My name is Dave Meehan. I’m from Greytown, New Zealand, which is a small rural part of the east coast of the north island. I teach a group ranging from years 5 to 8 in a small, rural primary school that has less than 70 students. I suddenly decided that I really enjoyed learning while I was serving in the army, and since I didn’t achieve very well as a child, I thought I would try to inspire and motivate other children to learn by becoming a teacher.
I like the idea of global education because these days, children have to become a part of a global village rather than remain isolated in their own small domain. In the past, we always looked out of New Zealand when teaching, so many young people wanted to explore and see what was happening in the rest of the world. Now, I find that the school curriculum is more internally focused and aims to get children to better understand our own roots, which is good; however, it’s also important that we don’t lose the global perspective, especially in a small rural community where you can become rather insular.
When I learned about what TakingITGlobal can do for teachers and students last year, I was really impressed with the global perspective it offered, as well as its potential as a tool to exchange information from small rural schools. One of the main challenges for me as a teacher in a rural school is that we might have children who are exceptionally gifted in a particular subject area, but there is no one else for them to link with to further develop their knowledge and skills. I’ve found that trying to get them motivated can be a really difficult thing to do. However, there are like-minded children in other schools within our community, and together, these children can support and motivate each other.
That is primarily how I’ve used TIGed so far: I’ve linked all the children from the different rural schools in our community into a single TIGed classroom where they can come together to talk and work with one another. I’ve approached many teachers personally and gotten them and their kids involved in the online classroom, and some of them have also agreed to come into the virtual classroom as assistants. It’s been difficult, but I’ve made it work. We’ve been able to link to different websites in the classroom and give the kids a lot of ideas. We also give them exercises and assignments, and the kids can put their work online for us to check. Last year, I used TIGed quite extensively for a mathematics group with my senior students, and the students responded really well.
One of the things that the kids really get a buzz out of is being able to contact and talk to people from other countries. Although we’ve used TakingITGlobal mostly as a classroom through TIGed, the kids have set up their own personal accounts which they use to connect with other people from overseas. That seems to be a really positive aspect for the children. It’s really important that these kids can find other like-minded youth so that they can begin to see themselves more as world citizens.
I’ve found that the different tools and resources from the TakingITGlobal site really attracted the kids, so I thought it would be good to use the TIG and TIGed tools to get the kids started on thinking about the global community and caring about the planet and caring for other people. We’ve only just touched the surface with the possibilities, so this year, I want to use TIGed to go a lot further and expand into the global community. By using a format like TIG, we can actually change students’ attitudes and mindsets and get them to start thinking about a global village rather than the isolated little village in which they’re currently living. Currently, we’re working on an action project for our waterways, where I’m trying to get the kids to focus on how we can better treat our water (things like growing more plants over rivers so that the sun can’t affect it, or planting native grasses along the banks of our streams to wash and purify the water). I would like very much to collaborate with someone from another country so that the students can not only start to think about what they can do in their own community, but also to find what others are doing worldwide in those types of situations.