“I wish there was something I could do,” I found myself saying after I heard of another suicide of a bullied gay teen. And then it hit me like a whack on the side of the head. I have a flipping class of 200 students. Why not put that to some social use? It’s true that this project was not on my syllabus at the start of the semester and it will require that I take some time out to develop the project, but THIS is sociology. It’s not some abstract concept in a book, its public sociology; sociology that could make a difference.
I have been troubled in recent weeks by the number of campaigns to end ______ that don’t actually mitigate the social issue in any real way. I have wanted to write on my Facebook status that, “I like it on something that can actually make a difference in breast cancer.” (Read this if that makes no sense to you 🙂 I feel that if we construct an activity like this well, we could demonstrate to our students how to take social action in ways that actually create a impact in their community.
I try to avoid being an activist teacher in my classroom because I find it alienates more studesnts than other approaches, so this project would have to be something students could elect to do if they wanted. For this to work it couldn’t be heavy handed or feel forced. This project would be an option for motivated students who wanted to do something unique.
The activity that I came up with (Download it here) is what I call a “Pitch Me” project. I set out some clearly defined outcomes, for instance that it needs to be public and it must incorporate sociology, but after these guidelines are met they are free to run wild. Students email me a pitch that includes all the relevant details and then we collaborate to develop the idea in to a satisfactory project. What I love about this project is that it asks students to solve a interesting problem and lead which is the goal I talked about last week.
Please feel free to download, modify, or share these directions in anyway that you feel could make a positive difference. If you use this idea or develop one like it, let me know and we can share our students work on this site after the semester is over. Together I believe we can really make a difference in our communities and across the planet. Thank you in advance for considering it.