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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Greater Good

One of my most memorable school years happened when I taught lessons that were nowhere to be found in the curriculum. Lessons like raising money for those in need~ collecting supplies for animals that cant help themselves~ and assisting children with a fatal disease to live out their dreams.

Sure~ I taught the required curriculum. However~ what made it a special year~ and hopefully a special learning experience~ was going beyond that curriculum to teach lessons that apply to the greater good of world.

I know~ it sounds idealistic. Who has time to teach community service~ non-violence~ environmental awareness and other abstract ideas? We~ as educators~ can find that time if we commit to teaching our students that they can indeed make a difference and change the world.

I know I was on the right track when~ a few years after encouraging my class to raise funds for a young girl who lost her mother to a drunk driver and participate in several other fundraisers~ one of my students nominated me for the schools Teacher of the Year. On her nomination form~ she wrote Mr. Haberlin has taught me that one person can make a difference in the world.

That one line stuck with me and reminded to strive higher to teach lessons that will really impact future generations and the world.

As of this writing~ I have been asked to teach science this coming school year (previously~ I have taught all subjects to my gifted fifth-grade class). In addition to teaching the core science standards~ I must find a way to teach my students to make the world a better place. Some ideas include collecting samples from the local waterways to test for bacteria and other threatening substances and possibly trying to work with a Florida colleges efforts to protect oysters from these contaminants~ aligning with the school districts attempts to conserve electricity use in schools~ or working with the local sheriffs office to help people better prepare for hurricane season.

Think about what subject(s) you teach and then ask yourself how you can extend those lessons to teach young people the importance of helping others and the world. Here are some suggestions:


Choose a community issue and have students write letters to the editor~ stating their opinions and possible solutions. Have them use technology~ including blogs and wiki space sites~ to bring attention to the issue.


While studying the Holocaust or other racially sensitive issues~ have students organize a meeting where they bring together people of different backgrounds~ races and economic status for the purpose of creating a dialogue to better understand their differences and what they have in common.


Have students select a local non-profit and analyze the organizations budget~ with the goal of determining where improvements can be made. Perhaps students can use their math skills to identify a weak economic area~ such as the advertising budget. They can then put together a plan to improve that budget by raising funds and bringing awareness to the problem.

Teaching young people these importance lessons requires more work and creativity~ but as educators who want to make a difference~ we must strive for the higher ground. Together~ we can make it happen. Please feel free to comment on these suggestions and share your own at the Innovative Teaching group at http://community.educationworld.comcontent/greater-good?gid=NTEyMQ==

Have a blessed day~