Three of us in the Pop Ed Program just returned from Boston where we hosted an exhibit at the annual National Council for the Social Studies Convention, led a workshop for elementary educators and attended sessions relevant to our work. It was a terrific event with lots of enthusiasm for how Pop Ed can help engage social studies students of all ages.
Over the course of two days, we chatted with nearly 400 educators who stopped by our booth to spin our wheel for curriculum resources, watch the World Population video projected on the back of our booth and share their experiences using our materials in their classrooms. Like this one from Willa Laskowitz, a teacher in Monroe Township, NJ: “People and the Planet is my go-to for all things geography for my 7th grade class! They rock!” Willa and many other booth visitors were especially excited about our newest item, the World Population Map, which we were giving away to those who followed us on Twitter and got our special convention coupon.
One of the highlights of the convention for me was hearing New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof give a plenary speech on the importance of teaching students about social responsibility and closing the “empathy gap” that distances us from the lives of those less fortunate around the globe. His new book (co-authored by his wife Sheryl WuDunn), A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, tells uplifting stories of the power of one person to make a difference. It has also been turned into a PBS series premiering in January. Many of Kristof’s stories relate directly to the issues we teach about in Pop Ed like the importance of girls’ education. The ballroom was packed for his speech, evidence that today’s teachers want to help students find ways to connect to causes larger than themselves and help transform our world for the better.