Acting to Overcome Systems of Oppression
This collection is designed to extend students' thinking about acting to overcome systems of oppression after they read a memoir that focuses on social justice and activism. In our English program, students in 6th grade read I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousazai; in 7th grade, students read March: Book One by John Lewis; and in 8th grade, students read Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi. All use the Project Zero thinking routine "Think, Feel, Care" to explore Malala's, John Lewis's, or Marjane's reaction to the system of oppression they face in their story. To engage with the thinking routine, we ask the following questions:
Think: How does the character understand the system and her/his role within it?
Feel: What is the character's emotional response to this system and her/his position within it?
Care: What are her/his values, priorities, and motivations with regard to this system? What is important to her/him?
From there, students analyze the question: How does the character act on what is important to her/him in response to this system?
We use this collection and the "Think, Feel, Care" routine to look at how others have responded to and acted against different systems of oppression. After spending time with this collection, we end with the "Circle of Action" thinking routine to help us think about the potential for our own action against systems of oppression.
This collection could be used in conjunction with any unit that focuses on social justice or activism.