Our large school system has just implemented a new regulation for students in grades 7 through 12 granting them a partial school day off -- excused -- to participate in "civic engagement activities." These activities can include any number of things such as advocating on behalf of an issue or campaigning for candidates. Our secondary students take both Civics (8th grade) and Government (10th or 12th grade) during their academic careers and, due to our location just outside of Washington, DC, have many opportunities to understand and connect with elections and issues on both the local and national levels. But given how the news media has largely emphasized this as a "day off to protest" (WTOP | The Washington Post | CNN | NPR ), I got to thinking about resources to support a better understanding of activism and the history of protest in America
America's Long History of Protest from CNN is a pictoral history of protest in the United States. It would be a good entry point for a high school lesson.
The New York Times offers a three part unit called The Power to Change the World: A Teaching Unit on Student Activism in History and Today. Part 1 addresses the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School protests, part 2 touches on student-led protests throughout history, and part 3 moves forward with how to help students take action on their own. Another New York Times lesson plan focuses on teaching with protest music.
Picture books are a great tool for students of all ages (says the librarian). This is a great list of 13 Books to Teach Children About Protesting and Activism from the Children's Museum of Art and Social Justice.
I love the idea of helping students "strengthen their voice." Whether or not we agree with their activist positions, one of our roles as educators is to support our students as they find passions and to encourage them to use their voices in support of those passions. This article from EdSurge shares ways we can help strengthen their voice.
Not sure that kids and protest are a good match? Take a look at this piece from Psychology Today: Kids Need to Protest.
And here's a bonus resource for younger students: check out this lesson from Teaching Tolerance on art and activism.
How do you introduce the ideas of protest and activism to your students?
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