Not a Drop to Drink (Blog Action Day)

playing with water 15Although I have already written about water in terms of teaching English in

today's post is actually in support of Blog Action Day.

And I suppose in many respects, my post from last week on schooling the world would have worked better here... but I've been thinking about it, about the issues as I walk around the city, as I meander from lesson to lesson.   

How we spend such an incredible amount of talking about issues in education and referencing the 3rd world to support our adventures, waxing lyrical from warm homes, safe lives and families and friends.

We debate about the benefits that we Europeans and Americans can bring to their lives to save them  (all over again because it worked so successfully the last time when we preached - our economies did do rather well, didn't they) and we rave on and on about how we can teach them, reach them through technology but sometimes, god help us, we actually forget that the people who want an education also need, mostly need, an infrastructure in place around them.

We forget that in our very "special" position with our cheap coffee or our expensive coffee, that this  like so much of what we eat and drink comes at the cost of their ability to grow their own vegetables  - to feed themselves properly.   

We forget that the endless toys that stuff our homes or our over-filled wardrobes came on the back of their labour.

We forget that their priorities are very much things on the very bottom of the Maslow pyramid.   So yes, of course they need an education and there are wonderful good-hearted people around the globe doing this and of course, why yes, being given a free phone is wonderful (wouldn't we all love to have free phones too)


please, can we not forget that they need




So I guess I better get on to point of this post and share my contribution to the blog action day:

Did you know that almost a billion people on this planet do not have access to safe water?  That every week 
children, under the age of 5, die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions?

Did you know that the war in Dafur was probably caused due to a scarcity of water?

Did you know that in the United States alone, on just one average day, more than 500 billion liters of freshwater travel through the country’s power plants—more than twice what flows through the Nile?

Did you know that often, to get  fish on your table, many fisherman completely abuse oceanic country borders and overfish - leaving countries and islands (like the Caribbean) without enough fish for their own people?   Did you know that our deep seas are also in danger?

Did you know that every time you plug a Smartphone into the wall about half a liter of water must flow through kilometers of pipes, pumps, and the heat exchangers of a power plant.
I'm not saying feel guilty.   I'm not saying let's not teach them with technology - let's face it, I would never say that, now would I :-).... but I am saying that if we're going to talk about educating the world's children, then let's please also try to put a little more on the agenda than selling them stuff.

Anyway, I'll leave you now with these thoughts, political twice in a row... but here's the website link to sign a petition if you're in the mood or perhaps you may just feel like digging around for interesting conversation material for lessons next week...


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8 Responses to “Not a Drop to Drink (Blog Action Day)”

  • Toby says:
    October 20, 2010

    You're touching on something I dislike about the TEFL community: the idea that my classroom should be used to preach.

    In my teaching career, I've had two or three groups of hundreds who cared about what was going on outside of their lives enough to discuss politics on the national level. I think that, only once, did students seem inclined to talk about problems outside of Europe. Why should I push them into topics they don't normally discuss?

    I don't know what it is about the TEFL community that makes us as preachy as a Evangelical preacher, but, well, it doesn't seem to fit into the rest of your Dogme rant.

    This comment isn't on the big-tent-revival in TEFL, though. I'm writing this because, ever since I read this post back when you posted it, one thought pops back into my head over and over again:

    You referred twice to the water in power plants. Do you really think that if we don't use our river water to generate power, there will be a drop more of clean water in Darfur? Sure, we have tons of it and we waste it. . . but if we don't, it's just going to run to the ocean, not to those who need it. You might as well criticize suburban (or even rural!) Americans for wasting space when so many cities are overcrowded.

    I'll end my rant, now.

    October 21, 2010

    Hmmm... I hear you Toby and I totally get it and it's not just the TEFL community, it's humans... we have the inbuilt ability to get on high horses and preach.'s the thing on the one hand it's not really appropriate for the teacher to always work on his/her own interests all the times but I actually, despite being a fully-paid up member of the dogmeic society, believe that a critical pedagogy means sometimes stretching students out of only their interests - for a small amount of time - until it can be related to their own.

    Water is a big issue and I am trying right this very minute to not start lecturing but.. how can I say this.. everything is connected.

    If we bury our heads everytime there's something out there that makes people uncomfortable we will never ever progress and move forward and instead will walk right into more wars. IF we think the war over oil just wait until there isn't any more water...

    The Americans waste much - they waste land, oil and water and there is no forgiveable reason for the endless plastic bottles when tap water is perfectly for free.

    Anway I'd better stop - ranting right back and methinks this is a conversation better face to face than on a blog because I could write ALL DAY! :-)))

    Welcome back, by the way, and rant away on my blog anytime!


    Anyway... I

  • Toby says:
    October 22, 2010


    I suspect that you think that it's the teacher's job to stretch students out of their comfort zones just a little. . . if they're being stretched in a direction you agree with. If I turned my classroom into a place where we talked about the benefits of American imperialism and why Islam has no place in the European culture and tradition you'd disagree with my 'stretching.'

    And, well, so would I.

    But, I respect that there's no universally agreed-upon direction to stretch people in and, instead, I encourage conversation about anything my students care about. In a group of more than two students, you'll get people who are for and against nuclear power, or CO2 separation and storage, or wind power, or immigration into Germany. . . Why should I bring my own topics?

    Sure, there will be wars over water. And, yes, they'll be tragic. No, they probably won't affect me (unless my kids are sent, I doubt they'll take place in the places where I live or plan to live) and, yes, I'll be the kind of guy who changes the channel when war coverage comes on. I just know that a world without war isn't likely. I'll aim for living in a region without war.

    But, I also know this: I could run my tap 24 hours a day and make no difference in the water supply to the people who need it. Just the same, I could turn it off for good and dehydrate. . . and still make no difference. The two things aren't connected. (It's like me feeling guilty for having a hobby, because you don't have any free time. I could give up my hobbies, but you wouldn't have any more time.) So, why should this be something I care about, much less preach about?

    October 30, 2010

    I think I need to be a ranty mood to answer this properly...


  • Toby says:
    November 03, 2010

    Well, I'm waiting for your ranty mood. But your blog doesn't notify me of new comments via email. (Come on, you're the technology person!) So, it might be a bit before I think to look back.

  • Toby says:
    November 03, 2010

    I'm only writitn ghits because, after I logged in, I saw the optionto email follow-up comments. Oops. I feel a bit dumb.

    November 03, 2010

    Never ever dumb :-) and I missed you, you know - did you start your blog again?

    Life on the other side of hectic but good hectic and in too much of a good mood to climb on my step and preach but soon!!!


  • Toby says:
    November 03, 2010

    I'm thinking of starting an irregular blog more in the 'teacher's notebook' format, just to join in all the blogging fun I see going on around me.

    But then, I'm a tired old man and wonder if I have the energy to keep it going.

    Get up on your soapbox!


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