Human Rights Education: An Elementary School Level Case Study By Megumi Yamasaki Ph. D. Thesis Completed June 2002 University of Minnesota Education Policy & Administration/Comparative & International Development Education Chapter 1

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Art activity. Seven students brought up art activities. Five of them remembered painting posters for school. Some of them mentioned the human rights festival, which they went to as a class. They created posters to exhibit for the festival.

Verbal communication. Three students told the researcher that it was very useful to talk about human rights among peers and with teachers. Debate and brainstorming were also mentioned. The topics that were mentioned included poverty in Pakistan, and stereotypes.

Writing activities. Three students mentioned writing activities. One student mentioned that they worked on writing for Amnesty International’s “Urgent Action Appeal.” This activity is sponsored by Amnesty International5, which sends out materials monthly to the participating sites.

Lecture. Two students mentioned a method related to lecture, such as guest speaker and workshops.

Summary of effective methods

When the students were involved actively, such as in plays/skits, art activities, reading, or going to a convention, they seemed to remember more of what they learned from HRE, versus when they were passively involved, such as listening to a lecture. Also, when they had some kind of visual aid, such as videos, movies, plays, pictures, they remembered more class contents.


According to the Partners, this is the most important part of HRE. As the Partners state in their mission statement, one of the three purposes of HRE is “to foster connections between learning about human rights and practicing human rights responsibilities in the community” (The Partners’ Training Manual, 1997, A.1.1). Without taking action based on human rights knowledge that the students acquired, HRE is not completed.

Self. Five students mentioned how their daily lives were affected by HRE. Three students said that HRE was important because they could “use it in [my] life.” One student said that because of HRE, people would know how to respond to situations. The other student told the researcher that he used to get detention all the time because he got into fights or other trouble. However, since taking HRE, he has not gotten detention for a long time. He really believed that it was because of HRE knowledge. Two students said that they learned to walk away when someone gave them problems. Other answers included “us[ing] freedom of speech”, “right to be safe,” and “don’t need to join gang.”

Helping others. Six students told the researcher that they could help people, because they took HRE. All of their answers were related to either homelessness or poverty issues. Their examples of how they were helping others were giving people food, clothes, and money, and participating in food drives.

Teaching others about human rights. Fourteen students told the researcher that they were or would like to teach others about human rights. In this category, the researcher included actions like breaking up fights, speaking up when others were doing something wrong, and sending e-mail/letter to people. These answers varied from formal setting, i.e. school/classroom, to non-formal setting, i.e. talking to people. For example, one student said, “I teach people. Explain [to them] whey they should not fight,” “I tell people what stereotypes and calling names are,” and “When I see somebody messing around or someone do something wrong to you, [I] say ‘ I feel mad when you do htat. Could you stop please.’” Two students want to teach human rights at school in the future, when they would get to 20 years old. The researcher asked why 20-year old to each student. Both said, in separate interview, that when they become 20 years old, they felt that they were old enough to have a job as a teacher and teach human rights at school.

Changing their behavior against discrimination. Many students mentioned that they are not more caring and nice towards people who are different from themselves, i.e. color of their skin, homeless/poor people, people with disability and people with turrets syndrome, etc. They told the researcher that they no longer teased or called people names. They realized that these kinds of behavior were causing discrimination. For example, couple students mentioned, “now I don’t think like how they look and they are messed up,” and “I don’t want to say anything when [people are] dressed poorly and they don’t look good.”

Protesting for others. Two students told the researcher that they did not buy child labor products as a way of not supporting human rights violation. Both of them told the researcher that it was a difficult decision to make, especially not buying Nike products. One of them said her whole family does not buy Nike or Pepsi products as a way of not supporting child labor.

Some of the students’ answers could be seen as both actions for themselves and for other people. Other students thought that due to HRE, people are less likely to do wrong. The other student mentioned that people could prevent accidents. They thought that because some people did not know that what they were doing was wrong, they could get into trouble. These students used a word “accidents” because people did not intentionally committed wrong-doing.

Questionnaire by HRE Instructor Analysis

Pattern Analysis/Categorical Aggregation

Thirty-eight students were asked by the HRE instructor to fill out the questionnaire (Appendix H) to give her feedback on what the students remember from her classes. The questionnaire results were analyzed by pattern analysis and categorical aggregation. The researcher mainly conducted pattern analysis, because the questionnaire was already divided into categories by each question. The HRE instructor gave the contents of HRE, e.g. discrimination, stereotype, and child labor, as questionnaire questions. The researcher focused on finding out (a) what these students remembered from HRE contents and (b) what changes students made in their perceptions and behavior after HRE. The questionnaire had thirteen questions. Out of 13, 10 questions asked what students’ attitudes and/or behavioral changes after HRE. These questions were numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.

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