I teach Media Studies in Fremont High School’s Media Academy where promoting free speech and student voice is a top goal. Nevertheless, there are students who shy away from speaking their truth, especially when their teacher is a white, middle-aged woman who grew up in a middle-class home. Bringing Youth Together into the classroom is a way to give many of these students a safe place in which to use their voices. They relate to the student instructors and their topics.
Two of the most energetic, participatory classes I’ve had this year were the two run by Youth Together — a workshop on rap music and a workshop on sexism. Media Academy students who are Youth Together interns ran the classes with help from site organizer Talia Taylor. And they ran those classes better than many credentialed teachers. They established norms and redirected peers who had veered from those norms. One of the highlights for me in the May 30 workshop on sexism was to hear one Latina who never voluntarily participates in class speak from the heart about Fremont High as an institution that allows sexism, racism and ageism. Other students who already are vocal in class, spoke more passionately about contemporary issues than I have ever heard them speak before, prompting me to talk to them afterward about joining Youth Together as a student organizer and activist or the debate team.
Having Youth Together in the classroom is a great way for students to exercise their freedom of speech and a great way for teachers to get to know their students in a new way. I highly recommend teachers invite Youth Together into their classrooms to watch for themselves how powerful student led workshops by young people can be.
Fremont High School
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