The students of ECOS understand that their fellow Argentineans have serious difficulties abiding by the rules. This is why they chose to visit a primary school to conduct games and activities, with a view to modifying this perspective.
Traffic is an area of social interaction and, as such, reflects important aspects of social behaviour. In the case of Argentina, a central aspect of our community remains clear: there is contempt towards the observance of norms. According to Carlos Nino, this tendency for introspection (anomy) has to do with our history, since we have had long stretches of illegitimate government. Consequently our society has learnt to mistrust authority and the norms they impose. We think that we need to change our mentality in order to generate a context which would make the obedience of norms possible. It is essential, then, that we understand the usefulness of norms and the idea of a social agreement for the general good. We need to understand that as citizens we are a crucial part of this problem and, thus, of the solution.
It is our goal to call attention to this, and the reason why we have chosen the name Road Citizenship for this project which has been running since 1998. We work with this same topic every year; third-year students conduct games that will help them understand the importance of norms and their usefulness to help us all live together in peace.
Students who wish to continue working on this project bring these ideas to elementary schools (sixth and seventh form students, or children of 11 and 12 years of age). This activity is of great interest as our students make these ideas their own by assuming the role of teachers.
On this occasion we visited the Para el Hombre Nuevo school. We assembled a team of fifteen students to participate in this activity, and the teacher and I planned the session.
After several meetings with our students, we decided to carry out two meetings with sixth and seventh form students: the first at their school and the second at ours.
For the first session we divided students of the school we visited into groups. They were coordinated by two of our students. They talked about how children view traffic, whether they felt involved in it and if they can think of anything it has in common with other aspects of their lives. They took part in a game called ‘lion/mouse’ (explained in the attachment). The objective of this game is to demonstrate that the best solution is to reach an agreement. After this, two other volunteers from ECOS explained Carlos Nino’s concept of anomy to the whole group. We closed the activity with a short video called Drive Your Life, produced by students in our school’s video seminar (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mmoKIlROmo). The chief objective in this part of the activity was to foster the idea that ‘norms are created by us for our own wellbeing’ in our students.
As a follow-up, we worked again in groups, asking the younger children what problems they saw in the community. The students referred to a railway crossing nearby which many children and adults are careless when crossing. They talked a lot and agreed to work with their teachers to think about activities they can do with younger students in their school.
A month and a half later, they visited us in our school and reported their progress. They told us that they had divided themselves into groups to work with younger students and carried out games and activities to raise awareness of the risks involved if they are not careful about the railway crossing. The older elementary school students repeated the activity they had performed with us but this time assumed the role of teachers.