At Green School, one of our learning units this year is about helping our High School Students take more intentional action. Through this unit, we show our High School students that their voices matter, that there is power in their voice and that they need to take that power seriously and be conscious and creative about the ways they use it. Read reflections below from our High School teacher, Robin, and Head of High School, Harriett, on the students’ experience of their class that explored these topics.
“We wanted to have a deeper discussion of ‘who are we’ and ‘how are we really living into these ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion?” – Robin, High School teacher
At Green School, we talk often about our mission as an education institution – to nurture a community of changemakers who will make our world sustainable. It’s always exciting to talk about change-making, about going out and doing things, having impact and maybe even starting a revolution!
But what about the other part of that mission statement?
In order to “make our world sustainable,” we need to go beyond simply inspiring change and make sure the change we inspire is indeed sustainable. To do that requires a quieter, less flashy but equally important part of change-making – reflection and introspection. This is the goal of the High School unit, “Talking About a Revolution – Social Action in our Communities.”
One of the many things we love about our High Schoolers is their deep commitment to our school values, and to exploring important concepts like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We see them get fired up when we talk about these values. We understand their eagerness to take action on them. First, however, we need them to undergo a process of deeper inquiry. In this unit, we guide them through that process by first looking at ourselves as a School community – discussing the assumptions we make about ourselves when it comes to these values, discussing the assumptions others might make who view Green School from the outside. Finally, we examine how we do or do not live up to these assumptions, especially whether we’re truly walking the talk when it comes to inclusion and belonging.
Our High School students hosting an International Women’s Day panel on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Our students have been super engaged and willing to be reflective about who we are,” says Robin, one of our High School faculty who teaches this unit alongside our Head of High School, Harriett. “One of the main aims of this class was for our students to really think about ourselves as a community before we start asking others to take action with us,” says Harriett. “How do we create belonging and inclusion for different identities within our community? And when we look at gender identity and equality, how are we considering things beyond just boy vs girl, for example? What about other aspects of identity like race, religion, family size, socio-economic background, etc?”
The Talking About a Revolution unit was designed to stop students before they take action. To create space and time for them to dig deep and really understand the intention behind an action. They may have an idea for a desired outcome, but to get to where they want to go, students first need to know from where you’re starting out.
As part of the unit, students worked with Shiza Malik, campaigning expert, journalist and Regional Media and Communications Lead for Oxfam in Asia, to learn how to run a social action campaign that is intentional and thoughtfully executed in order to have the greatest impact possible.
“Teaching the students about campaigning was an incredibly rewarding experience,” Shiza shared. “Their passion for social justice causes is inspirational. I hope they’re able to take their learnings from our time together to develop campaigns and lead real change.”
The students indeed took lessons from their workshop with Shiza and applied them to Green School’s annual V-Day movement to decide which actions would make the most sense for V-Day 2022.
“Having a conversation about what V Day is about, and reaching a consensus on that was actually really challenging,” says Robin. “We did an exercise where students wrote down responses to the question, “What do you RISE for?” – it was an exercise in taking part in a revolution that already exists, the One Billion Rising movement,” she explains.
Students across our campus collaborated on a RISE mural comprised of notes stating what our students rise for.
So what do our students rise for? Here were some of their responses to the “I Rise For…” prompt:
- My Community
- Racial Injustice
- My Mom
- Gender Equality
These commitments and many others were shared as part of a campus-wide, collaborative collage that spelled the word RISE and was showcased at the school for the duration of our VOICES season, which began on V Day and culminated on International Women’s Day last month.
“What came out of that exercise and our conversations with Shiza and the other activists we spoke to was this feeling of empowerment, ” says Robin. “Students began to realize all the ways they could still take part in larger movements, even when they’re not the person who is comfortable speaking to a crowd with a microphone in hand.”
With a greater understanding of the intention behind their actions, students feel newly empowered to channel other skills and passions into these movements – be it through art, music, poetry, dance, even cooking! Through this unit, we show our High School students that their voices matter, that there is power in their voice and that they need to take that power seriously and be intentional about the ways they use it.