Student Model UN Clubs Develop Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving

Student Model UN Clubs Develop Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving
Posted on 10/30/2016

It seemed to be a heated discussion focusing on the Arctic Circle. How should the numerous resources of this vast area be shared: divided equally by all of the nations that have territory within the boundary, based on percentage of population of those countries or under another formula that ensures the neediest countries benefit the most? And who decides?

While the topic may seem a bit abstract, the learning is more in the process: how to discern the problem, articulate one’s viewpoint and then to negotiate with others until an agreement can be made. That’s the purpose of a fairly new club at Lakota East and one which continues to flourish at Lakota West: the Student Model UN.

The student-led group typically meets twice a month, acting as an actual United Nations block. A different topic is covered each session and students pick countries that have a vested interest in the discussion and solution. From world hunger to human trafficking, to space exploration and the possibilities of WWIII, the students take turns presenting their respective country’s stance and then work together to brainstorm viable solutions.

Suppoted by Lakota's Gifted Department, the clubs are examples of the numerous enrichment opportunities for all students.

According to Patty Piron, 7-12 gifted support advisor at Lakota East, “It’s amazing where they take each other in their analysis and discussion. So much critical thinking and actual examination of the root problems occur each week and the students really push one another to find answers that serve as many as possible.”

At Lakota West, the group continues to expand, both in number of students involved and in their activities. According to Marian Weber, English teacher and Model UN advisor, this is the second year for the group, with the students attending several UN conferences and hosting a similar UN conference at Lakota West last year.

The group at Lakota East, which is led by seniors John Ferguson and Sarah Aftab, already has about 15 consistent attendees and five of the group have participated in outside activities such as UN conferences. In fact, both of the leaders have won awards at recent conferences and the group is planning to hold its first event late this spring.

“I am constantly impressed by the leadership this group shows,” states Piron. “They are very vested in learning, not only about the topics covered, but about how to lead and to work as a team."