School Safety WebQuest
Sometimes it can seem that the world around us is full of Hard Lessons (Sage, Ink - The Atlantic Monthly). To work on difficult problems, however, we have to be willing to look carefully and honestly at what the lessons can teach us. Then we can see if there are any ways we can contribute to making things better.
Now that your team is complete with a group of experts, each member having learned a lot of information. But guess what? Gathering useful information isn't the same as truly understanding a topic. To do this, you have to use that information in such a way that you construct new knowledge. If you apply this knowledge in a creative or problem-solving way, then you will have shown that you're not just copying and pasting, but doing real thinking.
With your team members all gathered together, carefully read and try answering the main question for this WebQuest:
Why all this violence in schools?!!
In other words...
- Why does it happen?
- Who is responsible?
- How can we stop it?
- How does all this relate to the world outside the school gates?
You may have six (or more or less) experts on your team with similar, but different perspectives on the topic (Teenagers, Sociologists, Educators, Parents, Counselors, Politicians). The first suggestion is to narrow the focus a little and see where you all agree and disagree. Try using a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast what you group agrees are the main three issues / perspectives / viewpoints on the main question.
See where you all agree and where differences arise. Use information, pictures, movies, facts, opinions, etc. that you've explored to convince your teammates that your viewpoint is important and should be part of your team's answer to the Quest(ion) / Task. Your WebQuest team will plan out a complete process that everyone on the team can live with and participate in putting out into the real world.
If you can't agree on the three to focus on, you might try using a consensus decision making process.
Putting Your Ideas into Action
Because we need some way to put your ideas into action, we suggest you try a method taken from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s nonviolent campaigns and teachings. Some people disagree with aspects of Dr. King's life, but few will argue that his approach to creating positive change was effective and better than terrorism or apathy. His approach emphasizes putting love in action. Maybe we should give this a try? To get a quick overview on The Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change, use the links below:
Now let's apply The Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change to our study of school safety / violence.
The Six Steps & School Safety
- Information gathering and research to get the facts straight;
Haven't you done A LOT of this! You've already learned Background information and maybe even taken a Knowledge Hunt. Your work taking a role on your team has made you an expert on at least one aspect of the topic. If you need to, you can polish your notes and make sure you can support your ideas using references from specific resources you may have, including print, Web, and in-person.
- Education of adversaries and the public about the facts of the dispute;
You have probably already completed the first part of this step. When you sorted your perspectives above using a Venn Diagram, you were educating people who may have a different opinion than yours. It's a good idea for you to now spread the word and educate the public at large. Dr. King used the Teach-In:
- An organized event or series of events, including public hearings, lectures, panel discussions, theatrical presentations, showing of films, role-playing and scenario exercises and other educational techniques, to inform public about a particular issue.
How will you do your Teach-In? This is up to you. Do you want to address your student body? Your principal? Your Student Council? Your district Superintendent? Your School Board? Your local community? Who else could help to make our schools safer if they knew what you know? You decide. We suggest that a good way to focus your Teach-In is to put your ideas together in a small Web site. The Unfolded WebQuest will help you do this automatically or you can create and post the pages on your own.
- Personal Commitment to nonviolent attitudes and action
This Web page began with a link to a Hard Lesson many people have to learn. If you haven't digested this lesson, we suggest you try going on a personal journey by using the Insight Reflector activity in which you will be guided through a process of personal reflection.
Once you are very clear on your personal commitment to nonviolence, we suggest you choose a role model or discover your own. If your group is making its own Web pages, how about adding links to a world leader / role model who inspires your group?
- Negotiation with adversary in a spirit of goodwill to correct injustice;
Before you are ready to create a group solution to the Main Question, let's make sure that your team is really thinking and feeling as a team. Discuss your way through the Insight Reflector as a group before you put your ideas into a Plan for Direct Action. This will allow you to discuss more subtle aspects of the issue and themes so that your group speaks and argues with greater sensitivity and sophistication.
Now is the time to create Plan and put it into Action. To get ideas for how to structure your plan and what you might actually do, look through the Conceptual Models and Solutions to School violence. Review individually the Conceptual Models and the School Solutions because these are two separate aspects to your Plan (the "How" and the "What").
- Nonviolent direct action, such as marches, boycotts, mass demonstrations, picketing, sit-ins etc., to help persuade or compel adversary to work toward dispute-resolution;
Confrontation or direct action is used to morally force the opponent to continue the dialogue for resolving the injustices. It imposes a "creative tension" on the conflict, making it so crisis-packed that the opponent is forced to negotiate in good faith in order to resolve conflict. So that no one gets carried away - because the action should never overshadow the issue or become violent itself! - let's review the Principles of Nonviolence.
To get ideas on actually what to do, as a group, study 198 Methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion from "The Politics of Nonviolent Action," by Gene Sharp. If you decide to run a Public Awareness Campaign, review Ads that Have Made a Difference - 60 Years of Effecting Positive Social Change from the Ad Council.
Make a list of those Actions that your groups finds most interesting and feasible. Once you have narrowed the options down, read through the Organizing Guide for Nonviolent Direct Action from the Campus Organizing Guide for Peace and Justice Groups, by Rich Cowan. The details from this guide might help you in selecting one or a few Direct Actions to take.
Note: You should also seek Real World Feedback before actually launching your Direct Action. Find out who you want to contact for this feedback. It could be a teacher, principal, parent group, a focus group of peers, a non-profit group working for safer schools, a local political representative, etc. Go to this page now.
Revise your Web page to now include short descriptions of the Direct Action you plan to take. Include documents or Web links and illustrate the Plan with digital photos and scanned images. When you begin to actually Take Action, keep a Journal of the event. Seek feedback from participants. This might go into a Timeline of Events on your Web site.
- Reconciliation of adversaries in a win-win outcome in establishing a sense of community.
Positive change will not happen with one Direct Action or even a few. It is likely to take time to bring about changes in the way people think, act and feel. Don't give up! Keep going! If the school year ends before you reach the goals you and your team had, consider the model from students at Immaculata High School, where they post a Child Slave Labor News Web site created by U.S. History II Honors class, taught by Miss Joann Fantina. The site is passed on from year-to-year and kept alive and contributing.
Use your Web site to create and ongoing story. Use the Child Labor site as an example. Document the story with digital camera or scans. Journal of the process. Continue to seek Feedback from participants. This could all go into a Timeline of images, quotations, links and documents. Use your passion and creativity!
You are now ready for the Conclusion of this Crool Zone? WebQuest.