Hello fellow educator!! I have my degree in social studies for the secondary levels (9-12) here in Missouri. I don't have a teaching job yet - and am keeping my fingers crossed that the Missouri legislature doesn't cut funding to education - but am actively looking for one. I student taught sophomore world history. It was so much fun! Anyway, in the unit about the Renaissance and Reformation, we were talking about Martin Luther and his 95 Theses. I explained that Luther looked at the church in his time, saw a lot of inconsistencies and things that, in his mind, were wrong and was not God's original intent for the church (like selling indulgences, etc). He wrote his 95 Theses and posted it to the door of Wartburg Castle's church. He also wrote it in the common language so everyone could read his list of complaints. The students seemed to think Luther was an alright guy and had guts (or "a brass set" as one student put it). I gave them an assignment to write their own Theses complaining about anything they like -within certain perameters of course. It had to be 12-15 complaints long and then they had to follow it up with at least 5 suggestions of how to fix the problems they saw. On the day the assignment was due, I would collect the Theses, read them outloud & each class would vote on which their favorite. The 'winner' from each class would then be posted on our classroom door. (made for very interesting conversations) I left the decisions completely up to them. They were allowed to work in groups or on their own. In my 5 World history classes, most groups did things like "12 school rule Theses" or "12 boy theses". One group surprised me...well they didn't surprise me in the content of their Theses...they surprised me that they actually wrote it. I believe the title was "12 government theses" or something close to that. I should probably explain the dynamics of that 3 person group - 1 lesbian, 1 gay boy, 1 straight girl (who happened to be Hispanic). They wrote very eloquently about discrimination based on gender, race, age, and sexual orientation. They wrote about the church knowing it's place in society and not being involved in politics. I don't remember their solutions but I remember they were logical and well thought out. In that particular class - it was a higher functioning, higher achieving class - I didn't worry about reading it outloud although they did not want their names used. I was so proud of my students - no snickers, no laughing, no finger pointing, no name calling. I was also disappointed in the apathy most of my students showed. When time came to vote on which Theses would be posted, the only ones that voted for the government theses was the group members that wrote it. THAT disappointed me; my heart broke. I was also allowed to vote (I was the teacher..my rules
) and put my vote in on the government theses. While I'm not out by any means, I do stand up for discrimination when I see it and applaud it when it's avoided or it doesn't happen.
Strange thing happened after that assignment - the 2 gay students spoke to me more, smiled, and gave me hugs whenever possible. Maybe someday their vision of a truly FREE USA will be realized.
Sorry if I rambled.