We've all witnessed an impressive array of youth civic engagement in the last month in the wake of the mass shooting that occurred at a high school in Parkland, Florida. We've also seen a range of impactful youth participation in the last several years in response to gun violence, systemic racism, immigration policies, water rights, and sexual assault that has grown into broad and long-lasting efforts such as the Black Lives Matter, United We Dream, and #MeToo movements. And, of course, there are many young people who are considering getting involved in civic and political issues for the first time.
Many educators are asking themselves how to best support their students to reflect on and take informed action in response to the current challenges in our society. And teachers are grappling with a range of questions about how to position themselves in relation to their students’ activism.
Inspired by youth activists from Ferguson to Parkland, a new community-created online resource has just launched called YouthInFront. This resource includes advice from experienced youth activists and allies on ways to consider how to support youth-led civic engagement.
This online resource is organized around questions that youth and adults can reflect on. For example, through this resource, youth can explore:
- What’s the point of a walkout?
- Will I get in trouble?
- How can a march become a movement?
And teachers can reflect on ways to support student learning related to civic and political issues.
The creators started by interviewing and surveying youth about their questions, and then curated a collection of resources from media producers, civic educators, youth activists and organizers, software engineers, and many organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Facing History and Ourselves, and Teaching Tolerance.
The YouthInFront community is made up of people with a range of political beliefs and backgrounds; however, they all came together with the shared belief that,
“Youth-led civic activism can transform society for the better. Young people are powerful civic actors, and during their apprenticeship of citizenship, their voices deserve to be heard.”
For more about the community of authors click here.
A few highlights from the resources that teachers can use in their classroom include:
For more materials related to youth civic engagement in the wake of gun violence in Parkland, check out these four additional resources:
- After Parkland, Students Choose to Participate -- Use this lesson to engage your students in reflection and action, drawing on the 10 Questions for Change Makers.
- Nine Ways to Help Students Discuss Guns and Violence -- Ideas about how educators can best navigate this inspiring and challenging moment of youth activism.
- The Power to Change the World -- A teaching unit on student activism in history and today from The New York Times.
- Student Activism and Gun Control -- A blog post on how school leaders can respond by listening, helping to empower, and affirming students' rights.
And for ideas on how to integrate civic learning into your classroom throughout the year and across subject areas, visit the Educating for Democracy Deep Dive.
Erica Hodgin is the Associate Director of the Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) at UC Riverside and Co-Principal Investigator with Joseph Kahne of Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age. Her current research focuses on the educational implications of youth civic and political engagement in the digital age. Erica received her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Mills College. Before joining CERG, Erica taught English and Social Studies and served as an instructional coach at the middle school and high school level. Connect with Erica on Twitter: @EricaHodgin.
Joseph Kahne is the Dutton Presidential Professor of Educational Policy and Politics at the University of California, Riverside. A former high school social studies teacher, Joe is Co-Principal Investigator with Erica Hodgin of Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age. An advisor to several foundations and civic education organizations. Joe is currently working on district-wide civic education efforts in Oakland, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Chicago. Explore Joe’s work at the Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) and connect with him on Twitter: @jkahne.