We are working on social action research projects. Beginning major research units with students is so exciting. It's some of the easiest planning I do all year and some of the most exhausting teaching. Teachers make lots of decisions in a day--I've read some estimates between 800 and 1500, and it seems like that figure must double when we embark on research. Students began narrowing topics in small groups today, and already some students have a good resource or two and others are completely unsure what they want to do. My days are full of thinking on my feet and trying to connect students with resources they need in that moment.
One group struggled to figure out how to approach poverty as an umbrella topic. Which direction did they want to go? Which community did they want to try and help? At the end of the class they were still stuck. I said, "You are not doing this wrong. This is just hard work. Keep thinking. Keep talking." Eventually, they divided into two groups: one was interested in looking at hunger in a faraway place, and the other pair was struggling with the idea of wealth distribution. Really struggling.
Isaac said as he looked at his group, "I mean, I just don't get it. We have people who are starving and we have people in huge fancy houses that just keep buying more stuff. It doesn't make any sense. You learn it in kindergarten. Share."
There was something very powerful in what he said. I don't know how this pair will go about their process. I don't know if they will decide the government should look at our tax structure or if people should just give more away to each other. I'm not sure where their research will take them. I do know that his comment made me think about how my dad used to call me his little socialist because I used to make comments like that.
I know there are things about "the system" that teenagers don't know and don't fully understand. I also love it when they call on our best human ideals because that it what seems right to them.