I will not let the kids of “Forgotten Schools” be forgotten

I will not let the kids of “Forgotten Schools” be forgotten

My parents bring school supplies and health necessities to rural China. “The Forgotten Schools of Ghost Town” is my calling, too. Four students walk up a barren mountain with dusty backpacks on their shoulders. We see them every year. The four are always...

Student reporter Luna Lee of Miss Porter’s School in the U.S. state of Connecticut gives a heart wrenching account of how children in rural parts of China willingly trek long distances in harsh conditions for an education housed in places few people would consider a school. Her first person story about a nonprofit run by her parents to help these schools and these young people demonstrates how in many places education is a privilege that people don’t take for granted.

Exercise: Students should consider whether in their own country education is considered a privilege or a human right. Have students look at this map of data from UNESCO of primary school completion rates and determine in what countries the fewest and largest percentages of students who go on to secondary education.

Buried underpants and tea bags help scientists evaluate soil

Buried underpants and tea bags help scientists evaluate soil

Swiss citizens are burying cotton underpants and tea bags in their gardens and fields to help scientists assess the quality of soil in the Alpine nation. (Photo courtesy of Beweisstück Unterhose) Bury underpants and tea bags in your garden? Why not, thought scientist...

Student reporter Luis Eberl of Realgymnasium Rämibühl in Zurich, Switzerland, interviewed scientist Marcel van der Heijden of the University of Zurich about an experiment to find ways to slow down or prevent soil deterioration caused by erosion, construction, pesticides and drought. The project invites citizens to test their own soil by planting tea bags and cotton underpants – two common household items – and then testing the level of deterioration. Eberl shows how scientists are engaging everyday people in climate change projects to demonstrate that individuals’ small actions can lead to global solutions.

Exercise: Interviewing an expert for a story is a great way to get information to readers that might not be reported elsewhere. Have students think of an issue that would be important to report and see if they can identify an expert who might be good to interview for a story on that issue.

Media glare can enrich tennis pros yet imperil mental health

Media glare can enrich tennis pros yet imperil mental health

Tennis pros can leverage social media to win lucrative endorsements. But they can also be the target of abuse that threatens their mental health. Naomi Osaka reacts after missing a point during a tennis match in Madrid, Spain, 9 May 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)...

Social media platforms, not mainstream outlets, shape how many young people see the world. Naomi Osaka, one of the world’s best and most recognizable tennis players, has skillfully leveraged social media to build a sizable and loyal fan base. When she snubbed the mainstream media at the 2021 French Open, many of her followers glimpsed only a vulnerable young woman, harassed and persecuted by the mainstream media. Rachel Roth of The Hewitt School has provided a more nuanced look at Osaka’s relationship with the press, which has both hounded and enriched her. Roth interviewed former top tennis pro Patrick McEnroe and a Columbia University professor to produce a well-rounded account of Osaka’s rocky rapport with journalists.

Exercise: Ask your students to choose a social media star from entertainment or sport and look at how the image of themselves that they cultivate on social media compares with coverage in mainstream media.

Immigrants: Often mistreated but crucial for our economies

Immigrants: Often mistreated but crucial for our economies

Immigrants around the world often face discrimination. But they can help drive economic growth and in my country are among the best educated. Protesters in Zurich demonstrate against an initiative that would limit the number of migrant workers in Switzerland, 9...

Many students have strong convictions about issues, so strong that their perspective can be clouded. So we encourage students to base their reporting on solid data and authoritative sources. In her story about immigrants in Switzerland, Nina Bugajska of Realgymnasium Rämibühl in Zurich cites a global polling company, a German data specialist, the Swiss federal statistics office and a Swiss consulting company, and she interviews a university professor, giving her a solid foundation for her look into the important role that immigrants play in Switzerland’s economy. Immigration is a topic that is easily manipulated by political demagogues, making Bugajska’s story a valuable contribution to clear thinking.

Exercise: Ask your students to choose a controversial topic and then find authoritative data, relevant to the issue, that is collected by official authorities, academics or private companies. They should then summarize what the data says about the issue.

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