Center for World Education
TAKING THE HUMAN RIGHTS TEMPERATURE
OF YOUR SCHOOL
(Activity #7 from Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective)
Participants evaluate their school's human rights climate using criteria derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The subsequent discussion builds towards identifying areas of particular concern and developing an action plan to begin addressing them. This activity can be easily adapted for assessing the human rights temperature of one's family, neighborhood, or other community group.
Materials: -Handout 1, Taking the Human Rights Temperature
-Universal Declaration of Human Rights (reference only)
Setting: Middle and high school - Administrators, parents, & teachers
1. Have participants evaluate their school's human rights climate (e.g., take its “temperature") by completing the survey questionnaire below. Prior to completing the instrument or developing an action plan, participants might conduct research into school conditions, using the survey items below.
2. Prepare for discussion by creating a 1-4 rating scale on a chalkboard or newsprint. Then have participants call out responses to each item. Important: Participants might not wish to make their own responses public. Consider collecting the questionnaires and redistributing them so that participant anonymity can be assured.
3. Discuss the findings from the survey, drawing on the following questions to move from analysis and evaluation to the development of an action plan.
a. In which areas does your school appear to be adhering to or promoting human rights principles?
b. In which areas do there seem to be human rights problems? Which of these are of particular concern to you? Elaborate on the areas of concern, providing examples and identifying patterns in human rights violations.
c. How do you explain the existence of such problematic conditions?
d. Have you or any other members of your community contributed in any way to the construction and perpetuation of the existing climate (e.g., by acting or not acting in certain ways, by ignoring abuses or not reporting incidents)?
- Do they have race/ethnicity, class, gender, disability, age, or sexual orientation dimensions?
- Are the issues related to participation in decision-making (who is included and who isn't)?
- Who benefits and who loses/suffers as a result of the existing human rights violations?
- Other explanations to consider?
e. Were those completing the questionnaire representative of the population of the school? Would you expect different results from a different group of people? In what ways might another group's responses differ and why? Should these differences be of any concern to you and to the school community? When determining which human rights concerns need to be addressed and how to address them, how can you be certain to take into account the perspectives and experiences of different people?
f. What needs to be done to improve the human rights climate in your school? What action(s) can you and your group take to create a more humane and just environment where human rights values are promoted and human rights behaviors practiced?
4. Review questionnaire item #25, stressing the importance of assuming responsibility and acting. Then, as a group brainstorm possible actions the group might take to improve the human rights situation? Decide on a short list of options for action. Thoroughly debate and discuss the short list before deciding on actions to be taken.
5. Based on the group discussion,
choose items for action and develop an action plan, identifying goals,
strategies and responsibilities.
Take the human rights temperature of your school. Read each statement and assess how accurately it describes your school community in the blank next to it. (Keep in mind all members of your school: participants, teachers, administrators, staff.) At the end, total up your score to determine your overall assessment score for your school.
YOUR SCHOOL'S TEMPERATURE ________
To order copies of Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective, contact:
Human Rights Resource Center
University of Minnesota
229 - 19th Avenue South, Room 439
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Tel: 1-888-HREDUC8 Fax: 612-625-2011
http://www.hrusa.org and http://www.umn.edu/humanrts
Last modified April 01 2003 11:22 AM