In my last blog post, I suggested that by seeing the film, Fruitvale Station, you could be taking one step towards creating a more just and equitable society. Educating ourselves is an important starting point in this effort, and here are some more actions you can take to unravel systemic oppression and its offspring, bias and prejudice.
Second and third graders interpreting the theme of animal adaptation (science standard) through movement and music. Photo credit: Ilene Snyder
Last spring, 450 elementary students in San Rafael, Calif., turned their classroom lessons into a school-wide celebration of learning in the first-ever Classroom Connections Festival. Students performed dances, made music, and displayed works of art that were aligned with their grade-level curriculum, exploring subjects from animal behavior and math facts to American history and electromagnetism.
On Earth Day 2013, teens with a passion for the environment gathered in Costa Rica with 500 peers from around the world. The Global Student Leaders Summit, organized by EF Educational Tours, featured such inspiring speakers as former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore and environmental activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki.
As the new school year starts, there is value in asking all of our middle and high school students (at least) to think about something most will have heard of, but not thought about very deeply. Why? Because ultimately, education is about looking more deeply at the world around us, asking the critical questions, not simply accepting what is being presented, and creating new knowledge.
As we celebrate Arts in Education Week, it is fitting to point out the many benefits of arts education. Research has shown that the arts prepare students for success in school, work and life by boosting math and literacy achievement, developing creativity and critical thinking skills, strengthening perseverance, facilitating cross-cultural understanding and much, much more (the Arts Education Partnership has compiled a research bulletin with citations for these and other outcomes of arts education, if you would like more information).
If you haven't yet seen Fruitvale Station, go see it now. This film will rip your heart open and leave you feeling raw, and you would be wise to let it do so. It will most likely change the way you see your students, in a way that will make you a better teacher. This film now tops my list of movies that teachers should see.
In every classroom we have students that are as different as condors are to capybaras. A soaring condor's capacity has little to compare with the skill set of the water-loving capybara. Understanding their differences is the first step, but even if we create individual education plans that differentiate instruction for each student, teachers are forced to make choices that affect student learning when it comes to instructing them all at once.