Taking the example of the
students who joined in 2002, I explain the actual activities undertaken. In the
2002 academic year, about ten third grade junior secondary students joined the
activities, until their graduation four years later from the senior secondary
 We want to know more!
It seems that the students at
first joined out of intellectual curiosity, wanting to gknowh more about what
is happening in the society.
When I asked them, gWhat do
you want to know about?h their answers were, gnuclear weaponsh that they
learned of in the social studies subjects, and gNorth Koreah that they saw on
the news. My role as advisor was to give suggestions, such as gWhy donft you
look into c. under that topic?h or gWhat is happening to c?h
Acting on the advice, the
students decided on the topics they wanted to know about, and studied about
I am a social studies teacher
myself, but in the formal class, teaching tends to be a one-sided transmission
of knowledge, and I feel I have not been responding sufficiently to the
studentsf demands, gI want to know more about what I learned in the class,h or
gI want to say something on this issue.h
In the Peace and Human Rights
Committee, the students can act on their own curiosity, present their views
based on what they studied, and receive questions and comments from their
peers. The emphasis is on the process, in which they are able to reflect deeper
on the issues.
 What is happening in the
world now is material for learning too!
By the time each student had
made her presentation at least once, the United States was about to start the
Using the daily news from
television and newspapers, we shared the experience of watching the gmoment the
war began.h We stated our opinions for and against the war, based on
information from the internet and the newspapers, and formed our own opinions.
When the initial attack was
considered completed, we found out that there were many facts that had not been
reported during the war, and realized that the news on the television and the
newspapers did not cover everything.
The students seemed extremely
interested on this topic, and some continued to study later on such topics as
gthe United Statesf history of war,h and gvictims of conflict after the Iraq
They were able to realize that
war was not something in the distant past, but was happening in this world
today, and that it was important to have the imagination to be able to gsee the
human beingsh on the other end of the missile and other attacks.
 Seeing with your own eyes,
hearing with your own ears
Videos on gnorth-southh issues were shown during these activities. This
led to one of the students wanting to gsee for herself,h and participating
in a short-term study tour to visit our sister-school in the Philippines.
The student who went there did
a presentation on gwhat I saw and heard in the Philippines,h about the reality
of the gap between the wealthy and the poor that she saw, the traces of
colonialism, the high awareness of the students at the local school, etc.
She followed up on her
interest after her presentation, to examine gwhat can I do about it?h and chose
the activities of UNICEF as her next topic. She started to consider the global
subject of the gnorth-southh issue from the perspective of what she could do,
about the situation of children around the world and how the donations were
 Students can learn from
making and listening to presentations
In the four years that these
students took part in our activities, they continued to decide on the topics by
themselves; they studied, prepared and made presentations about them on their
I believe that by the
presentations, the other members who were listening were also able to gain
broad knowledge. The student doing the presentation would, of course, have been
able to develop her thoughts further, hearing other studentsf views, and seeing
the issue from perspectives she had not thought of.