How Paddington is teaching kids about refugees and immigration

Is Paddington a migrant? A refugee? What is the difference between the two? Does it matter? The Big Issue reports that the British icon and Big Issue cover star is putting a furry face on world issues to revolutionise learning in schools. 

These questions are being debated in the classroom, with Paddington acting as a cute, furry Trojan bear in order to introduce children to issues surrounding refugees and immigration.

Kiri Tunks is vice president of the National Union of Teachers and teaches a Global Perspectives class at her school in Tower Hamlets. She has enlisted Paddington for the subject.

“It’s one of the popular lessons, kids really like it,” she says. “I was looking for a way of getting into the refugee question, and tackling the issue from a slightly abstract angle rather than using real-life stories is quite useful in representing the other that sometimes refugees are seen as.

“Initially they conflate the two – migrants and refugees – they think it’s all the same so making the distinction between fleeing and danger, and being an economic migrant helps them think about things in a more sophisticated way.”

Paddington has also been announced as a Unicef ambassador, fronting their OutRight campaign which teaches kids across the UK about their rights, empowering them to speak up in support of other children around the world who do not have a voice.

“We are living in a time when millions of children are being forced to leave their homes and to put their trust in the kindness of strangers,” says Lily Caprani, deputy executive director of Unicef UK.

“To have a champion like Paddington, whose own story of leaving darkest Peru and finding a new family and a home in a strange country resonates as strongly and freshly today as it did when it was first published.”

Read more How Paddington is teaching kids about refugees and immigration

Would introducing Paddington to your pupils help a sometimes confusing debate? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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