Rory Stewart MP brought along a surprise visitor on a recent visit to Armathwaite Primary School –  James Astill, a distinguished Foreign Correspondent from the Economist. The visit was part of the school’s on-going programme of global learning activities. The MP and the Foreign Correspondent led a class on the subject of global conflict, poverty, Syria and Afghanistan.  This was part of the Global Learning Programme(GLP), which aims to encourage pupils to think more critically about global issues, through questioning and philosophical enquiry.

Rory talked about his childhood, his love of reading, and his long walk across Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The pupils also shared their own global interests and concerns, discussing how it is difficult for young people to understand the complexity of some issues, especially when the news changes so rapidly.  When posed the question, “How can young people make a difference about war in the world?”  Rory suggested that the pupils should become as informed as possible by reading books.  Another question, “Is war relevant for the world today?” led to a lively philosophical enquiry between Rory, James and the pupils which was observed by parents.  Teacher, Jane Yates said, “We are keen to promote the importance of being well informed about global issues.  Rory inspired the pupils with a positive message to find out as much as they can about the world by reading.”

For the past year, Armathwaite School has been leading the national Global Learning Programme(GLP) with 23 primary and secondary schools from North Cumbria.   The project is helping teachers to deliver effective teaching and learning about development and global issues. Rory has been interested in the programme and was delighted to come and see its impact on how the pupils think critically about global issues.  Both Rory and James were hugely impressed by the pupils and especially commented on the depth of their questioning.

Speaking afterwards, Rory said:

“It was a pleasure to speak to pupils in Armathwaite about their global interests and concerns, reflecting upon the differences and similarities of different cultures and societies around the world. They asked some really interesting questions and showed a keen interest to listen to different ideas. It gives me great hope that our younger generations are actively engaging with the world beyond their own doorstep.”

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