In this challenge, students recommend a project that they could undertake to make a lasting positive contribution. The inspiration for the challenge is the story, A Handful of Seeds, by Monica Hughes, which tells the story of a girl in Latin America who helps other street children by providing them with seeds to plant in a food garden. If this story is not available, share with students the idea that sometimes when we help people, we do not really solve the problem because they continue to need help. For example, ask students to consider the difference between helping students by doing their arithmetic homework as opposed to teaching them how to do it for themselves. Or, teaching people to fish or grow food instead of simply giving them food each day. See Making a Lasting Difference (Modelling the Tools) for detailed suggestions on how to teach and assess the tools for thoughtful consideration of this question.
Introduce students to the difference between actions that have a short-term impact and those that have a long-term impact. Invite students to identify problems in their school or community that they might address. Encourage them to understand the causes of the problems before generating a list of projects that would enhance the quality of life in their school or community. If students are able to grasp the notion of advantages and disadvantages, invite them to consider the pros and cons of each proposal. Suggest various criteria for students to use when thinking of possible advantages and disadvantages:
- Can it be done by students?
- Will it make an important contribution to the school or community?
- Does it offer a lasting solution to a problem?
Using the criteria, ask students to assess each option and individually recommend and explain their choice of project to the class. You may want to adapt the chart and strategies in Investigating a Problem (Support Material) to structure this activity.
Adapted from I Can Make a Difference, edited by Mary Abbott, Roland Case and Jan Nicol (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2002), 7581.