Building community. Below is one of my community building stories from my gr 9 class. I tried to take notes on it all as it was happening because it was so amazing and I wanted to share it with you because it’s pretty special and to say that this is why I am going to be a teacher well, take a look and you might be just as awestruck as I am:
My first day with my grade 9s was on Tuesday. As an intro activity, I had the kids draw a timeline that looked something like this:
and for the next 10-15 minutes they had to predict future events of the world and furture events for themselves. There was no time limit, they could predict as far into the future as they saw for both timelines.
Once they filled in their timeline, I drew a long line on the board and each person came up and wrote one thing from each portion of their timelines. As you can imagine, they dreamt up some pretty inspired goals and predictions for themselves — everything from getting their driver’s licenses to writing bestselling books to becoming snowboard champions and prom queen.
On the other hand, their predictions for the future were very dismal…running out of water, wars over resources, wars period, the world spontaneously exploding, people assassinated, hate crimes, amalgamated religions into one dominant ideology, and the list goes on and on and on.
So we spent the next ten minutes looking at the board and discussing what was on the timeline. I asked them if they could see any connections or reasons for what they saw. They were pretty chatty and all over the place but I finally laid the teacher-Kate-discipline on and all but yelled:
WHY… (they stopped talking)…do you think that our predictions for our own futures are positive and exciting and filled with hope, dreams, and ambition BUT our predictions for the future of the world are dismal, dark, scary even?
It was dead silent. The room went from entirely rambunctious and frustratingly loud to stone silent. At first, I thought it went totally over their 28 heads and I started mentally punching myself in the head when one girl slowly raised her hand and said:
I think it’s because we are selfish and we can’t see outside of our own little bubbles.
And thus, I realized they weren’t confused…they were thinking and engaged and the answers began to flow:
because we don’t think that we play a role in anything going on in the world…
we don’t like connecting ourselves to something if we can’t control it…
the world has so much hate in it, why does it matter if I am happy and most of the world isn’t…
I don’t think I have a purpose in the world so I believe I will be happy and achieve success if I keep it to myself…
I just don’t know how I could change the world…
maybe it’s because the world tries to control us and what we should do, think, wear…maybe I don’t want to connect the two because then I can’t be my true self…
I think people are afraid to admit that they are part of something bigger…
because if the world doesnt change from how it is now (think of all the wars and hate we know of), who is to say it’ll be any different in 60 years…
we don’t look at our futures and the world’s future as the exact. same. thing…
my future is unrealistic, Miss Stam, because that’s what dreams are…I don’t dream much for the world because I don’t know what it wants or what it needs…
It went on and on and on. It was incredible. I was thrilled and couldn’t believe the connections they made for themselves once given the chance.
My last question about the timeline was contingent on the final date listed. The last prediction was set for 2065. Perfect.
So, after all of that — why do you think that we, selfish and unaware, grade 9 students were only able to predict until 2065, anyone have any ideas?
Quiet again. And then, my student that barely shows up to class, let alone participates, quietly says:
Duh Miss Stam, selfish people can’t see past their own lifespan. So we only think of what we’re doing and just do it, forgetting the bad impact it might have on the world… But that is unfair to my kids and their kids and the rest of the people in the world that will live longer than 2065, isn’t it Miss Stam?
Nailed it. Yup.
Well, I guess that taught me two things Miss Stam:
1. I have a lot of changing and learning to do — my world is far too small right now if I want to be a part of the big world in a big way.
2. I am NOT ready to have kids — clearly, I have to figure out some stuff first.
Welcome to Miss Stam’s Social Studies 9 class… we love visitors, friends, and exploring the world! 😉