I realized the other day that it’s been awhile since I’ve written one of my This is Why I Teach posts, and that’s a real bummer. Stopping every now and then to remember what it is that I love about my job is important because with the criticism launched at teachers from every turn, this gig can be a grind if you don’t find a rose to smell every now and then!
Thankfully for me, my kids have been throwing dozens of roses my way ever since my academic team decided to raise funds to start a Kiva club designed to make microloans to entrepreneurs in the developing nations of Africa and South America last spring.
Following the British tradition of Red Nose Day, we had our very first “Do Something Funny for Money Day” in March of 2009. Our classes had to raise $250 in order to have free periods in all three of their core classes. In the end, they raised just over $500.
(If you’re interested in hosting your own Do Something Funny for Money Day, here’s the handout I shared with my parents and students: Download Funny4Money)
Next, we spent a few weeks studying South America---a continent covered in our required curriculum—with an eye towards identifying the countries where people struggle the most with poverty. We then worked through several mini-lessons on the advantages and disadvantages of several different types of Kiva microloans before making loans to 16 different businesses—many of whom are featured on this Kiva Team page.
(If you’re interested in seeing the mini-lessons that we used to make our decisions, here they are: Download Kiva_Gift_Card Download Kiva_Group_Loans Download South America Snapshot Download Kiva_South_America_Stud Download Kiva_Women_Loans)
Instructionally, this activity was primarily designed to give my students a real-world opportunity to learn about the world. Sure, we could poke our way through the textbook to study the differences between life in Peru and the United States, but there’s something inherently authentic about studying Peru so that you can make the best decision about who to loan your money to.