Celebrating Global Dignity Day in Canada

October 20, 2011

PLEASE NOTE: Smaller activities are being created for you. Contact me if interested! (You don’t need to commit to the large event at this point. Even a little bit is good!)

Dear School Leader,

Not Just in Canada! Global Dignity Day

On October 20th classrooms and community organizations all around the world will be celebrating Global Dignity Day. As Canada’s Country Chair and life long Ontario educator, we — along with Global Dignity Day co-founders HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, professor and philosopher Pekka Himanen from Finland, and American social entrepreneur and author John Hope Bryant—are writing to ask for your support and participation as a partner in this global movement.

See Connections to Ontario Education below!

Dignity is about heart and is linked to the fragility of life and the ability to identify with, and respect, the fates of other people. The goal of Global Dignity Day is to start our students on their journey of cultivating the ability to empathize with others and to instil in them the recognition that every life has equal value. Some may be born into affluence and some into poverty, but every person deserves their own sense of dignity by having access to education, healthcare, income and security. By acknowledging existing inequalities, students will see that they have the ability to impact and enrich the lives of others through their own actions and choices, hereby promoting awareness and a social conscious during a key time in their development.

Facilitator’s Guide is available! Global Dignity Day 2011 – Facilitator’s Guide

As a participating school partner of Global Dignity Day, your commitment would involve organizing a 2.5-hour event that includes an inspirational speaker for an opening plenary, facilitated learning activities within classrooms and a follow-up plenary where students come together in order to share their dignity stories. In the attached agenda, you will find an overview of Global Dignity Day, complete with Learning Objectives and their connections to Ontario education and 21st century skills. Throughout the process, students will learn about the importance of dignity in their own lives and the lives of others, and they will realize that many people around the world are treated as if their lives are of lesser importance than others. From there, they will learn how to express in their own words what dignity means for them and they will learn how their own dignity is mutually dependent on the dignity of others.

It is clear that children and youth everywhere face an opportunity gap. However, the fact that the gap is man-made means that we have control over its size. Educating our students about dignity and empathy will help narrow this gap by fostering school learning environments that are respectful of diversity, and that are caring and collaborative. Global Dignity Day therefore supports Ontario initiatives and documents, such as Growing Success and Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario Schools, by promoting inclusion, safe schools and anti-bullying.

Your support of Global Dignity Day will help us to involve as many students and schools as possible. We hope that you will accept our invitation and join as a participating school of Global Dignity Day 2011!

Watch this Prezi!

Learning Objectives

Students will learn:

  1. About the meaning of dignity through a variety of methods and perspectives.
  2. About why dignity is important.
  3. That they are able to contribute constructively to the dignity of others through the actions they choose to take.
  4. About the concept of interdependence; that helping others to live a dignified life will also contribute to their own dignity.

Connections to Ontario Education

Through interactive activities and through creating a safe space for students to share personal stories, Global Dignity Day

contributes to and aligns with Ontario education in the following ways:

The following goals, beliefs and principles from Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario Schools:

  • “We want our schools to continue to be safe and to be models of effective human relationships, where students learn about and put into practice attributes such as respect, responsibility, fairness, and empathy” (pg. 9)
  • Character development must be a whole school effort (pg. 4)
  • Character development supports student achievement because it: develops the whole student as an individual (as an engaged learner and as a citizen); contributes to respectful, safe, caring and inclusive school environments that are prerequisites for learning; creates learning environments that are positive and collaborative so that teachers spend less time disciplining and more time doing what they do best – namely, teaching (pg. 5)
  • The increasing diversity of Ontario’s population creates an opportunity for us to determine the beliefs and principles we hold in common. When school boards engage a wide cross-section of their communities in building consensus on character attributes, they are, in essence, engaged in a process of finding common ground (pg. 6)
  • The principles and attributes of character development are universal, based in equity and transcend differences as well as other demographic factors. Empathy for others and respect for the dignity of all persons are essential characteristics of an inclusive society (pg. 6)

The following “interacting in heterogeneous groups” competencies outlined in Ontario’s Growing Success document (pg. 13):

  • The ability to relate well to others
  • The ability to cooperate and work in teams

The following Interpersonal Development Goals from the Guidance and Career Education Program:

  • Take responsibility for their own behaviour
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills required for getting along with others both within and beyond the school
  • Choose ways of interacting positively with others in a variety of situations
  • Care about others

The following “habits of mind” that researchers Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick say contribute to success in school and in life

(Growing Success, pg. 13):

  • Listening with understanding and empathy
  • Thinking interdependently
  • Thinking flexibly
  • Remaining open to continuous learning

Connections to 21st Century Skills

Global Awareness

  • Learning from individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect

Communication and Collaboration

  • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts
  • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions
  • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade)

Social and Cross-Cultural Skills

  • Know when it is appropriate to listen and when to speak
  • Conduct themselves in a respectable, professional manner

Work Effectively in Diverse Teams

  • Respond open-mindedly to different ideas and values

Global Dignity Principles

  1. Every human being has a right to a dignified life.
  2. A dignified life means the opportunity to fulfill your potential. This means having a humane level of healthcare, education, income and security.
  3. Dignity means having the freedom to make decisions about your life and to be treated with respect with regard to this right.
  4. Dignity should be the basic guiding principle behind all actions.
  5. Ultimately, our dignity depends upon the dignity of others.

Registration Information

As a participating school partner, we ask that you complete our online registration form as soon as possible so that we are able to support the coordination of efforts across the country as well as report back to our colleagues from around the world with the number of schools, students and volunteers who will be involved:

Registration Form link: http://www.tigurl.org/dignity

Global Dignity http://www.globaldignity.org/frontpage/

Global Dignity Blog http://www.globaldignity.org/blog/

Global Dignity on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Globaldignity

TakingITGlobal http://www.tigweb.org/

Sincerely,

Jennifer Corriero, Country Chair, Global Dignity Day Canada, Executive Director, TakingITGlobal, jenergy@takingitglobal.org | 416-977-9363 x314

Peter Skillen, Educator, peterskillen.org, peter@peterskillen.org | 647-883-7065