What motivates us to do good?

This was what I posted on the blog for my Contemporary World Issues class today. I decided to share it here, too. Have you been thinking of essential questions to do with our reaction to the devastation in Haiti? Have you been talking about this with your students?

I have been addicted to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. I spent much of the weekend reading news updates, blog updates, facebook group statuses, and listening to radio shows about how the world is reacting to what is happening in Haiti.

Countries, organizations, and individuals around the world are reaching out, to help in any way. A question that comes to mind for me is…

What motivates us to do good in the face of tragedy?

Some of the documents that triggered this question for me were the following:

A family’s wait for news from Haiti – I heard about this story in an interview on CBC this morning. I asked myself what motivated the journalist to help? Does it matter?

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Donate $1 Million to Doctors Without Borders – Angelina Jolie said, “It is incredibly horrible to see a catastrophe of this size hit a people who have been suffering from extreme poverty, violence and unrest for so many decades,” If that is the case, why did it have to take an earthquake to inspire the donation?

B.C. students in Haiti arrive in Canada – Are Canadians helping Canadians in Haiti first? Is that why the Canadian government is sending help?

Wyclef Jean and Yele Haiti – The website of Wyclef Jean’s Haiti Relief organization.

Here is a video of Wyclef Jean defending himself and his organization in the face of accusations of misconduct. I found it via this page at npr.

Here are some other resources:

Disaster in Haiti – CBC full coverage

Haiti Earthquake 2010 – New York Times coverage

Satellite images help focus Haiti earthquake relief

Haiti Earthquake – Day 5: Reporting with a camera

What do you think?

For those who are interested, this is what I’ve asked my students to do. It was a last minute, put together kind of assignment. I’ve put our current work in Contemporary World Issues on hold so as to focus on the events unfolding around the world in response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Start alone – Write a quick comment to our class blog with your gut reaction to the question, What motivates us to do good in the face of tragedy?

Branch out – Explore the question in your research groups. Start with these documents and then find your own. Your group will need to:

Document your resources – this means include links to any and all articles/images/video/audio etc… that you use in your research.

Your group needs to come up with a new question that springs from the research you do about this question. Sound complicated? Don’t worry you’ll figure it out :)

Present your research and your new question in an innovative way. Some ideas are:

webpageshortText is easy to use though less flexible than something like a wiki, which is easier for all group members to access. PBWorks is free for educational use and super easy to get started.

Video – you can decide how to present your ideas via video. If you choose this option you must include your resource list separately.

If you have another idea, clear it with me but please note that I will not allow PowerPoint for these research projects. Time to think outside the PowerPoint box!

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