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December 17, 2014 0

Bring Malala, Ferguson, Unaccompanied Minors and Ebola into the Classroom

Malala.  Fer­gu­son. Immi­gra­tion. Ebola. Voter ID Laws. Cli­mate Change.  These are just a few of the top­ics teach­ers are reg­u­larly and actively bring­ing into their classrooms.

Unaccompanied Minors essay pic for blogWhether they teach Eng­lish, Social Stud­ies, Advi­sory or another sub­ject and whether they have five min­utes or decide to do a week– long study, teach­ers know that top­ics in the news will engage and inter­est stu­dents in a deep and mean­ing­ful way.  Research shows that cur­rent events instruc­tion has a long list of ben­e­fits for stu­dents includ­ing skill devel­op­ment in read­ing, writ­ing, vocab­u­lary, crit­i­cal think­ing, media lit­er­acy, speak­ing and lis­ten­ing.  It also helps to develop life­long informed cit­i­zens and inter­est in the news.

Young peo­ple want to be part of the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion and talk about what’s cur­rent and in the news.  Cur­rent events instruc­tion pro­vided an oppor­tu­nity to con­nect the present with the past; address impor­tant top­ics like bias, bul­ly­ing, diver­sity and social jus­tice; and build crit­i­cal social and emo­tional skills like emo­tions man­age­ment, empa­thy and eth­i­cal decision-making.

Julie Mann is a high school teacher in New York City. She teaches a Human Rights class and brings a wide range of top­ics, events and sto­ries to her stu­dents, most of whom are recent arrivals to the United States and Eng­lish Lan­guage Learners.

Malala Quote for Blog

In Octo­ber when Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize, Julie decided Malala would be a great per­son for her stu­dents to learn more about, as a youth activist who advo­cates for girls’ edu­ca­tion.  Julie wrote a Donors Choose grant to pro­vide copies of I Am Malala for all of her stu­dents and taught ADL’s Who Is Malala Yousafzai? les­son with her stu­dents.  Stu­dents learned more about Malala’s back­ground, per­spec­tive and what she stands for by read­ing an arti­cle and watch­ing her 2013 speech at the United Nations.  Then, stu­dents read and reflected on some of Malala’s most sig­nif­i­cant quotes, talked about their mean­ings and made posters out of the quotes.

Because many of Julie’s stu­dents are from the three “North­ern Tri­an­gle” coun­tries in Cen­tral Amer­ica (Hon­duras, Guatemala and El Sal­vador) most impacted by the chil­dren on the bor­der cri­sis which peaked this sum­mer, Julie decided to teach the Who Are the Chil­dren At Our Bor­der? les­son.  Stu­dents read sto­ries of two chil­dren who recently trav­eled to the U.S. by them­selves, watched a news video about the sit­u­a­tion, explored their own thoughts and feel­ings and finally, wrote per­sua­sive let­ters to Pres­i­dent Obama to con­vey their per­spec­tives, using “evi­dence” they learned to sup­port their points of view.

Ferguson student picture for Blog

As Julie’s stu­dents were deeply moved and impacted by the recent non-indictments of the police offi­cers involved in the deaths of Mike Brown (Fer­gu­son, MO) and Eric Gar­ner (Staten Island, NY), Julie again turned to ADL’s teach­ing mate­ri­als: Teach­ing About Fer­gu­son and Beyond  to help stu­dents learn more about the issue and sort through their thoughts and feel­ings.  She pro­vided back­ground read­ing, showed a Jay Smooth video  and had them look at rel­e­vant pho­tos while respond­ing to ques­tion prompts such as: What do you see in the image?  How does the image make you feel and why?  What are your hopes and wishes?

In explor­ing these three cur­rent events, Julie is teach­ing her stu­dents to think crit­i­cally, under­stand impor­tant events that are hap­pen­ing in the world, express their thoughts and feel­ings about the issue and do some­thing about it. For more les­son plans and cur­ric­ula resources, check out ADL’s Cur­rent Events Class­room.

 

 

 

 

 

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December 5, 2014 10

Beyond Ferguson and Staten Island: Where Do We Go From Here?

In the wake of two grand jury decisions—in Fer­gu­son, MO and Staten Island, NY—not to indict the police offi­cers who were involved in the killing of black men, the time has come to ask our­selves: Where do we go from here? There are a myr­iad of ideas and leg­is­la­tion on the table–diversity train­ing for the police, fund­ing to pro­vide body cam­eras for police offi­cers and leg­is­la­tion to tighten stan­dards on military-style equip­ment for local police depart­ments. These are all wor­thy ideas and should be pur­sued with both care and speed.NYC Protests

At the same time, as Amer­i­cans, we need to come to grips with the con­cept of implicit bias and how it works its way into the small and big things in life.

Implicit bias is a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive (usu­ally neg­a­tive) men­tal atti­tude toward a per­son or group that we hold at an uncon­scious level and with­out inten­tional con­trol. The notion of implicit bias was con­ceived by Anthony Green­wald and Mahzarin R. Banaji in 1995 and there is now sub­stan­tial and empir­i­cal sup­port for the idea that most peo­ple hold implicit biases about minor­ity and mar­gin­al­ized groups such as peo­ple of color, women, LGBT peo­ple and others.

Implicit bias hap­pens when two job applicants—one named Ayesha and the other, Alli­son sub­mit the exact same resume for a job and Alli­son is 50% more likely to get a call. Implicit bias fuels the school to prison pipeline that dis­pro­por­tion­ately dis­ci­plines, sus­pends and expels stu­dents of color in our nation’s schools. Implicit bias pro­pels the microag­gres­sions many peo­ple expe­ri­ence on a daily basis, which can often “feel like bro­ken glass.” The fact that African Amer­i­cans are dis­pro­por­tion­ately rep­re­sented in all lev­els of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem can be seen as implicit bias.

When schools want to address bias in the class­room, they tend to focus on dis­crim­i­na­tion and overt forms of racism, sex­ism and other injus­tices. This is crit­i­cal. How­ever, in order for our soci­ety to make a fun­da­men­tal change, we need to also talk about, explain, teach, under­stand and do some­thing about implicit bias.

Some ideas for edu­ca­tors and parents:

  • When chil­dren are very young, in school and at home, make sure that their lives are filled with a diver­sity of peo­ple, activ­i­ties, cur­ricu­lum and books that reflect our larger soci­ety. Help them explore prej­u­dice, fair­ness and bul­ly­ing.
  • Teach about Fer­gu­son and beyond, help­ing stu­dents to under­stand the racial dis­par­i­ties in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and solicit their ideas for turn­ing this around.

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September 4, 2014 3

Microaggressions Feel Like Broken Glass, So ADL Partnered with MTV

mtv_Look_Different_03

I can’t tell Asians apart.

You’re dif­fer­ent for a Black guy.

You don’t look Jewish. 

Microag­gres­sions. They are every­day slights, indig­ni­ties, put-downs and insults that peo­ple of color, women, LBGT pop­u­la­tions and other mar­gin­al­ized peo­ple expe­ri­ence in their day-to-day inter­ac­tions.  Their impact is often unin­tended, sub­tle or seen as innocu­ous, which makes it easy to dis­miss them or tell peo­ple who object that they are being “too sensitive.”

 

Have you expe­ri­enced them?  Have you said them?

ADL has part­nered with MTV on its “Look Dif­fer­ent” cam­paign to address the issue of microag­gres­sions and other aspects of hid­den bias.  Because while the name “micro” gives the impres­sion they are small and the intent of the per­son say­ing them may be benign, the cumu­la­tive impact can be sub­stan­tial.  And stud­ies reveal that racial microag­gres­sions have pow­er­ful detri­men­tal con­se­quences.

MTV’s recent PSAs, Bro­ken Glass, visu­ally illus­trate the impact of microag­gres­sions — which can be like a plate of glass hit­ting you and break­ing, cre­at­ing tiny lit­tle cuts that alone can seem harm­less, but col­lec­tively cre­ate a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive impact.  This cam­paign serves not only to edu­cate about the impor­tance of address­ing microag­gres­sions, but also to val­i­date those who have expe­ri­enced microag­gres­sions. Youth have responded on the campaign’s tum­blr with com­ments like “I get ‘You don’t look Jew­ish!’ a lot. Like it’s some­thing to be happy about. ::shud­der::,” “I laugh about it when it hap­pens, but this pic­ture is exactly how it feels” and “the per­fect visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of microag­gres­sions,” show­ing the impor­tance of see­ing one’s expe­ri­ence affirmed.

We believe it’s impor­tant to edu­cate peo­ple in a vari­ety of ways and meth­ods.  Whether in the class­room or on tum­blr or Twit­ter, the dia­logue is impor­tant and can influ­ence people’s self-reflection on their own biases as well as help them develop the skills to edu­cate oth­ers.  That’s why, in addi­tion to our own edu­ca­tion efforts, like our recent Cur­rent Events Class­room on Microag­gres­sions,we joined other experts on race, gen­der and LGBT issues to sup­port MTV’s Look Dif­fer­ent cam­paign with the poten­tial to reach more than a half-billion house­holds glob­ally and 188 mil­lion fol­low­ers on social media.  We are proud to have rep­re­sen­ta­tives on both the Look Dif­fer­ent Advi­sory Board and the “Good Look Panel.”

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