Make Action!

Act NowWildwood’s Division Three humanities teachers challenge their students—not just to study history, but also to take action in the present.

Resistance movements have subtly and not so subtly shaped world history. And with each shift, inspiration is born, spurring ever farther reaching social change. That’s much of what Division Three students have talked about and studied leading up to initiating their own actions. In a project inspired by the study of resistance movements throughout history, each student was asked to choose a modern-day social issue (e.g., education, drug abuse, poverty, etc.), research the past and present status of the movement, and create an action plan to affect positive change here and now.

Vanessa A. shares her action research on the stigma of mental illness

Vanessa A. shares her action research on the stigma of mental illness

Teachers Annie Barnes, Jason David, Katy Green, and Ariane White provided guidance. Individually or in groups, the students synthesized their work into visual presentations—many of which are displayed this week when I visit Jason and Katy’s classroom.

Nathaniel K. shares his poster highlighting Alexandria House

Nathaniel K. shares his poster highlighting Alexandria House

Posters and slide shows, PowerPoints and blogs, all geared toward empowering others to take action on ameliorating each social issue are arrayed around the classroom. Tenth grader Vanessa A. shares her poster on the struggle to fight the stigma of mental illness, which includes links to the websites of local groups that encourage youth advocacy, like Let’s Erase the Stigma. Ninth grader Nathaniel K. educates his peers about Alexandria House, a Koreatown transitional shelter for women and children exiting abusive relationships.

Other students use video or blogs to raise awareness and encourage action. Tenth graders, Sara SM., Agnes A., and Lindsey O. want their classmates to consider the working conditions of those who make their consumer products. They’ve also considered strategies to drive visitors to check out their blog, which features the steps that Sarah decided to take to increase her own consumer consciousness.  Check out their blog, Behind the Label, by clicking HERE. You can also check out another student blog, No Name in Shape, through which 9th grader Millie S. seeks to educate her peers on body image issues and misconceptions. Click HERE to check it out.

(l to r) Agnes A., Sarah SM., and Lindsay O. share their blog and petition with peer in humanities class

(l to r) Agnes A., Sarah SM., and Lindsey O. share their blog and petition with peer in humanities class

Ninth graders Sebastian J. and Caleb Z. added their passion for filmmaking to their project. Their presentation includes a brief video (with original music) highlighting the arguments against standardized testing (see their video below).

These students are studying a history replete with individuals and movements that have sought to make change in service to the common good.  For these Wildwood students the connection is made that whatever they do today can be tomorrow’s history.

~ By Steve Barrett, Director of Outreach, Teaching, and Learning

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