A class of students at Linden High School used their creativity to explore how racism, bias, and inequity affect their school and the world outside.
The assignment was part of the Introduction to Education class, where students who may want to become teachers take the first stepping in learning what it takes to prepare lessons, run a classroom, and shape young minds.
Teacher Anthony Fischetti asked his students to create a piece of art exploring the area of social justice and to record a video discussing the meaning behind the piece. When the projects were done, the class held a gallery walk where the students examined and critiqued one another’s work.
Fischetti said he was very pleased with how the project turned out.
“It was great to see they took initiative with their work,” he said. “I looked at their reflection videos and they opened up about the message that they had. They put a lot of effort into their work. And the fact that it was going to be displayed was more of an impetus for them to do it well. They wanted it to be their best possible effort.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what they did.”
During the gallery walk, students and special visitors took time to walk the classroom examining the artwork, which included message such as “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but make it for everyone” and “Only humility will lead us to unity, and unity will lead us to peace.” Students jotted down their thoughts for each piece, then shared them with the class after each artist spoke.
The project grew out of the class’s exploration of educational diversity, when students learned about the laws and classroom practices surrounding special education. Fischetti said he wanted to continue that discussion with a discussion of cultural diversity.
“When we started looking at inequity in education, we were talking about a lot of heavy topics with privilege and bias and systemic racism,” Fischetti said. “I didn’t want to necessarily lighten the topic, but I wanted to do something that was proactive in getting that message out. I decided on the artwork aspect. From there we built out the oral presentations.”
Fischetti, who gave the students all the art supplies they need to create their projects, said it’s rewarding to show Intro to Ed students that teachers are responsible for so much more than just teaching the classroom topic.
“They really do build character into their students,” he said. “Even if they don’t become teachers, the fact that they got to experience this and see it from so many different angles will make them ultimately just better people. For me that the biggest part.”