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Common Questions about Human Rights Education
Question: "Children need to be taught responsibility, not rights."

Answer: This manual places equal emphasis on rights and responsibilities. The activities are designed to show that one person's rights end where another person's rights begin, and that everyone has a responsibility to respect the rights of others.

Question: "Won't human rights topics frighten young students?"

Answer: Teaching human rights is positive, not negative, because students learn about their own inherent rights and about the importance of human dignity. Of course, giving students information about human rights violations alone is not enough, and can be distressing for young children. However, teaching human rights is different because, although it is based on the knowledge that bad things happen, it also gives students the skills which they need to be able to do something about these things, and the attitude that it is possible for them to act to change a bad situation.

Question: "What if my students ask a question I can't answer?"

Answer: When teaching human rights, answers are rarely simple. Complex moral questions cannot be answered with yes or no. Raising the questions is more important than finding one 'correct' answer. By introducing these complex issues to children and allowing them to think about them, we can equip them to deal with them later in life. Part Two of this manual explains teaching methods which can help you to explore human rights issues with your students, without having to have the "correct" answer to every question.

Question: "What is the purpose of using games?"

Answer: We learn and remember things better by doing them than just by hearing about them. Although the activities in this manual are fun, they have serious aims, usually the explanation of a human rights concept. These aims are explained at the start of each activity. See also the section 'What is Human Rights Education?'.

Question: "We don't have a photocopier, or enough materials."

Answer: Most of the activities in this manual are designed so that they don't need expensive materials or photocopier.

Question: "We do Civics and Law, not Human Rights."

Answer: In practice, the skills, knowledge, and attitudes associated with human rights can be taught in many different subjects. (See section "Ideas for teaching human rights in core subject" in the chapter "How can human rights be part of the curriculum?" in Part Two)

Question: "I want to teach adults too."

Answer: This manual is aimed at schools. However, many of the activities can also be used with adults. Part Two contains ideas for developing your own activities, and the organizations listed in Part Six can give advice about teaching human rights with adults.

Question: "Parents, teachers, and the Principal say teaching human rights is political indoctrination."

Answer: Human rights make students better able to participate in society and in the politics of their country. However, it is important to distinguish between these political skills and party politics. Teachers have a great responsibility not to push students towards a specific political party or political ideology.

Question: "What is the difference between Civics, Moral education, Citizenship education, Intercultural education, Peace education and Conflict Resolution? Where does Human Rights Education fit in?"

Answer: All these subjects cover slightly different, overlapping subject matter. For example, an activity about respecting each other could be used in any of these subjects, but an activity dealing just with human rights documents would only be used in human rights education. However, the same active, participative educational methodology is used to teach all these subjects since this methodology overlaps almost completely. The important thing to remember is that these subjects all have the same aim: to help students to develop the skills, attitudes and knowledge which they will need to help them to make informed moral decisions about their world and their place in it.

 
Taken from Electronic Resource Centre for Human Rights Education: “First Steps - a manual for starting Human Rights Education”, www.hrea.org