Action through advocacy

Screen Shot 2019-06-16 at 8.53.32 PMStudent action is about young people making positive changes (big or small) as a result of their learning. Action is an integral part of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) philosophy and desired outcomes. As outlined in the Enhanced PYP, action can be demonstrated through participation, advocacy, social justice, social entrepreneurship and lifestyle choices. This helpful infographic was created by my talented colleague Chris Gadbury. Click here for more of Chris’ free resources.

Due to current affairs in Hong Kong and recent discussions at the Google Innovator Academy, I have been thinking a lot about advocacy this week. How can we inspire students to advocate? What does it even mean? What avenues are available for advocacy? I don’t claim to have all of the answers here. In this blog post, I’m simply working through some thoughts, research and questions. The Enhanced PYP defines advocacy as action that supports social, environmental or political change, but I needed a few more definitions to support my understanding. Here are three others:

Public support for an idea, plan, or way of doing something.

Cambridge Dictionary

The act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing. 

Your Dictionary

The act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending; active espousal.

To synthesise, it seems that student advocacy is about young people making their voices heard regarding their beliefs, ideas, concerns and opinions. Does that sound about right? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. What does student advocacy mean to you?

In my research about advocacy, this caught my attention:

“It has been argued that the internet helps to increase the speed, reach and effectiveness of advocacy-related communication and mobilization efforts, suggesting that social media is beneficial to the advocacy community.”


An example of this is teen activist Greta Thunberg. She used social media to express her beliefs about the climate crisis and grow her following. She is now an environmental leader who continues to use social media to gather support, especially through the #FridaysforFuture hashtag. Greta has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2019.

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Speaking of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2014 laureate Malala Yousafzai started her advocacy of girls’ education as a pre-teen blogging for BBC Urdu under a pseudonym. This young Pakistani girl was able to defy the Taliban and make her voice heard. In retaliation, she was shot in the head in 2012. The assassination attempt is a terrifying example of the power of advocacy. With important ideas amplified through digital platforms, young people can change the world.

With important ideas amplified through digital platforms, young people can change the world. Click To Tweet

That being said, advocacy doesn’t have to change the world. Some advocacy is less significant and less news-worthy, but still worthwhile. My blog allows me to advocate for ideas that I feel strongly about in education. I can reach a wide audience and influence other teachers. In my own small way, I am modelling advocacy and I hope that I can be a positive role model for my students.

The Certified Innovator Program published The Advocacy Playbook to support Google Certified Innovators in their advocacy efforts. It is publicly available online and offers valuable tips to help teachers to advocate in different ways, such as through public speaking, podcasting and authoring. If you want to model advocacy for your students and advocate for ideas that you believe in, this easy read will get you started.

Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I hope that this short post will prompt a worthwhile conversation. What does advocacy mean to you? What do you advocate for and how? I’d love to hear your ideas (education-related or not). Please leave your thoughts below.

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  1. Well said Adam. ‘Advocacy’ for me means to speak up for another person or an idea.

    I was at a function the other night and the local sea cadet leaders talked about their observations about their cadets always on their mobile phones and how they encourage the kids to put them away at their cadet luncheons in order to enjoy each other’s company. I commended them saying that was on if the 9 elements of digital citizenship.

    One thing led to another and now I’m prepping for a presentation on digital citizenship for the TS Culgoa crew so that they too develop their advocacy on digital health.

    So ‘advocacy’ is not a singular event. It is an ongoing learning process of reflecting and acting upon our beliefs.

    Thanks Adam – this post really helped me to stop and think about my own advocacy.

    1. Hi Lesleigh,

      Thank you or sharing your thoughts and this great example. I like your simple definition too. Good luck with your presentation!



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