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Een betekenisvol curriculum op High Tech High in San Diego

21 mei 2019

Het managementteam van Laterna Magica in Amsterdam en een paar NIVOZ-collega’s ondernamen in het voorjaar van 2019 een studiereis naar de beroemde High Tech High (HTH) in San Diego en drie Essential Schools in Boston. HTH heeft zijn wortels in één van die drie, The Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School. Organisator van de studiereis Rikie van Blijswijk neemt ons mee naar haar ontmoeting met Hisami en Sebastien, twee leerlingen van ongeveer twaalf jaar oud.

Opvallend is de gastvrijheid in HTH. We zijn in elke klas welkom en elke leraar en leerling neemt de tijd om je te woord te staan. Zo ook Hisami en Sebastien, leerlingen van The Middle School in Grade die vertellen over hun project over dakloos zijn en ongelijkheid tussen mannen en vrouwen.

De docenten aan HTH schrijven hun eigen curriculum voor elk leerjaar. Dat doen ze in samenspraak met een andere docent die een geheel ander vak geeft. Zo kan het zijn dat de docent ‘kunsten’ en de docent wiskunde een jaar lang samen werken. Het curriculum bestaat altijd uit projecten, die tot wel een jaar in beslag kunnen nemen. Het hoeft je niet te verbazen als je een lokaal binnenstapt waar leerlingen bezig zijn een camper te bouwen, gebruikmakend van wiskundige kennis, maar ook met aandacht voor de esthetiek van het voertuig.

De docenten maken hun projecten, het curriculum, altijd betekenisvol voor hun leerlingen. Het gaat over armoede, duurzaamheid, immigratie en/of democratisch burgerschap. Elke leerling kan aan het eind van zo’n project antwoord geven op de vraag ‘so what’: waarom heb je dit geleerd en wat heeft het je gebracht?

Als ik Hisami en Sebastien ontmoet in Grade 7 (middle school) zijn ze druk bezig een film te editen. Ze leggen er de laatste hand aan en nemen tijd om met mij in gesprek te gaan. 

De film gaat over dakloos zijn en huiselijk geweld, twee thema’s die Hisami en Sebastien gekozen hebben uit de Sustainable Development Goals van de Verenigde Naties. In 2015 heeft de VN deze 17 ambitieuze doelen voor duurzame ontwikkeling vastgesteld. Deze werden unaniem aangenomen door alle lidstaten en vormen tot 2030 een belangrijke gezamenlijke agenda.

Alle leerlingen hebben een topic gekozen. Mijn gesprekspartners kozen Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

Hisami en Sebastien stuurden later hun presentatie en film naar mij:

These are our written essays about homelessness and gender inequality.

Homelessness

Hisami Oliva, February 20, 2019   

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, and unloved is the greatest poverty." This quote was said by Mother Teresa, a very big advocate for helping the poorest people all around the world get back on their feet. Being homeless is hard, but it's not just hard living on the streets or in shelters. It's hard living in a country, America to be specific, where there is so much stigma and negative feelings towards homelessness. In 2017 there were an estimated 554,000 unsheltered people around the US.

Mental health care for the homeless should be more easily accessible. A report from 2017 found that 20% of the homeless population reported having a serious mental illness. Mental illness affects approximately 1 in 5 adults in the US. That's 43.8 million people. Even some of those who aren't homeless or in shelters don't seek mental health treatment because of a combination of the price and stigma surrounding mental health treatment.

People of colour are more likely to be homeless in the US than people who are not of colour. African Americans account for more than 40% of the homeless population.

We should heavily increase our funding for homeless shelters. We've gotten to the point where people would rather live on the streets than in shelters because of how horrid and unclean some facilities across the nation really are. One shelter in Homeless shelters are completely underfunded. Trump's budget cuts homeless assistance grants by $133 million.

Some might argue that people should be blamed for the situation they're in and shouldn't be given more chances and opportunities, but there are many uncontrollable messed up factors that can contribute to homelessness. Disability, loss of work, lack of an education, past domestic relationships, and many other things can make someone homeless.

So, what can we do as individuals? Investing a little bit of time to volunteering in shelters and job training, educating, and much more can help a ton. Another thing you can do is advocate for the rights of the homeless and destigmatize ideas surrounding homelessness. There are many things you can do to help out. Homelessness is a problem that will go away if we just ignore it, we have to take action.


Gender Inequality

Sebastien Montgrain, February 20, 2019  

The number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women murdered by current or ex male partners during the same time is 11,766. In the US, for every one dollar a man with a full time job makes, a woman with a full time job makes only seventy nine cents. These are results of gender inequality, you might be thinking, ¨What does the first fact have to do with gender inequality?¨ Well, in this writing I will be talking about how gender inequality is a big problem and is not just about the total earnings.

         First of all, people stereotyping is seriously affecting everyone that does not fit exactly into the paradigm. This affects men and male teenagers who show, “Too much emotion,” a woman can cry in the bathroom about a breakup or something, but if a boy did that he would be considered weird and he would be called names. Stereotyping really affects the LGBT, somebody who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is three times more likely to experience depression. A transgender person is also three times more likely to be unemployed.

         A big stereotype is that men make the money and have a good job and women have to care for the child. It turns out that this is a big reason why women only make 79 cents compared to a man’s dollar. A graph shows that after a couple has a first child a woman’s earning drop significantly and a man’s stay the same. This might be partly because there are many jobs that do not make it fair for women, reports have shown that women were forced to leave their job because they were not granted maternity leave,  they might never find a job as good. Right now, women are supposed to just stop work to care for the kid, I would like to see some change.

         Domestic violence is a big problem women face, 1 in 4 women have experienced domestic violence and if you add in America’s gun laws you have a big problem. A woman experiencing domestic violence is 8 times more likely to be killed if there is a firearm in the house. Domestic violence is the number one cause of injury-related deaths during pregnancy. In the middle east it is much harder for a woman to divorce so they might have to live their whole life being mistreated. Marital rape is legal in some places and sexual assault is the number one unreported crime.

         You might be saying, many improvements have been made, if we keep it up, it will just get better and better, well, as time goes on, women are being pushed into doing thing because of the paradigm. For example, women especially, are expected to look good, so in 2018 we saw more than 17.5 million purposeful plastic surgeries, because people feel the need to look good and fit in. It is estimated another 217 years until full gender equality and that is too long. If stereotyping stops and jobs and society is open to everyone being who they want to be, we can end gender inequality sooner.

This is our revised final short film:

Op 21 maart presenteerden Hisami en Sebastien hun verhaal en film aan klasgenoten en andere leden van de community. Bij hun presentatie riepen zij iedereen op om geld te doneren of in te zamelen en vrijwilligerswerk te doen voor opvanglocaties.

Rikie van Blijswijk is verbonden aan NIVOZ-opleidingen. Ze is initiator en begeleider van de NIVOZ-coalitie voor opleidingsdocenten.

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