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Speaking from the Field - April 2014


Speak Truth To Power Sweden organized an event in Ånge. Amanda Imrell and Liza Hallmin,
whose courageous story is told in the Swedish STTP curriculum, performed with local students.    
Photo by Elisabeth Jamtner Edh
TEACHERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Meet Bill Klein

 

Bill Klein is a teacher at Marymount High School, a Catholic school in Los Angeles, who uses the Speak Truth To Power program as part of his teaching on Social Justice and Contemporary Issues.

   

How have you used STTP?


I have employed STTP by using the defenders and their stories to help students understand the complexity of issues that our world faces today. Teaching Social Justice and Contemporary Issues, I am able to establish a context for the discussion by using these figures as examples of how to go about the business of changing our world for the better.


I teach at Marymount High School, a Catholic school in LA, and this curriculum lends itself to working for the common good and positive change in our society.  I gave my students an opportunity to choose an issue close to their heart and directed them to the RFK website to go deeper into the issue. Students researched an issue and the individual “Defender” associated with that issue. I then had them make documentaries detailing their findings and shared them in class. We opened each issue to discussion and allowed the students the opportunity to lead the class. This process also allowed them the opportunity to see how the issue affected them directly in their community. They were surprised to see that these issues really did hit closer to home than they realized.


I find that I use the curriculum as a reference point. I am always challenging my students to look at social justice from two points of action-direct action and social action. I ask them to consider what the direct action is for any given issue. What is the direct need of the people and what is the most critical need that requires our immediate attention? Is it hunger, homelessness, saving women from sex trafficking, dealing with the dangers of global warming? I then ask them to consider the central question in fixing the problem in the long term and establish a social action that may contribute to change in the future through legislation or education to others about the issue.


Using STTP as a reference point, I’ve been able to challenge students to think about contemporary figures like Muhammad Yunus and his work in microfinance. Once we’ve examined his work and studied his life through the “Defender” section of the RFK website, we can see what actions we can take to make a difference. There are various microfinance websites one of which is KIVA, which illustrates the needs of individuals around the world and students see firsthand what the direct needs of individuals are as well as the needs of any given country. STTP is a critical tool in helping us establish the context for change.


What aspect of STTP do you think most inspires human rights learning and action among your students?   

 

The STTP defenders have broadened the horizons in my curriculum in numerous ways. Most importantly, the stories of the heroic figures have helped my students to identify with their own humanity in a deeper, more profound way. Students examine what they can do within their own communities to impact our society for the better. The defenders demonstrate possibilities for change and inspire my students to recognize that justice is sometimes a long, painful, arduous journey, but it starts with a courageous step forward by recognizing self evident truths. These truths stem from the pain and suffering that is clearly expressing itself within any given society.


Students respond to stories. The parable is one of the most important devices in enabling ideas to stick.  Everyone loves a good story and the stories of these tenacious spirits allows students to see hope at work in our world.


What advice would you offer other teachers interested in bringing STTP into their school?


 If I were giving advice to teachers, I would say it is imperative that you begin the conversation with your school about what’s happening out there in our world. In the words of Martin Luther King: “We are tied in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly...Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  Students need to know what is happening in their world. They are the only hope for a better future. By identifying with the problems we face in our world, they are beginning the difficult task of asking the critical questions to find solutions.


The STTP curriculum begins the conversation. It establishes an important context for the discussion for students and teachers, so they can go deeper into the issues. It informs both in so many profound ways. If used correctly, it can engage a student’s literary, historical, philosophical, and artistic sensibilities. Engage your principals and curriculum development specialists in conversation about it. Take a look at the curriculum and don’t be afraid to use it in your own unique way. You have an opportunity to examine the breadth of important issues in compelling ways while meeting the needs of “Common Core."

  


STTP: GET INVOLVED NOW
Summer Institute

 

Are you ready to become a STTP Lead Educator?
If so, you have four opportunities this summer to participate in a STTP Summer Institute. Over the course of the three-day institute, you will actively engage in learning about:
  • the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights and about Speak Truth To Power, 
  • the Human Rights Framework, and 
  • Human Rights Education pedagogy.

The primary goal of the STTP summer training institute is to increase the number of teachers trained in STTP, by certifying teachers to conduct Teach Truth To Power programs and investing in those committed to teaching about issues of human rights and social justice. Last year's institute participants are working in the field to lead the implementation of STTP in their schools, communities, and beyond. What are our STTP Lead Educators doing? They are:

  • Working with students to host a Human Rights Day.
  • Co-facilitating a STTP video contest training.
  • Helping start a STTP seminar series for pre- and in-service teachers.
  • Co-facilitating a professional development workshop.
  • And, teaching Speak Truth To Power!

 

Locations and Dates:

Washington, DC - July 7, 8, 9  

Memphis, TN - July 14, 15, 16 

New York, NY - August, exact dates TBA

Los Angeles, CA - Dates TBA

 

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Karen Robinson at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . An online application will be available soon.



STUDENTS TAKING ACTION
A Town in Ohio Creates a Ripple of Hope 


In 2012, RFK Speak Truth To Power staff were asked to travel to Bucyrus, Ohio, to discuss how the STTP program might help address some of the challenges the community and school were facing. Two years later, the school continues to weave the RFK STTP curriculum into Advisory, Social Studies, and Media Arts classes; two teachers were trained during the 2013 RFK STTP Summer Institute; three RFK STTP Defenders have spoken at community-wide events; and the school's Defenders Club has empowered more and more elementary school students to learn about and take action for human rights. Read on to learn more about the Defenders Club.

 

In 2012, eight boys from the Bucyrus Elementary School (BES) started work alongside local attorney and BES alumni Adam Stone, to inform their advocacy against three major problems facing the community: poverty and hunger, bullying, and substance abuse.

 

As a result, the small group formed the "Defenders Club," which grew out of the Speak Truth To Power (STTP) framework.

 

According to the students, the goal of the club is threefold: 

  1. To open their eyes to the fact that problems do exist in Bucyrus; 
  2. To help them understand that problems usually take place right in front of them; and
  3. To learn about things people can do or are obligated to do to help one another. 

"Unfortunately, some of the members of the group are all too familiar with these problems, while others are completely unaware of major issues going on around them," Stone said. "While I feel it's important to teach them about the issues, I feel it's even more important to help them find a solution. If nothing else, I want to empower them to do something about their own plight, while teaching them that - no matter what their age - they can make a difference in the world around them."

 

The group started off by studying Robert F. Kennedy's "Ripple of Hope" quote, then discussed and defined each issue facing the community, explaining how it affected BES and what they could do to make a difference.

 

The group has taken on a number of initiatives, such as sponsoring a school-wide food drive with donations going to support the school's backpack program. "The kids are really excited about it," Stone said. "They developed the idea from the ground up." BES students are encouraged to bring in a canned or boxed item every Monday or Thursday. In return, the students receive a Speak Truth To Power wristband and an illustrated water drop that says, "I am a ripple of hope." The water drops are hung in the hallway, mimicking the imagery of a ripple building into a current that could sweep down, as RFK said, "the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
 
The founding members of the Defenders Club from left are, front row, Olivia Colleen, Kale Herschler, Miguel Rosas, Devon Milligan, John Ratliff, Jaden Deskin, Domique Gonzalez; back row, Adam Stone (adviser), Davonte Armstrong, Erik Brickner.
            
Students Say:

"A Ripple of Hope is how we act to get other people to help other people and they see that and it just builds and builds until we are all helping each other." - 4th grader at BES

"Being a defender means standing up for other kids. As to the Ripple of Hope drive, we had kids in the group who needed the backpacks but would take stuff from their backpack and put it in another child's backpack - that is a defender." - 6th grader at BES



STTP INTERNATIONAL
Performance in Ånge, Sweden, Brings Together Local Heroines 
Students performing as part of a  
Speak Truth To Power event in Ånge, Sweden.
Photo by Elisabeth Jamtner Edh

 

In Sweden, Speak Truth To Power staff and teachers organized an event in Ånge, a small community in the north of the country, to bring together local human rights defenders and share about the importance of defending human rights. 


The event prominently featured two local heroines and proud STTP defenders, Amanda Imrell and Liza Hallmin, who organized a fundraising concert for a friend of theirs who had been deported. The two girls shared their story to show an example of how anyone can stand up for their friends. They were also interviewed by two local television stations, which broadcast the evening's program live. Swedish journalist Urban Hamid also spoke of his experiences during the Arab Spring.

 

The Speak Truth To Power curriculum was distributed to all who attended. The response from the community was overwhelming, with some parents breaking down in tears while thanking organizers for what they felt was an extremely important experience - and one that should be compulsory for every school.




Si è concluso il Corso di Formazione per dissidenti digitali al RFK Training Institute


This article is not available in English.


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