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Activities & Lessons
Ending Dehumanizing Practices
Human Restoration Project CC-BY-SA.
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Why do we attend school? What do we value in our life? In this activity, students will decide their goals for the upcoming school year.
This lesson helps students reflect on their personal aspirations and critically evaluate the role of education in helping them achieve their goals, through discussion and co-creating lesson plans that reinforce student agency in setting and pursuing their own goals.
Start by inviting students to answer the question: “Who do you hope to be when you’re 30 years old?” Note that this question isn’t purely occupational, rather we’re focused on every element of being a human being.
Then, watch this clip from academic critic Alfie Kohn.
Have students discuss the clip:
• Does this video clip resonate with you?
• How does this relate to what you’ve written?
• Do you believe school is preparing you to meet your goals?
Students may be focused on Kohn’s monetary achievement metrics. Many desire high GPAs, college-preparedness, or material goods. This shouldn’t be dismissed or painted poorly. Any educational outcome is desired as long as the student is the one making these choices. We should ensure that students want these things, not feel pressured by outside forces.
Have students contemplate:
• Are they the ones who want to see these goals fulfilled?
• What outside forces shape who we want to be?
• Are there any potential negative outcomes of our culture and learning?
• What can this classroom do to help us realize our potential?
Record what students discuss and utilize this information to co-create lesson plans, units, or norms within your classroom. Refer back to these ideas to reinforce that our goals are to envision their aspirations, not a predefined expectation set by the school.