Sunday, April 28, 2013

Microsociety Week 2: Currency to Current-cy

“This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”  
Adams, D.N., The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Apostle Paul recognised it and pulled no punches in one of his numerous letters to people who didn't know him (in this instance, Timothy): "the love of money is the root of all evil."  Such a sentiment may be stretching things a little, but in this possession-laden society in which we live, it certainly has some clout.

This week in Microsociety we were looking at currency and some of its key aspects.  We considered what could be used as currency, what was necessary for a currency to work and some of the features - such as divisibility and the ability to save it without it spoiling - that made some things more suitable than others.  In light of last week's /un/successful scarcity session, the children were much more alert to the aims of Microsociety and, with some curriculum tweaks, the buy-in was further enhanced.

It just so happens that we are finishing up a unit on persuasive writing.  We've written adverts and looked at the language of persuasion.  Time to move on.

It was very kind of the Secretary of State for Education to be quite so fecund in his outbursts over the Easter holiday and so it was we got on to the topic of the proposed lengthening of the school day.  We wondered what we could do to let our feeling's known.  We cogitated over the arguments for and against such a change.  We sought evidence to support our arguments.  We wrote our letters to Mr Gove outlining the way we felt (with a strong emphasis on the children writing their opinions, not mine!) ... we became active citizens.

The letters will be going in the post later this week once they've been proofread, edited and typed up nice and official, like.

"But, Mr L..., what happens if:
  • Mr Gove doesn't read our letters?"
  • he reads them but ignores them?"
  • he reads them and answers all of our concerns?"
What indeed ...

Pascal's wager states that it's better to believe in [insert supernatural being of choice] than to not; In this instance, sadly, Mr Gove is all too real, but - and this was the key point - by taking the initiative to write, by making their views heard, by being active citizens, whatever the outcome, they have taken an element of control of their futures.

It was one of those moments that, without the backdrop of Microsociety and the little societal aspects upon which we touch each day, could so easily have been lost.  In fact, from now on, during this unit, we're not just going to write to the head teacher trying to persuade her to change something in the school, we're going to find something real and become real activists, not just playground ones.

P.S. Just as an aside, I'm not in the business of politicising the children in my care and so have taken great pains to ensure my neutrality: I don't find fence sitting particularly comfortable, particularly when oxidisation and barbs are involved as they are in this albeit metaphorical instance, but for reality's sake, I wanted them to feel free to give their opinion.  

I apologise, now, should school days be lengthened in light of the letters received from any of my children!

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