.
- The activities ‘Blindfolded’, p. 67, and ‘Silent Speaker’, p. 160, encourage children to consider how they might cope with a disability. ‘Dear Diary’, p. 99, asks children to consider the same experience through the eyes of three different children, one with a learning disability and another with a chronic illness.
Ideas for action
- Invite someone with a learning disability or an NGO dealing with this target group to discuss learning disabilities and alternative learning strategies with the children.
- Introduce the concept of learning styles with the children (See Chapter III., p. 37), emphasizing that there are many different kinds of intelligence and ways to learn. Encourage the children to define their own learning styles and those ways which are easier or more challenging for them. Try to develop strategies with the children for how to support each other’s learning.
Tips for the facilitator
- This activity could also be run with the children working on individual figures or working in pairs.
- Encourage children to give their ‘person’ a name, and to write his or her name on their collage as well as the names of all the members of the group.
- Some children may have difficulty in remembering how they learnt something, especially if they learnt it from a person outside the formal education system. Remind them that they learn a lot from each other as well as family members and other adults in their lives. Help them see that contact with other children is an important source of learning that a disabled child might be denied. It is not necessary to attribute every skill the children have listed! The goal is to enable the children to recognize the importance of many sources of learning and development.
- In the debriefing, help children make the connection between the way they gained knowledge or skills and what happens when a child does not have access to such places, institutions, people or situations.
- Emphasize that everyone has an equal right to learn, although they may not all learn in the same way.