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Let's celebrate February!



Photographs: Pexels

Text: Monika Pedersen


February is a short month often associated with Valentine's cards, red roses, and romance. However, much more is taking place. Within the walls of a classroom, there are rich pickings for a teacher to select and enrich the minds of young people.


New Lunar Year

In an international school, various exciting cultural celebrations are placed on the calendar. The Lunar New Year is one of the most significant days in Asian countries, especially China. It heralds the beginning of Spring and the agricultural season. It also marks the first new moon of the lunar-solar calendar. It is a time for family and friends to gather, exchange presents, and eat delicious food. At school, assembly time is used to appreciate the exciting event.


Carnival

Similarly, in the northern hemisphere, it is carnival time. The Christian ritual dates back centuries when fasting occurred before the Easter celebration. Before starting the month of abstention, the tradition was to dress up and parade in the streets. In Denmark, there is also the custom of 'hitting the cat out of the barrel', Fastelavn. In the Middle Ages, an actual cat was being smashed out of a barrel and chased away to symbolise bad spirits being banished. Thankfully, these days, young children come dressed for a costume party, and the barrel is filled with sweets.


Internet safety

Internet safety is recognised during February. This year's theme is "Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online". With social media enveloping the lives of young adults, schools have an essential role in teaching and raising awareness about the more unpleasant aspects. Teenagers are often glued to their devices and are constantly exchanging information. The issue is that they are not always considering how less scrupulous users can tap into and use these details, engage in seemingly innocent dialogues, and manipulate photographs, among other shady activities.


Through pastoral care programmes and workshops provided by outside agencies, topics such as internet safety, cyberbullying, and sexual exploitation are covered. Discussions must be ongoing to keep awareness at the forefront of young people's minds as the technological age becomes more complex and darker.


"Universities in Denmark report that equal numbers of males and females graduate with PhDs from the scientific field."


Females embracing science

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated during the month. It has been a long process, with many societal and school initiatives encouraging more girls to study science. In the last twenty years, science, technology, engineering, math, STEM, and an integrated approach to looking at aspects of these fields have been woven into the curriculum of many schools. This has been revolutionary and has ignited interest in these previously considered 'hard and male-orientated' areas of study. Universities in Denmark report that equal numbers of males and females graduate with PhDs from the scientific field. Statistics indicate that the number of females in the field is growing, but the number of female researchers still lags far behind their male counterparts.


Back in 2020, in the European Union, there were almost 6.6 million females in the field, which was an increase from the previous year of 254,500 more. Females constitute 41% of the total employment sector in science and engineering. However, these figures are not equal across the board; in Poland, the percentage was as high as 57%, and in Lithuania, Portugal, and Denmark, it was 52%. Meanwhile, in Finland and Hungary, the percentage was only 31%, and in parts of Germany, it was only 29%. Nevertheless, the trend is heading in the right direction.


Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness Day can be celebrated during February, which allows for a much broader discussion with children about love, care, kindness towards others, and citizenship. To observe this day, time is dedicated to discussion, reflection, and written or craft-based activities. This allows students to consider others and recognise their need to invest in society.


An even deeper investigation reveals many other dates to be recognised, but with the need to teach a set curriculum, only a few exciting events can be covered at school.

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