For over 200 years we have been claiming that “We the People” were trying to create a more perfect and inclusive union, but this unit attempts to challenge students to think more critically about that idea. The unit will encourage them to identify their own biases by revisiting important moments in our history. Through this process they will learn more about the process of inclusion.
At some point, every group has tried to crawl its way out of the 2
Class citizen ditch. Those struggles are embodied in museums, holidays, food, music, writings, art, and physical memorial sites. And only after the fight has been won can a group accorded full inclusion understand its new-found power.
The Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet High School is a public school that draws students from New Haven and the Greater New Haven region to study their chosen art. Through their study of art,--including, theatre, dance, music (strings, band and choir), creative writing or visual arts, students develop uniquely creative and personal lens in which to apply lessons learned to their core classes. The building is located in a busy, metropolitan downtown area which is less than a block away from one of the most famous stages in New Haven: the Shubert Theatre. This proximity allows students to gain internship experiences; perform in exhibitions, and even cross the stage for graduation.
Our population of 650 students ranges dramatically in term of socioeconomic status, academic ability, sexual orientation and identification, race and ethnicity. Teachers also have to be very aware of the most obvious demographic imbalance--our heavily female population. About 60% of the school is female (which is a national trend for some colleges). When looking at my own classes, there are no more than 5 males in each class “honors” level class, and the disparity is even more glaring in my one “college” level classes. “College” refers to a non-honors course. This imbalance may be due to the nature of the curriculum, though it is on par with some national trends for colleges.
Given the extraordinary diversity in our educational microcosm of the world, I want to be thoughtful about how to prepare my students for college, careers, and most importantly civic life. The goal of this unit is to help them understand the personal struggles of these once oppressed groups and gain empathy for them. I want my students to appreciate their opportunity to voice their opinions while also engaging in activities that force them to challenge their opinions about groups that suffer from inequality. I also hope my students learn what is currently being done to address their issues.