Things I Know 242 of 365: Now is a teachable moment

The fall of one regime does not bring in a utopia. Rather, it opens the way for hard work and long efforts to build more just social, economic,and political relationships and the eradication of other forms of injustices and oppression.

– Gene Sharp

My brain has been playing the “What if…” game with #occupywallstreet since I learned about the movement as things were getting underway.

It isn’t a game of “What if the movement succeeds?” or “What if things get out of hand and go terribly wrong?”

It has been a game of “What if I were teaching right now?”

When I was in high school, Mrs. Henning-Buhr taught a class called Literature of the 60s and 70s. It was amazing.

In order to understand the texts of the time, we first had to learn the history of the time – a history we didn’t know existed as our American history class barely made it past WWII.

That semester was when I learned about The Chicago 8, Kent State, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Vietnam, and so much more

Though I know she had them, I don’t remember Mrs. Henning-Buhr ever pushing her views of the events on us one way or the other.

She gave us the space to examine the history and draw our own conclusions. Some of the richest debates of my high school career happened in that class as I listened to the evangelical Christians and the stoners argue what was “right” after both groups read the same texts.

I don’t want to be in the classroom right now in order to influence kids’ thinking one way or another about what’s going on in urban centers all over the country.

I want to be in the classroom right now to encourage kids to think one way or another.

In between sleeping and being a student, I’ve been clipping artifacts I’d use if I were designing a unit around #occupywallstreet.

First, I’d show this e-mail that showed up in my inbox yesterday declaring Netflix’s decision to stay, well, Netflix. We’d talk about it’s purpose and brainstorm whatever questions we could around what process led to that e-mail.

Then, we’d read this piece from the New York Daily News reporting FOX’s resurrection of Family Guy years after the show had been canceled. Our questions about the process would take their place alongside our questions about netflix.

Next, we’d read this piece by Cord Jefferson over at GOOD who took the time to sample and analyze the trends present at the #occupywallst tumblr. Again, questions.

Next, we’d take a look at John Titlow’s piece on ReadWriteWeb about Google handing oner a Wikileaks volunteer’s gmail data sans search warrant. If you’re not seeing the trend here, you’re not paying attention. More questions would line the walls.

Finally, we’d take a look at this note my friend David posted to his Facebook wall as an open letter to the Wall Street occupants. Again with the questions.

From there, we would devise a plan for finding answers to our questions. As more resources were uncovered, we’d tag, share or tweet them. Then again, maybe we’d come up with something better. As we amassed information in answer to our questions, we’d realize the need for someplace to put it all – a place to share the learning.

Every other day or so, we’d take a look at our answers, pause and attempt to draw some sort of connection between everything we’d found and begin to devise hypotheses of cause and effect. We’d write, record and talk – sharing everything and inviting comments from the world.

We would make meaning of history as it happened around us.

Not for the politics of it, but for the history, it is incumbent upon us to teach what is happening.

If our students join in, we must make certain they know why.

If they rally against, we must help them find their reasons.

If they propose a better way, we must help them inform their understanding.


One thought on “Things I Know 242 of 365: Now is a teachable moment

  1. Didn't know you weren't in the classroom this year, Zac.  Look at the great lesson plan you sketched out.  Find some kids on the street and do it!  Best to you.

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