The change makers

Vandana Parashar, PYP coordinator at Pathways School, Noida, India

Vandana Parashar, the PYP Coordinator at Pathways School, Noida, India

This article illustrates how fifth grade students approached the PYP exhibition under the transdisciplinary theme Sharing the planet and commenced a campaign called F.O.O.D. (Food Out Of Dustbin) to address a global hunger issue.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

Through this year’s PYP exhibition, the fifth graders of Pathways School Noida dared to be the change they wanted to see around them.

Our transdisciplinary theme was Sharing the planet under which students collaboratively chose to inquire into ‘irresponsible use of spaces’, a global burning issue. While the rest of the class was inquiring into numerous issues such as unplanned construction, waste management, destruction of habitats, traffic congestion, pollution, etc; there were four girls who set their eyes on something different.

Day 15A bulletin board in the school cafeteria caught their attention. “The food you wasted yesterday could have fed 315 children”. These girls began tracking the daily count of food that was being wasted, well before the actual PYP exhibition work commenced. Each day the count was rising and the girls were perhaps the only ones to notice it.

When we formulated the central idea with the whole class and looked at the sub-issues for groups, the girls broke their silence and approached me with a question… “Miss, food wastage is also an issue which many countries are facing and it falls under the theme Sharing the planet. Can we not take this up as our exhibition issue?” I was deeply touched by their thinking and felt proud of them for pursuing an issue more visible and alarming to them.

After some discussion with the school heads, we allowed the girls to formulate their own central idea and lines of inquiry. The central idea they developed was: Our attitude towards food can help reduce hunger. This idea was totally influenced by the bulletin board hanging in the cafeteria. Besides looking at the ‘consumption’ level, they researched how food is wasted on other levels such as production, storage, transport, cooking, etc. After conducting initial research, they began a series of action.

Food campaign
Since they saw so many students just throwing food in the bin which resulted in a rise in the waste count, they started a campaign called F.O.O.D. (Food Out Of Dustbin). They designed posters, made announcements at the assembly, went to classrooms to sensitize children and stood near the dustbins to remind people about the situation in the world and to not waste food. It was not easy for them but they persevered. Soon grade 2 students who were inquiring into ‘earth’s natural resources’ also joined the campaign and stood at the plate counter to stop children from wasting food. The positive influence was seen, acknowledged and appreciated by many!

LogoPoster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survey
In order to find out why so many people waste food, they created an online Google Form survey and passed it around to the whole school. The report was then shared with the school director so that suggested action could be taken.

Collaboration
One of the group members wrote to her previous school teacher in the United States, asking her how they stop food wastage in their school and if students are involved in this process. She received a quick response explaining the ways their caterers adopt certain methods to reduce the wastage at the cooking level. This information was passed on to our school caterers so that they can also adopt these methods.

Through their consistent efforts for over a month, the cafeteria wastage count dropped from the highest 315 in February to 70 at the end of March. The students concluded that “if we all realize our responsibility towards food and stop wasting it, then there will be no shortage and perhaps less hungry people on this planet”.

The real success of a PYP exhibition lies with the way students connect with the issue and work towards bringing about a change. This time at Pathways School Noida, they did and with great success!

Vandana has been a primary educator for the last 13 years in international schools from New Delhi to Tokyo and believes in good pedagogical practices and keeping her children happy and excited about every single moment of the day.

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9 Responses to The change makers

  1. Brian Lalor 23 June 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Wow what an excellent action campaign. I have to say this action component of the PYP is incredible. I left the action section on my rubric blank during my current unit, which is also “Sharing the Planet”. Students have to write in what action they took. One girl stayed after school on Friday to print 20 of her brochures and handed them out at her church last Sunday. Precious part of our curriculum!

    • vandana parashar 23 June 2015 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks Brion for appreciating this post! Indeed this action component allows students to exhibit their connection with the unit and the issues! There’s no better way to create sensible and sensitive young leaders.

  2. johnsonibdp 23 June 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    On Earth Day, we celebrate all the gifts the world and nature make available to us. We recognize our complete dependence on its bounty. And we acknowledge the need for good stewardship to preserve its fruits for future generations. Great effort put by the kids, very inspirative. Please follow for more information about Schools & Classrooms @ http://www.johnsonibdp.org/

  3. Rosi Uluiviti 26 June 2015 at 1:54 am #

    Great action component by your students and I liked the issues they were bringing up.
    I have sent the link to our exhibition teachers this year as they begin their prep for exhibition next term. I really enjoyed reading your article. Thank you for sharing your student’s learning and your experience in the PYP.

    • vandana parashar 6 July 2015 at 1:16 pm #

      Hi Rosi, thanks for appreciating students’ efforts! They persevered and brought about the change. This action formed their belief in hard work, grit and determination, which according to me are extremely important attitudes to develop in this generation of people! 🙂

  4. Paul McKenzie 23 August 2015 at 3:14 am #

    An interesting exercise, to be sure, but I fail to understand the underlying logic.

    World hunger isn’t the result of ingrate youngsters tossing away perfectly edible pizza slices, but caused by a complex interplay of politics and poorly chosen economic policies. To claim otherwise is to reduce a serious, intractable issue to a hollow slogan (“Think of all those starving kids in Asia/Africa/The Bronx and clean your plate!”) that deprives children of the intellectual grist they need to make well-considered decisions about their lives and the world in general.

    On top of that, far too many children are overweight as it is. If we reprove them for ‘wasting’ food, aren’t we just setting ourselves up for another generation of fat, unhealthy kids who don’t know when to stop eating?

    Just a few thoughts.

  5. Vandana 2 May 2016 at 11:58 am #

    Dear Paul

    It’s interesting to read your response because our children also looked at the different reasons which cause hunger. They looked at poor agricultural practices, lack of appropriate storage, poverty, personal choices as some of the reasons which result in food wastage. But to begin with if they are able to see the change brought out in food wastage through their efforts in school and also at home, I think we have achieved something.

  6. Anila Verma 22 July 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    Very inspiring blog!!
    Sensitivity to this level by such young children is incredible.
    I can relate to it cause my theme for today’s workshop was ‘Sharing the Planet’

  7. Allison 11 October 2018 at 8:36 pm #

    Your students are inspiring! I think it is great that your students had the agency to begin taking action on their own prior to Exhibition. Even better that they could tie their concerns about food waste to your theme and also create their own central ideas.

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