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Giving Compass' Take:
• Teaching media literacy can help foster student activism by applying a critical perspective to the inequalities within media messages and symbols that students see every day.
• The author mentions that student activists are more in tune with how social issues are intersectional, helping them become more aware of the nuances in social activism. How will this perspective strengthen students' ability to fight for social causes?
• Read more about how student activism is on the rise.
According to one survey, school counselors at 52 percent of U.S. high schools report increased interest in political activism among their students. From student walkouts in the wake of mass shootings, to taking a knee at sporting events, more teenagers are discovering the power of protest and speaking up about the causes that matter to them.
We educators have a responsibility to nurture these student voices, and to respond to their interest by further illuminating histories of systemic inequalities, prejudices, and violence in the U.S.It’s not that today’s student activism is unprecedented in this country—not by a long shot. Still, I believe that since Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, high school activism has taken on a new level of sophistication and pervasiveness.
One of the subtle but crucial changes I’ve noticed in the past year or two is in how intelligently students discuss the issues they care about. The language of “intersectionality”—a term coined by legal theorist Kimberle Crenshaw—has helped give students a framework for understanding how their multifaceted personal identities fuel their innovations of age-old social causes.
As flat-out impressed as I often am when listening to my students discuss their activist inklings, this growing interest can also present challenges in the classroom.
Often, a teenager’s first reaction is to take an issue personally, even if it is deeply rooted in historical and contemporary social systems. Our job as educators is to encourage students to research and engage intellectually in longer histories of social injustice. I believe we must also encourage students to work to restructure those inequalities in their own generation.
One way to approach this is to begin training students in media literacy, at the high school level and earlier.
Read the full article about student activists by Molly Pulda at EdSurge