Contributed by Melanie Thompson and Ashton Booher
1. What sparked the idea of having the students create their own social justice exhibit?
Third grade is a big transitional year, when students gain more independence in the work they do and begin to craft their view of the world. Knowing this, it was important for us to work with students to empathize with people, both similar and different from themselves.
2. What is something you learned from the student’s during this process?
The students had such childlike ideas of how people treat each other. We first shared some of the ways in which groups of people have been treated unfairly in the past and students were astounded. They couldn’t believe that people would judge others based simply on their religion, race, gender, or ability. Responses we often heard were, “that’s just not right,” and “why would they do that?”
The quote that stuck out to us the most was “God made us the way we are. We are all special because of our differences.” From that, we are reminded that we’re all special. We don’t love people despite our differences, but embrace and love people because of our differences.
3. Why do you think it’s important for students to learn about this subject?
The kids say it best when they say, “we don’t want to repeat the past.” The subject of social injustice is very prevalent in our society right now. As a society, we are reexamining the laws of our country. It’s our job as educators to prepare future generations to care for others and stand up for what is right. Also, no voice is too small to make a difference.
4. What was your favorite part about this whole project?
Honestly, our favorite part was stepping back and listening as students shared their message with the world. It has been amazing to watch students’ level of empathy evolve; they care about each other and want to teach others the doing the right thing.