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Walk a Mile in My Shoes



Education is a universal human right and yet millions of children around the world cannot attend school and are unable to achieve basic literacy and numeracy skills. Illiteracy rates are especially high in girls and women in developing countries. This resource examines the role of poverty and gender inequality in limiting the empowering value of education. Students are able to reflect and communicate opinions using an informed approach as they: 

  • Research and analyze data about literacy rates in specific countries.

  • Identify social and cultural parameters that affect access to education.

  • Describe differences in life experiences of children living in developed and developing countries.

  • Examine how Canada has supported the UN millennium goal of universal primary education.

  • Explore personal perspectives and feelings about education equality.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Data gathering, organization and communication

  • Critical thinking

  • Analysis of cause and effect

  • Collaborative learning


  • Includes a self evaluation rubric that provides students with guidance about learning expectations

  • Encourages empathy

  • Focuses on a global issue

  • Enables students to develop personal insight into attitudes and beliefs


  • Does not include student background information that could provide context for research
  • Does not include an action project that actively engages students in global citizenship

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports Social Studies curriculum outcomes exploring poverty, discrimination, gender equalitiy and universal rights. Introspection and communication are also important components of the learning experience and an emphasis is placed on cooperative learning skills. 

The activities in this lesson provide a framework for citizenship projects focused on literacy and education. A class could organize a community fundraiser to sponsor a girls education through the Malala Fund

Students might also approach a local immigrant settlement organization to invite a new female citizen to participate in a school assembly bringing attention to global education concerns.  A class could also  offer volunteer tutoring services to newly immigrated children.  A list of these organizations can be found on the Government of Canada website.


Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Human Rights (3)

    • Education
    • Gender Equality
    • Poverty

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students lead their own research and questioning. Peer to peer discussion and active communication are used to form individual opinions and conclusions about the issue.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

Cultural and social barriers to education are considered from the context of how poverty creates economic disparities, where children are valued for their ability to fulfill working roles to help their family to survive.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

Canadian society values education and provides free public schooling so it is important that learners are able to examine alternative views to understand how societal beliefs affect access to education.


Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

There is the potential for citizenship projects to be associated with this lesson but no specific action ideas are included.


Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Students are able to independently analyze research information and form their own opinions about access to education.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

Students develop a much deeper understanding of the hardships faced by children in developing countries. This knowledge supports recognition that their own lives are much easier in a wealthy country like Canada that provides many free public services. An awareness of their own privileges and freedoms will motivate global citizenship where learners will want to be involved in creating change.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

This is a global topic but students do develop opinions about poverty impacts that can be related to local issues such as economic hardships in indigenous communities.


Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

This resource highlights the valuable work of the United Nations in addressing human rights issues and supporting global initiatives that are improving the future of citizens in developing countries.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Guided questioning provides a framework for student research and subsequent discussions about this issue and the class engages in active dialogue that supports independent thinking.


Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

The social studies outcomes of this lesson use literacy strategies like identifying text features and making predictions. Data is also communicated with mathematics representations such as graphs and tables.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Students have several opportunities to self-direct their learning as they investigate issues and formulate new questions and answers.


Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Poor/Not considered

No differentiation strategies are provided and the content could be difficult for students who prefer a hands-on approach with minimal reading and writing.  Learners who struggle with literacy tasks can be included in the lesson by providing more visual cues like photos and charts.  All students should be involved in the open dialogue about this issue and encouraged to express their individual opinions.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

This is a classroom lesson, however a teacher could make the learning experience more meaningful by including some authentic conversations between students and community members who came to Canada to escape poverty and discrimination.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Students participate in a cooperative learning strategy where each group member has an active role and specific responsibilities.


Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

A self-evaluation rubric provides concrete learning goals so that students can evaluate their own progress and a teacher can use the information for formative and summative assessment.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

A research oriented approach provides opportunities for investigations of current world information and data on education in developing countries.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

Comparing and contrasting their own lives with children from poorer regions of the World will likely motivate learners to become more informed about global poverty issues.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.