Media Monday: Using Geo-Education to Fight Bullying

It’s heartwarming to hear the stories about students who have kicked off their school year by fighting against bullies with kindness, like in this story. But how can educators keep students focused on being nice to each other for the months to come? How do you get students to stop and think before posting an inappropriate photo of someone, when blasting out a post to their peers only takes seconds?

While many schools are building programs to combat bullying, it’s important to think about the teachable moments you have in your classroom that promote a life-long learning of respect and understanding.

Teaching Tolerance produces films and develops educational programs focusing on justice and equality. The premiere of their film Bullied, above, encouraged students to “[s]tand up for what’s right, for what you believe in. Switch from being a bystander to what we call an upstander,” says Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. Photograph by Michelle Leland, courtesy Teaching Tolerance
One way to include lessons of respect and understanding is to check out organizations dedicated to the cause. Teaching Tolerance has a great set of resources about teaching about bullying that can help students realize what’s wrong with antagonizing their classmates.

It’s important to help students recognize that bullying is more than name-calling or physical abuse; bullying can be discrimination. Teaching Tolerance’s film Bullied walks viewers through the trials of one student and how the 14th amendment was used in his case to highlight bullying as discrimination.

You can also explore using geo-education to help your students become more respectful of their peers. By creating a global classroom, as laid out in this blog post by Homa S. Tavanger, educator and author of Growing Up Global and The Global Education Toolkit, you can help your students become better citizens by developing their respect and understanding for others. In her post, Homa suggests showing students how to use social media for good purposes, such as connecting to another classroom at a different school. By engaging in social media in positive ways, and by interacting with kids from other schools, your students will build good habits in their social media use while simultaneously learning how to communicate better with others.

Reading about this topic with your students is another way you can talk about bullying in your classroom. National Geographic Kids has a great article about how to be a friend. Using this type of positive content in your classroom will not only help students navigate the tricky world of building relationships, but it will also give your students a chance to examine how they interact with each other. The book With a Friend by Your Side, can also help your students learn about playing nice with others so that they can make good friends and be even better friends to their peers.

Finally, consider joining the Geo-Educator Community or the Network of Alliances for Geographic Education to share your ideas, solutions, and questions about how other educators are handling the bullying crisis. By joining these communities, you can discover how educators around the globe are helping students to appreciate cultures and perspectives and to think about how their actions affect the lives of others. An example of a project you can learn about through these communities is the People Loving People Mapping Project run by the Georgia Geographic Alliance. Examining how students can be kind to each other is just another way that educators can help their students make the switch from being mean to being friendly.

How do you help your students combat bullying? Have you tried to incorporate lessons of geo-education in your classroom to grow your students’ respect and understanding for others? What’s worked and what hasn’t?


Friend Tips from NG Kids 

Blog: The Global Education ToolKit 

Map Project: People Loving People Map of Kindness

National Geographic Education Article: Teaching Tolerance 

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