Talking about the Convention for the Rights of the Child with my German class

In my German class, I'm doing a supplementary unit on UNICEF and the Global Goals.

TeachUNICEF has a great lesson online on Global Citizenship (among others) that I am using for the second year. It uses PowerPoint and discussion questions to connect students' appreciation with their own American/Constitutional rights with the needs of people in other countries.

Building on America's own Constitution, the lesson introduces the UN Charter and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), allowing students to investigate these documents and understand the rights they convey. One thing that the lesson points out is that the United States is the only UN-member-nation that has not ratified the CRC.

Here's the (somewhat outdated) status of the CRC as explained by Amnesty:

On February 16, 1995, the United States signed the Convention indicating the nation's intent to consider ratification. The next step is for the President and his advisors to draft a Statement of Reservations, Understandings and Declarations which will be presented with the Convention to the Senate for its "advice and consent." Once Senate consideration is completed in the affirmative, the President will ratify the Convention. As of April 1, 1997, the Convention has not been presented to the Senate.
So what's going on? During a visit from Nashville UNICEF rep, Spencer Bailey, we learned that a recent signing by Somalia left the United States as the sole holdout.

It wasn't for me to explain this to kids or to exhort them. My job is to teach--and this meant that I needed to help them make up their own minds. I drew on the following sources

The Lesson: students worked independently. I asked them to craft an essay that explained their opinion on the CRC, and I provided links to the web sites of Tennessee's senators for them to share their ideas with. 

It was interesting to see the lesson develop. Students read the sources quietly for a few minutes. Then, in several corners of the room, informal conversations broke out, evaluating the evidence. Kids didn't make up their minds right away. I teach in a very conservative community, and I heard questions about sovereignty and outside influence come up.

Bottom Line: it was great to see students thinking and arguing about the issue of children's rights--their rights, considering that the CRC covers children from birth to age eighteen.

I'll update later with some of the results of this project. I'm looking forward to following up on it next week.