Image courtesy Brande Jackson via Creative Commons.

Last night my husband and I wrote a couple of letters; one to a local school district to ask them to choose humane alternatives to cat dissection. Another to ask a fire station to host an event promoting heroism (the kind of thing firefighters are known for) rather than their planned squirrel-killing event. Another asking local legislators to support paid sick leave.

We’re writing letters (emails) — to companies, to our representatives, to organizations — with increasing frequency. It’s something we used to do frequently when we were younger, but as the obligations of daily life took over, the letters tapered off. Now we have renewed enthusiasm for this element of citizenship, especially as we’ve seen the efforts of our letters have (sometimes) a positive effect. And with the reach of social media, we can post an alert which allows our friends and colleagues the opportunity to also voice their views.

Letter-writing is just one of the ways we citizens can have our voices heard and work to create a better world, and it’s a tool that we can begin to exercise almost as soon as we learn to use a pencil.

We’ve talked before about encouraging students to harness their voices as changemakers, and our allies at HEART recently shared some of their thoughts about the benefits of having students write letters. In their post, they outlined three reasons letter writing (to real people about real issues) is a powerful part of students’ education:

1. “A student must have a firm understanding of an issue and be able to express their feelings about it. By writing down what they have learned and trying to convince the addressee why the issue is important, they practice how to politely express their beliefs.”

2. “Through letter writing, students learn that they have a voice that can be used to make the world better for others.”

3. “This particular form of letter writing allows students to practice how to write letters and how to make a persuasive argument. Both vital skills that will help them through school and beyond.”

Read the complete post.

What has been your experience with having students (or your children) write letters about global ethical issues?

~ Marsha

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