“A Person’s a Person No Matter How Small”: Teaching Human Rights

Sarah Minslow, Ph.D., Lecturer, English, UNC Charlotte

This seminar will (re)introduce teachers to the 30 articles of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights and the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is “the first human rights treaty that explicitly requires states … to ‘make [children’s rights] widely known’”.  Dr. Minslow will share different examples and models for human rights education and discuss the importance of educating children about their rights. The aim of the workshop is to make educators aware of the CRC and to showcase children’s and YA literature that is useful for teaching human rights. We will explore how to integrate the topics in ELA, social studies, math, science, public health, or technology. Some of the topics covered may include equality, cultural diversity, sustainability, education, play, having a voice in matters that impact one’s life, seeking asylum, and freedom from slavery and discrimination. Some texts analyzed in this workshop may include works by Dr. Seuss, Henry’s Freedom Box, Chains, The Day of the Pelican, The Journey, The Red Pencil, A Long Walk to Water, Fallen Angels, Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote and One Green Apple. Teachers will have the opportunity to explore different texts at various levels and consider how they could be used in the curriculum with support from the instructor and their peers. We will explore what literature teaches readers about their rights and the rights of others, how it can be used to teach children about human rights violations in the global context, and how the texts may potentially contribute to a “rights-fulfilling and rights-respecting culture”. Teachers will then have the opportunity to design units based on the 30 articles of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, share their units, and engage in peer review. Human rights education research shows that teaching children about human rights produces very positive outcomes – increased self-esteem, heightened respect for others’ rights, a reduction in bullying, and other benefits”.