As people build the skills and knowledge, live life experiences and develop the perspectives that allow them to take action, it can be important to learn things intentionally. When we think about youth and teaching social change, there are important processes, procedures, outcomes and activities that can be important. Young people can learn about social change and teach about social change.
“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”― W.E.B. Du Bois
Ways Youth Engagement in Education Happens
Teach-Ins — When systems, agencies, communities, organizations or laws won’t respond to youth-led protest of other kinds, youth can lead teach-ins. These actions can include occupying spaces adults won’t allow them to and teaching topics adults won’t teach. Other kinds of teach-ins can also include holding workshops for adults and teaching people in non-obvious ways.
Service Learning — Learning how to meet real unmet needs throughout our society can happen while students meet real learning goals. Service learning can create the space where that happens. Through positive, empowering programs young people can facilitate their own learning, planning, action, and reflection, too. It is vital to acknowledge service learning in ways that young people can see.
Critical Pedagogy — Questioning domination and challenging power can be essential actions facilitated by youth who are teaching social change. Whether working with young people or adults, critical pedagogy can give youth permission to go beyond what’s acceptable by challenging the assumptions behind any topic.
Needs for Youth Engagement in Education
Education — Young people can learn how to learn and learn how to teach, and in the course of doing so become essential social change agents in their communities and the world around them. Education can be a tool for engaging youth as active partners rather than passive recipients.
Opportunities — Within and outside of schools, adult allies to young people can create active, engaging and practical opportunities for young people to learn about changing the world; take action to change the world; and critically reflect on social change. These opportunities can transform communities and cultures.
Cell Phones — Using the power of this specific technological tool can move young people to become active, engaged teachers of social change. Connecting with people over the phone, through texting and on the Internet are all powerful ways for youth and adults to work together, as well as for youth to organize each other.
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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in teaching social change your community or organization, contact us.