Monday, July 16, 2012

Turning Pain Into Power

I have been thinking a lot about what Linda Christensen had to say about making room for our students' lives in the classroom, turning their pain into power It is not enough to make our students aware of the injustice in the world for "without giving [our] students an outline for their despair, [we create] what Wayne Au et al. call 'factories of cynicism'" (Christensen 198).   We must provide our students the opportunity to act, to create, to teach so that they feel empowered by knowledge not burdened by it. 

While I was perusing the Media Education Foundation site, I came upon two videos that were about youth in action.  The first Mic Check is about the Occupy Movement. My students were very interested in the Occupy Movement when it was happening.  They asked a lot of questions about the economy and capitalism.  I think watching all of these young people stand up for something, even if it is something they may not totally understand or agree with, would inspire my students.  They are so convinced that nothing will ever change.  The world is what it is and you just have to deal with it the best you can.  A video like this is a conversation starter.

The other video, How to Start a Revolution, revolves around Gene Sharp and "how an obscure list of nonviolent actions authored by Sharp in 1973 has served as a blueprint for anti-authoritarian revolts everywhere from Eastern Europe and the Balkans to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia." Civil disobience is my jam!  I can't wait to show this clip.  I'm always trying to explain to my students that civil disobience is anything but passive.  It's so bad ass.  I want the idea that people not that much older than them have overthrown vicious dictatorships to grab ahold of my students and not let go.  Perhaps this clip has the teeth I need:


  1. I haven't had a chance to look at the Occupy mateials at MEF yet, but I think that using stuff like these are a great way to frame the movement!!

  2. These things make the world a whole lot smaller, huh?

  3. What a wonderful point, Kelly -- a really important one. You might like the Kristof article I mentioned in class in which a group of students got Universal Studios to update their website on the Lorax movie (I don't know if they actually changed the movie). That is a young student way to use, but it's been used for other issues that are described in the article that might be of more interest to older students. It might be one avenue for your students to be empowered. (I worry that might eventually be so flooded with petitions that it's no longer effective.)