Saturday, March 27, 2010

Understanding the Role of a MUN Program Advisor

by Ben Wagor

Model United Nations (MUN) is one of the fasting growing and most popular programs in the international school community. It provides students with skills in leadership, consensus building, debate, conflict resolutions, research and writing, as well as critical thinking and analytical reasoning. The program is focused around students representing delegates of United nations countries and debating current world problems and finding solutions. Ben feels that by providing teachers the opportunity to advise this program they are providing students around the world more access to MUN.

EARCOS Teachers Conference 2010, Manila, Philippines

Unfortunately, there is no professional development available for MUN. It's mainly on-the-job training or mentoring. In Ben's school it's been opened up to 7th and 8th grade. This leads to more experienced and confident kids in a very competitive international activity. Ben doesn't say no to any student, but he also doesn't say no if they want to quit. If they aren't ready, they may want to try again next year.

With kids you can start with a trivia powerpoint to find out who knows about the history of the UN. This will give you a clue as to who already has an interest. For example:
  • When was the UN started? 1945
  • Who were the first five members? (winners of WWII)
  • How many principal organs are there in the UN? (6)
  • What previous version of the UN existed? (League of Nations)
A good MUN student will be outgoing, mature, a self-motivated learner, and confident. They must also have the ability to write and speak well. Students who are quiet and require a lot of structure, but may be considered for MUN because they are high achievers academically, tend to have a more difficult time participating in MUN.

To teach kids parliamentary procedure, one can practice debate on any subject with the teacher acting as the chair with the rules projected up on a screen at the front of the room.

What is MUN?
It's a program for students run by students. Peer to peer knowledge transfer is essential to a successful program. We leave schools, and if there's no institutional knowledge, then the program dies. In Ben's school, high school kids train the middle school kids. An after school current events program supports MUN.

What will MUN do for students?
It provides them with the ability to utilize and improve the following skills:
  • debate
  • research and writing
  • consensus building
  • leadership
  • critical and anlytical reasoning
Miss International, Anna Gabriela Espinoza, was Ben Wagor's MUN student!

What kind of students join MUN?
Students who are:
  • self-motivated learners
  • confident speakers or willing to try
  • like to debate and have an interest in current events happening in the world
What are the benefits of MUN?
MUN allows students to:
  • travel around a country or region to participate in MUN simulations,
  • develop the skills to make them the future leaders of the world,
  • have a program on their high school transcripts that is valued and respected by universities all over the world.

What is the advisor's role?

  • Always encourage initiative and provide direction, but students must walk the path to achievement ontheir own.
  • The key is to move your program forward every year with achievable goals communicated to the students, not just to maintain it.
MUN is a fast paced program that is growning around the world in the international school community. MUN experience is now considered a very valuable skill for a teaching applicant to recruiters.

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