Morris, Steven. (December 1, 2015). Wales switches to organ donation opt-out. Retrieved December 1, 2015 from http://www.newsnow.co.uk/A/804941806?-461:2192:0
This is a topic that would fit under wealth and resources if explored in class, as well as power and authority. The country has switched so that when individuals die, unless people specifically opt out, their organs will be used by people in need. I think this is an amazing step forward. It is a completely ridiculous part of our culture to keep bodies in tact, or dispose of organs, when we have the technology to use the organs to serve a crucial, life-saving purpose for others. Denying those in need of organs a right to live in order to ‘respect the dead’ leaves me baffled.
In general, I feel people often have opinions, and even gut feelings, based off of what I call ‘blind tradition’ and these people feel compelled to to do something “because it’s always been done that way”. In general, I am not a fan of tradition without merit – merit being a reason in which it is helping, not oppressing, someone. I think this relates very largely to social studies, because I believe that there is a delicate balance between ‘agreeing to disagree’ or ‘respecting diversity of traditions’, and critically examining and working to deconstruct traditions that are actually oppressive. If you say you would vote to take rights away from other races, for example, it is no longer an issue of ‘agree to disagree’ because that person’s belief in itself is affecting human rights. In order to promote positive social change, things like this – ‘exceptions’ to the idea of respecting diversity – need to be examined. If we kept the tradition that men have more rights than women because “that’s the way it’s done”, we would still be stuck in 1950s mentality, and that terrifies me to even think about!
A GREAT story to read and discuss (maybe not elementary – even reading it in high school left me a bit traumatized) is “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I have always loved it for its commentary of blind tradition and how detrimental is can be to do something “because it’s always been done this way”. If you are doing something and that is your only reason, but it is not hurting anyone, then all the power to you. But if a tradition is causing hardship on someone – it needs to stop.
I wanted to share a fantastic social studies topic to look at, which I think relates to ‘Interactions and Interdependence of Nations’. Moms around the world have banded together to create a safe, supportive space for LGBTQ+ youth through the holidays. If childrens’ families have rejected them, these mothers will step in and provide them a ‘home for the holidays’ online. My only critique is that it is limited to moms. I think it is unfair to restrict it, because I would love to see dads engaged in this process as well. Or men and women who don’t have any children, for that matter, but want to do their part to help the community. But the fact that someone is looking out for these youth makes me very happy.
Hearing about this resource may scare some students who have not come out to their parents yet, and that is not my intention, but it may also help students who have come out and are homeless/disowned by parents. The reality is that sometimes families do reject their children, and I think it is important to know that although there are people like that in the world (overcome with fear, hate, and/or misunderstanding) there are people (like Your Holiday Mom helpers) who are willing to go the extra mile to not only show that they disagree with the rejection, but show that they are willing to step up be the positive presence that these LGBTQ+ youth are missing.