Curriculums that integrate real-world situations engage but also enable learners to have a positive impact. Myriad opportunities exist in which students are able to positively and sustainably impact the lives of others.

Simulations are valuable, yet real-world learning even more so. Thus, when seventh-grade students as part of a unit on poverty, examined creative solutions such as microfinancing, they weren’t passively put through a simulation. Rather, this was a fresher way of educating empowered students, and they were trusted to loan actual money. Objectives included becoming more value-driven, but also globally-minded. Students partnered with KIVA, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Currently, more than 1.7 billion, approximately ¼ of the world’s population is unbanked. Unable to secure a loan, KIVA seeks to serve such individuals. KIVA is about loaning, not donating and operates on the principle of crowdfunding, for as little as $ 25 USD.  This has helped unlock capital for more than three million borrowers, in over 70 countries.

Sabina Vogt, a seventh-grade teacher at the International School Bangkok, desired to integrate KIVA. “We wanted something more authentic that provided students the chance to make a positive sustainable change in the world.”

Students were tasked with selecting an individual represented on KIVA, or borrower. Carefully students considered the borrowers’ story, loan request, and type of business or activity.

In the coming months, students would closely follow along, until the loan was paid back in full.  “Last year’s seventh graders continue to surprise me with e-mails or conversations in the hallway, often asking about the progress of the loans they remembered providing.”  Some students have spoken at home and families have begun to similarly participate.

Read the full article about promoting real-world change in the classroom by Matthew Piercy at Getting Smart.