Every other week, students complete an Article of the Week. For this assignment, students annotate, answer questions, and then they receive a speaking grade as well (for answering questions presumably already prepared). Anyway, this time students read the articlce "Just How Many Facebook Friends Do You Need?" (linked here: http://kellygallagher.org/resources/articles.html) As students were annotating this article at their tables (groups of three to four) conversations began to arise first about how "unsafe" social media can really be and then, as it was the day after the election, conversation turned to discussing the results.
Before I continue, I need to make a slight point: I educate my students to become critical thinkers. People who question. I have no disrespect for my students' families' views, but I also want to open their eyes to possibility. That's not to say I impose my own personal beliefs on my students. Quite the contrary, really. If presenting anything politcal (or controversial, even), I present the material in a neutral manner that allows students to provide the final element:choice.
As students began discussing the article about social media, conversations began about the results of the 2012 election (which had been the night before). I was very impressed with some of the conversations. One table in particular had quite a leader in the group. This girl confidently began a conversation about the three other members' opinions (all boys) on same-sex marriage. Though two of the boys made rather immature comments about this topic, the other boy began a very intellectual conversation with her. He began to discuss with the other two boys how he would want anyone to have the same rights as him, for all should have the right to love who they want without worrying about what other people think. He made a comment shortly thereafter about how a same-sex couple would not interefere with his personal life or his pratice of man-woman relationships. This silenced the two who were making somewhat immature comments, and then the girl put her comments in as well, discussing how the other two boys should reconsider. After all, what if they were gay themselves? The defending boys then became defensive, but she and the pro-same-sex boy continued their conversation about equality.
It was a really rewarding moment. She was challenging her classmates to do exactly what I want them to do: think about issues in a different light. To question. I was proud of she and the boy who tried to convince the others to think like the two of them. Of course, I will always believe the two boys who defended "traditional" marriage the right to believe in this, but at least the