Human Rights Teach-In
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“Everybody’s working together,” Stetson Law Professor Dorothea Beane said, looking around Ms. Kerry Giordano’s sixth grade Ancient Civilizations class on Nov. 12. “We encourage problem-solving as lawyers and as good citizens. Our international human rights law students serve as co-teachers for a day and role models for the future, enjoying every minute,” Professor Beane said.
For an hour and a half Thursday afternoon, a group of students had an opportunity to sit down to talk about how they might help solve some of the world’s problems. Eighteen of Professor Beane’s international human rights law students met with nine Thurgood Marshall middle-schoolers to share ideas about how lawyers can do the important work of helping people around the globe protect themselves from being victims of discrimination. They also discussed the importance of self-determination.
Professor Beane’s law students prepared three different lesson plans and worked with Ms. Giordano’s class as part of an annual teach-in program. “We had the unique opportunity to support the sixth graders’ study of Ancient India with lessons concerning modern human rights issues which affect India and the rest of the world,” Professor Beane shared. The children had an opportunity to put themselves in the roles of international negotiators and mediators, discussing solutions to every day cultural conflicts like religious intolerance, gender discrimination and genocide.
After describing violations of human rights on the other side of the world, the law students asked the middle-schoolers to brainstorm some remedies. The problems the middle-schoolers worked on included issues that the United Nations and international community struggle with every day.
“The teach-in showed me that sixth graders can be very approachable about mature topics, such as genocide, self-determination and discrimination,” said law student Yova Borovska, who participated in the teach-in. “Their ability to discuss those issues in such an intelligent manner gave me hope for the future.”
The children quickly helped chalk in a list of things that could be done to assure that all people were treated as fairly as possible on Ms. Giordano’s blackboard. The class also discussed how economic and social class discrimination exists in our own country. If these violations are still happening in America, we can solve problems here and then send them outside the country, one of the middle-school students suggested.
“The children showed a great deal of understanding about the issues we presented to them,” said law student teach-in participant Shujaat Khan. “I was very impressed with the solutions they came up with during the session.”
Around Ms. Giordano’s classroom, colorful posters designed by the students illustrated serious global problems like people being driven from their homes and losing their lives because of religious persecution. On Nov. 12, the classroom chalkboards were marked with some possible solutions.
“It was very rewarding to see young students interested in learning about human rights and the violations affecting so many people,” said law student Rickisha Singletary of the teach-in experience. “You could tell from their eager faces that we were interacting with an entire room of future advocates, and for that, it was well worth it.”
Post date: Nov. 18, 2009
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