Tag Archives: Fridays

Friday – September 27

On Friday, we will be exploring how we can enact positive change in the world with the understanding that problems that impact others around the world can often be connected to our own actions at home.

For the past two days, we have been talking in small groups about five specific cases of human rights abuses occurring around the world: child labor/mining in Tanzania, the forced relocation of Tibetans in China, land grabbing in Mozambique, sweatshops in Bangladesh, and enforced disappearances in Mexico.  Today, we will continue connecting these seemingly “foreign” issues to our own lives.  We will do this by creating a list of items that we find on ourselves, in the classroom, or at home that connect to one of the issues listed above.  Are any of us wearing a t-shirt made in Bangladesh?  Did we drink soy milk this morning made from soybeans that were harvested on confiscated land in Mozambique?  These questions will lead us to the most important question:  does this make us responsible for taking action to combat the abuses created by these global issues?

If we do assume this responsibility, we need to figure out how we can take action and make others care about these issues.  First, we will brainstorm how we can raise awareness among CHS students about the five issues we have been discussing in small groups.  How do we make a high school student in Charlottesville, Virginia, care about the plight of a child miner in Tanzania or a relocated Tibetan in China?  Omékongo will help us apply the answers to this question to his campaign to stop the use of conflict minerals coming from the Congo.  We will visualize how we can start a “conflict-free” movement in not only CHS but also the greater Charlottesville community.

We want to keep in mind that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of global issues that impact us and others abroad.  This can cause us to shut down and opt to do nothing about these abuses.  We will end the class by discussing how we can overcome this feeling and continue to fight for change.  I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts!

Friday, September 20: “International” Problems and the UN

Today we will be considering the ways in which particular problems transcend national boundaries and the ways in which national interests prevent the UN from responding to those problems. In no other international problem or challenge is this tension reflected more than the occurrence of genocide. Students will watch very brief video on the Rwandan genocide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z-UKvDK6Zg

Students will then read an article by Raphael Lemkin, the polish scholar who coined the term “genocide” and consider the Covenant on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (and the limits and reaches of the Covenant).

Raphael Lemkin–Genocide Questions

EDLF 5500 Genocide; Lemkin

Lemkin Lesson Plan

Friday, September 13 – Moving Beyond PC and “Colorblind” Approaches

ImageToday, we’re going to build on the ideas of ascribed and personal identity that we’ve explored this week.  As we talked about yesterday, the idea of race is ultimately a social construct.  This social construct often influences how people perceive and prejudge us – our ascribed identity.  Worse yet, it can lead to acts of extreme prejudice and injustice like the profiling experienced by Adama and Gurwinder in Patriot Acts.  With this in mind, it’s easy to see why people are sometimes uncomfortable talking explicitly about race, leading to a “colorblind” approach to viewing society.

In today’s Moving Beyond PC lesson plan, we will start by discussing the difference between “colorblind” and “multicultural” discussions of society using the example of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.    When King famously said,Image “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” was he pointing toward a society where differences are never discussed, or one where differences are embraced?  How do we combat racism, inequality, and prejudice without discussing race (or class, for that matter)?

To explore thesestop-and-frisk-sfSpan and other questions, I’ve created an Anticipation Guide, which we will use in class to explore our opinions at the beginning and end of class.  After completing the “before reading” column of the Anticipation Guide, we will focus on how these questions played out in the news surrounding a controversial topic: New York City’s Stop and Frisk policy.  As a class, we’ll watch the PBS News Hour segment introducing this topic.  If time allows, we can also watch a very moving short documentary on the NYTimes about Stop-and Frisk.

Then, in small groups, we’ll read articles representing two of the many sides of the Stop-and-Frisk debate: two teens targeted by “stop-and-frisk” the policy (Nicholas Peart and Linda Sankat) and Mayor Bloomberg‘s response to allegations of racial profiling.  ImageAs we investigate these perspectives as a group, we’ll discuss how they support or go against our original opinions on the Anticipation Guide.  Finally, we’ll mark whether our opinions have changed in the “After Reading” column as we have a whole-class discussion on whether it’s better to use a “colorblind” or “multicultural” approach as we discuss and fight against injustice.  We’ll also talk briefly about how the “Stop and Frisk” topic relates to broader discussions of human rights.Image

I’ve been thinking about the “colorblind” question a lot as I reflect on how we as students, educators, and community members can work together to combat prejudice and injustice, especially in the week following the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.    This is a complex issue, but I feel that it is a vital one to address as we work toward building a more just and equitable society – from CHS to Charlottesville and beyond.  Feedback and reflections would be greatly appreciated as we revise this lesson for the future!