Our rapidly changing, highly interconnected, and diverse world comes with many positives such as advances in medicine, education, industry, and commerce. However, it also comes with challenges, or barriers, that need to be overcome by individuals and communities. Many barriers have been entrenched within the systems and structures of our society. Those barriers have been often based on race, gender, class, and sexual orientation and severely impact full participation in our social, political, and economic institutions. Other barriers are more personal and happen on playgrounds, in offices, and in shopping malls.

With the selection of this theme, we hope students and educators will recognize the capacity of individuals and groups to overcome challenges and to break barriers.

Students and educators can use the following questions to guide their thinking about the Breaking Barriers theme:

  • What barriers exist for individual identities or local groups?
  • How are barriers connected to personal narratives?
  • How do I/we identify within multiple identities?
  • Who am I? What and how is this defined?
  • What do human rights look like in a world of expanding and diversifying population?
  • What is our relationship with the natural world and environment?
  • What are barriers that keep some people from nutrition, health, and wealth?
  • What are barriers that keep all students from receiving an education?


A Barrier Breaker

Malala Yosafzai is an example of someone that broke barriers to redefine what it meant to be a young woman in Pakistan. Malala defied the Taliban in order to attend school but paid a heavy consequence when she was violently shot. She recovered from her critical condition in Birmingham England and continued to push on with her agenda when she spoke to the United Nations regarding education for girls in Pakistan. Malala continued to be an advocate for education for all and received the Nobel Peace Prize. Her legacy continues through a school she opened for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon funded by the Malala Fund. Malala is currently attending Oxford University.


Collaborator’s Guide

This edition of World Savvy’s Collaborator’s Guide is designed to support educators to explore the complex theme of Breaking Barriers through relevant and engaging activities, both inside and outside of the classroom.
This guide is also designed to lead students through an exploration of their own identity and the communities of which they are a part of. Students will have an opportunity to explore and investigate some of the most relevant social, political, cultural, economic, and environmental barriers. Additionally, they will examine the impact of barriers throughout history, focusing on building empathy, understanding perspectives, examining individual and group identities, and identifying current and relevant local and global barriers or breaking of barriers.

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