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ERIC Number: EJ904811
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Turning Bad News into a Teaching Moment: Using the Exploring Humanitarian Law Curriculum to Teach about the Impact of War and Natural Disaster
Morgan, Mat
Social Education, v74 n5 p247-251 Oct 2010
After a disaster, or in the midst of a conflict, the news that finds its way into people's homes has a uniquely powerful effect on their psyche. Vulnerable people are caught in destructive forces beyond their control. The scenes people see are post-apocalyptic. The stories are gripping, spanning themes of luck, loss, hope, love, and wild fear, exploring the core of what it means to be human and also prompting questions about how one would react in the same situation. Often news outlets send their top reporters to chronicle the situation, capturing these stories as they unfold, raising the profile of the disaster, and also holding governments and response organizations accountable on the ground. Sometimes they even help support fundraising efforts. However, their interest, or the compassion they inspire in their audience, is not always matched by a deep understanding of the situation or an appreciation for the details of disaster response. Haiti emphasizes the complexity of these situations. Before the earthquake in January, 1.7 million people, or nearly 90 percent of the capital city, lived in slums. When the disaster struck, Haiti was already an exceptionally poor country. Teaching about global events such as Haiti's earthquake can help prepare young people for playing an active role in the face of such daunting disasters. The Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) program was developed by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2001 to introduce young people to the basic rules that govern international armed conflict. In the past 10 years, the program has been integrated in the curricula of schools in more than 40 countries in an effort to challenge youth to think about and develop solutions for these modern international issues. The curriculum is divided into five thematic modules and provides educators with more than 30 hours of free material. These EHL resources include lesson plans, primary sources documents, and engaging activities that aim to make the situation of armed conflict more relevant to the everyday experiences of youth, most of whom have never witnessed armed conflict firsthand. Through Module 5 of EHL, students have an opportunity to learn in greater depth about the challenges of a disaster or conflict zone. Through lessons and critical exercises, they learn to appreciate what it means to be both a survivor and a responder, and how the two sides work together to restore lives and livelihoods. When the next major event breaks on the news, they will be prepared to contribute to a thoughtful discussion, and perhaps even take action, on issues that may not be covered on the 10 o'clock news.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Haiti